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The Salty Millennial

The Salty Millennial has 41 articles published.

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.

Shipmates, Lend Me Your Ears…

in Announcements/Epiphanies/Leadership/Navy Stuff

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Dear Navy,

I am formally announcing my candidacy for the 32nd Chief of Naval Operations.

I know, I know. I hear what you’re saying. Holy cow, would this guy just PLEASE STOP?!? Yeah, well that’s what the master of this merchant said in Canada, so deal with it:

My only goal is to gain more support than LCS.

When Admiral Bill Moran suddenly announced his retirement, declining his widely popular nomination to be the next CNO, I sensed an opening. You see, Admiral Moran committed that egregious sin of having communicating with a person who had been held accountable for allegedly acting like a creepster— allegedly groping women at a drunken holiday party. You heard that right. He maintained a professional relationship with an alleged groper.

Now, the Secretary of the Navy has to move quickly before the current CNO’s term expires on 17 September, leaving less than 30 working days for the Senate to confirm a nominee. He’s even opening up the pool of candidates to three-star admirals. That’s smart. We have a talented stable of vice admirals from which to choose. Arleigh Burke was selected to be CNO when he was a two-star! Why not dig a little deeper and select a lieutenant commander? The only problem is now there are more candidates for CNO than Democrats running for president in 2020.

Could any of them be CNO in today’s Navy?

And now we have one more. Hear me out!

First, you won’t have to worry about me maintaining a relationship with any alleged gropers. I won’t try to mentor anyone. I literally have no friends. Have you read the comments lately? No one likes me. And I’m pretty sure every CO I’ve ever had is frantically deleting all of my texts and emails. I am an island, and islands have no liabilities.

Second, I won’t cut and run at the first sign of trouble. Seriously, I started a blog criticizing the entire Navy and several flag officers. You think I’m going to be sidelined easily? I don’t buy into this new trend of simply retiring when the media starts talking about something you did that somebody, somewhere might find offensive. Hell, I’m not even eligible for retirement. If I get fired, I get nothing. BTW, question for all you social justice warriors out there: If you really believe Admiral Moran did something wrong, how has he been held accountable? He wasn’t allowed to be CNO? He’s retiring with four-star benefits. What does that say about our Navy culture that anyone could describe this as accountability? In truth, I don’t think anyone believes, nor cares, that it is accountability. Its just social media blood. A show for the coliseum.

For the record, I don’t believe Admiral Moran did anything that required further accountability. I started a Twitter hashtag #keepCNOMoran but it didn’t stick. I guess nobody believes they can change what’s happening around them. Now you get me. And you know I love the Navy. If I’m bitter, it’s the Navy’s fault. I’m a millennial, it CAN’T be my fault.

A few campaign promises:

  • Service. Dress. Khaki
  • Performance-based officer promotion
  • More participation trophies
  • Beards and man buns
  • Hands in pockets

And guys, I have an autonomous warbot from the future at my disposal!

So, there you have it, Navy. I could be your next CNO. Spread it on Twitter, the CO’s suggestion box, the 1MC! Pilots, quit drawing sky genitalia and share this message: #Salty4CNO!

Together, we can Make the Navy Salty Again!

I am The Salty Millennial and I approved this message.

Salty Crashes the Uniform Board

in Navy Stuff

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

In a shadowy, torch-lit supply storeroom, a circle of silhouetted figures doff their boat cloaks, revealing an assortment of naval officers all in different uniforms. On the Uniform Board, officers are identified and ranked by the uniform they wear. The senior board member wears Service Dress Khaki, with full Zumwalt-Navy beard, and a tobacco pipe for good measure. Even though he hasn’t been authorized for wear in years, none of the other board members have mustered the courage to tell him to step down. Nobody messes with Service Dress Khaki.

Service Dress Khaki: Now call to order this meeting of the Supreme High Council of Naval Sartorial Affairs! What Old Business do we have to bring forward?

Formal Dress: Sir, people are still confused by the Prototype Working Uniforms, especially since we just transitioned to the Type III. Oh, and NWU Type I still won’t go away.

NWU Type I: HEY, I’m still authorized!

<chorus of groans> Someone mumbles “Nobody likes you.”

Service Dress Khaki: Ugh, okay, I’ll have another ALNAV sent out about the Prototype Working Uniform and perhaps rename it the NWU Type IV. That should clear everything up. Flight Suit, please escort NWU Type I outside. And, for God’s sake, keep him away from the open flames.

