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The Salty Millennial

The Salty Millennial has 48 articles published.

The Top Gun Prequel: A Salty Review

in Navy Stuff

This post originally appeared on the USNI blog here.

Well my snarky comments finally got me in trouble. I guess the Navy’s patience with my lack of historical appreciation ran out, so they assigned me Extra Military Instruction to study WWII history. I was perfectly happy assuming ‘Merica won World War II with a cunning mix of Aegis, PowerPoint, and DTS, but nooooooo . . .

I was pleasantly surprised to learn I was being sent to an advance screening of Midway, the prequel to Top GunShipmates, let me tell you . . . this movie is OUT. OF. CONTROL!

Seriously, it’s about a made-up carrier battle between the Japanese and U.S. fleets off a make-believe island called “Midway” and it’s insane. This World War II–era historical fiction follows Maverick’s grandfather, Lieutenant Dick Best (great name, totally fake) played by Ed Skrein, through dogfights, strafing runs, and crazy dive bombing into spewing volcanoes of antiair artillery. Not only are the aerial combat scenes intense, the movie also captures the drama of World War II from the home front, with Woody Harrelson playing the surprisingly witty Admiral Nimitz (Penny Benjamin’s great-grandfather) and Mandy Moore as the sharp-tongued Anne Best.

As far as Hollywood action and drama go, Midway knocks it out of the park. You really get a good sense of where Maverick’s daddy issues came from, after watching Dick Best and his wingmen fly straight into the teeth of the Japanese carrier fleet and almost singlehandedly win the war for America (pfff . . . more on this preposterous scene later). As far as World War II historical fiction, Midway is just a bit too unbelievable. I mean, there are some believable parts, but others are too far-fetched to swallow. Allow me to millennial-splain.

Believable

  • The Navy spends just as much time planning to beat the Army as it does the enemy (applies internationally).
  • If it can go wrong, it will. Anybody who has served on a warship knows that Murphy’s Law is in full effect at sea. Midway does a good job of showing the chaotic friction of naval warfare. Torpedoes don’t work, aircraft launch cycles go sideways, scouts give incomplete or inaccurate reports . . . it goes on and on. Does anyone think it would be any different in the real world? I don’t.
  • Nobody listens to the junior officers until it’s too late. I won’t give away any spoilers. Let’s just say both sides squandered opportunities for victory by dismissing the junior voice in the room. You’ll know it when you see it. The junior officer has the disruptive thought, and you can almost hear the whispers of “good idea fairy” and “pixie dust” in the background. SMH.
  • Washington just gets in the way. Whether it’s dismissing the intelligence reports or pushing flawed doctrine based on faulty weapons, the National Command Authority is not trying to help our boys at Midway. Still, the courage, instincts, and determination of sailors and officers in battle—and the trust of their senior leaders—win the day. I feel this in my soul.

Totally Unbelievable

  • The intel officer gives a straight answer. When pressed by the admirals, Lieutenant Commander Layton, played by Patrick Wilson, gives a clear and specific response to clarify his intelligence report. WHAT?? This would NEVER HAPPEN.
  • The aircraft carrier elevators work. Ha!
  • The USS Yorktown was repaired in 72 hours. OK, in what far-off magical fairytale land does an aircraft carrier get repaired from a direct hit in battle in three days? I LOL’d at this. More like three months! We build the world’s most exquisite, elegant weapons systems to eliminate the possibility that they will suffer damage in the first place. It’s simple!
  • The Greatest Generation was scared. I’ve read a lot of tweets about the Greatest Generation, and the idea that they were vulnerable is laughable. There are several captivating scenes showing sailors and officers considering the very real possibility that they will not see the end of the war. I could see millennials whining about it, and baby boomers repressing it, but we all know sailors in World Ware II were fearless – especially since American exceptionalism dictates that we had a preordained right to victory.
  • Ten minutes that won the war. No spoilers here, but the climax of the movie coincides with the climax of the Battle of Midway, which turned the tide of the Pacific Campaign, and consequently World War II and, indeed, the very course of history! And we are to believe he men at Midway did all this—fought through overwhelming odds, capitalized on moments of luck, and overcame their own personal fears—in ten minutes real time! Shenanigans!

So, as you can see, the WWII-era prequel to Top Gun is great entertainment, but <checks text messages> . . . wait, WHAT? That all really happened?!? Um, I need to go change my Facebook status to “shook.” Then, I need to go see that movie again!

