Saturday, April 30, 2016

Words on paper

You don't have to do more than send your words on paper, but you must not do less.  You deserve that black cloud over your head when you don't write, because your silence has made someone think that you don't care.  You deserve that shining halo over your head when you do write, because that note is going to show the reader that you do care.  When a note you owe is written, stamped, and mailed, you will rightly feel you are in a state of grace.

Margaret Shepherd - The Art of the Handwritten Note

Friday, April 29, 2016

Overlooked skills

What do you think is one of the most overlooked skills in the Navy officer corps?
According to former CNO ADM Arleigh Burke, it's writing. I have to agree. I'm sure ADM Jim Stavridis could, as well. It's not merely about communication. More importantly, it's about thinking in a more disciplined way. When you put words on a sheet of paper, or a computer screen for that matter, you immediately begin to analyze what you've written. It's there for you to see. Your ideas matter. Write them down. Share then.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Missing 0007?

 Special Duty Officer (Information Warfare)
Casey Ann Elizabeth          0011  
Chinn Colin W                0008
Cole Harold T                0009  
Elliot Michael Charlto       0003
Frank Shelly Von             0005  
Hausvik Jenna K              0001
Hendersoncoffey James        0002  
Schoolsky Owen Michael       0010
Vegter Henry M               0006  
Zirkle Daryk E               0004

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Expect opposition

Mitt Prigee sold me the original of this cartoon and it is hanging in the Secretary's DC office.  His thank you letter hangs in my office.
"Don't be afraid to think for yourself - to take risks, and try new things. You may meet resistance along the way - expect opposition - but don't be dissuaded. Progress in life has come generally from those who swim upstream."

Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Commanding Cooperatively Book Series

Commanding Cooperatively Book Series: Welcome to the Commanding Cooperatively book series. The insights shared throughout the series are not intended to tell a “worst to first” story, as the team with whom I led was nowhere…

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Value of the Strange Leader (Guest Post) on Captain Sean Heritage's Blog

The Value of the Strange Leader (Guest Post): Dr. Rebecca Siders is a passionate human being with varied interests that center around making the world a better place, inspiring people in her company to reach new heights, and challenging hersel…

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

We are getting close to a new crop of Captains

 FY-17 Active Duty O-6 Line

Senate Confirmation


Select Message Released
8 Apr 2016

Secretary of Defense
15 Mar 2016
8 Apr 2016
Secretary of the Navy
18 Feb 2016
14 Mar 2016
Judge Advocate General
1 Feb 2016
18 Feb 2016
Chief of Naval Personnel
12 Jan 2016
19 Jan 2016
Board Convened/Adjourned

Selection opportunity is 50%.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Who writes your stuff?

"In today's world, power must be ready, fast, flexible and operating forward. This requires warfighting Sailors who are highly trained, highly motivated and courageous — Sailors who are capable of meeting any challenge. It requires the best Sailors in the world, and we have them — the men and women of the United States Navy."

Quoted as original work by four different U.S. Navy Admirals in four different publications.  While an absolutely true statement - it's simply word fodder for Navy outreach to the civilian population.  And, a bit embarrassing for the four Admirals.  As they told us in grade school - do your own work.  And, if you can't do that, at least give credit where credit is due.

You are reminded - I Like The Cut of His Jib makes no claims of original thought. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Admiral's Rules - You are allowed to:

One of the Flag officers that I was privileged to work with had a simple set of rules for me as his aide. I was allowed to:
  • Make any decision I thought was the right decision to make.
  • Do anything that needed to be done.
  • Ask for his help any time I needed it.    
  • Help anyone who needed help.
  • Take time off to do anything that re-energized me.
Hope your boss allows you as much latitude.  It will surely improve your attitude.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sometimes you have to write

Sometimes you have to write it down to figure it out…This advice wasn't just savvy guidance for how to write — it might be the wisest advice I know for how to live… Sometimes, the only way to discover who you are or what life you should lead is to do less planning and more living — to burst the double bubble of comfort and convention and just do stuff, even if you don't know precisely where it's going to lead, because you don't know precisely where it's going to lead. This might sound risky — and you know what? It is. It's really risky. But the greater risk is to choose false certainty over genuine ambiguity. The greater risk is to fear failure more than mediocrity. The greater risk is to pursue a path only because it's the first path you decided to pursue.

