Thursday, December 8, 2016

18th Anniversary of my failure to screen for command - while in command!

As a Lieutenant Commander, I assumed command of Naval Security Group Activity Yokosuka, Japan (a Commander command) in January 1997 from LCDR Eric Newhouse (the interim CO). The CO previous to Eric had been relieved 6 months earlier, after failing two successive Inspector General inspections - leaving behind demoralized Sailors and a fractured command.

The "Failure to Screen for Command" letter arrived after I had been in command for 23 months and a few days before I put on Commander. Twelve years later, it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth - as you can tell.

I was not completely surprised by the letter because a Lieutenant from BUPERS had called two weeks earlier to inform me that I had "FAILED TO SCREEN FOR COMMAND". What did surprise me was the fact that I had failed to screen for command - a job that I had held for two years, already.

Thankfully, I didn't lose my day job. I post this letter for those who have had to deal with the pain of "Failure of Selection" - whether it be for promotion, command or some other program you desperately want. It's a very painful and emotional thing. One which we try very hard to comprehend. No one ever explained how I failed to screen for a job I already had and was ranked #1 at. A year later, I "successfully screened" for the assignment that I had been doing for 35 months. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advice from Steve Jobs





Today, I salute all of my Shipmates who work tirelessly every day to make a difference in the lives of their Sailors. Maybe we can't change everything but can't we change just one thing?  That one thing may lead to another and then another.  So, perhaps we can change everything.  Keep working on your 'dent' in the universe - even if that universe is just your division at your command.

More fun stuff from Hugh MacLeod HERE.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

10 Reasons I've Enjoyed Posting To This Blog Over The Past Many Years

In no particular order.


1.  It allowed me to engage with a wonderful author and to write the Chapter 1 opening vignette for a Wall Street Journal/Amazon best-selling business book.  Dr. Stephen Covey and Bono 'open' for me.  Multipliers by Liz Wiseman is available HERE.
2.  It gave me the opportunity to help a Pulitzer prize winning author with research for his story on The SeaWitch in TIME magazine with a link HERE.
3.  It has allowed me to remain connected to the Navy's cryptologic community, which I love. The community dissolved and was reconstituted.
4.  It earned me an invite to speak at a Women In Defense forum and to contribute ideas to numerous professional publications.
5.  It has allowed others to freely express their frustrations on a variety of topics important to them. 
6.  It allowed me to expand the network of Sailors of all paygrades that I mentor and with whom I share lessons learned.
7.  It allowed me to collaborate with the former CNO on avenues to gain recognition of the Navy as a TOP 50 Employer in the United States.
8.  It allowed me to keep alive the memory of some stellar Sailors.
9.  It has allowed me to write everyday, which I love.
10.  It has connected me to some great Navy veterans and many others who proudly serve today.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Importance Of Letter Writing - Captain Laurance Safford: Father of Naval Cryptology



A number of his personal letters provide insight into events surrounding the congressional investigation into the attack on Pearl Harbor. One letter refers specifically to the “Winds Message” reportedly intercepted by the U.S. days before the 7 December surprise attack. This infamous message reportedly gave clear indications of the planned Japanese surprise attack.
Unfortunately the actual intercept mysteriously disappeared shortly after the surprise attack and the "Winds Message's" very existence is only supported by the testimony of Safford and perhaps one or two others who reportedly also were aware of the intercept.

His personal papers also included a four page letter to Vice Admiral C.E. Rosendahl responding to two pages of questions from Rosendahl about the number, distribution, disposition and construction of PURPLE machines prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Other documents included a petition to the Congress and supporting testimony to award Capt. Safford remuneration for his many secret cryptologic inventions, some of which were cited as among the most important and secure communication systems used by the U.S. during WW II. 

As Admiral Stavridis is so fond of saying: "Think, read, write and publish." If you don't tell your story - who will know it?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Conduct as officers

"Unless and until officers conduct themselves at all times as officers, it is useless to demand and hopeless to expect any improvement in the enlisted ranks.
Matters of correct attitude, personal conduct, and awareness of moral obligations do not lend themselves to control by a set of rules or to scientific analysis...Many methods of instruction and different approaches to teaching them will present themselves. Each naval officer must consider himself an instructor in these matters and the future tone of the naval service will depend on the sincerity which he brings to this task."
Admiral T. C. Kinkaid
United States Navy
1947

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Certain Aspects of Our Profession Are Fundamental - They Should Never Change


Rear Admiral James S. McFarland and I carried on a regular correspondence for almost 20 years. He was a great mentor and a conscientious note/letter writer. This last response was just before his death in February 2003. We had been exchanging ideas about the future of cryptology in our Naval profession. He was committed to the idea that some aspects of our profession were fundamental and should never change.

He was deeply proud of the 10,000 or so Sailors that comprised the Cryptologic Community. He, more than most, understood the value of those Sailors to the Navy and its mission. He believed in taking care of those Sailors and the Sailors knew it.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Your True North

Boxing the Compass - Finding our True North and staying true to it

Most of us have come to understand that leadership is about character, not characteristics.  We know what our values are and sometimes struggle to stay true to those values when we see that our seniors continue to progress while not demonstrating that same strict adherence to our Navy core values.  

