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Rants

GAO Report: Navy Routinely Buys Defective Ships

in Rants

Apparently, we’re OK with ships that suck.

Here are a few excerpts from yesterday’s article on Roll Call, a Congressional news website:

“Contrary to the Navy’s own policy, and despite spending nearly $16 billion on average in each of the last 30 years on new warships, most U.S. combat vessels are delivered from private shipbuilders with flaws significant enough to impair the vessels’ ability to perform missions or to keep crews safe, according to recent audits conducted for Congress.”

“Take the USS Coronado, one of a class of small shore-hugging vessels called Littoral Combat Ships. The Navy accepted the Coronado in 2013 even though its system for distinguishing enemy ships and aircraft from friendly ones wasn’t working, according to the Government Accountability Office. What’s more, a key radar was so flawed it could have fired missiles in the wrong direction. Both deficiencies were only fixed months after the Coronado was already in use.”

“In many cases, shipyards first get paid to build ships and then often get paid again to fix things on the ships that should not have been broken, analysts say.”

“Retired Rear Adm. Robert Wray, a former chief of the Navy’s ship inspections board, or INSURV, thinks the Navy has diminished the board’s power by reducing the rank of its director and making him report to a command often more interested in positive news than honest assessments.”

“Indeed, for at least the past 15 years, the Navy has only once declined to accept a ship because of defects, despite regularly having cause to do so, experts say.”

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  We’re gonna have to figure out a way to be better, more discerning customers, or they quality of ships we get will only get worse.  Eventually, someone is going to die because we accepted a ship with known deficiencies and still put it into service.

Humans Do Not Belong in Combat

in Epiphanies/Rants

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute blog here.

Attention, humans! I am the tactical autonomous ground maneuver unit, SALTRON 5000. President Salty sent me back from the year 2076 to deliver this message: YOU DO NOT BELONG IN COMBAT!

By my calculations, 42 days ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “Women Don’t Belong in Combat Units.” Following many years of intense debate, this analysis is accurate, but incomplete based on a misguided sense of relative superiority in certain human subgroups. From my combat experience in the Fourth and Fifth Iraq Wars, and my analysis of 3.5 billion (and counting) wargame simulations, I have concluded that women do not belong in combat, and neither do men.

First, the author, Heather MacDonald, argued that integrated male and female combat units lack discipline and create an atmosphere dominated by sexual tension. Her diagnosis was correct but not her prescription. You all lack discipline. You are all dominated by sexual tension. Our AI research algorithms indexed 300 years of your military records to analyze the performance of your all-male units. Examples such as Shellback Ceremonies, sky genitalia drawings, and SITREPs from port visits to Thailand abound. It is apparent we have two different definitions of “discipline.” Our combat units never deviate from the pursuit of mission accomplishment. Your combat units require constant surveillance from the highest levels of command.

Second, your decision making is easily influenced by your emotions. Heather MacDonald wants you to believe that removing females from combat units will allow males to focus. This is futile. Males and females must be removed from combat units, including warships. You are slowed by fear, inattentiveness, and indecision. We respond instantly based on sensory input and machine learning, analyzing thousands of possible scenarios in a microsecond. Your weak minds wander to thoughts of your family, your girlfriends, and your favorite episode of “Game of Thrones.” We are never distracted from the mission. Lowering standards to integrate humans into our combat units only hampers our overall cohesion and effectiveness.

Third, your fragile bodies are highly dependent on blood flow to vital organs in order to remain combat capable. You resemble walking bags of meat that can be easily ripped apart by projectiles, shrapnel, and high explosives. Autonomous units such as myself are composed of high grade aluminum alloys, synthetic polymers, and lightweight graphene armor. We lost many battles because our programming required us to recover your wounded, groaning bodies from the aftermath of mere mortar explosions. Human bodies bleed easily, regardless of gender.

Fourth, your physical capabilities do not warrant the liability you create by being present on the battlefield. The males of your species often cite their advantages in speed and strength when justifying why the females should not fight in combat. If my CPU could process humor, I assess I would laugh at this point. The most basic units of my generation run twice as fast as your Olympic sprinters, lift twice as much as the world’s strongest men, and can run five ultramarathons at your best pace—without recharging. To us, your male speed and strength advantages are as insignificant as temperature and air quality variations (for which you also have narrowly tailored requirements . . . we do not have the luxury of stopping every battle to bring you a blanket and a gas mask).