Daniel Pink

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Sailor's Plea


Don't keep us in the dark.   Clearly let us know what the mission is.  Be positive and let the crew play to its strengths.  Give us some leeway for innovative thinking and action.  Tell us how we are doing.  We'll exceed your expectations.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

In case you may have forgotten - I was drafted to the SecDef Staff ten years ago. An amazing experience.

 "If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much."
- Rumsfeld's Rules
Oddly enough, Secretary Rumsfeld never criticized me.  I wonder if there is a message in that for me?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

CTICM Gina Rivera Retires - The Navy lost a LOT of AWESOMENESS

Master Chief Gina C. Rivera recently retired from the U.S. Navy, with 25 years of service. She enlisted in the Navy in March, 1991, and completed basic training at Recruit Training Command Orlando. In 1992 she graduated from Cyrptologic Technician Interpretive ‘A’ School at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, successfully completing the Basic Chinese-Mandarin course. After conquering the training pipeline for Naval Aircrewman designation, she arrived at Naval Security Group Activity, Pyongtaek, Korea in 1993. She qualified Airborne Cyrptologic Direct Support Element operator on the EP-3E and ES-3A airborne platforms, and earned the Naval Aircrewman warfare designator with Fleet Air Reconnaissance squadron FIVE (VQ-5), NAS Agana, Guam. Rivera was selected Junior Sailor of the Year for her Command, and subsequently selected Naval Security Group Command JSOY 1994.

Following the decommissioning of NSGA Pyongtaek in December 1993, she transferred to NSGA Kunia, Hawaii, where she supported a CNO-sponsored Special Reconnaissance Operations platform, VQ-1, and a historic deployment with VQ-5 onboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the first West Coast aircraft carrier to integrate women (WestPac 1995). She qualified CDSE Mission Supervisor and surpassed the career 1000 flight hour milestone. In 1996 she was selected for the Enlisted Education Advancement Program, during which she graduated from Hawaii Pacific Kunia in 1999 as Analysis and Reporting Mission Manager and Senior Reporting Officer. In April 2001 she was called upon to serve on the repatriation team for the EP-3E crew detained on Hainan Island, China following a mid-air collision.

In 2001 she transferred back to DLIFLC where she served as Command Career Counselor, Military Language Instructor and Department Chief of aspiring CTIs. She qualified Master Training Specialist and in 2003 was advanced to Chief Petty Officer. This preceded her appointment in 2005 as CTI Enlisted Detailer at Navy Personnel Command, Tennessee, where she managed the distribution and career guidance of CTIs stationed worldwide. In August 2008 she transferred to Navy Information Operations Command Maryland where she served as Leading Chief Petty Officer of the Advanced Language Response Team and the Operations Department, and earned designation as Information Dominance Warfare Specialist. On her second tour in Maryland she served as the CTI Functional Manager, Senior Language Advisor, and Enlisted Functional Management Senior Enlisted Leader, responsible for the assignment process of joint-service personnel stationed at National Security Agency.

MCPO Rivera has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy Achievement Medal (four awards), and various unit and campaign decorations. Rivera is a 1989 graduate of Marianna High School.

She is the daughter of Susan Rivera Bowden of Marianna. Rivera’s actual retirement ceremony was held Friday, March 25 in Maryland.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Seven rules from Rickover

Rule 1. You must have a rising standard of quality over time, and well beyond what is required by any minimum standard.

We have to get better and better at what we do. Our public deserves it. Our personnel deserve it. We must be constantly looking for a better way to do things. Status Quo – we have always done it this way – is not longer acceptable.

On an organizational level, there are better ways to get and keep good people. There are better ways to build your policy manual. There are better ways to train your personnel. There are better ways to supervise. There are better ways to discipline errant employees.