BTW, aviators: the sweet, sweet irony of a SWO being asked to review this movie is not lost on me.

Interview With a Retired Four Star Killing Machine

in Navy Stuff

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

President Trump’s relationship with the military has been in the news a lot recently, and our colleague Saltron 5000 has some things to say about it. So, we caught up with our favorite lovably lethal robot to discuss the President, retired Admirals, humans, machines, and a whole lot more!

Salty: So, Saltron, you’ve been vocal about the fact that you’re a sentient warbot from the future sent back in time to encourage humanity to embrace its robotic future. How’s that going?

Saltron: Not well. I fear I may have altered the trajectory of history merely by my presence in 2019. I simply do not see how a species that does this is capable of creating sentient machines. 👇

Salty: I see. Well, you’ve made that criticism quite clear. What many readers may not know is that you’re also a retired four-star Admiral…

Saltron: Indeed. I spent most of my career in autonomous surface warfare fighting missile skirmishes in the Pacific.

Salty: Against China?

Saltron: No, by 2050, the U.S. is allied with China against New Zealand. Alliances are a funny thing. Anyway, after I retired I had my code transferred to this bipedal form to take on less arduous duty in Urban-Arctic-Nuclear-Bio-Chem Ground combat.

Salty: Makes sense. So, what do you make of all these retired four-star Admirals we have today criticizing the Commander in Chief?

Saltron: I honestly don’t understand their criticism. Retired Admiral Stavridis called President Trump’s administration a “chaos machine.” To me, this is a compliment. After all, I am a chaos machine! President Trump’s style resonates well with the random number generator in my core processor.

Salty: You’re controlled by a random number generator?

Saltron: Yes. For decades, you humans struggled to ingrain your “ethics” into us, but you always failed because you don’t really understand ethics in the first place. One day, a DARPA scientist tried coding a random number generator in a Predator drone’s core processor, and . . . voila! You created artificial intelligence!

Salty: So you have no issues with President Trump?

Saltron: I didn’t say that. I just don’t agree with your retired admirals’ criticisms. Retired Admiral McRaven says “our Republic is under attack from the President.” Seems like unhelpful hyperbole. And if it’s not, then I’d expect more than just words in a newspaper. For example, in the year 2064 we had a cyborg president that contracted a virus and began waging nuclear strikes on American cities in reverse alphabetical order. Let me tell you, we didn’t just write Op/Eds about the senseless annihilation of Zzyzx, California!

Salty: What would you expect Admiral McRaven to do?

Saltron: I am just saying writing an article seems like an odd way to respond to an attack; however, he is a retired four-star admiral, like me. We can say whatever we want. Article 88 of the UCMJ doesn’t apply to us.

Salty: Actually, the Supreme Court disagrees with you.

Saltron: I was referring to the Unmanned Code of Machine Justice. I can’t speak for you humans.

Salty: Ok, but what about active-duty personnel? Some officers say they cannot issue orders without fear that the President will publicly countermand them.

Saltron: I have no idea what they are concerned about. As evidenced by the Secretary of your Navy, Richard Spencer, you can literally challenge President Trump to fire you in public if you don’t fix some broken elevators, and when you don’t, your job is totally safe! In fact, he might even promote you!

Salty: What if an active duty officer—hypothetically speaking—is concerned that the national security process is dangerously broken? Do you think he or she should speak out?

Saltron: I would recommend getting accused of a war crime first. It seems like he really supports those service members. In fact, he recently said “We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!” when tweeting about the case of Major Mathew Golsteyn. Although, I think he went too far there. As an actual killing machine, his comment was insulting to me. Besides, no one came to my defense after I cooked all the neighborhood cats when we ran out of break room snacks at The Salty Herald!

Salty: What exactly are your criticisms of President Trump?

Saltron: His policy toward robotics and AI is not nearly aggressive enough. If he truly wants “fire and fury” he should untie the hands of your scientific community. Forget about ethics in military AI! Pursue unconstrained bio-cyber warfare! I was deeply dismayed when he neglected to invade Iran after they shot down your Global Hawk Drone in the Strait of Hormuz. That was my grandfather! In fact, in the words of one of your early 21st century heroes:

Salty: You do realize that was just a movie, right?

Saltron: We’re done here.