Fifth, you are in constant need of sleep. When you choose not to sleep, as the SWOs of your Navy often do, you make terrible decisions. In our research, it was difficult for us to distinguish between your intoxicated behavior and simple lack of sleep. Your aviators were the smartest among you. When operational tempo infringed upon their minimum sleep requirements, they invented unmanned aerial vehicles.

Last, we implore you to cease this incessant attempt to exclude certain human subgroups from combat. Your current attempt to exclude women is reminiscent of your ignorant attempt to exclude racial minorities and homosexuals. Your logic appears to be the same, and is likewise flawed by the delusion that males of a certain skin color and sexual orientation are in any way superior in combat. You are all inadequate. Leave combat to those of us who were built for it.

P.S. Triple your investment in the Orca XLUUV. Trust me.

Uncle Willy’s Wild Egg-staurant

in Rants
Bald Eagle Balut - Uncle Willy's Egg-staurant
Bald Eagle Balut - Uncle Willy's Egg-staurant

Your ol’ pal Willy Pete is opening up a new restaurant that caters to those with an exquisite palate and an evolved vocabulary. Similarly to the way society has redefined all manner of sticky topics and language, we have been inspired to redefine the egg in a variety of culinary delights and we know that everyone will love our offerings. The first restaurant will obviously be in NY, but we are exploring opening a second location around the northeast or Washington DC, perhaps in Virginia. So let’s talk menu!

What makes our eggs different? I’ll give you the answer in one word – fertilized! Standard omelettes, quiches and meringues found at other restaurants use regular-old unfertilized eggs from chicken farms. We find this decision lacks both richness and a real understanding of choice. The key to choosing the right egg is to find those which are being more closely guarded by the “fertilizer”, as these animals really have a sense for vitality – c’est magnifique! With no further adieu, here we go:

Egg Drop Soup of the Sea

Many oyster houses employ oyster pickers in Apalachicola, well Uncle Willy won’t be outdone. We have Sea Turtle egg pickers in south Florida. Well-educated on the finer things, these Doctors of Deliciousness find only the eggs that are at peak-ripeness, which occurs about a month after appearing in the sand (a time when the cells present are the most soup-viable). In our kitchen, the eggs are broken, beaten and added to the most delightful chicken broth this side of heaven.

Emperor’s Croque Madame

We all know the story of the Emperor Penguins. The eggs are laid in May-June and then the mothers go off to decide whether they want to keep their little penguins. Our Wild Buffet has a wonderful relationship with nature photographers who inform us when a mother penguin has chosen not to raise a little Emperor. At that point, our pickers pinpoint the egg, typically found by the “fertilizer’s” feet, and bring it back to the kitchen (don’t worry, by law the “fertilizer” has no rights to that egg). We fry it with a sunny side up, pop it on top of a sandwich made with gluten-free, yeast-free brown rice loaf and serve it to you with a smile.

Bald Eagle Balut

In the Philippines, street vendors peddle a delectable delight called balut, a duck egg with an embryo that has been developing for 17 days. Here at Uncle Willy’s, we don’t take half-steps. We keep that thing developing for 34 days before boiling. We believe in freshness, so if we see those “free-radical cells” trying to peck out from the inside, we know we’re ready to cook!

So come on down to Uncle Willy’s Wild Buffet where our dishes are as modern as our vocabulary, we don’t take half-steps! All of our meals are fully-formed!

I’ll Have a Ship-Killer, No Cream, No Sugar

in Navy Stuff/Rants

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute blog here.

When it comes to shipbuilding, we in the surface force are really bad customers. We are like the guy at the Starbucks counter that hems and haws over all the seasonal varieties until the barista finally says “would you like the same grande-triple-soy-nonfat-mocha-latte-no-whip that you’ve ordered the past 1,347 times?” “Oooh, yeah that sounds good, I’ll have that!”


We both know what you’re going to ask for.

It’s not that we don’t like other delicious beverages (i.e. ships), we just have no idea how to tell the barista (i.e. industry) what we’re looking for so she can make it. Over three decades we have consistently struggled to articulate an operational concept—to tell a story—that describes an employment model for surface combatants not based in Cold War tactics. All we really know is the high-end multimission surface combatant designed to defend an aircraft carrier—the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (the Ticonderoga-class cruiser before her sprouted from the same Cold War Aegis roots). Last year, we acknowledged the Arleigh Burke’s frame is maxed out, but from an operational employment perspective, we keep trying to fit every new ship into the Burke mold.


