Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tactical Reset

There is a presumption in the Navy officer corps of integrity, good manners, sound judgment and discretion, which is the basis for the special trust and confidence reposed in each officer. This can be seriously jeopardized by the slightest transgression by any Naval officer. Who among us could believe that the female astronaut driving across country in a diaper could possibly be a Navy Captain? And that the CO of a cruiser would be removed from command for cruelty and mistreatment. These officers brought discredit upon us all.

In the Navy today we appear to be moving away from the presumption of integrity and sound judgment rather than moving toward this ideal. “Getting ahead” is becoming an end unto itself. Successful professional development of our Sailors across the board is suffering as a result.

Is our quest for promotion and command motivated by the ideal of service to the nation, the Navy and her Sailors, or has it become more of an exercise in getting one’s “promotion ticket punched”?

In the Navy's attempts to attract and keep diverse talent, we have accepted the false assumption, that bright young men and women will only be satisfied as Naval officers if we promise them all rapid advancement ahead of their contemporaries. It's a false promise.

In the rush to see our Sailors (in all paygrades) advanced, we are denying them an opportunity to mature and develop in knowledge and wisdom in each rank before taking on the responsibility of the next.

We need to stop and examine ourselves honestly and do what the Army has called a "tactical reset." We've allowed our standards of excellence to slip precipitously low. Let's at least get it re-centered.


Anonymous said...

Yes, reset by all means, but practically speaking, how? The quaint naval etiquette that we yearn for (good manners, sound judgement, vigilance and forehandedness, special trust and confidence, etc.), more reflects upper class Edwardian values than those of the current age. Perhaps a Tea Party or Oath Keepers for a reform of sound naval etiquette?

I shall ruminate more upon the matter this evening whilst I enjoy a claret and cigar after dinner, in mufti, of course.

Anonymous said...

I think that the senior enlisted and officer ranks are getting blurred together. We have CPOs doing the jobs of the DIVO; the Navy is doing more with less...enlisted members are just as educated as junior officers. In some cases CPOs are more educated. We have MCPOs going to the Navy War College...Is being an Officer about Education? Or is it about leading? Because enlisted members are becoming just as educated as officers...the day of officers being from privileged families is history...I think all ranks should start out enlisted and actually earn a commission...

Anonymous said...

This has everything to do with a billet structure where rank inflation is the standard and a promotion model that has little choice but to be overly focused on delivering "desired" collar devices in favor of "required" competence. I recently spoke with a senior offficer who was a voting member on a recent O6 Board. The assessment was that this board had the responsibility of deselecting officers who would not have made O4 had it not been for a forced 90% selection rate years ago. More than a few of our CPOs are of the mind that O7 selection is the first true quality cut.

Anonymous said...

"O7 selection is the first true quality cut"...and we don't see a problem with this...Why?

Anonymous said...

Some good points throughout.

- We are now a nation based on an "in your face" culture where pushing the limits on the outrageous is often rewarded. The dates of men dressed in suits and wearing hats are gone. In with the the jean shorts, flip flops and t-shirt with a provocative slogan. So there goes etiquette...

- As for sound judgment, the Navy promotion system is fundamentally flawed on both the Officer and Enlisted sides. Too much of the process is based on a single sheet of paper being looked at by a group in Millington with no direct relationship to the candidate. Hence the promotion of Officers who one day get charged with "cruelty and maltreatment" of their crew. And eight year Chiefs? Give me a break. That timeline alone diminishes the meaning of the anchors they wear.

How do we fix it?

- The etiquette issue is beyond me. When the greater culture is what it is trying to compete with it is a challenge. But that isn't to say it shouldn't be tried. Wardroom functions, dining outs, Senior Officers setting the example, etc are all possible means to an end.

- As for the more important issue of the two...sound judgement, special trust, confidence, etc...a revamped evaluation and advancement system is necessary. Evals and Fitreps need to be a true measure of a person's effectiveness, not an inflated document full of exaggerations written in hopes of getting a person promoted, even if he is not ready. As for advancement, why is everyone eligible for advancement all the time? Why not limit the numbers to 50% per command? Only those recommended by their command will be eligible to test/board. This puts most of the emphasis on the reporting senior/current command, vice on a board at Millington. Give the power back to the commands who truly know the individuals. Not being recommended would not necessarily be a negative thing. Instead it may just reflect someone who simply isn't ready yet to assume the next rank.

Just some thoughts....back to my coffee.

Anonymous said...

The failure is in the selection process. Right now on my ship we have a 15 man berthing filled with ensign's why, in the hopes that some of them may stay long enough to be CO's and XO's. "To many people leaving" is the mantra so we take in more in the hopes that some will stay.
How about fixing the abusive or crappy leadership they receive and maybe more quality people will stay.
I have a Deck that is at 50% manning and yet I am told by BUPERS that there are not enough personnel to fill the billets. Am I the only one seeing the problem here? Why do we need to retain so many O6's beyond 30 years. We have almost as many ADM's as we do ships, why?
How many enlisted can we hire on what we pay a single O6.
CPO boards how can we promote someone to chief on E-4 evals. Think I am kidding under the new promotion guidelines it is possible for 6 and 7 year chiefs to have E-4 evals reviewed at the board. NIOC Whidbey Island had a 5.5 year chief. What does this individual know about being a chief?
Optimum manning looks great on paper but is a failed endeavor. If all sailors did was steam underway that would be one thing but in port, we pile on all the extra FP watches and other jobs so when does a sailor have time to actually do any work.
I know many people will disagree and say that I am whining but all I am doing is pointing out the obvious. Maybe I am missing the bigger picture. If I am wrong then correct me. I am a 20 year LDO who is not afraid to learn.

Anonymous said...

Approximately 1 in 25 people (6%) of the general population is a clinically diagnosable sociopath: no conscience, no feelings of remorse, no concern for the well-being of others, however close they may be to you. It is likely that there are higher concentrations of these misfits in professions where power over others is concentrated and unrestrained.

Sociopaths are psychologically unable to properly exercise the traits of good leadership, although they are quite often found in senior positions of power over others. Screen for sociopathy, and you will eliminate the worst of the poor leaders.

Anonymous said...

I'm a lowly O-1 and I'm pretty tired of seeing a lot of my peers act like little kids. I don't expect everyone to be saints, but when I joined the Navy I thought I would be surrounded by adults, not terminally unemployable college kids. Don't misunderstand me, most of my peers are fine, but I feel too many act inappropriately in public. Too many of them get off without getting in real trouble. Too many of them are not gentlemen/women.

Anonymous said...

We need to remember to be kinder to ourselves. In spite of our many real leadership problems, the Navy is still a leadership Walhalla compared to much of the private sector.