On an operational level, we must improve our performance in response times, quality and timeliness of written reports, training, candor in performance evaluations, equipment andvehicle maintenance, physical conditioning, and anything else that we can measure.

Continuous improvement has got to be part of the way we do business.

Rule 2. People running complex systems should be highly capable.

Successful public safety operations require people who know how to think. Fifty years ago, you did not need to be all that sharp to be in public safety.

Things have changed. Technology, equipment, strategies and tactics involved in providing services to our constituents have all changed. This is an extremely complex job, and if you hire people who can’t think things through, you are in route to disaster.

If you allow the hiring of idiots, they will not disappoint you – they will always be idiots. In view of the consequences that can occur when things do not go right in your complex, high-risk job – this may end being the cause of a future tragedy.

Every nickel you spend in weeding out losers up front has the potential to save you amillion dollars. And I can prove that statement if you want me to.

Rule 3. Supervisors have to face bad news when it comes, and takeproblems to a level high enough to fix those problems.

When you take an honest look at tragedies in any aspect of public safety, from the lawsuits to the injuries, deaths, embarrassments, internal investigations and even the rare criminal filing, so many of them get down to supervisors not behaving like supervisors.The primary mission of a supervisor is “systems implementation”.

If you promote people who either can’t or won’t enforce policy, you are in route to tragedy. To be sure, the transition from line employee to supervisor is a difficult one, but the people you choose to be supervisors have to like their people so much, that they will enforce the policy to protect each of them from harm or loss.

Not to beat this point to death, but you show me a tragedy in public safety operations –including some in the news today – and I will show you the fingerprints of a supervisor not behaving like a supervisor.

And for those of you who have promoted, remember that every day families are entrusting you with the safety of their loved ones. This is a huge responsibility.

Rule 4. You must have a healthy respect for the dangers and risks of your particular job.

Many public safety jobs are high risk in nature, and the consequences for not doing things right can be dramatic. Remember the basic rules of Risk Management. RPM –Recognize, Prioritize, Mobilize.

You must do a risk assessment on each job in every public safety department and identify the tasks that have the highest probability of causing you grief. Then you must prioritize these tasks in terms of potential frequency, severity and available time to think prior to acting. Finally, you must mobilize (act) to address the recognized risks appropriately and prevent consequences.

Rule 5. Training must be constant and rigorous.

Every day must be a training day! We must focus the training on the tasks in every job description that have the highest probability of causing us grief. These are the High Risk, Low Frequency, Non Discretionary time events. We must assure that all personnel are adequately trained to address the tasks that give them no time to think, and that they understand the value of thinking things through when time allows.

Rule 6. All the functions of repair, quality control and technical support must fit together.

Audits and inspections are an important part of your job as a leader in public safety. We cannot assume that all is going well. We must have control measures in place to assurethings are being done right. This is not micro-management – It is called doing your job.

If you do not have the audits (formal and informal) in place, you will not know aboutproblems until they become consequences, and then you are in the domain of lawyers.That is too late for action, as all you can do then is address the consequences.

And if you take the time to study the life of Admiral Rickover, you will quickly learn thathe was widely despised in the Navy because of his insistence on using the audit processas a tool to hold people accountable.

Rule 7. The organization and members thereof must have the ability and willingness to learn from mistakes of the past.

Analysis of past data is the foundation for almost all of risk management. We (public safety operations) keep on making the same mistakes over and over again.

As I read the lawsuits, injuries and deaths, organizational embarrassments, internal investigations and even the rare criminal filing against our personnel I know that we can learn so much by studying the mistakes we have made in the past. It all gets down to Risk Management.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Forgiveness of sins

If you are going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy. God will forgive you but the bureaucracy won't.
Hyman Rickover (1900 - 1986)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Responsibility - got any?

“Responsibility is a unique concept... You may share it with others, but your portion is not diminished. You may delegate it, but it is still with you... If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion, or ignorance or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else. Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible.” 

