Wednesday, January 6, 2010

They Are Taking Away the Power of the CHIEF PETTY OFFICERS' MESS - Sound very familiar? From 2009? No, it's from 1973.

"When the CNO sends a direct message to everybody in the field, the chief petty officer community and the middle management officer community have thrown up their hands and said, "He has taken all our power away and we can't do anything."

Obviously, there has not been any removal of the tools to maintain discipline aboard a ship or anywhere else in the Navy, but the attitude toward the use of such tools has changed."

House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Report by the Special Subcommittee on Disciplinary Problems in the US Navy, 2 January 1973


Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

The different military services of the United States have always had a friendly competition in the enlisted community. But there has been occasions when it was a little less than friendly. The Chief in the Navy in my years of recollection, since 1954, has always been held in high esteem by both officer and enlisted individuals of the Navy. The services other than the Navy typically have always wondered why the Chief in the Navy was treated the way he/she was, when in their respective services the E7 was just another pay grade, with no real distinction other than paygrade. This elevated status of the Chief in the Navy was maintained, in my opinion, because Chief’s continually proved they deserved this status. I was a Chief for 14 years and on a daily basis I examined my leadership position, my technical expertise, and other responsibilities to my Shipmates, my ship, and the Navy. I found I was less than perfect but always met the requirements the Navy demanded of a Chief.

Very Respectfully,

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Anonymous said...

I've only had 19 years of experience as a sailor, obviously much less than yourself, or many of your readers, but I disagree with the general attitude concerning Chiefs in the Navy.

Chiefs are being over tasked, micromanaged, and generally worked to death, in the sea-going Navy. They really don't have time to do the things that Chiefs were made to do, such as mentor their subordinates. This is a cultural problem, as it is clearly coming from the top down. Leadership is always responsible, in other words.

On the flip side, the Chiefs seem to have created many of their own problems. They pulled the power away from the Petty Officers, and they pulled the power away from the junior Officers. I've tried to use my authority as a First Class Petty Officer, to deal with problem sailors, and was stopped cold every time. By a Chief. Every single time, every command, every situation. No paperwork ever went up. Ever.

Ask virtually any Petty Officer First Class you meet, and if he believes he can speak candidly, without fear of reprisal, you'll find a lot less admiration. I damn well fear reprisal, I have a wife and kids to feed, and all it takes is a few well-placed words, and I lose everything I have, as a blueshirt. I've seen it happen too many times.

The Chief's pick and choose who they wish to join their "Good old boys club", and no matter your work ethic, if they don't care for you, your chances of getting into the Chief's Mess are virtually nil. They manipulate everything and everyone in their power.

The Chiefs get away with just about anything. The rules on fraternization seem to be a suggestion to them, not a rule; far too many find it far too easy to have relationships with junior sailors that are inappropriate. When caught, the junior sailor gets punished, but rarely the Chief. Racist Chiefs get away with it. Who's going to tell an E-9 that he should treat all sailors with the same respect, not just the ones he looks like?

Their arrogance is unbelievable. Nearly all of them forget where they came from, or what it's like to be a 'blueshirt'.

I've been mistreated pretty badly over the years, and so have quite a few other shipmates. We have no way to make it right, because the Chief is always going to win that battle. When an E-8 or E-9 decides to blacklist you, lie about you, or ruin your evaluations, there really isn't a thing that a blueshirt can do. Nothing. As a matter of fact, the instruction for evals clearly states that you cannot point out or blame a single person for causing your problems, when making your statement, even if that one chief is the cause of your bad eval. Hence, they're virtually untouchable.

The officers certainly aren't going to cross that line.

Not the way it's supposed to be.

You might call it sour grapes, go right ahead, but I've known junior sailors, Chiefs, and Senior Chiefs who felt the same way, going back to Chiefs who retired as far back as 1973. In other words, it's a cultural problem. Denying the problem doesn't make it go away. This was no way to spend 20 years of my life.

Anonymous said...

Navyman834 ..."The services other than the Navy typically have always wondered why the Chief in the Navy was treated the way he/she was, when in their respective services the E7 was just another pay grade, with no real distinction other than paygrade."

-Respectfully, this is very incorrect. As a prior Marine GySgt with extensive experience with Army SOF & now Naval Officer I can attest there are very large differences between junior enlisted, NCOs and Senior or SNCOs in the other services. They don't broatcast the difference with different uniforms et al but being a Senior or SNCO is not 'just another paygrade'.