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Navy Stuff

Wait, So The Navy Didn’t Start the Global Pandemic?

in Haterade/Navy Stuff

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

They say you shouldn’t joke about coronavirus. Its serious stuff. Fine, but just because a bunch of idiots are gaffing off all reasonable precautions to drink green beer in crowded pubs and expose the conspiracy by the media to induce mass hysteria, crash the economy, and sabotage the President . . . doesn’t mean I can’t crack a joke. Besides, we all need a little levity after a few days of self-isolation (you better be self-isolating, you filthy people!). Anyway, speaking of jokes…

Did you hear the one about China blaming the U.S. Army for the coronavirus? The ARMY?!? OK, I’m officially offended. Like, for real offended, not just millennial offended. O-5-not-getting-a-salute-on-the-pier offended.

Everyone knows that if a branch of the United States Armed Forces were to be responsible for the pandemic of the century, it would be the U.S. MONSTER-LOVIN’ NAVY!! In fact, it’s no small miracle that we didn’t start the spread of a global virus. Think about it—we nasty. Let’s face it. After a few weeks at sea, expiration dates and safe temperatures are more like suggestions than rules. The sniff test becomes a taste test. And I’m not just talking about Americans. All ye scurvy dogs with saltwater in yer veins are included here (BTW, that’s not just saltwater). Here are just a few examples:

  • Good ol’ Pattaya: Do I really need to say anything more? Let’s just put it this way: The Navies of the world spread the treasures of port towns far and wide. If you don’t believe me, just swing by Medical about a week after a port call. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Our Crippled Immune Systems: You know what’s not super great for autoimmune health? A cocktail of energy drinks, nicotine, and three hours of sleep a night. Whatever. Who has time for fighting off pathogens when there’s a vaguely military-related situation developing in the Central Asian States? Just like we tell every combatant commander when they ask for longer naval deployments more often: We can do it! Just give me a white Monster and a cherry-vanilla-avocado flavored vape and I’m basically indestructible.
  • Community Berthing: Don’t even get me started. I never saw a t-shirt you could stand up by itself until I stayed in the JO Jungle. Then there’s “hot racking” in which sailors on different shifts take turns sleeping in the same rack. Don’t worry, they put their own linens on the rack, and we all know fresh linens kill the billions of microbes teeming on walls and soaked into the pillow and mattress.
  • Community Gear: Sure, everyone has a tube of Clorox wipes by their watchstations and workstations now, but how about a year ago? At least two or three times a day, we take off our headset all covered in our germs and hand it to our watch relief. What do they do? Disinfect it by rubbing the earpieces on their coveralls. If you rub vigorously, the heat from the friction kills all viruses, and you can kill keyboard bacteria by blowing on them. Everyone knows this.
  • CHT Happens: My first assignment was R-DIVO. I saw things, awful things, and I heard even worse stories of what repair division had to do to keep the collection, holding, and transfer (i.e. sewage) system up and running. Also, sailors will commit all sorts of inhuman acts when you tell them they can’t go potty for a few hours. Same goes for shipyard workers. There’s a special place in hell for people that leave bottles full of bodily fluids tucked away in obscure angle irons.

Of course, the U.S. Navy is a responsible organization, and has enacted key measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a brilliant, public health-conscious move, the Navy indefinitely extended two carrier strike group deployments to the Middle East, in order to prevent sailors from coming home and potentially spreading the disease in their communities.

Likewise, to highlight the infallibility of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP), the Navy augmented the Sustainment Phase with the Quarantine Phase—which consists of 14 days of returning deployers loitering off their homeport coast within visual and cellphone range of their families on the pier. Also, all “open-door” policies are now officially “closed-door” policies. Your CO is truly dismayed she cannot listen to you extol the challenges of leaving your “fur baby” at home for deployment.