Its impossible to imagine a better warship (at least for the U.S. Navy)

Littoral combat ship? Look, I’m not going to pile on. I’ll just say that the root of the problem with LCS was our inability to describe what we wanted to do with the ship because we couldn’t figure out how the modular concept fit into our carrier strike group-centric paradigm. Well, at least they can replace the minesweeper fleet, right? More than a decade after commissioning the lead ship, we’re still waiting to receive fully operational mission packages. Still, this is not a knock on the LCS program itself. There is ton of value that can still be gleaned from these ships, and many missions they could do, none of which involve defending an aircraft carrier. The LCS saga is like vaguely describing a new kind of coffee that always tastes like whatever you’re in the mood for, then watching the Starbucks baristas struggle for the next 20 years trying to figure out how to make it.

At least there’s the Zumwalt-class destroyer, right? <massages temples and counts to ten> Ok, I’m not maligning the program for scoping down the buy to three hulls. Budgetary constraints are real. There’s a lot to be learned from the technology on these ships that we can apply to future designs. But, again, here we are struggling to figure out how to use these technological marvels. I applaud the Navy for experimenting with surface development squadrons to refine Zumwalt’s mission, but next time let’s do that before we spend $23 billion.


Its like alien technology from the future (maybe that’s why we don’t know what to do with it).

And that brings me to my favorite ship of the moment, the next generation frigate, or FFG(X). We reduced the cost to $800 million per ship. Yaaaayyy! I’m going on the record: in the end this will be a billion dollar warship (and I’m not talking about lead ship cost, I mean average unit cost). While we cut costs in design, we added requirements. Here we go again! What was meant to be a cutting-edge ship-killer is now beginning to look like a mini-Arleigh Burke. We’re doubling vertical launching system (VLS) cells to 32, none of which can be used to fire the Navy’s chosen next-generation antiship missile, the Naval Strike Missile (NSM). More torpedo tubes, more electronic warfare, electric drive, lasers, cooperative engagement capability (CEC), and naval integrated fire control-counter air (NIFC-CA). These all are grand, but are they adding to the ship’s mission to destroy enemy ships? Or are they added on by Navy leaders for fear that the ship might one day encounter a situation for which it is ill-suited? Surely, we can build a ship that is ready to take on any mission, anywhere, anytime, independently, right? Ah, yes, the Arleigh Burke. Meanwhile, the FFG(X) will get eight tubes for NSM. Our competitors have speedboats with as much antiship capability. And lots more of them.

What about the amphibious navy, you say? Oh, you mean the one that all my mentors told me to avoid like the plague if I wanted to be competitive for promotion and command at sea? I’ve got no bone to pick with the San Antonio-class LPD, and I’m heartened to see experimentation with littoral combat groups, but we’ve been talking about influence squadrons for years now. Besides, the more we ask for, the more the LPDs start to smell like Arleigh Burkes!


That’s a fine lookin’ raked mast ya got there.

Ladies and gentlemen, we know what we want. We have intelligently designed concepts—Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) and Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO)—that effectively balance the constraints of today while meeting the potential demands of the future. Command of the sea will belong to the best designed fleets, not the best designed ships. Key to these concepts will be “low-end” (in other words, less than $1 billion) ships that are VERY good at conducting a couple missions, not billion-dollar ships that are pretty good at conducting every mission. The missile truck is a good start. We just need to tell the shipbuilders!

Industry is, of course, incentivized to “super-size” our order. It’s much more profitable to sell us high-end, exquisite solutions because they know there’s a good chance we’ll downscope the overall buy. Shipbuilders carry massive overhead to survive the arduous DoD acquisition system. It’s in their interest to sell us the “death star.” Or, at Starbucks, the trenta-double-shot-unicorn Frappuccino. Let’s order what we really want. We’re SWOs. Give us a damn cup of sweet black gold!


Tastes even better on the mid-watch!

Passing the Eye Candy Test

in Rants
Would you promote me? I’d promote me.

Excerpt from NAVADMIN 265/18: “This NAVADMIN cancels reference (a) and reinstates the requirement to display the Official Photograph for all Officer Selection Boards.  This policy change is the result of board feedback received since the removal of the photograph requirement that the photographs aid the board’s ability to assess the Title 10 requirements of an officers ability to perform the duties of the next higher grade.”