Flight Suit gives NWU Type I an atomic wedgie and drags him out kicking and screaming.

Service Dress Khaki: Ok, what New Business is there?

NWU Type III: Sir, the rollout of our new SWO Bomber Jacket is going swimmingly. We published this picture on social media to rave reviews!

Service Dress Khaki: Excellent! The troops asked for bomber jackets, and we deliv-

Salty: <emerging from the shadows> Ahem . . . we did not ask for bomber jackets. We asked for bombers. Like a Sea Control Bomber.

Service Dress Khaki: Wha? Who is this? Who let him in here?!?

Service Dress Blues: Sir, this is a random midgrade officer with an inflated sense of self-importance and a mediocre sense of humor.

Salty: A couple of innovative young officers floated the idea of, instead of retiring the B-1, transferring it to the Navy for antisurface warfare. Certainly the idea has its flaws, but we have an increasingly urgent need to position maritime firepower in the Pacific beyond what our traditional framework can provide. The idea of a Sea Control Bomber should be studied, at a minimum. You gave us jackets.

Service Dress Khaki: Exactly, we gave SWOs these stunning new black leather bomber jackets!

Flight Suit: Uh, boss, we don’t actually call them bomber jac-

Service Dress Khaki: Go back on oxygen, Flight Suit!

Salty: Anyways . . . what we need are real solutions for improving our warfighting effectiveness under existing budgetary constraints.

Service Dress Khaki: Look, you’re talking about innovative solutions that require congressional approval and cooperation with the other services. That’s hard and we might get yelled at! And now we have an Army guy as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense. Can you imagine how hard it’s going to be to get funding for the Navy? We here provide the only feasible means to effect lasting, positive change in the Navy . . . uniforms!

PT Gear: Don’t forget about the Physical Readiness Council!

Service Dress Khaki: Fair point.

Summer Whites: Sir, don’t you have a friend in the Army?

Service Dress Khaki: Who, Pinks and Greens? He won’t return my calls ever since he was reauthorized for wear. Hey, maybe I could ride the throwback trend and get myself reauthorized! I can see it now: “Wear the uniform of a Navy that’s actually won a great power competition!”

Salty: My point is the SWO community already has a solid culture and tradition. Yes, we have our share of problems to fix, but can we please stop trying to improve our culture by appropriating popular elements of others that have no connection to the surface community? Let’s look honestly at the issues we’re facing, and address them head-on without fear. Besides, we already had a pretty cool jacket—the Mustang Jacket. If you want to be innovative, why don’t you authorize it for wear ashore?

<Sitting in the corner wearing a Mustang Jacket, Coveralls looks up from his coffee, grunts, and nods.>

Service Dress Khaki: Well now you’re just talking crazy. You’re getting the bomber jackets. End of story.

Salty: Ugh, well fine. At least this means we’ll get to wear khakis again.

NWU Type III: Hey, I resent that!

<The meeting devolves into shouting and shoving. In the confusion, Prototype Working Uniform gets too close to a torch and immediately bursts into flames. Pandemonium ensues. Service Dress Khaki buries his head in his hands.>

Service Dress Khaki: Meeting adjourned, I guess.

An Open Letter to the Sailors of USS John S. McCain

in Navy Stuff

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Shipmates,

First, apologies are in order. I apologize for feeding into a media narrative that has caused you to become objects in a political game. I’ve tweeted and posted, and here I am writing this blog post, all because I was outraged by images, articles, and hearsay that indicate you complied with orders to hide your ship and yourselves during President Trump’s recent visit to Japan. Who knows what is actually true? (well, you do, but we’ll get back to that) It turns out the old Navy adage still applies: the first report is always wrong. According to our Navy Chief of Information, Rear Admiral Charlie Brown, the picture of the tarp over the ship’s gangway banner is not from the day of the POTUS visit (unrelated maintenance . . . I want to believe, I really do). CHINFO’s return to Twitter after a five-year hiatus is an amusing surprise in all of this melodrama, and I have to say I think he handled it well. He provided a nice anchor point in all of the spin by making it crystal clear that neither the ship nor her name were obscured during the visit. He later acknowledged the White House did in fact request that the Navy keep the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) “out of sight” but, apparently, somewhere along the line the Navy stood up for itself. I can only hope that happened before the request (order?) reached your ship.