Finally, in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus aboard ships, the Navy is analyzing “alternative minimum safe manning levels” for forward deployed ships. I call it the Optimal Social Distance Manning Concept, and it is pure genius. Reportedly, the move is being driven by budget concerns but we all know this is subterfuge to avoid contributing to virus hysteria, since the Navy would never, ever think of cutting costs by taking sailors off forward-deployed ships. Still . . . if we can cut costs and prevent the spread of COVID-19 . . . WIN-WIN!

Ok, shipmates, keep it sanitary until I see you again. I’m gonna go bathe in Purell. Semper Virus. Oops, I mean . . . Semper Fortis!

Your Command Tour Starts Now, Ensign!

in Leadership/Navy Stuff

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Ok JOPA, put your Ensign Cards away, time for some tough loving. Oh, sorry, I’ll wait for you to finish that rant about “Big Navy blah, blah, blah . . .” Ready?

So, you think you have a few years until you have to get ready for command? Wrong! Your command tour started when you put on those butterbars. Oh, you don’t believe me?

  1. Check your social media. Every hilarious meme, gif, “sh**post,” and whatever else you’ve shared to showcase how brilliant and witty you are is out there for the world to see. And it’s not going away, no matter how clever you are with your security settings, online aliases (trust me on this one), and new apps that hide or delete your messages. Someone will excavate that one post and drag into the public spotlight at the worst possible moment for your career. Just ask an athletedirector, or politician. The officers sitting on your boards will see it but, more importantly, so will your sailors. Twenty years from now, you will be judged on what you do today, like it or not.
  2. Get a motto. Instead of hideously mocking dependents on the JOPA Facebook page, you could—bear with me—say something positive (I know that’s rich coming from me). The best leaders have mottos, maxims, slogans . . . whatever you want to call them. It may be a gimmick, but it helps. If you can’t communicate in simple terms, you can’t communicate. And commanding officers who use these mottos don’t make them up at their change of command ceremony. They hone their thoughts over time. Here are just a few that I’ve picked up from leaders I respect throughout my career (I won’t use their names since I didn’t ask their permission, but happy to give credit if asked):
    • I can do anything, I just can’t do it alone
    • Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier (Colin Powell originally said this . . . it’s ok to steal mottos!)
    • Do great things!
    • #keepgrinding
  3. Make up your own mind. We’ve got this thing in our culture where, as junior officers, where we rail on “Big Navy” and embrace change. Then, at some point as senior officers (usually when we assume command), we publicly embrace every order from higher headquarters and start to resist change. Here’s a pro tip: you’re allowed to decide for yourself whether you like something or not. If you enjoy something about being at sea, its ok, you can admit it. You don’t have to be anti-everything. Here’s another: you don’t have to pretend you like an order for your sailors’ sake. Trust me, they will figure you out. Your opinions on the order don’t have much bearing on the situation anyway. Did you give your best military advice as feedback in an appropriate and timely manner? Check. Is the order lawful and ethical? Check. Move out. Instead of pretending that you “like” every order you receive, show your sailors that you will faithfully execute orders, regardless of whether you “like” them or not—and when your sailors execute the orders, they’re executing YOUR orders, not the “Damn Exec’s” orders. Isn’t that the essence of naval professionalism?
  4. Don’t lie to your sailors. Lip service kills morale. I’ll admit it, I’ve done it. I think we’re getting better as an institution about being honest inside the lifelines, but there’s one big lie that I keep hearing, and it starts when you stand in front of your first division. You tell your sailors it’s all about them. FALSE! Your heart’s in the right place, but you’re lying. It’s all about the MISSION. Ideally, every sailor’s interests (including your own) would be aligned with mission accomplishment, but military service doesn’t work that way. There will be times you’ll need to miss that appointment, that birthday, or even that wedding (hopefully in increasingly rare order). It’s called sacrifice, and you’re going to ask your sailors to do it. You’ll need to do it too. This is the service you and your sailors provide the nation when you commit to your oath. So don’t crush their morale by “blowing smoke.” Be honest with them. Try to articulate how you are all (including yourself) part of a system driving toward mission accomplishment.
  5. Write something! Someone once said “If you need something done, ask a sailor. If you need something said, ask an officer.” I’ll bet an officer said that. There’s some truth to it. Officers communicate, and none more so than those in command. By nature of the way we operate, most of that communication will be written: emails, orders, directives, publications, naval messages . . . the list goes on. Do you think that when you assume command, those who read your words will heed them, understand them, internalize them, and take the action you expected? HA! Let me repeat that . . . HAHAHA! Some people will ignore you, some will misunderstand you, some will challenge you, and some will set off on entirely the wrong course. The simple fact is written communication is tough, and you need practice, but reading and writing isn’t enough. You need to put your ideas in the arena before you take command. Practice receiving feedback professionally and adjusting course (or not) as you see fit. You don’t have to be a blogger (please don’t start a blog), but you can publish at USNI, CIMSEC, or any number of sites. You can also practice by drafting staff documents within Navy and DoD circles. Lots of ways to write . . . just write something!