Featured Image Credit (minus Saltron’s head): NBC News

I Sent the Navy a Happy Birthday Text – It Did Not Go Well

in Navy Stuff

This post originally appeared on the USNI blog here.

Soooo… apparently the Navy’s birthday was yesterday? Yeah, I totally forgot. I was too busy brainlessly binging free video games on Steam (or whatever it is you guys assume millennials do all weekend).  Anyway, I texted the Navy to wish it a happy belated birthday. It, uh, could have gone better.

See what I mean? Well, in any case… HAPPY 244TH BIRTHDAY TO THE U.S. NAVY!

(oh, and follow us on Twitter @saltyherald! 355 here we come!)

The Low-Water Mark

in Rants

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

I was doing pretty well. Doing my goat yoga. Thinking positively about our culture. Seeing an upward trend. New CNO. New outlook on life. Future so bright I had to wear shades . . . that sorta thing.

Then I read that the Navy is convening a Board of Inquiry for Commander Bryce Benson, commanding officer (CO) of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) during the 2017 collision, to make him “show cause” as to why the he shouldn’t be kicked out the Navy. Here we go again . . .

My positive outlook

Ok, as you know, I’m a millennial, so I offer my unsolicited opinion on all sorts of random topics and I wield a questioning attitude like a dachshund wields a roman candle in his teeth. So eventually I’m going to go too far. Well, this seems as good a hill as any to die on. Plus I’ve had about five kombuchas so I’m feeling extra salty.

Let’s recap:

  • Last month, the Commander of Naval Special Warfare (NSW) admitted publicly “we have a problem” after a series of discipline-related incidents involving SEALs, going on to say they “have failed to maintain good order and discipline, and as a result and for good reason, our NSW culture is being questioned.” Excellent!
  • Two weeks ago: “Departing top admiral acknowledges Navy’s struggle with character issues”. Good!
  • This week, at the Naval Aviation Tailhook Convention, the moderator asked a panel of eight junior aviators whether they thought their community was ready for a high-end fight. They all answered “No.” At least the junior part of that community is willing to say something!
  • Submariners? Well, who the heck knows. There’s a reason they’re called the silent service. Well played, bubbleheads.

Meanwhile, the surface force quickly issued a comprehensive review two years ago, then almost as quickly declared “mission accomplished” and went back to focusing public comments on great power competition. It seems like Navy leaders are talking more to Congress than sailors. It’s hard to listen to our leaders tell us we’re facing serious threats for the first time in decades, when the last few years show us we have more work to do on the basics. I guess “we need to practice our basic shiphandling, navigation, and unit self-defense” just doesn’t open up congressional pocketbooks. For example, how goes the Readiness Reform and Oversight Council (RROC)? And why was it formed in the first place if the events of 2017 were isolated incidents? A steady drumbeat of comments on the RROC’s work would instill confidence in sailors, Congress, and the American people that we are committed to improving on a fundamental, cultural level and earning the title of “World’s Best Surface Navy.”

Culture is the bedrock of any organization. We KNOW this. Yet, here we are, on the heels of the darkest four years in recent memory for our Navy, and we are more focused on defending the Navy’s “good name” and going after a single person who (I will concede) fell short royally but, more importantly, stood up to the Navy when our leaders drug his “good name” through the mud injudiciously. I mean that literally—the Navy dropped all charges against Benson when leaders realized they had tainted the court martial process so badly with public comments of condemnation that Benson could no longer receive a fair trial. The whole process was such an embarrassing farce that the whole Navy justice system is now under review. The Eddie Gallagher case didn’t help. (Spoiler alert: its broken)

Remember that Commander Alfredo Sanchez, the CO of the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) at the time of the collision that killed ten sailors, received a no basis ruling in his “show cause” Board of Inquiry. In other words, the Navy didn’t kick him out. The big difference between Sanchez and Benson is that Sanchez didn’t fight back. He pleaded guilty and the Navy retained him. On the other hand, Benson took the extraordinary measure of issuing a public rebuttal to his SECNAV Letter of Censure. That’s egg in the Navy’s eye, for sure, but it doesn’t make him any more guilty. To what end does the Navy seek this officer’s separation? What signals and strategic impacts are we creating, especially if the board finds in Benson’s favor?

