Thursday, October 31, 2013

A short quiz

If you find yourself wondering how you rate as a Naval officer/leader, the following quiz should provide some clues.  
  • Are you confident? You need to be comfortable making decisions based on your skill, knowledge and experience.
  • Are you visible? Circulating through the command makes you seem more approachable, increases your familiarity with your Sailors and encourages them to be more productive. 
  • Are you a good listener? Sailors love to be heard. 
  • Are you honest? Your success depends on whether your Sailors can trust your word. 
  • Are you interested? Asking questions not only increases your knowledge, but it also shows you care. 
  • Are you genuine? If you are a decent person, simply being yourself is the best way to gain trust. 
  • Are you generous? Sharing credit for your success builds loyalty. 
  • Are you consistent? Don't be a tyrant one day and a pushover the next. Flip-flopping between styles confuses Sailors. 
  • Are you responsible? No one respects a CO who blames others when something goes wrong. 
  • Are you compassionate? Sailors appreciate knowing they can go to their Skipper (and chain of command) if they have a problem.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bad news does not improve with age...and the news is aging rapidly

“ Unfortunately, Skipper … here I am, unwilling and unwanted … because I know that you never welcome the bearer of bad news.” 

An unnamed JO to his Commanding Officer late last week

Also, Antigone by Sophocles, circa 442 BC


From NASA's ASK Magazine
Summer 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Real good post over at JO RULES HERE.

Several good points in there worth considering.  As a "PRIOR" myself, I've seen all the things he's talking about and probably have been guilty of at least one offending behavior.  In fairness to "PRIORS", I have seen equally disruptive and counter-productive behaviors by officers from all other commissioning sources (USNA, NJROTC, DCS, and OCS).  Thankfully, no one commissioning source really has the monopoly and produces a higher percent of jackasses than any other (though many would disagree - you're probably one of the offending jackasses) per capita.  I think we can all agree LDOs and Warrants are the worst !

More AWESOMENESS from my Shipmate Jeff Bacon HERE.

And here is some info from one of my Shipmates from NSGD Atsugi circa 1980s.  Robert E. Morrison and another mustang, Bill Calderwood, were the best COMEVALs we had:

            I really liked your recent blog post on “Priors”.  Making that transition is always tough, especially in a small closed community like the Naval Security Group was.  Detailers would always try to transfer a newly commissioned mustang a considerable distance from his former duty station, but in a small community one had a reputation which proceeded arrival at the new command.
            When I was selected for LDO there was no knife and fork school.  I walked into the CO’s office a First Class and walked out as an Ensign.  The commissioning ceremony was in whites.  The next morning I got up, unwrapped my new khakis, and realized I didn’t know how to pin the bars on!  I had to find a copy of All Hands Magazine to see a picture.  The advantage of being an LDO was I knew where to look.  This same principle applied throughout the remainder of my career.  The enlisted experience for NSG officers was extremely important, that is why so many of our officers (not just LDO/CWO) had enlisted service as CT’s of some branch.  There wasn’t any civilian school that taught cryptology, consequently a good portion of our officers rose from the ranks.  Further proof is the way they detailed LDOs, that is interchangeably with 1610 officers.  This was not the case in many other LDO communities.
            Being a mustang had some other advantages, one of which was a more mature outlook on the Navy.  When I got to Atsugi I was a very junior Ensign (about 3-4 months in grade), but I wasn’t really interested in playing Bull Ensign for 2 years, and I made that known.  Wasn’t so much of a problem within NSGD, but I had a little trouble convincing some of the VQ J.O.’s, until one day when I showed up in uniform at the club for lunch.  One particular protagonist looked at my ribbons, and said something to the effect of “You have a lot of ribbons!”  My response was “That’s the difference between an Ensign and an LDO”.   I had no problems after that.  Having spent some time with the Q in Da Nang, I was able to relate better with the senior pilots and sevals.  The J.O.s were about 4 years behind me experience wise.
            The hardest part of transitioning was having to distance myself from friends who had been close associates while I was enlisted.  That included nearly all the enlisted crew at Atsugi, who were for the most part CTI’s, many of whom I had been stationed with before.  The reverse is also true, in that some of them surely thought (with good reason) that I had been a mediocre I-brancher at best, so why would I be any better as an officer.  Like any job, it took me a while to figure it out, but in the end I figured out how to make it work.  Atsugi was nice in another way.  It was a small detachment, and rather informal.  One didn’t have to wait for feedback, and I had easy access to the top.  It lacked the structure of a wardroom like Misawa, but I really enjoyed the chance to get established without getting lost in the grass.
            When I did make it to the fleet (as an Outboard officer), I was lucky enough to be assigned to a wardroom that was mustang heavy.  At one point three of four department heads were mustangs, and we had six LDO’s and two CWO’s out of approximately 30 officers total.  Some of the other JO’s were mustangs as well.  We drove our XO (who was a Real Naval Officer – Annapolis 3rd Generation) nuts!  We also did very well on deployment, thanks to a very talented enlisted crew and officers who knew how to get out of the way.
            If I had to put my finger on one thing most important for the transition, it would be to be a professional at all times.  My advice to someone newly commissioned from the ranks (at least in the old NSG) would have been something to the effect of “you have a special education (via your enlisted training) that your USNA/OCS/ROTC peers don’t have.  It’s your responsibility to train them and get them up to speed.  Make them your equal in the shortest possible time.”  Those who followed that adage became part of a team, rather than the strong link in a weak chain.
            Know I’ve kind of rambled here, but I wanted to weigh in, and this was too long to post.  Notice that I have used the term “mustang” throughout.  Mustang is the traditional Navy term for anyone (not just LDO/CWO) commissioned from the ranks.  I’m not crazy about the term “priors”, most people with priors have a long criminal record.
            Hope you and yours are all doing well.  Warm regards, Bob