So, don’t wait until you’re sitting in the captain’s chair to figure out how you will command. You’ll be too late. Your command tour starts now, ensign!

ERASE Yourself!

in Announcements/Navy Stuff

This post originally appeared on the USNI blog here.

WhatsApp has been hacked! Facebook sold your data! Terrorists are tracking your running routes!

Nothing is sacred. I may be a millennial, but I remember when the internet was an idyllic place full of weird AOL chat rooms and pirated Phish MP3s. Nowadays? It’s a battlefield, and you are ill equipped. For example, the Navy just declared the Chinese-owned app TikTok—which does the same thing as other social media apps, but in a cooler and shadier way—is a cybersecurity threat and advised everyone to uninstall it. If you’re 35 or older Tiktok isn’t directly targeting you, because there’s zero chance you’ve downloaded the app (if you have, you’re trying way too hard). No, TikTok is targeting your newest sailors and, maybe more importantly, your kids. No argument here. Like I said… nothing is sacred.

Yes, the internet is dark and full of terrors, but there is a glimmer of hope! I’ve teamed up with DARPA to announce a brand-new program designed to protect you from yourself in this scary information environment: Elective Reversible Amnesia and Social Eradication (ERASE)!

ERASE is an exciting new opportunity to render you invulnerable to the enemy’s attempts to target you on the internet. Let’s face it, we stink at information security and emissions control. Our ships are like fountains of electromagnetic energy and personal data whenever they enter port. ERASE takes the problem out of your hands with a simple procedure that will make it impossible for you to remember anything not pertaining to the Navy. You’ll be the sailor you’ve always dreamed of becoming! Meanwhile, the ERASE team will also eliminate any evidence that you ever existed in society (both on the internet and IRL). No more pesky distractions from family and friends! BTW, since the procedure is elective, you are responsible for all costs but we’ll dock your pay with a discreetly coded line item on your LES, and you won’t remember how much you got paid before the procedure so you won’t mind at all! The good news is, just in case you do want to keep your spouse and kids around, your family can get ERASE’d under TRICARE Prime for a very reasonable co-pay!

Whose kids are these and why do they know so much about ships?

You’ll also be glad to know our military physicians have a 51 percent success rate in reversing the procedure and restoring your original identity. Should you have second thoughts, you’ll probably be able to go right back to living your terrifyingly risky existence on the internet (Note: zero of our test patients have elected to reverse the procedure they cannot remember having). The simple fact is ERASE is the only feasible defense against cybersecurity threats. We’ve been trying to tell you simply not to use unfamiliar information technology, but then some hot new app or “show us your Social Security Number challenge” comes along. Short of actually understanding continuously evolving information technology and how we can safely and effectively use it to our advantage, ERASE-ing yourself is the next best alternative.