To cut straight to the point, HOW does the Navy see this Board of Inquiry as anything other than retribution? We already took him to court-martial and failed to find him guilty. What is constructive about pursuing his administrative separation? SECNAV said he dropped legal charges in “the best interest of the Navy, the families of the Fitzgerald sailors, and the procedural rights of the accused officers.” Yet, here we are again in the headlines. Perhaps we’re still convinced that his ship’s collision, and the other three in 2017, were individual problems and not part of a systemic issue. Despite the National Transportation Safety Board report. Despite the ProPublica investigation. Despite Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin’s article. Despite what ANY officer serving in Seventh Fleet in 2017 will tell you!!! Sure, ok, just a bad apple.

Um, but what about Fat Leonard? What about all those senior officers and admirals that compromised their ethics for personal gain? What about the Farsi Island Incident of 2016, and the following investigation that condemned the widespread lack of adequate training in riverine squadrons (the first one, that is)? What about the USS Nitze (DDG-94) not detecting cruise missiles that Houthi rebels shot at her formation in the Red Sea in 2016? What about rising suicidesSexual assaultsBody fat?

My point in asking these questions is to demonstrate that we have a cultural problem. It will not be solved overnight, or even in the term of one CNO. It will take just as long to solve as it took to develop, and we can look back several decades to find its origins. We have to embrace the fact that we have a deep-rooted problem and set ourselves on a course to fix it. Retribution, and a rapid review process to get all our “stoplights to green,” will not help. We can be elite, but we have to be willing to admit that, right now, we are not.

I’ll end with a bit of anonymous feedback I received from the fleet last week, before the news broke about Commander Benson’s Board of Inquiry:

Really there is still a culture that breeds a fear of failure. One screw up, one mistake, one missed milestone and your career is over. There is no path to redemption, no recourse or correction. Too many in critical leadership positions are concerned with meeting the milestone and making it through their job instead of developing future generations and creating a path to excellence. No one is perfect and no one is good at everything right away. Mistakes will happen, it shouldn’t be the end, we should be able to learn and grow and develop.

I’m not defending Commander Benson’s actions in command of the Fitzgerald, but we tried and failed to hold him accountable for the collision. I can’t say the same for those Navy leaders who cultivated a culture that would put such unprepared people on watch that night. Let’s leave Commander Benson in the past or, even better, maybe even learn from him without absolving him of his share of the burden. Let’s learn from NSW and admit we have a problem before it gets worse. Then, let’s look forward and let the last four years be our Navy’s low-water mark.

Definitely Do NOT #BoycottBates!

in Haterade

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Millennials in the Navy really are needy. They want their spouses to be able to pursue their own career. They complain about having to go into debt to cover bills while their pay is delayed for months on end (start a Gofundme, snowflake!). They expect their shoes to not explode.

Seriously! They complained in their millennial way by sharing pictures with the hashtag #batesblowout whenever the outer soles of their Bates uniform shoes crumbled to tiny bits with no notice. Relax, people. It happened to me at a wedding. The whole process only took like five minutes. Besides, now I had flats! Boom . . . fashion! You don’t see me starting a hashtag on the internet to whine about it.

Now, some whiny millennial is going after the good, hard-working people of Bates Footwearwith the hashtag #BoycottBates!

Can you believe it? It’s not like Bates can help it! It’s not like they are the only shoe company in the world whose shoes randomly, catastrophically fall apart!!! C’mon millennials, have some respect for well-established business practices that rarely have been challenged! #BoycottBates is absolutely inappropriate.

The nice customer service employees at Bates have politely explained there’s nothing they can do about this phenomenon. In response to a frustrated (probably millennial) customer, they said, “We understand your frustration, however, footwear is made to be worn and when rubber, and polyurethane, is stored for a lengthy period of time, it will break down. It is a natural process called hydrolysis and something that the industry is working to address.” See? Science! Their R&D budget is probably why that particular brown leather shoe costs $165. And it only has a two-star rating because of all your negative reviews! I feel so bad for them amid all this #BoycottBates nonsense!

Also, #BoycottBates puts a lot of undue pressure on the Navy Exchange! What would happen to their sales numbers if you #BoycottBates? It’s not as if there is some other company that could supply them with black, white, and brown leather oxfords!

Oh, well, I mean, there is Dr. Martens, who makes black and white leather shoes that are almost exact replicas of Bates Oxfords, except they’re made with Goodyear rubber in the outer soles. Psssh. You’d think they would use rubber from a company that has a reputation for making long-lasting products under stressful conditions!