Monday, October 28, 2013

You may be falling behind if you're not familiar with these certifications

Cryptologic Technician Networks rated Sailors who have been certified as Cyber Targeteers, Cyber Fire Support Planners, Cyber Fire Support Coordinators, Cyber Weaponeers and Endpoint Exploitation Analysts are now considered highly competitive candidates for the Cyber Warrant Officer Program (CWOP).

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What you want your FITREP to say

More good advice from RADM James A. Winnefeld Sr. USN - retired.  His son, Admiral James A. "Sandy" Winnefeld Jr. followed this advice and is currently serving as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

You want your fitness report to say the following:

1. You held a demanding job and did so for a protracted period. Many commanding officers realize that in writing up their department heads they must get every eligible officer into a department head job-even if only briefly-so that every qualified officer has a chance when that individual's record appears before the XO and CO screening boards. Others cut right to the heart of the challenge and put the best officers in the best jobs-and keep them there.

2. You did so while deployed. You were tested in a demanding environment, and the fitness report narrative states the salient details of the deployment and your role in it.

3. You performed well compared to your contemporaries in similarly demanding jobs. A mark in the "must promote" box is acceptable until you can further prove you have the right stuff to make the "early promote" box.

4. The narrative supports with facts the quality of your accomplishments.

5. You are qualified for the next step in your career progression, such as department head, executive officer, commanding officer, or major command.

Although your fitness report principally documents your past performance, it should also forecast your future promise. You perform well not only for the satisfaction of doing a good job but also because that performance is a partial predictor of your future performance in positions of higher responsibility. Your fitness report is intended to speak to future screening and promotion boards, not the historical researcher or the record keeper. The whole report must be forward looking, using past performance as one indicator. The other indicators are your intellectual capacity, your suppleness of mind, your ability to learn from experience and observation, and your suitability for professional growth. As important as these other indicators are, they are crucially affected by proven performance.

Fashioning this linkage between the past and the future is the job of the screening and promotion boards. They can do no better than the raw materials they must work with, meaning principally your reports of fitness. Remember that the members of the boards who judge your suitability have been where you want to go. They know what it takes, and they are looking for what you have to offer that fits the requirement template. But their perspective must look through your promotion jacket and its fitness reports. In a sense your former skippers are their guides in making this assessment.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Navy Information Operations Detachment Kaneohe Bay Change of Charge

In a time honored Navy tradition, Lieutenant David T. Spalding will relieve Lieutenant Mike Schmidt as Officer in Charge, NIOD Kaneohe Bay today (25 October 2014) aboard the historic battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63) at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Navy Information Operations Detachment Kaneohe Bay Sailors support Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing TWO's expeditionary Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Forces in support of THIRD, FIFTH and SEVENTH Fleet operations fighting today's War on Terror and ready to engage tomorrow's adversaries.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

For you know who, you know where

The true character of a Naval officer cannot be hidden from his peers, subordinates or family.  He can fool his seniors in the chain of command only as long as they wish to be fooled.  As the saying goes - "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."  There's enough shame to go around now.  Time for action.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I have no free copies left.