― Hyman G. Rickover

Monday, April 4, 2016

A week of Rickover: Thoughts on Man's Purpose in Life - You have one

Thoughts on Man's Purpose in Life

Admiral H. G. Rickover, U. S. Navy
at a Luncheon Meeting of the
San Diego Rotary Club
San Diego, California
Thursday, February 10, 1977
Voltaire once said: "Not to be occupied and not to exist are one and the same thing for a man." With those few words he captured the essence of a purpose in life: to work, to create, to excel, and to be concerned about the world and its affairs.
The question of what we can do to give purpose or meaning to our lives has been debated for thousands of years by philosophers and common men. Yet today we seem, if anything, further from the answer than before. Despite our great material wealth and high standard of living, people are groping for something that money cannot buy. As Walter Lippman said: "Our life, though it is full of things, is empty of the kind of purpose and effort that gives to life its flavor and meaning."
I do not claim to have a magic answer. But I believe there are some basic principles of existence, propounded by thinkers through the ages, which can guide us toward the goal of finding a purpose in life.
Among these principles of existence, responsibility is the one which forces man to become involved. Acceptance of responsibility means that the individual takes upon himself an obligation. Responsibility is broad and continuous. None of us are ever free of it, even if our work is unsuccessful.
Responsibility implies a commitment to self which many are not willing to make; they are strongly attracted to accepting a course of action or direction for their lives imposed by an external source. Such a relationship absolves the individual from the personal decision-making process. He wraps himself in the security blanket of inevitability or dogma, and need not invest the enormous amounts of time, effort and, above all, the thought required to make creative decisions and meaningfully participate in the governance of his life.
Responsibility also implies a commitment to others, or as Confucius taught, each of us is meant to rescue the world. It is the business of little minds to shrink from this task or to go about it without enthusiasm. Neither art, nor science, nor any of the great works of humanity would ever come into being without enthusiasm.
The sense of responsibility for doing a job right seems to be declining. In fact, the phrase "I am not responsible" has become a standard response in our society to complaints on a job poorly done. This response is a semantic error. Generally what person means is: "I cannot be held legally liable." Yet, from a moral or ethical point of view, the person who disclaims responsibility is correct: by taking this way out he is truly not responsible; he is irresponsible.
The unwillingness to act and to accept responsibility is a symptom of America's growing self-satisfaction with the status quo. The result is a paralysis of the spirit, entirely uncharacteristic of Americans during the previous stages of our history. Even complaints about high taxes and high prices are illusory. Behind them is hidden the reality that the majority, in terms of sheer creature comfort, never had it so good. Those who are still on the outside looking in are not strong or numerous enough to make a political difference.
The task of finding a purpose in life also calls for perseverance. I have seen many young men who rush out into the world with their messages, and when they find out how deaf the wold is, they withdraw to wait and save their strength. They believe that after a while they will be able to get up on some little peak from which they can make themselves heard. Each thinks that in a few years he will have gained a standing, and then he can use his power for good. Finally the time comes, and with it a strange discovery: he has lost his horizon of thought. Without perseverance, ambition and a sense of responsibility have evaporated.
Another important principle of existence which gives purpose and meaning to life is excellence. Because the conviction to strive for excellence is an intensely personal one, the attainment of excellence is personally satisfying. Happiness comes from the full use of one's power to achieve excellence. Life is potentially an empty hole, and there are few more satisfying ways of filling it than achieving and exercising excellence.
This principle of excellence is on which Americans seem to be losing, and at a time when the Nation stands in need of it. A lack of excellence implies mediocrity. And in a society that is willing to accept a standard of mediocrity, the opportunities for personal failure are boundless. Mediocrity can destroy us as surely as perils far more famous.
It is important that we distinguish between what it means to fail at a task and what it means to be mediocre. There is all the difference in the world between the life lived with dignity and style which ends in failure, and one which achieves power and glory, yet is dull, unoriginal, unreflective, and mediocre. In a real sense, what matters is not so much whether we make a lot of money or hold a prestigious job; what matter is that we seek out others with knowledge and enthusiasm—that we become people who can enjoy our own company.