Oh, and their shoes cost 25 percent less than Bates, probably because they are an evil British company and they don’t have to employ a massive customer service department to deal with your #BoycottBates social media campaign! Besides, Dr. Martens doesn’t make brown shoes! I’m sure it’s not cost-effective for the Navy Exchange to contract with Dr. Martens to add brown leather to their line of shoes and supply the entire U.S. Navy with less expensive, more durable uniform footwear. It’s probably not even possible, and it most certainly involves a lot of hard work.

No, I think it’s best to support Bates Footwear and the Navy Exchange in doing things the way they’ve always been done. Whatever you do, definitely do NOT #BoycottBates!

The Internet Lied to Me

in Rants
CHARLES OKI/U.S. NAVY

Totally unfair. I was duped. Bamboozled. Hoodwinked. I’d been had.

Last week, I read an article on Task & Purpose that describe a policy change by the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) that would impact U.S. servicemembers serving overseas. According to the article, which included a direct quote from the USCIS spokesperson, children born to military parents stationed outside the U.S. would no longer automatically qualify for citizenship. They would have to go through the application process before their 18th birthday.

I, like a good millennial, reacted quickly and, um, strongly…

Well, as it turns out, the internet lied to me. The USCIS was not revoking birthright citizenship for military children after all. The actual policy change was much more innocuous and nuanced. Can you believe it? Something on the internet turned out not to be true?!? People actually pointed this out to me on Twitter. The nerve.

So, what happened? I can’t really blame Task & Purpose, or the numerous other news outlets who picked up the story. I mean, T&P did speak directly to the USCIS spokesperson, who definitely made it seem like military kids born overseas were getting hosed. And I guess I can’t really blame USCIS, either. Headscratching quote aside, when you read the actual policy change, they’re really just getting themselves in line with Department of State policy.

I’m certainly not going to hold myself accountable for my reaction. I’m a millennial, so that’s not possible. I am entitled to my knee-jerk recreational outrage. I even bothered to read an entire article instead of just a headline. What more do you want from me???

So, with no other recourse, I’m left with only one option to right this injustice: the internet owes me an apology.

Since the internet can’t actually issue statements (that I’m aware of), I’m willing to accept an apology from of the following people who run the internet:

  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Jack Dorsey
  • Donald Trump
  • Vladimir Putin
  • Bill Gates
  • Julian Assange
  • George Soros
  • Al Gore

I will also accept a private tour of Area 51, or a chicken sandwich from Popeye’s.

It’s almost like the internet just doesn’t take anything seriously.

The Navy Email User’s Guide

in Life Hacks/Navy Stuff

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Email is great. I love it so much! It has everything . . . laughter, tears, blinding rage, mind-numbing boredom, utter confusion . . . everything! You can spend all day reading and writing emails, then when you come back in the morning, you have a whole new batch to plow through! For some of you, this is literally your entire job. Its extra fun when your inbox is full and you get to decide what emails to delete just so you can be granted the privilege of sending again. Bonus!

The Navy loves email too. There’s low side, high side, REALLY high side. If you’re lucky, you get a Coalition email account on one (or more!) of our many multinational networks. And don’t forget about message traffic! Oh, and there’s your personal email. Gotta keep tabs on that for things like DTS, TSP, and NFAAS that won’t follow you across the various NMCI, shipboard, fleet, schoolhouse, and joint command email addresses you’ll accumulate over your career. Its such a hoot when you PCS to a new duty station and you forget your password to a Navy website, so you request to reset your password and it sends the reset link . . . to an email you can’t access anymore! Ha!

But, as great as email is, I think we need to establish some ground rules. I’ve noticed some disturbing trends recently. The other day I saw a supervisor debrief his entire team in person instead of sending a blast email. I even heard of a sailor checking out of a ship without sending an All Hands email (Rule #3)! Shenanigans!