Second, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. You owe the American people nothing but faithful dedication to your Oath. I’m sure many people are trying to contact you. I also wouldn’t be surprised if you were told by your chain of command to not comment on the story to anyone. It’s all white noise. What happened, happened, and it’s not your job to help people sort out the truth from the lies. If the Navy did agree to hide you and your ship, it will all come out eventually. If not, then there’s no story here except some staff weenie who no longer has a job. Our Acting Secretary of Defense says he doesn’t want the military to be politicized, and unfortunately that’s exactly what happened to you. You deserve better. You are United States Navy sailors, and I have an appreciation for what you endure. On the other hand, some of you were on board for the fatal collision in 2017 and I have no idea what that must have been like. I do know that none of you should be made to feel like your Commander in Chief can’t stand the sight of you.

Third, we can do better. Strange, stupid requests are made of the Navy all the time (I once received a phone call on the quarterdeck from a gentleman asking how he could arrange the filming of a motorcycle jump from one aircraft carrier to another . . . kinda wish I made that happen), but our job is to respond unfailingly with honor, courage, and commitment. I think we can take the President at his word that he was not involved in the request (although using the words “well-meaning” does sting . . . I don’t understand how hiding a U.S. warship in shame could be interpreted as well-meaning), and there also is no reason to doubt Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan when he says he knew nothing about it. CHINFO says the Navy didn’t act on the request. So, some White House staffer made a stupid request and initiated some staff churn in DoD, which is not surprising. The only relevant question is where did the insanity stop? How far it went is a good measure for the health of the Surface Navy culture. I can dream that the first SWO to see the request reacted with indignation and respectfully declined; however, I’ve made no secret that I believe Surface Navy culture needs reform and I don’t think we’re there yet. I guess I can take solace in that it’s not so bad that your shipboard chain of command never received any orders (or at least acted on them), and possibly never received the request in the first place.

V/r,

Salty


P.S. If you’d like to tell me otherwise, feel free to reach out at tsm@saltyherald.com. 😉 #keepitsalty

The Caine Mutiny 2019: #NavyLegality

in Classic Literature

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Following the death of Herman Wouk last week, authorities reportedly discovered that he had recently completed a modern update to his 1951 classic, The Caine Mutiny.  The new story follows Ensign Keith and Lieutenant Maryk as they try to survive the tormenting command of Commander Queeg aboard the brand new DDG, USS Caine, in 2019.  Rumor has it DeNiro is already signed on to reprise Humphrey Bogart’s iconic portrayal of Queeg in the movie version.

The Salty Herald managed to obtain an exclusive copy of the manuscript and I’d like to share an excerpt with my best friends. The following is an excerpt from the Court Martial of Lieutenant Maryk for his attempted mutiny on USS Caine, this time reimagined for how it might unfold in 2019:

(The courtroom stands as Judge Blakely enters and silently proceeds to his place)

Judge Blakely: All right, let’s get started. Lieutenant Maryk, you are charged with mutiny under Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with intent to usurp or override lawful military authori-

Lieutenant Commander Challee (Judge Advocate): <interrupting> Your honor, the government would also like to add a charge of treason against the United States!

Blakely: <becoming visibly frustrated> Uh, that’s not how this works, and you haven’t presented any evidence to support such a charge.  There is no historical precedent.  You haven’t even identified a unique article or specification to apply.  If anything, you seem to be equating acts of mutiny and sedition with treason.

Challee: We know, but we’re really mad at him, and <whispering> we were going to offer to drop the treason charge if he accepts a plea deal!

Blakely: I’m just going to ignore that.  Lieutenant Maryk, how do you plead on the charge that you committed mutiny in USS Caine?

Lieutenant Greenwald (Defense Counsel): Your honor, we move to dismiss the charge of mutiny on grounds of unlawful command influence! <gasps from the gallery>

Blakely: <sighs> Continue…

Greenwald: Your honor, I argue my client has been robbed of the opportunity to receive a fair trial due to comments made by senior Navy leaders.  On more than one occasion, admirals who have influence over this court made public statements implicating Lieutenant Maryk’s culpability in the incident.  For example, one said, and I quote “He’s guilty.  He’s stupid, crazy guilty.  He’s more guilty than Bill Cosby after a night at the disco in 1978.  I’d expect the judge to sentence him to 20 years at least!”

Blakely: Judge Advocate, do you have a response?

Challee: Sir, to be fair, I believe those remarks were made by the admiral’s PAO.

Greenwald: <interjecting> Your honor, one more thing…

Blakely: <sarcastically> By all means, continue!

Greenwald: I further allege the government engaged in illegal surveillance of my correspondence. I discovered a data recording software embedded in an email from Lieutenant Challee. 