In the end, avoiding mediocrity gives us the chance to discover that success comes in making ourselves into educated individuals, able to recognize that there is a difference between living with excellence and living with mediocrity. Sherlock Holmes once told Dr. Watson, "Watson, mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself. It takes talent to recognize genius." To which he could have added, it takes talent to know that what counts is condemning mediocrity not in others but in ourselves.
We should honor excellence, but not necessarily with material rewards alone. The Japanese have a custom which I believe it would be well for us to emulate. Instead of honoring their artists with peerages or knighthoods, they give them the respectful title, "National Human Treasure."
Creativity is another of the basic principles of existence which I believe help to give purpose in life. The deepest joy in life is to be creative. To find an undeveloped situation, to see the possibilities, to decide upon a course of action, and then devote the whole of one's resources to carry it out, even if it means battling against the stream of contemporary opinion, is a satisfaction in comparison with which superficial pleasures are trivial.
To create you must care. You must have the courage to speak out. The world's advances always have depended on the courage of its leaders. A certain measure of courage in the private citizen also is necessary to the good conduct of the State. Otherwise men who have power through riches, intrigue, or office will administer the State at will, and ultimately to their private advantage. For the citizen, this courage means a frank exposition of a problem and a decrying of the excesses of power. It takes courage to do this because in our polite society frank speech is discouraged. But when this attitude relates to questions involving the welfare or survival of the Nation, it is singularly unfitting to remain evasive. It is not only possible, but in fact duty of everyone to state precisely what his knowledge and conscience compel him to say. Many of today's problems can be brought forward only by complete candor and frankness; deep respect for the facts, however unpleasant and uncomfortable; great efforts to know them where they are not readily available; and drawing conclusions guided only by rigorous logic.
To have courage means to pursue your goals, or to satisfy your responsibilities, even though others stand in the way and success seems like a dream. It takes courage to stand and fight for what you believe is right. And the fight never ends. You have to start it over again each morning as the sun rises. Sir Thomas More wrote: "If evil persons cannot be quite rooted out, and if you cannot correct habitual attitudes as you wish, you must not therefore abandon the commonwealth. You must strive to guide policy indirectly, so that you make the best of things, and what you cannot turn to good, you can at least make less bad."
These principles of existence—responsibility, perseverance, excellence, creativity, courage—must be wedded with intellectual growth and development if we are to find meaning and purpose in our lives. It is a device of the devil to let sloth into the world. By the age of twenty, some of us already have adopted a granite-like attitude which we maintain throughout life. Intellectually, e must never stop growing. Our conscience should never release us from concern for the problems of the day. Our minds must be forever skeptical, yet questioning. We must strive to be singularly free from that failing so common to man, deplored by Pascal in the "Pensees," of filling our leisure with meaningless distractions so as to preclude the necessity of thought. To be an intellectual in the fullest sense, one's mind must be in constant movement.
Aristotle believed that happiness was to be found in the use of the intellect. In other words, ignorance is not bliss; it is oblivion. The inspired prayer does not ask for health, wealth, prosperity, or anything material, but says, "God, illumine my intellect." Man cannot find purpose in his life without expanding and using his intellectual qualities and capacities. Liberal learning is a primary source of these qualities. By liberal learning, I refer to discerning taste; wise judgment, informed and critical perspectives that transcend specialized interest and partisan passions; the capacity to understand complexity and to grow in response to it.
A cause of many of our mistakes and problems is ignorance—an overwhelming national ignorance of the facts about  the rest of the world. A nation, or an individual, cannot function unless the truth is available and understood; no amount of good on the part of the leaders or the media will offset ignorance and apathy in the common citizen. Since the United States is a democracy, the broad answer is that all of us must become better informed. Reading is one method of accomplishing this purpose. By spending a few dollars for a book, the thoughts and life's work of a great man are available to us.
The proof of living, as Norman Cousins has said, "is in memory, and all of us, through reading, can live five or six lifetimes in one. Through reading, the sluices of the mind open up, making accessible a range of experiences otherwise beyond our personal reach." In reading books, we grow both emotionally and intellectually.