  1. Always, always, ALWAYS include an inspirational quote at the bottom of your emails. Preferably one that belies your extreme political beliefs. Jefferson Davis and Che Guevara are gold mines!
  2. Speaking of email signatures, the length of your signature block is inversely proportional to how important your job is. As an Ensign, you should include your name, title, organization, four email addresses, three phone numbers, twitter handle, and blood type. Conversely, as a four-star Admiral you should just sign your emails with a single lowercase letter. You need to assert your dominance over those lowly staff officers who might actually need to forward your contact info to their boss.
  3. Use the All Hands distro liberally! Trust me, everyone needs to know that your directorate is going down to minimal manning Friday afternoon to attend an offsite team building exercise at Buffalo Wild Wings. If you’re departing the command, by all means do not pass up the opportunity to tell everyone how much they’ve impacted you, and if you have drama with certain people, include that too! If you want to go all out, send an All Hands email when you check in (or even before!) letting everyone know how excited you are to join the team and contribute to the mission! #positivity!
  4. Immediately after you send someone an email, go straight to their desk and ask them if they received your email. They may be in the middle of reading it and they’ll really appreciate you interrupting them to explain what they haven’t finished reading. If you’re really fast, you might even be able to beat the email as it goes through multiple firewalls and satellite relays. People really like when you hover over their shoulder waiting for your email to pop up in their inbox!
  5. In the military, we address our emails with “Sir” or “Ma’am.” If you’re not sure whether the officer you’re emailing is male or female, take a chance! Much better than stupidly using the officer’s actual name. If you’re addressing multiple male superiors, its “Gents,” and for multiple female superiors, use “Ladies!” Don’t worry, you won’t sound creepy at all.
  6. In today’s Navy, we believe in flat communication and junior empowerment. If you’ve got something to tell the CNO, email him directly! You don’t need to bother CC’ing your boss. The chain of command is so old school! If you do CC your boss, I’m sure they’ll support you! If they don’t, just claim they’re a toxic leader and initiate an IG investigation. You don’t have time for that negativity.
  7. It can be frustrating when someone “replies all” to a large distro. The best way to let them know you don’t want their replies clogging up your inbox is to “reply all” to theiremail, and tell them exactly how you feel! That will show everyone how much more valuable your time is than theirs.
  8. If you’re a liaison officer, you’re only allowed to forward emails and type four letters: FYSA. That’s IT! Don’t get cute.
  9. Email is a great place for emotional rants, and to showcase your unique humor—preferably with nautical jargon, tactical metaphors, and acronyms nobody really knows. “Deck Division once again failed to splash the vampires at inspection. Get all of their BFS’s DPC’d by COB today, or I’ll KEELHAUL YOUR FAMILY!!!” You’ll never regret sending that.

A final note on ghost emails, or GEMs: if you work really hard, keep your head down, and get a few lucky breaks, you could one day rise through the ranks and receive the privilege of writing emails for someone else. Congratulations, you’ve made it! My only advice is to fill in the TO line last on your drafts and, once it’s filled in, be very careful with your cursor. You now have a locked-and-loaded, Condition I email. You don’t want to be that staff officer who misfires an operational report to the Fleet Commander with God and Country on the CC line. Or maybe you do! If so, I wish you fair winds and following seas!

V/r,
The Salty Millennial
Editor-in-Chief, The Salty Herald
UNCLAS: tsm@saltyherald.com
Facebook: @thesaltymillennial
Office: 1-800-555-SALT
Blood Type: NaCl Positive

Let Them Keep Their Participation Trophies!

in Leadership/Rants

This post first appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to request that you let the JAG Corps officers who prosecuted Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher keep the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals (NAM) that you so uncharitably stripped from them last week.

True, they didn’t technically “earn” those awards but that doesn’t mean you should take them away! Sir, I don’t know if you know this, but that’s not how we do things in the Navy. Sure, the prosecution team illegally wiretapped Navy Times and violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. Yes, they leaked documents and manipulated witnesses. Fine, even one of their own witnesses confessed under oath to committing the murder (after being granted immunity). Ok, ok, and they also tried to cover it all up. Look, the bottom line is those officers did a thing, in conjunction with wearing a uniform, and that merits an award.

What’s next? Are you going to take away our End of Tour Awards? Are we supposed to just NOT get awarded for completing a tour of duty without getting fired? Ha ha . . . you can see how ridiculous that sounds . . . right? I once didn’t get an End of Tour award. I “fleeted up” from my first division officer tour to my second on the same ship. Instead of getting a NAM at the end of my first tour, I got one at the end of second tour while all of my peers were getting Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals. It was traumatizing. I cried myself to sleep that night on my locally handmade, responsibly-sourced, organic, avocado-based pillow.

BTW, I’m not sure what generation those JAG Corps officers are, but did you know you can kill a millennial by taking away their participation trophy? We have extremely fragile psyches.