Challee: PREPOSTEROUS!

Greenwald: Your honor, I also found this camera hidden in my office fern, clearly stenciled “PROPERTY OF U.S. NAVY. IF FOUND, PLEASE RETURN TO LCDR JOHN CHALLEE, JAG CORPS”

Challee: <nervously> I’ve never seen that before in my life!  Besides, it is common practice in today’s Navy to secretly record your shipmates!

<Judge Blakely buries his head into his hands and sighs>

Blakely: Be that as it may, I have no choice but to grant the motion.  All charges are dismissed.  This trial is concluded.

<Challee and Greenwald walk out of the courtroom>

Challee: That’s fine, we’re just going to write him a strongly worded letter and be done with it.

Greenwald: Yeah well, the President would’ve pardoned him anyway, so there!

Blakely: <back in his chambers, slumping in his chair, speaking to himself> Well, I guess this is what naval justice looks like today.  Amazingly, that still wasn’t the most disappointing ending of 2019.

R.I.P. Herman Wouk (Author’s Note: I have no idea whether Herman Wouk would have found this funny, but I’m quite sure he wouldn’t be laughing at the state of the naval justice system today.)

Read This Like You’re in a Book Club!!

in Rants

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Well, Saltron, that’s one sailor down from USS Truman.

Command Master Chief Jonas Carter resigned his position and announced he’s retiring after he told his sailors to “clap like we’re at a strip club” to energize them ahead of the Vice President’s speech aboard the ship. What’s that you say? Give us your unique take, Salty? Oh, well, since you asked!

There are really two questions to answer. First . . .

Should he have made the comment?

But why he shouldn’t have said it is probably more important. I can hear it now . . . “Oh here goes the millennial with his views of a kinder, gentler Navy.” To those of you thinking this, let me be crystal clear: YOU CAN STOP READING. I DO NOT CARE. There are a bunch of hot (garbage) takes out there on the internet. Let’s examine a few:

  • “His words disrespected the office of the Vice President.” Excuse me, what? Anybody saying this hasn’t been paying attention for the last three years. The bar for disrespecting government offices has moved WAY up—this doesn’t even come close.
  • “His words ignored the fact that his crew was mixed gender.” So, he should only say something like that to an all-male crew? And then it would be ok? No, this isn’t about offending women—plenty of women frequent strip clubs, too—and it doesn’t matter whether they’re in the audience or not.
  • “This is the U.S. Navy, son—toughen up and stop getting offended by everything you don’t agree with.”

Ok, look, I don’t disagree with this take. Stop being so offended by everything! You’ll be happier and healthier! Except if your favorite blog tells you to be outraged, then you should definitely be outraged. The fact is we’re all in a spin cycle. I know it. You know it. Round and round we go.

But try to stop and think for a second—not about the press coverage and the reaction to the comment, but the comment itself. Its lazy leadership, playing on one of the least helpful sailor stereotypes that come from our tradition and heritage. Yes, I know our sailors hang out in strip clubs, but is that the kind of culture we want to publicly encourage and perpetuate? Tradition and heritage dominate culture, but we should choose carefully what parts we bring forward. Do they add value? It’s always a tough call, but sometimes we have to leave things behind, and we can’t hang on to stereotypes just because they’re tradition. How would it sound if we used other sailor stereotypes?

  • How about at a PRT: “Give it all you got like you’re beating your wife!”
  • At advancement exams: “Concentrate like you’re writing a suicide note!”
  • At a fundraising drive: “Break out those dollars like you’re at a whorehouse in Bangkok!”
  • In combat: “Conduct evasive maneuvers like you’re driving home after your 15th beer with your kid in the backseat!”

I’m not saying going to a strip club is the same as committing domestic abuse, but both are elements of the U.S. public’s stereotypical view of us. It’s up to us to change it, if we care. And I’m not saying sailors who frequent strip clubs will commit sexual assault, but what if we stopped glamorizing the stereotype and, over time, the rate of sexual assault in the Navy went down by just 1 percent? That would be roughly 50 fewer assaults per year. Would it be worth the effort? I think so. Now, for the second question…

Should CMC Carter have lost his job?

Ugh. Sometimes I feel like the Navy is just flapping in the political winds being driven by public perception. Can we please stop being so hyper-reactive to everything trending on Twitter? Oh, that’s right, I’m supposed to believe CMC decided to retire voluntarily. Sorry, I just assumed he was pressured to resign (like every other American who heard the news).