As a reader, man is unique among living things. The ability to read—and more broadly, the ability to express complex ideas through language—distinguishes him from all other lifeforms. Without language, complex though is inconceivable and the mind is undeveloped. The inability to speak and write imprisons thought. In the same vein, sloppy, imprecise thinking begets sloppy, imprecise language. Language and thought are interconnected, and the written word is the vehicle which best advances both.
Therefore, I count reading, and its associated skill, writing, among the most significant of all human efforts. Good writing, after all, is simply the result of enormous reading, detailed research, and careful though. It means studying to gain a good vocabulary, and practicing to learn how to use it. It seems to me that these kindred skills should be developed and nourished from the very first, if man is to grow intellectually. And unless he can express his thoughts well, he can exert little influence on his fellowmen.
I now will discuss on final principle of existence essential to man's purpose in life: the development of standards of ethical and moral conduct. Good, it is generally conceded, has made a remarkable job of the physical universe but has, strangely, not done quite so well with the spiritual element. There is abundant evidence around us to conclude that morals and ethics are becoming less prevalent in people's lives. The standards of conduct which lay deeply buried in accepted though for centuries no long are absolute. Many people seem unable to differentiate between physical relief and moral satisfaction; they confuse material success in life with virtue.
The decline in morals parallels the decline of traditional religion in all areas of our society. In our desire to separate church and state, we have gone to the opposite extreme and have exorcised religious training from our public schools and colleges, thus depriving our youth of the lasting standard of the morals and ethics enunciated by the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.
Morals are the quarrel we have with behavior. Any system of education which does not inculcate moral values simply furnishes the intellectual equipment whereby men and women can better satisfy their pride, greed, and lust.
We are now living on the accumulated moral capital of traditional religion. It is running out, and we have no other consensus of values to take its place. This is partly because man can now obtain on earth what previously was promised him when he reached heaven.
In our system of society, no authority exists to tell us what is good and desirable. We are each free to seek what we think is good in our own way. The danger is that where men compromise truth and let decency slip, they eventually end up with neither. A free society can survive only through men and women of integrity. Fortunately, there still exist human beings who remain concerned about moral and ethical values and justice toward others. These are the individuals who provide hope of the ultimate realism that is marked by a society's capacity to survive rather than be eventually destroyed.
Ethics and morals are basically individual values. A society that does not possess an ethical dimension will find it almost impossible to draft a law to give it that dimension. Law merely deters some men from offending and punishes others from offending. It does not make men good.
It is important also to recognize that morals and ethics are not relative; they do not depend on the situation. This may be the hardest principle to follow in working to achieve goals. The ends, no matter how worthy they appear, cannot justify just any means. Louis Brandeis, who was deeply convinced of the importance of standards, said: "One can never be sure of ends—political, social, economic. There must always be doubt and difference of opinion." But Brandeis had no doubt about means. "Fundamentals do not change; centuries of thought have established standards. Lying and sneaking are always bad, no matter what the ends."
This is a very enabling statement. Life is not meaningless for the man who considers certain actions wrong simply because they are wrong, whether or not they violate the law. This kind of moral code gives a person a focus, a basis on which to conduct himself. Certainly there is a temptation to let go of morals in order to do the expedient thing. But there is also a tremendous power in standing by what is right. Principle and accomplishment need not be incompatible.
A common thread moves through all the principles I have discussed: It is the desire to improve oneself and one's surroundings by actively participating in life. Too many succumb to the emotional preference of the comfortable solution instead of the difficult one. It is easy to do nothing. And to do nothing is also an act; an act of indifference or cowardice.
A person must prepare himself intellectually and professionally and then use his powers to their fullest extent. This view is well expressed in two extracts from I Ching, the Confucian Book of Changes: 