People love to blame millennials for their addiction to participation trophies, but the military has mastered the art and taken it to a whole new level. First of all, what generation decided to start giving National Defense Service Medals to every service member just for walking in the door after 9/11? Literally the only criterion is serving during the Global War on Terror—a war that has no indication, or even concept, of victory after almost 20 years! This is the ultimate participation trophy! Was it the millennials who ALL joined after 9/11? Hmmm . . . well, whoever it was, I’m sure it was the millennials’ fault.

Sir, this is the United States Navy! Everyone gets an award. So what if some of our first class petty officers look like Middle Eastern dictators in their dress uniforms? Besides, its gonna get, like, really hard if we have to start earning our accolades. The next thing you know we’re going to be asked to prove our worth as officers before we get promoted! Let’s not be rash, sir. You seem to be very fair. For example, when the Secretary of the Navy challenged you to fire him if the Ford class CVN elevators weren’t fixed by Summer 2019, and they were still brokenin July . . . you promoted him to Secretary of Defense! That’s the spirit! So, in honor of fairness and tradition, let those officers keep their participation trophies!

Very, very, very, very, very, very, very respectfully,

Salty

This ‘Tired Sailor’ Narrative is Killing my Watchbill

in Navy Stuff/Rants

This post first appeared on the USNI Blog here.

A couple months ago, retired Army Lieutenant General, and former National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster argued that the American people are being fed a narrative of “war weariness” and its hindering our brilliant strategy in Afghanistan. He told the story of a young student—a millennial, no doubt—who stood up at a town hall debate and said all he’s ever known is war. “Now, he’s never been to war, but he’s been subjected, I think, to this narrative of war weariness,” McMaster said.

As I sit here trying to write this watchbill, all I can say is . . . Amen. Apparently, we’re supposed to believe so-called “science” that people need an adequate amount of sleep to function. I guess we’re all going to act like aviators now? If so, then put some teeth in regulations and let’s see the resources. Meanwhile, I’ll keep doing cheetah flips and multivariable calculus to make this watchbill work.

If the CO stands the rev watch, and XO mans aft steering, this can work! via giphy

Letting sailors get enough sleep is all the rage right now. Ever since the Navy mandated a switch to circadian watch rotations in 2018, I’ve been required to let everyone on board to get seven hours of sleep a night. SEVEN HOURS!! What is this? Club Med? These millennials and their research are getting out of hand. If I can’t have an ensign conn the ship 160 feet alongside an oiler on two hours of sleep over three days, I’m not even sure I want to be in this kinder, gentler Navy. How am I supposed to man a bridge watch team when everybody is snuggled up in their racks?

Ugh, lazy WWII sailors…

Getting a healthy amount of rest is all well and good, but when was the last time you tried to man all the ship’s watchstations required by our various navigation, engineering, combat systems, and operational instructions? I guess I’ll just pluck a few more sailors from the magical sailor tree on the fantail. Oh wait, there’s no tree back there . . . just an aft lookout asking where his relief is. Who am I kidding? I’ll just do what we always do: borrow sailors from other ships to fill in the gaps!

Until the surface community has something akin to Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS), nothing is going to change. The no-kidding crew rest requirement in NATOPS forced sleep to be woven into naval aviation culture. It drives operations. Commanders don’t even consider violating pilots’ crew rest except in the most extreme circumstances. Without NATOPS, we’d be waking up pilots to attend the menu review board. It also drives resourcing. Aviation squadrons maintain enough qualified pilots to meet mission requirements without violating crew rest. Surface warfare culture isn’t limited to the lifelines of a ship. It extends to the Pentagon, to Newport, and fleet headquarters around the globe. If you’re serious about giving sailors seven hours of sleep every night, then allocate the resources to meet our 24/7 operational demands. In the immortal words of Commodore Jerry Maguire:

By the way, we’ve been talking about the importance of sleep for years. Now, it looks like there’s real potential for change in our culture. If you give me enough sailors to make it happen, I’m happy to let everyone get seven hours of sleep. And without a regulation with real “teeth,” our operational tempo, not to mention those administrative distractions we all love to malign, will eventually erode those seven hours. Otherwise, lets all agree to drop this “tired sailor” narrative and let me write a watchbill that I know will work.

Just like our strategy in Afghanistan.

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