Some in our community have found strength in maintaining their 'true North' by creating something they have called their personal "Board of Directors" (BoD).  Entrepreneur Bill George has a decent book out called TRUE NORTH GROUPS.  He knows that, with the challenges we face these days, we require additional help to stay on track.  We cannot rely on just ourselves or our commands to help us stay on track.  We need Shipmates in 'our circle of trust'  with whom we can have in-depth discussions and share intimately about the most cherished things in our lives and careers while we serve our country around the world.  

Whatever you choose to call it, you need to have Shipmates you can count on in the toughest of times - the people who will follow-through on things 'because they said they would.'

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Handwritten letter


A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.

Catherine Field - The New York Times

Friday, November 25, 2016

Right and True

"If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it."

Marcus Aurelius

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

MAD DOG MATTIS on being "too busy" to read - same applies to being too busy to write

"… The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.

With TF 58, I had w/ me Slim’s book, books about the Russian and British experiences in AFG, and a couple others. Going into Iraq, “The Siege” (about the Brits’ defeat at Al Kut in WW I) was req’d reading for field grade officers. I also had Slim’s book; reviewed T.E. Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”; a good book about the life of Gertrude Bell (the Brit archaeologist who virtually founded the modern Iraq state in the aftermath of WW I and the fall of the Ottoman empire); and “From Beirut to Jerusalem”. I also went deeply into Liddell Hart’s book on Sherman, and Fuller’s book on Alexander the Great got a lot of my attention (although I never imagined that my HQ would end up only 500 meters from where he lay in state in Babylon).

Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun. For all the “4th Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc, I must respectfully say… “Not really”: Alex the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying (studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us.

We have been fighting on this planet for 5000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. “Winging it” and filling body bags as we sort out what works reminds us of the moral dictates and the cost of incompetence in our profession. As commanders and staff officers, we are coaches and sentries for our units: how can we coach anything if we don’t know a hell of a lot more than just the TTPs? What happens when you’re on a dynamic battlefield and things are changing faster than higher HQ can stay abreast? Do you not adapt because you cannot conceptualize faster than the enemy’s adaptation? (Darwin has a pretty good theory about the outcome for those who cannot adapt to changing circumstance — in the information age things can change rather abruptly and at warp speed, especially the moral high ground which our regimented thinkers cede far too quickly in our recent fights.) And how can you be a sentinel and not have your unit caught flat-footed if you don’t know what the warning signs are — that your unit’s preps are not sufficient for the specifics of a tasking that you have not anticipated?

Perhaps if you are in support functions waiting on the warfighters to spell out the specifics of what you are to do, you can avoid the consequences of not reading. Those who must adapt to overcoming an independent enemy’s will are not allowed that luxury.

This is not new to the USMC approach to warfighting — Going into Kuwait 12 years ago, I read (and reread) Rommel’s Papers (remember “Kampstaffel”?), Montgomery’s book (“Eyes Officers”…), “Grant Takes Command” (need for commanders to get along, “commanders’ relationships” being more important than “command relationships”), and some others. As a result, the enemy has paid when I had the opportunity to go against them, and I believe that many of my young guys lived because I didn’t waste their lives because I didn’t have the vision in my mind of how to destroy the enemy at least cost to our guys and to the innocents on the battlefields.

Hope this answers your question…. I will cc my ADC in the event he can add to this. He is the only officer I know who has read more than I.

Semper Fi, Mattis"

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Captain Clyde Lopez celebrates his 79th Birthday Today

Captain Clyde Lopez

Captain Clyde Lopex, Athens, 1989


Captain Clyde C. Lopez, United States Navy - retired, celebrates his 79th birthday today.  This great American enlisted in the Navy in October 1955 and served for 40 years, retiring in 1995. 

His illustrious Navy career would fill volumes.  It is sufficient to say that he was a Sailor worthy of being called a Shipmate by all who know him.


He was born on this day in 1937 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

Sir, Happy Birthday SHIPMATE !! 

I salute you !!

Monday, November 21, 2016

The power of ideas in the Information Warfare Community



TED (owned by The Sapling Foundation) fosters the spread of great ideas. It aims to provide a platform for the world's smartest thinkers, greatest visionaries and most-inspiring teachers, so that millions of people can gain a better understanding of the biggest issues faced by the world, and a desire to help create a better future. Core to this goal is a belief that there is no greater force for changing the world than a powerful idea. Consider:
  • An idea can be created out of nothing except an inspired imagination. 
  • An idea weighs nothing.
  • It can be transferred across the world at the speed of light for virtually zero cost.
  • And yet an idea, when received by a prepared mind, can have extraordinary impact.
  • It can reshape that mind's view of the world.
  • It can dramatically alter the behavior of the mind's owner.
  • It can cause the mind to pass on the idea to others. 
 OUR COLLABORATION ACROSS THE  INFORMATION DOMINANCE CORPS IS CAPABLE OF CHANGING THE MANNER IN WHICH THE NAVY CONDUCTS  COMBAT AT SEA AND PREVENTS WAR. 

OPNAV N2/N6 is actively seeking your ideas.  SHARE THEM. Create a better future for our Navy. It's where you'll spend the rest of your career.