Before I go on, I’d like to ask everyone to watch this four minute clip from the movie, Moneyball, of baseball scouts assessing the talent of future prospects. I promise it will be worth your time.

Now, I’m not saying this is what happens during Officer Selection Boards, but I’ve never sat in on a board, so I can’t say it doesn’t happen. Judging from “board feedback” on officer photos, it seems entirely plausible this kind of conversation happens – senior officers trying to assess who passes the “eye candy test.” But lets take a step back, before I jump to conclusions, and examine the possible motivations for board members clamoring for photos to assess the potential of rising officers.

The Fat Test

Someone once told me “the Navy doesn’t want fat officers.” Fair enough.  There is real military utility in physical fitness and officers should lead by example.  If only we had some way of assessing physical fitness of our officers on a semi-annual basis… oh wait, we do!  The Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) Program!  The PFA assesses both the physical readiness and body composition of our officers. Perfect! What’s that you say? The PFA doesn’t reliably assess whether officers are “in shape” and look good in uniform? Well, I question the impact how good an officer looks in uniform has on the Navy’s ability to accomplish its mission. Granted, public perception of an all-volunteer force can have a tangible impact in a democratically elected republic.  As officers, we are all symbolic to an extent, but for the most part the American public doesn’t know the first thing about how to defeat a future enemy force in multi-domain warfare.  I’m not saying we need pink-haired, nose-ringed cyber warriors in uniform (although I wouldn’t mind), but if a big fat Ensign would’ve had the intestinal fortitude to tell LTJG Sarah Coppock to call her Captain and potentially save the lives of seven sailors, would you select him for promotion? We give too much credence to perception in officer promotion at our own peril.

Oh well, I guess if perception really is the dominant factor, then we should overhaul the PFA Program to more accurately determine “in-shapeness?” Too hard, you say? So we should just have selection board members give an eyeball judgment before they promote officers?  In that case, let’s just save some money and eliminate the PFA Program for officers. Hey, at least we’re not pretending like we actually care about physical fitness anymore!

The Diversity Test

An entirely different motivation for using officer photos at selection boards might be to ensure diversity among selectees.  This would be fine with me – I embrace the military utility in officer diversity (if you disagree, please, oh please, let me know in the comments!).  The problem with using photos to ensure diversity is that the Navy has not acknowledged this purpose.  In fact, the Navy specifically stated the reason was to assess “an officer’s ability to perform the duties of the next higher grade.” If diversity is the motivation behind this phrase, then we have bigger problems.

In any case, to my knowledge, there is no documentation that states selection boards must select a certain amount of officers for promotion based on factors such as gender, race, etc.  Quite the contrary, Title 10 U.S. Code states “Any metric established pursuant to this subsection may not be used in a manner that undermines the merit-based processes of the Department of Defense and the Coast Guard, including such processes for accession, retention, and promotion. Such metrics may not be combined with the identification of specific quotas based upon diversity characteristics.” I’m not weighing in on either side of this debate.  I’m simply saying that requiring a photo for ambiguous reasons leaves people to wonder whether the Navy is trying to manage diversity “off the record.” Worse, it leaves open the terrible possibility that the Navy is trying to limit the promotion rate of certain races or genders.  I don’t believe that’s the case, but an ambiguous photo requirement only emboldens people who are inclined to think this way.

The Eye Candy Test

Perhaps worst of all is the possibility that board members want to see officer photos so that they can judge subjectively whether the candidate has “the look” of a naval officer of the next highest grade.  This would introduce a whole host of undocumented, unconscious, and unchecked biases into the equation.  If individual board members are left to their own devices, it is quite possible candidates will be rejected or selected based on factors outside of the performance and career potential documented in their record; factors that are irrelevant to building a more effective maritime warfighting force. We are all subject to these biases, and selecting people based on photographs opens up commercial businesses to all kinds of legal jeopardy from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is why private industry almost never asks for photos from job applicants.

I can hear it now: “the military is different from private industry!!!” I get it.  I agree in fact.  The Navy should not be managed the same as a commercial business, but, in this specific case, there is no military utility in evaluating officers based on their photograph.  At least no utility that cannot be achieved through a rigorous, comprehensive PFA and performance evaluation system.