Trust me, we are all on the front lines of the information battlespace and it’s only getting worse. Last week, the Office of the Secretary Defense sent out a memo to all service members warning of the unknown dangers of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, like and 23andMe. The industry is mostly unregulated, and your genetic data could be used for questionable purposes. Its not enough that we protect your mind and personal data online with ERASE, now we need to protect your DNA as well! We all know you’ll just ignore the warning to stop using these tests, and there is evidence that your security (and, therefore national security) could be compromised if even your relatives take these tests. What we don’t know is how any of this really works, which is why the folks at DARPA also asked me to roll out their follow-on initiative to ERASE: Precautionary Unlikely Reversible Genetic Enhancement (PURGE)!

PURGE is an experimental, legally safe medical procedure that scrubs your DNA of any connection to your lineage, just as a precaution. Think of it as a juice cleanse for your genes! You’ll no longer be vulnerable to DNA attacks, or for that matter any of the hereditary diseases that have plagued your family for centuries. Our scientists can also code honor, courage, and commitment into your DNA, so you’ll finally be able to live up to that FITREP bullet that says you’re “the living embodiment of the Navy’s Core Values.” With the combination of PURGE and ERASE, you’ll be entrusting your DNA, your brain, and your social existence to the Navy’s competent hands, which virtually guarantees your continued promotion! Bonus!

Talk to your PCM about PURGE, because you haven’t paid attention to a word I’ve said!

Also, while not official DoD policy, I don’t recommend using those at-home colon cancer screening tests either. There’s no way to be sure someone won’t harvest your genetic data from your DNA “sample.” Plus, it’s just gross.

Go Army! Seriously… Go… Do Something.

in Navy Stuff/Props

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

I don’t care what you all say, I’m pulling for Army this year. I mean, lets be honest, they need a win. Everyone just found out that while we thought they were fighting in Afghanistan for the last 18 years, they were actually just chilling at the pool drinking mai tais. Why exactly was I drilling holes in the North Arabian Sea tracking sortie after sortie go up the “Boulevard” for months on end? Wait a second! Were you aviators just driving your jets to the pool to get in on the mai tais??? That is literally the only thing that could make being a SWO more “SWO-ey.”

Anyways, it’s a good thing the game is nationally televised, so Army can’t just claim the game keeps going into another overtime after Navy ties it up with some dishonorable trick play. Or they could just employ the “Syria Model” and get on the bus midway through the fourth quarter and leave the cheerleaders to finish the game.

My point is it’s rough being in the Army recently. Let’s let ‘em have this one. They do try, ya know. Those of you who’ve had joint tours know what I’m talking about. I once saw an Army O-5 actually reschedule his crossfit class from 1000 to 1430 because of an OPT meeting. Now that’s dedication. Ohhh, you know I’m only kidding! Army O-5’s don’t work out. Or go to OPT meetings. Its not really their fault. The Army is so dang big you can almost get lost in it. After all, we have to properly resource all those land wars we’re pretending to fight (sure would be nice to have all those ships that the generals keep asking for though . . . just sayin’). I feel like there is probably some major out there that no one in DoD even realizes is on active duty, and he’s just collecting a paycheck like Sonny Koufax in “Big Daddy.”

Don’t get me wrong. Some of the best officers I’ve ever served with are in the Army, but man have I met some duds. In the first few weeks of my joint tour, I remember thinking “no wonder we can’t beat the Taliban.” They must send their best young officers somewhere else, kinda like how the Navy does joint tours. Now that I think of it, the Navy sent me to a joint tour. Hmmm . . . actually, yeah, that makes sense. Ironically, the senior Army officers I’ve worked with really like having SWOs on their staff. Who wouldn’t like having officers that will work themselves to the bone for fear of another lashing?

So, like I said, go Army. They really need this one. Besides, is there any chance the President is going to hand us the Commander-in-Chief Trophy after the year we’ve had?

P.S. You like how I casually inferred that all the lying about the Afghanistan stalemate is the Army’s fault and deflected any of the blame away from the Navy? That’s a SWO dagger, shipmates. You can keep it.

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.


  • 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 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!

The Salty Millennial
Editor-in-Chief, The Salty Herald
Facebook: @thesaltymillennial
Office: 1-800-555-SALT
Blood Type: NaCl Positive

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.

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