Archive for the 'enlisted personnel' Tag

CDR Salamander over at his place wrote about the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) program, even posting the NAVADMIN regarding it. This caught me off guard, in that while I have known about the program since shortly after its inception late last year; I had no idea that it was garnishing enough attention to warrant official sanction from OPNAV. Though from the outset, and despite being loath to add any more programs onto the pile, I thought this was and is a good idea, for the most part.

Being a PO2 on an optimally manned ship is not an easy thing. I made PO2 at a breakneck pace: 25 months from swearing in. Once I put on PO2, I knew–and was told–that there were no more excuses, I had to perform. But, to this point (and to this day) I’ve had no one to lead in learning how to lead (not just telling someone what to do while on watch, but to truly be a deckplate leader). Yes, of course there were instances where leadership was demanded and I had to lead and perform my duties as the senior person present, but those times were the exception. Day-to-day leadership I know very little about. Why? Because just about everyone is a Petty Officer in the Navy. On optimally manned platforms the pool of personnel junior to me is minute, and the window in which they are junior to me is measured in months, typically. Some Rates usually show up to the boat as E-4s, or make E-4 the next cycle after they report, and it’s around 75% advancement to E-5 for a few Rates as well. PO2 doesn’t mean much because of this; but, CSADD can change that. Some Petty Officers today seem to be cutting their teeth in regards to leadership once they get to the PO1 level because of how we promote and how man our platforms, let CSADD start to change this as well. It can put us in a position to both be a mentor and learn what it is to lead.

My first thought on discovering CSADD was that it was a program for the junior personnel to own. I also thought the CSADD program was going to stay a grassroots initiative (if it was ever was one). I know we’ve got our talking points from OPNAV, and I am sure we’re going to print them out and have them available. But, talking points from on high probably won’t resonate with the deckplates or many of the situations leading to destructive decisions. The two E-4s are going to talk about the party they all know is going to happen next Friday, and about staying away from that new female E-2 that just checked aboard, at the party. The E-5 will be talking to his fellow E-5, telling him not to blow his reenlistment bonus at the next liberty port (thought it would probably be a hell’uva lot of fun). Those are blanket examples sure, but getting through to a person in preventing a destructive decision, you need to be specific to them, you need to know them and the circumstance. Talking points don’t do that, the shipmate does. I think that is the spirit of this initiative.

The Navy for all of its talk of wanting to engage the World using web 2.0 applications is totally missing the point in how CSADD spread on facebook, through one of the central tenants of web 2.0: Viral marketing. CSADD spread virally across facebook, I was made aware of it when a fellow PO2 posted it on their page. When I found it, I thought it was mine by finding it, I thought it was great because of its seemingly informal nature which in turn gave it an altruistic quality that anything official automatically lacks. Why did the parents big Navy have to get involved and make it ‘uncool’? 

Still, this is OK. This program can still work. Just prevent any administrative requirements which tie into Division In The Spotlight inspections. Let the Chief’s Mess supervise the junior Sailor’s work in CSADD while still letting the junior Sailors lead. As the good CDR already pointed out, we’ve got a safety net eight layers deep behind the junior Petty Officer and Bluejacket looking out for their Shipmate, in case they err while learning to lead and mentor. We have limited leadership opportunities for junior personnel in reduced manning and quick advancement. Please, allow this initiative to be one of the few opportunities where we can lead.

I am fine with the notion that enlisted benefits will be reduced. That is with a caveat: as long as it leads to a positive impact in our ability to win wars.
When I returned to my home town for the first time as an E-4, I discovered I made more money than my close friends, as well as my mom who is an elementary school teacher. Granted I am much more trained and perform much more demanding skills than most of my friends. But, even with those who are skilled and trained in their demanding tasks commensurate with my own: I am still earning more, and will have a pension and an IRA when it’s all said and done. As an E-5 with BAH, I make significantly more than my friends. Now, in Afghanistan I cost something like a million dollars a year by just having my boots on the ground. How is that sustainable?

What concerns me the most is that we’re in an adaptation race with terrorists; the cost of their adaptation is orders of magnitude lower than our own. If we do not change the costs of our adaptation and/or our ability to afford adapting, we will not be able to win this war. Just as the Soviets could not sustain their efforts against us in the Cold War. We had the Anti-ballistic Missile treaty which put an end to the most visible aspect of our adaptation race with the soviets. But, we will have no such a treaty with terrorists, nothing is sacred anything can be used to defeat us. To stay competitive against this in our current war on terrorism we need to make our ability to adapt sustainable, possibly for generations. I think the Secretary of Defense knows this, and I believe that is why he said nothing is sacred and everything must be looked at to see if we can cut costs, or if we really need it. If a reduction in enlisted benefits directly contributes towards winning, then it must be done. However, when it is done, it will be a challenge to make sure the deckplates understand this fact and it should be directly demonstrated to us how the Navy is better off for it.