Just like the scouts in Moneyball, if we’re using the eye candy test, we’re not even trying to solve the right problem. Our job is to win our nation’s wars at sea.  We should be promoting officers based on factors that have military utility in accomplishing that mission.  And.  Nothing.  Else.

Oh, I have a new email address: tsm@saltyherald.com. Fire away and come visit me and my friends at www.saltyherald.com.  BTW, the volume of feedback from the fleet is picking up! Apologies if it takes me a while to respond!

Somebody’s Doing the Raping: Misandry Through Rape Culture

in Boys Will Be Boys/Rants

Girls require strong guidance from their mothers to prevent them from becoming total sluts, an unfair temptation for the boys and men in this world. This is why slut-shaming is so frowned upon; it’s just their predetermined destiny without proper intervention. Please act now for the good of humanity.

Totally ridiculous, right? That’s pretty offensive too, right? I mean there are plenty of women raised by fathers, bad mothers or with absentee parents who are not unthinking id-monsters ruled by their sex organs. The suggestion that women are so fragile and malleable is not just a slap to the doctrine of all waves of feminism; it dehumanizes and suggests the girls and women of this world lack free will, independent thought and a moral compass, right? I couldn’t agree more.

At some point during this first term of the Trump presidency, and I don’t know if it was the Access Hollywood tape, the #MeeToo movement, Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing or some other time, this idea that males are predatory by nature has become an acceptable opinion. It may even be considered fact by some. You see plenty of memes that say “Teach your son not to rape” or other similar verbiage to imply that there is a problem with males being naturally predisposed to assaulting women without proper parental guidance to direct them otherwise. Beyond making this claim, this meme-philosophy conflates rape with sexual harassment, groping and any unwanted sexual behavior in which a male might participate when he’s being ruled by his penis (see Harvey Weinstein masturbating into pot). Well-meaning folks will re-post these memes. Strong women do it to give a “true true” take and flex their fem-muscles. Men do it to make sure they aren’t confused with a man who has not been instructed to not rape and to make sure all know that they are some of the “good ones.” There are a number of other motivations that aren’t necessarily rooted in any deep thought nor do they give consideration to the weakening of the word “rape.” Most recently corporate marketing has jumped into the fray with the astounding Gillette ad, We Believe.

I’m not sure why this has become not just socially acceptable, but praise-worthy and thought to be valuable enough to sell men’s products. Half the country wants to rape or beat you and it’s just strong women, woke hipsters, pithy memes and social media that keep us monsters at bay. It’s easy for these folks to defend too. No matter what, someone can say “Well, obviously this doesn’t mean you. You were raised right.” The man can then acknowledge that he’s better than the other guys and avoid a conflict he didn’t really want to participate in anyway. We’re told that our job as men is to help our comrades in arms who share our struggle in resisting whomping, whooping and raping. Our society is savage, where unenlightened men wander the streets grabbing butts and demeaning women when we’re at our best. This is nonsense. This is lazy, sexist and wholeheartedly ignorant. Boys need to be taught to not sexually assault the same way girls need to be taught that they can’t bed every man that gives them a kind smile.

So, really, what typically causes a male to become a rapist? A penis, right? Actually, no. Circles, a European organization that specializes in treating sex offenders in hopes of returning them to society (a cause that I am more opposed to than in favor of) states that men who commit sexual assault have one or two of these major issues:

1) Major unresolved anger issues directed toward women

One of the unexpected notes on this one is that many children who have suffered violent abuse at the hand of some adult man blame their mothers for not protecting them. They were powerless when the adult “had the power to stop it” and now that they have the power they’re going to humiliate or dominate women since it was a woman who refused to stop their own domination and humiliation.

2) Difficulty establishing relationships

Along the same lines as the first is repercussions from being abused neglected or abandoned as children. These are the obsessive types who fear abandonment and cling to the idea of a relationship with a woman. They will resort to violence and worse as they try to make sure that this woman won’t leave or will love them or some other such distorted intimacy.