Mark Miller, well known business leader, best-selling author, and communicator, is excited about sharing The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow with those who are ready to take the next step. You can find it on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.

E-mail your request for a free copy of the book and your follower # to  Please include your name and mailing address.  All 25 copies have been spoken for now.

While you are at it, you can read about some great Navy leaders in my Kindle e-booklet VADM James Bond Stockdale Inspirational Leadership Award Winners - A League of Extraordinary Officers and Gentlemen available HERE.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Leadership must be based on goodwill

Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and most tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.

VADM James Bond Stockdale
Military Ethics
“Machiavelli, Management, and Moral Leadership.” 1987

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ask your Sailors to be great

As you go about your daily routine, don't forget to ask your Sailors to do something great with their Navy careers.  There is nothing wrong with average lives and average achievements.  Most of the good in the Navy actually comes from seemingly average Sailors going about their daily routines.  But, you are a leader and part of a leader's responsibility is to call for the greatness in your Sailors.  It's there.  Sometimes, all a leader has to do is ask for it.  Give it a try.  I don't think your Sailors will let you down.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Genuine Officer and A Gentleman

Happy Birthday Rear Admiral Eugene S. Ince Jr!

On this date in 1926, Eugene St. Clair Ince Jr. was born to Eugene and Jay Green Ince. He is an only child. The love of his life, Jean Marion Gregory Ince passed on 12 January 2009. Theirs was a love story that lasted a lifetime. His proposal to Jean is truly legendary and their story has been featured in Gourmet Magazine and many others. They were married on 8 June 1949 in Oak Park, Illinois following his graduation from the United States Naval Academy-Annapolis, Maryland.

Admiral Ince was a Naval Aviator. During the Korean War, he deployed with VA-115 in USS PHILIPPINE SEA and USS KEARSARGE. He had 128 successful carrier 'traps'. Following the Korean War, he was a flight instructor. He attended the Naval Postgraduate School (Naval Intelligence) and the Defense Language Institute (Russian) in Monterey, California. In June 1960 he changed designators from 1310 (Naval Aviator) to 1610 (Special Duty- Cryptology). From 1966-1968, he was the Commanding Officer of NSGA Skaggs Island. He went on to become the Operations Officer (G50) for Naval Security Group Command and the Deputy OP944B at OPNAV.

He served as Commander, Naval Security Group Command from August 1978 to September 1980.

Today, he's living the good life in Madison, Virginia.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

You may be a diminisher, if...

A Commanding Officer, who is a colleague of mine, asked me to refresh her on the traits of a "diminisher" as described in Liz Wiseman's book MULTIPLIERS - How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.

So, here are the main beliefs and assumptions of a Diminisher – (the other end of the spectrum of the Multiplier) – see if you recognize yourself in any of these…
  1. “Really intelligent people are a rare breed and I am one of the few really smart people.”
  2. “Other people will never figure things out without me.”
  3. “People who don’t ‘get it’ now never will therefore I’ll have to keep doing the thinking for everybody.”
  4. “I need to tell people what to do, make all the important decisions and jump in and take over when someone appears to be failing.”
I need to ask Liz Wiseman to write another book  DIMINISHERS - How Some Commanding Officers Crush the Motivation of Every Last Sailor Under Their Command.  She'll need to get busy because some of our COs are working on a few chapters of their own.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Books are in the mail

The Heart of Leadership - Mark Miller

This short, easy-to-read fable reveals the five habits that underlie leadership character and that determine leaders’ success – and teaches leaders how to develop these habits. The good news for all of us: leadership is not just the purview of the few – it is within reach for millions of aspiring leaders around the world. This book is the road map they need to get their lives and careers on track.

For those who expressed an interest and sent me their mailing address, the books went out in the mail yesterday.  You should have them in hand on Monday.  Thank you for your interest.