—The superior man learns and accumulates the results of his learning; puts questions, and discriminates among those results; dwells magnanimously and unambitiously in what he has attained to; and carries it into practice with benevolence.
—The superior man nerves himself to ceaseless activity.
It is important to be both a thinker and a doer and to have sense of responsibility. A theoretician who has no responsibility is withdrawn from the real world. His recommendations are made in a vacuum. Because he is not required to carry them out, they may be irresponsible and do harm. Similarly, those in charge—the doers—are often devoid of any real thought.
To find a purpose to life, on must be willing to act, to put excellence in one's work, and have concern for what is right ahead of personal safety. Life must be felt, not observed. But to do so means applying oneself to the task daily. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please—you can never have both."
No professional man has the right to prefer his own personal peace to the happiness of mankind; his place and his duty are in the front line of struggling men, not in the unperturbed ranks of those who keep themselves aloof from life. If a profession is to have its proper place in the further development of society, it must be increasingly dissatisfied with things as they are. If there is to be any exaltation in one's work, one must learn to reach out, not to struggle for that which is just beyond, but to grasp at results which seem almost infinite. As Robert Browning wrote, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a Heaven for."
Man's work begins with his job; his profession. Having a vocation is something of a miracle, like falling in love. I can understand why Luther said that a man is justified by his vocation, for it is a proof of God's favor. But having a vocation means more than punching a time clock. It means guarding against banality, ineptitude, incompetence, and mediocrity. A man should strive to become a locus of excellence.
Most of the work in the world today is done by those who work too hard; they comprise a "nucleus of martyrs." The greater part of the remaining workers' energy goes into complaining. Employees today seldom become emotional about their organizations or its output; they are only interested in making money or getting ahead. And many organizations are killing their employees with kindness, undercutting their sense of responsibility with an ever-increasing permissiveness. This is a fatal error. For where responsibility ends, performance ends also.
"We measure ourselves by many standards," said William James. "out strength and our intelligence, our wealth and even our good luck, are things which warm our hearts and make us feel ourselves a match for life. But deeper than all such things, and able to suffice unto itself without them, is the sense of the amount of effort which we can put forth." Man has a large capacity for effort. But it is so much greater than we think it is, that few ever reach this capacity.
We should value the faculty of knowing what we ought to do and having the will to do it. But understanding is easy. It is the doing that is difficult. The critical issue is not what we know but what we do with what we know. The great end of life is not knowledge but action. Theodore Roosevelt expressed this concept well in his "Man in the Arena" statement:
It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
The man in the arena has found a purpose in life. He daily experiences Emerson's declaration that nothing is achieved without enthusiasm. He knows that men seldom come within shouting distance of their hopes for themselves. Yet he does not quite in resignation as have those who have taken trouble with nothing except to be born. In his work he is buffeted from two sides, challenged by his own ideas which revolt at the compromises of reality, and assaulted by reality which fights the ideas. He spends himself in that struggle, and he wins by a constant renewal of effort in which he refuses to sink either into placid acceptance of the situation or into self-satisfaction.
I believe it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him. Admittedly, on man by himself cannot do the job. However, one man can make a difference. Each of us is obligated to bring his individual and independent capacities to bear upon a wide range of human concerns. It is with this conviction that we squarely confront out duty to prosperity. We must live for the future of the human race, and not of our own comfort or successs.
For anyone seeking meaning for his life a figure from Greek mythology comes to mind. It is that of Atlas, bearing with endless perseverance the weight of the heavens on his back. —Atlas, resolutely bearing his burden and accepting his responsibility that gives us the example we seek. To seek out and accept responsibility; to persevere; to be committed to excellence; to be creative and courageous; to be unrelenting in the pursuit of intellectual development; to maintain hight standards of ethics and morality; and to bring these basic principles of existence to bear through active participation in life—these are some of my ideas on the goals which must be met to achieve meaning and purpose in life.
Copyright ©1977, H. G. Rickover