The problem is his comment was a mistake, and he should have had the opportunity to own up to it, learn from it, and move on. Again, let’s stop focusing so much on public perception. We live in an outrage culture now. A good portion of Americans will always be outraged. That should not be a measure of effectiveness for our leadership. Rather, our metrics should be based on warfighting principles, core values, and ethics.

Not only was it a mistake from which he should have been able to recover, it was infinitesimally small compared to the mistakes our leaders will make when they’re taking the risks we need them to take in combat. In a major naval conflict, if we fire every commanding officer who makes a tactical mistake, based on reasonable risk calculus, we’ll soon run out of commanding officers. Or worse, we’ll end up with commanding officers afraid to take prudent risks, and we’ll lose.

At some point, we’re going to have to show our leaders we have their backs in the face of social outrage. I realize the timing was inconvenient for Navy leaders who were appearing in front of Congress that same week, but there’s never a good time for gaffs like this. Yes, CMC Carter caused a major headache for the Navy, but he still shouldn’t have lost his job.

To CMC: if I’m wrong and you did truly decide to retire voluntarily, sorry, but you made the wrong call. You needed to set an example for junior sailors on how to persevere through adversity, embarrassing as it may have been. As it stands, it seems like we’re saying we should throw in the towel whenever we make a mistake, which only bolsters those who argue the Navy has gone soft—exactly the wrong takeaway. So, what did we really learn? I’m not sure anything.

A Man’s Guide to Leading Women in the Sea Services

in Leadership

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Take a look at this picture.  This is (probably) a White House summit on women in the military.  Notice something about the people around the table? It’s pretty obvious who’s missing… that’s right, me!  Clearly, you men need my advice on how to lead women in the sea services.  Women are an important, congressionally-mandated part of our force, and we need to figure out how to lead them so they stay in the military and stop writing books.

Army Colonel Jo Rusin set the standard with his book “Women on Your Team: A Man’s Guide to Leading Women.”  Colonel Rusin lays it all out like only a man could do, so I thought I’d adapt the guide to a naval audience.  Now, we’ve all heard the terms “mansplain” and “hepeat,” which are blatant attempts to poke fun at men and undermine our authority.  Since these tried-and-true leadership techniques are under attack, here are some new tips for getting women to contribute to your lethality.

  1. Use their skills wisely. Don’t make them do things they’re not good at, like leadership and math.  Instead, assign them duties in line with their natural skill set, like coordinating social activities, to free up the men to do the hard work.
  2. Choose your language carefully. When communicating with women, replace aggressive or technical terms with emotional words. “This formation allows us to better ‘hug’ the hostile contact and make sure every ship feels supported and valued.”
  3. Be sure to incorporate women’s issues into your command philosophy. Think of things like wedding planning.
  4. Two words: intrusive leadership.
  5. Be careful with mission critical tasks. Remember, to a woman, naval service is just a hobby to give them a break from their work in the home.  So, at any moment, they might just abandon their shipmates and run home to their babies.  Thankfully, we men can tell our wives to take care of those pesky child care issues.  Plus, you never know what a woman will do to get out of work.
  6. Look after their mental health. Women making explosive claims could be suffering from hysteria.  Connect them with a mental health professional immediately.  If this hysteria spreads, the men will become confused and they may begin to question their own beliefs, which would impact their lethality.
  7. Treat them like family. It’s always best to impose your sense of morality and family values on your subordinates.  Treat women in your command like your daughters and wives.  If a sailor’s outfit on liberty makes you uncomfortable, make her change.  Have your Supply Officer stock these handy robes just in case.
  8. Show them you care. As with men, it’s important to let your female subordinates know you’re invested in them personally.  Ask her how the breastfeeding is going.  Tell her that perfume reminds you of your wife.  Forming that close personal bond will pay dividends.  Bonus: you might find out she’s totally into you!

So, gentlemen, hopefully with this guide you’ll be able to wh- oh, wait… shhhhhh!  Here they come!

 

(what?!? Colonel Rusin is a woman? Ugh, fire the Research Department!)

Sir, it’s a flying…

in Uncategorized

What if all the unverified UFO sightings by navy pilots were just the most epic long con in history? Now that the Navy finally stopped ignoring the reports and introduced a new reporting procedure, the con is nearly complete…

I genuinely hope the first report from a naval aviator under the new procedure will be: “it was a long, cylindrical airframe, with two spherical objects at the base, and it seemed to throb as it penetrated our airspace.”

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