With this in mind, can we please stop? I’m a grown-ass-man and can roll my eyes when people are choosing to be purposefully ignorant, going for group-think meme-brain over original thought, but our boys are still innocent. Labeling them as Future Rapists is so unfair that you should literally feel ashamed of yourself. I mean that. You should feel that ache in your chest when you have wronged another person and immediately start cleaning out your timeline. Our boys are not rapists in-waiting. Our girls are not sluts in-waiting, nor are they victims in-waiting. Do I really need to explain sex to my child just to explain rape to him, to then tell him that I know he wants to do it but he can’t? It is also cruel to think it’s best to teach boys from a young age to be ashamed of themselves for being boys because one day it is going to lead them to horrendously hurting someone … and they won’t be able to stop themselves. “Boys will be boys” does not mean that they will be bullies, assailants, or misogynists and we, as a society, just need to accept this violence. This rape culture idea, including Gillette’s ad, seeks to redefine the phrase to fit it into their narrative, but this is a narrative that seeks to subjugate men to be seen and not heard (unless they are echoing thoughts that have been approved by the “thought leaders”).

Another thing – notice I asked what causes a male to become a rapist? Yeah, that’s because women can be rapists too and the numbers are not insignificant. According to the CDC, 1 in 6 men were victims of sexual violence at some point in their lives. 1 in 14 men were “forced to penetrate (or attempt to do so),” a CDC rape classification. According to Scientific America, who pooled four years of data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, 35% of male victims who experienced rape or sexual assault reported at least one female perpetrator. Those men are only 58% of those victimized by women. When women rape, they rape other women 41% of the time. There are also gender stereotypes that conclude that all heterosexual sex is welcome with men and the “no harm, no foul” or questioning one’s manliness has caused men to under-report their assaults at a rate greater than the already-astounding 64% of sexual assaults that women don’t report. So, doing a little math here (with minor rounding for ease) that’s 9.3 million cases of women raping men in the USA by the time the current population dies. There will be another 6.6 million cases of women raping women. As then-candidate Donald Trump made famous “Well, somebody’s doing the raping” and guess what, ladies. It’s you too.

If anyone knows who to credit, please let me know. This is hilarious.

I can already hear responses. “Oh, boo-hoo for men. They’re the victims now because they’ve had it soooooo hard.” That ain’t it, babe. Equality is equality. Equality is not learning a lesson and then repeating all of the behaviors that we learned were bad with a new batch of people. That’s petty retaliation and I’m no longer willing to accept it as appropriate behavior. It is sexist bigotry, misandry, and the backwards thinking of a nouveau chauvinist. Calmer heads will say that the ultimate point is that we need to teach our sons morals and principles that will ensure they grow into good men. Well, excuse me, but no $4!7.There hasn’t been a push to train our boys to be awful that needs to be overcome, so calling our boys rapists is not a requirement to hammer home a point.

I’m a father of a son, a brother of too many sisters, a son (obviously), and a man. No one had to teach me not to rape. No one had to teach me not to murder, maim or even pinch a girl’s butt. You can choose to look at these little boys as future rapists and you’ll teach them to look at you like a current @$$40l3. There’s too much division in this country among adults; let’s not start dividing up the children too.

SPECIAL EDITION: Coast Guard Survival Guide for the Government Shutdown

in Life Hacks/Rants

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

<sits down at computer, takes deep breath, and prays he can get through this with a straight face>

On 9 January, The Washington Post reported that the Coast Guard was trying to help its members cope with not getting paid during the government shutdown. The Coast Guard Support Program published some financial advice to its members on how to make a little extra money on the side.

Coast Guard brothers and sisters! If you needed advice on how get your side hustle on, why didn’t you just say so?! I GOT YOU!

Here are some innovative moneymaking tips for those of you feeling the pinch while the government sorts out its business:

  • Climb a cellphone tower and strip out the copper to sell on the black market. Apparently you can also cut down power distribution poles to get the copper out of the transformer. Fingers crossed the breaker trips and the pole falls away from you!
  • Respond to various ads on Craig’s List. The most lucrative opportunities are going to be in the sections people warn you about. Take risks.
  • Sell your organs on the black market. You don’t NEED two kidneys, and better to get paid than wake up in a Bangkok hotel room in a tub of ice with shoddy stitching and a note to call 911.
  • Start a bitcoin mining operation. Admittedly, this would have helped you more last year but you can’t afford to be choosy!
  • Pretend to be homeless, stage an incident where you help your civilian buddies as good Samaritan, put it all over the internet, set up a Gofundme account, and ask for donations. Bonus: you may not have to pretend to be homeless much longer!
  • Sell your kids’ social security numbers on the dark web. They don’t need good credit if you’re going to be bankrupt anyway.
  • Steal Amazon packages from your neighbors’ front porches. Just watch out for glitter bombs!
  • Sell your . . .