Self-regulating culture

As Commanding Officer, you want to establish a "self-regulating" culture at your command where your Sailors are answering your questions before you ask them and they are building trusting relationships between the Chiefs mess, wardroom and your Whitehats.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Everything honorable and glorious

It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.
General George Washington, 1781 1st President of the United States

Monday, October 14, 2013


The chain of command is valuable bureaucratic protection for juniors. If the chain of command is being bypassed it is because the chain of command is not adding value. The supervisor in an organization does not believe in "good" surprises. The supervisor's belief in his junior's personal loyalty is critical to a satisfactory working relationship. The junior must earn that belief and keep it.

Weekly reviews of what has been done, learned, and planned, and how those things have or will help or affect the supervisor, are spaced at about the right frequency. Daily reports are usually too frequent, even for the straw that stirs the drink. Routine, periodic written self-reviews are valuable. Logical missteps are more difficult to miss in black-and-white assessments.

From RADM Dave Oliver's book LEAD ON

Friday, October 11, 2013

Have a difference of opinion with the boss?- You own 'the difference'.

Naval officers put themselves at considerable risk when their vision and strategic intent are at odds with those of their boss. Some of our Navy bosses view their positions as non-negotiable. But, your having a different strategic vision than your boss may be simply a matter of degree and therefore not completely unacceptable.

Complicating the issue is that some senior leaders have an absolute unwillingness to share their vision with their subordinates. This may be the result of the senior's insecurity with their vision or even worse, their own lack of vision (i.e., they have nothing to share). Make your best effort to have good communications with the boss and do the best you can in extracting his strategic vision. Failing this, you're on your own and will have to maintain some level of self-awareness and a sensitivity to your boss's shortcomings.

Just know you are in shoal waters. Someone once said, "when you and your boss have a difference of opinion - your boss owns 'the opinion' and you own 'the difference'."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

United States Naval Academy Established - 10 October 1845

By Old Fort Severn (near today’s 5th wing of Bancroft Hall), at 1100 on 10 October 1845, Commander Franklin Buchanan, USN, read his orders that established the Naval School to a complement of 50 midshipmen and seven of his staff, four of whom had been instructors and officers at the Philadelphia Naval Asylum. In 1850, the Naval School became the USNA, with a format of four years of study and seamanship training.

While the curriculum, grounds and uniforms have changed, the founding principles and commitment to moral, mental and physical development have endured for more than 160 years. The Naval Academy has adapted to the needs of the naval service. Today’s Naval Academy remains as relevant, and as important, to the Navy, to the Marine Corps and to the nation as at any time in its history.Naval Academy Alumni have always been important in the history of the United States Naval Academy. More than 76,000 men and women have graduated and gone on to be leaders dedicated to a career of naval service and have assumed the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.

As we reflect on the founding of our great Academy, let us also remember our many graduates who are today serving and leading Sailors and Marines in harm’s way all over the globe, especially our active duty leadership on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Naval Academy graduates who make up the senior leadership that guides our military. To them we give our heartfelt thanks and support as they stand the watch to keep our nation free. To their families who keep the home fires burning, we extend our gratitude and offer the support of our entire Naval Academy family during these challenging times. Go Navy! Byron

Byron F. Marchant ‘78

((Note: Had I been worthy of admission to the USNA, 1978 would have been my class. Instead, I was OCS Class 82003 with 6 years of enlisted service credit.))

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Do what you say you are going to do, inspect regularly, and avoid even the semblance of favoritism.

It must never be, “Do as I say.” It must always be, “Do as I do.”

Listen to all inputs - - - good, bad, or indifferent; and, weigh them before committing. But, make a decision regardless. Delegate responsibility but never accountability. An indecisive leader or one without the moral courage to stand by his decisions or the integrity to hold himself accountable causes immeasurable harm to morale.

Involve your staff, but exercise the final authority for big decisions. Then, expect your staff to carry out your orders as if they were their own.

You are their voice and their champion. Your job is to represent their best interests as well as that of the command and to ensure their good health, welfare, and morale even if what you have to say is not what your seniors want to hear.

Give your people pride of ownership for command accomplishments as well as for their individual achievements.

Give clear direction, provide guidance when required, and delegate the needed authority. Then, let your people do their jobs. But, demand a little more than they think that they are capable of achieving. Most will be motivated to rise to the challenge, exceeding even their own

A sharp command has Sailors who look and feel good. That attitude manifests itself in their professional performance.