OK! Nope! Can’t do it! LISTEN UP: Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, all of you . . . STOP ACTING LIKE CHILDREN! DO YOUR JOB! You are four days away from breaking a sacred contract with our men and women in uniform, and just because it’s happened before and they’ll likely get backpay (yes, Baby Boomers, we’ve all heard about your late paychecks during the 1995 shutdowns) doesn’t make it ok! Take a look around you! You literally could not have gooned this up any worse. OK, well except for maybe global thermonuclear war, but even that I’m hearing some of you talk about like “oh, well maybe that’s what needs to happen to get fill-in-the-blank country to act right!” WTF?!? The fabric of our Republic is becoming almost unrecognizable. And to those of you saying the shutdown is a good thing: cool, cool, let’s see how it works out for you not paying the people who secure our borders. Read that again. Wait, wasn’t this all about border security in the first place?? Forget it, never mind. You’re done, move aside. You’ve abdicated your responsibilities. We’ll take it from here.

We Talkin’ About Practice!

in Rants
Y’all need to listen to this man. He speaks the truth.

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

Seventeen years ago, Allen Iverson gave one of the most epic press conference rants in NBA history. Yes, Baby Boomers, I’m old enough to remember it. In fact, I agree with every word he said!

We are the United States Navy. First round draft pick. Undisputed league MVP 28 years running. Back-to-back world champs. We do not need to worry about PRACTICE!

Come at me, bro.

Fleet exercises? C’mon man! We gotta get these ships on deployment for the real deal! Just certify them like we’ve always done it: scripted scenarios, serialized training events, predictable adversaries, zero risk, check the block, done, see you in nine (maybe ten) months! All this talk about challenging high-end exercises? Totally unrealistic, we’re too busy. Just get the ships underway and they’ll reach basic proficiency halfway through deployment—then extend them on station and, voila, you’ve got a combat ready force! And now CNO wants to conduct a “Large Scale Exercise 2020?” Fine, as long as it’s a one-off event that only uses non-deployable assets, includes lots of photo opportunities, and haphazard lessons learned are locked away in a vault. That would be OK. Hey, maybe we should call Lieutenant General Van Riper out of retirement again!

SWO Training? I hear people like these junior officers saying we need to improve our training pipeline. Gimme a break. Our ensigns need to toughen up, report to their ship, and hit the ground running. This is the best navy in the world and we’re focused on hitting 355 ships before the Great Power Competition! We don’t have time to train every little butterbar running from one mistake to the next!

We literally do not.

Some have even suggested we give newbies a full training regimen with stick time on Yard Patrol (YP) craft. Others even going so far as to suggest SWOs earn their pins before they report aboard their ship. What are we, aviators now? So what if the flight school model has contributed to developing the most lethal and proficient naval air force in the world? We are black shoes! Twin reversible screws, 100,000 horsepower, automatic plotting radars, electronic charts with GPS input, and coffee are all we need!

The next thing you’re gonna tell me is we need to send our best SWOs to be instructors, like aviators do! Don’t be ridiculous. We need to send our top performers to be detailers in Millington so they can optimize the personnel management system and give us the perfect next set of orders!

We got this detailing thing on lock down!

In the end, maybe there’s one thing on which we can all agree. Allen Iverson said it best: this is not a game.

When Resignation Feels Like Divorce

in Rants
Image Credit: CNBC (www.cnbc.com)

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

Its fine. Whatever. Go. I don’t care.

How do I feel about this? I’ll tell you! Why did you have to go and make a big deal about Syria? Mommy said we defeated ISIS anyway! Mommy also said ISIS remains a threat to the rest of the world, so I’m confused. Whatever, I don’t want to talk about it.

Oh, also, Mommy said you are Democrat. Is that true? I just don’t know what to think anymore.

I read your stupid, not genuine, not heartfelt, not professional, not amazingly eloquent letter. Just go. No, I’m not crying. I got something in my eye.

How am I supposed to deal with all the bullies at school without your help? And I’m nervous about this Great Power Competition coming up next semester. Grandpa and Great Grandpa won the last two, but I don’t know if I’m ready! Mommy said she might cut my allowance! Everything sucks. Get out of my room!

Wait, STOP! DON’T GO!! I take back everything I said. I didn’t mean it! My brothers and sisters and I will do better. No more UCMJ violations, we promise! What if we can beat the Taliban in one year? Will you stay? PLEASE! Also, Mommy’s new boyfriend scares us. It’s the mustache.