Preciseness, even in such mundane matters as outgoing command correspondence, is essential. It is in the details that the attitude and self esteem of the command and its people are mirrored.

A sociable command is as critical to achieving command esprit as is a close watch section, division, or department.

Be understanding and tolerant, but hold everyone equally accountable for their own actions. Allow nothing to reflect poorly on the command
or on its people.

Your Sailors may consider them trivial at the time but will remember them long after all else is forgotten.

Captain Charles F. Authement

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How loyal must you be when you believe your Commanding Officer is a tyrant? No loyalty DOWN from the CO means no loyalty UP from the deckplates.

Sailors in the islands are getting mighty restless.  The fabric is wearing much too thin.  Something has to give.

While the fabric that has held society together has worn thinner in our modern age, it is still loyalty that lends the cloth its strength. It is loyalty that keeps the world functioning. We could not conduct business transactions or personal relationships without it. Loyalty is the idea that we are who we say we are and we will do what we say we will do. It is the hope that the integrity with which we initially encountered someone will endure indefinitely.

It’s also what keeps us unified. We live out our lives as part of agreed upon norms that allow us to operate from day to day. We need to know who we can count on. We all understand that ideally, friends will have your back, lovers will remain true, and businesses will not cheat you out of your money. When someone is disloyal, they break from these expectations and weaken the trust that holds us together.

From The Philosophy of Loyalty by Josiah Royce
Harvard Lecture Series 1908

Monday, October 7, 2013

It's here

Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.  In his new book, The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to FollowMark reveals the H.E.A.R.T. of leadership and provides steps that will help you grow as a leader, no matter what your title or position. From entry-level clerk to CEO, there’s room for everyone to improve when it comes to finding the Heart of a leader.

I have 10 copies available to new followers of this blog.  Join my blog.  There are 118 followers now. Tell me your follower # and leave a comment and I'll send you a copy of Mark's new book.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A cautionary warning

We must follow the tune of a different drummer.

Our vocation is one that is unlike most others, and because of this it requires different things of us.  This difference, fundamental to our profession, is nothing to be ashamed of.  It is defined by terms that include self-sacrifice, devotion to duty, and the highest standards of personal and professional integrity, and contains the values that are among the most respected of Western civilization.

We have been through bad times before.  Unpopularity, lean budget years, and slow promotion have been characteristic problems of the armed forced in every post-war period in American history.  What has enabled us to survive these problems in the past has been adherence to our ideals and principles, and not adaptation to the social fashions of the day, regardless of their appeal.

We will not do ourselves or the American people any service by passively following the drift of society and permitting ourselves to reflect all of the confusion, doubt, and self indulgence that surrounds us.  If we wish to be more than an image of a Navy, if we want to retain our identity as an institution whose ethic goes beyond shallow slogans ((e.g., Global Force For Good)) and publicity campaigns, we must make the decision to go against the grain, to establish and demand from our people as set of standards and an order of dedication that is our own, and not "a reflection of society."

The Stranger in the Crowd
By Lieutenant Commander K.C. Jacobsen, U.S. Navy
USNI Proceedings, September 1974

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Captain Daniel Dusek 
Rear Admiral Hugh Wetherald, Commander Expeditionary Strike Group SEVEN, fired the Commanding Officer,  USS BONHOMME RICHARD, Captain Daniel Dusek on 2 October 2013 as part of an investigation into a bribery scandal involving prostitutes and luxury travel.

RADM Wetherald cited a "loss of confidence in Dusek’s ability to command" in relieving him of his duties.  Captain Dusek, who has not been charged with a crime yet, is under investigation by the Justice Department in the alleged bribery scandal, which broke last month and appears to be expanding.

The investigation has focused on an alleged scheme to swap classified ship information for luxury travel and prostitutes, and has led to the arrests of a former commanding officer of the USS Mustin, an NCIS agent and the head of Singapore-based defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia, which has been providing support services for more than 25 years.

“After careful consideration, RADM Wetherald determined the investigation negatively affected Dusek’s leadership ability and was a distraction to the command mission.”

Captain Daniel Dusek in June 2012 upon assuming command of USS BONHOMME RICHARD

From reporting.

Think you have an idea? Do you really?

From a bright and talented young artist - Evan Robertson over at OBVIOUS STATE.