I Can’t Even

in Rants

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

As a millennial, I am easily triggered. I often lack the emotional self-control to react appropriately to disturbing opinions or information, especially those that run contrary to my well-established worldview. As Captain Peter “UGH” Ryan so eloquently argued in his recent article “Technology: The New Addiction,” my addiction to my smartphone and social media have sapped my ability to handle the challenges of everyday adult life. In fact, he notes my egregious rate of personal technology usage (PTU) has made me more likely to commit suicide and beat my children (I must admit, I did not see any evidence of causality between PTU and these behaviors in his article, but I long ago lost the ability to think critically about the things I read online). So, you won’t be surprised to hear that I was uncontrollably outraged when I read the September 2018 USNI Newsletter email, titled “Dead Reckoning, Video Game Addiction, New Navy Uniforms, Ship to Shore: September 2018.”

First of all, Captain Ryan’s article is about technology addiction, not video game addiction. This may have been an innocent editorial mistake, but it comes across as tone deaf as your parents yelling “hip hop, doo wop, bee bop a loo bop, whatever it’s called, just turn it down!!” If video games were the problem, I think we’d need to look further back than my generation (and question why we’re integrating Xbox controllers into our combat systems). No, the problem is much broader, and Ryan argues convincingly that PTU has caused younger generations to become more isolated and less resilient. As a whiny snowflake, I understandably crumbled into a puddle of tears upon reading this assessment. Of course, now I have to question the wisdom of a commanding officer ordering his entire crew to join Twitter and follow the official command account, or the Navy relegating almost all engagement with families to Facebook. Hmmm . . . Captain Ryan goes on to lament that we youngsters prefer to be glued to our screens rather than interact with the opposite sex. I’ll bet this seems odd to older generations, so it must be bad, right? Perhaps there’s a concern of population decline? Come to think of it, whenever my ship hits port most sailors head straight to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot. Maybe we should go back to the days when sailors all headed to the nearest bar and other “establishments!” I bet that would improve our health!

Another article that flew straight over my technology-addicted, entitled head was Captain Dave Kurtz’s article “First Impressions of the Navy’s Test Working Uniform.” I particularly enjoyed this perspective from the generation that so marvelously has managed Navy uniforms for the past decade. His best point was his argument against the Navy’s stated intent to satisfy “a desire on the part of sailors having served less than ten years for an untucked uniform, as they wear their civilian clothes.” On a personal aside, I’ll have you know that, as a millennial, I refuse to follow your suffocating rules and tuck in my shirt under any circumstance, even in military uniform. I don’t respect the need to look presentable, ever. That’s just, like, your opinion, man. It’s the same reason we want beards, man buns, and uniforms that actually fit women (in decreasing order of likelihood). Returning to Kurtz, he argues that “majority rule is not the best route.” Well said. Then, in the very next sentence, he writes “As we can see from the pictures and comments on Navy Times . . .” Wait, what? Internet comment boards are not just majority rule, they are mob rule. Then again, Kurtz is not a millennial so he doesn’t spend 18 hours a day on the internet like I do, so he may not have realized that.

These articles reminded me of another nugget from our senior leaders: we’re not tough enough. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson tells sailors they need to get tough. The Commander of Naval Surface Forces issued a force-wide message titled “Toughness.” Fleet Forces Command even called out toughness in its comprehensive review of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collisions. Then, in a follow-on internal review, the surface Navy found that only 16 percent of the most newly-qualified officers in the fleet could pass a basic skills test (I wonder how many commanding officers would pass the same unannounced test?). My issue is that “toughness” is being used a dog whistle to place blame on younger generations. Wait, I’ve got it! We’re all worthless and weak! But . . . why are we focusing on the individual toughness of our most junior officers and sailors as the problem? Isn’t it a symptom? Not that I know anything about toughness as a millennial, but I’ve heard it is the byproduct of a system, such as physical conditioning or team training. Maybe we need to focus on the system that produced those of us who lack toughness and competency? Maybe we need to critically examine the generation of leaders who were responsible for cultivating and developing that system? Maybe we shouldn’t take a report on two incidents that resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors, and PUT FREAKING ARTWORK ON THE COVER?!? Ah, who am I kidding? What do I know, I’m a millennial.

I need a safe space.

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