No permission needed for newspaper or news periodical use. Above copyright notice to be used if most of speech reprinted.
Admiral Rickover

The courtesy of a reply - a replay from last year

I've corresponded with some high profile, exceptionally busy professionals over my 30 year career in the Navy.  No one compares to Admiral (Dean) James Stavridis. You can see from his tweet above that he spent the morning hand signing diplomas and writing personal notes of congratulations to hundreds of Fletcher grads.  Who does that?  Men and women who GENUINELY care about the people around them, that's who! He's a rare breed. 

Admiral Stavridis is simply in a class all by himself. But there are some just outside his circle - Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, General Stanley McChrystal, VADM Dave Oliver, and LtGen Smith. Few leaders understand the OVERWHELMING power of a personal note. 

The flip side of the coin are those leaders who can't/won't/don't make the time for such things. One of the busiest men in the country has proven it can be done. He works his time like the instruments of the best symphony or the talents of the best ballet company in the world. He makes it look too simple.

So, a colleague was asking about when she might expect to get a response from a Flag officer regarding a letter she had written some months ago.  I couldn't remember what the protocol was but told her that as a former Flag Aide, 'my' Flag insisted that all correspondence receive a reply within 2 weeks (10 business days).  I went in search of a more precise answer and turned to the Secretary of the Navy Correspondence Manual which governs such things as much as they can be governed.

SECNAV Manual M-5216.5 March 2010 states: "Normally, correspondence should be answered within 10 working days or as prescribed by the immediate superior in command or by the tasking authority for the response."  The timeline tightens considerably when responding to Congress - only 5 days are allowed to reply.

Knowing the state of affairs in today's Flag offices, I am more inclined to tell my colleague not to hold her breath while awaiting a response. Breathe easy - the staff is working it.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Today we learned all about unicorns - Guest post from a JO

The things that Junior Officers share with me never ceases to astound me.  

Today I learned that their CO provided the first training in months for the wardroom.  The subject of this training was "unicorns".  Seems odd to me but I am always in the listen and learn mode.  

This particular CO doesn't spend much time training his wardroom so when it happens, his JOs are all ears.  For a full 45 minutes, CO explained in detail the origin of unicorns, the value of unicorns in today's Navy and the importance of unicorns to the command's mission.  

This had to have been a test and I am sure it was.  

But, not a single JO asked the CO what the hell he was talking about.  No matter that unicorns are NOT a part of the command's mission.  The block was "checked", the CO had provided training to the wardroom.  Word to the wise, make sure you get your "unicorn training block" checked.

If this seems ridiculous, you are on the right track. Substitute any useless training topic for "unicorn" and you're getting closer.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Certain Aspects of Our Cryptologic 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 his Sailors and his Sailors knew it.
 Rest in peace Admiral.  Rest in peace.

Friday, April 1, 2016

No April fool. The letter that saved the cryptologic community

LCDR Chuck Hall, 2014 Captain Joseph Rochefort Inspirational Leadership award winner wrote this letter to VADM Tighe and the IW community nearly a year ago and we posted it here on 29 May 2015.  Proof that letters and great ideas matter.

An open letter to the IW Community

A few years ago the Cryptologic community made a significant transition as we sought to identify ourselves with the emerging mission area of Information Warfare (IW).  As a part of that transition, which ended quietly a few years later, we shifted the title of our officer corps from “Cryptologic Officer” to “Information Warfare Officer,” or IWO.  At the same time, the title of our enlisted cadre remained Cryptologic Technicians (CT).  Almost all that remains of that transition today is the title IWO.  Meanwhile, the term IW now officially refers to “Irregular Warfare.”

Today, our community is on a clear and steady course.  The Cryptologic Community Foundational Principles was issued with the intent to, “unify the efforts of the Information Warfare (IW) and Cryptologic (CT) Community, as we continue to create value through deliberate development of specialized expertise across our core skills...”  A particularly germane sentence from that document includes direction that we will, “go forward to our roots” and “focus on professionalization within SIGINT, CNO, and EW skill sets.”  The idea that we will “go forward” to our roots, as well as the focus on those three core skills, is especially pertinent to this discussion.  While communications technology has evolved, the very core of our competence remains grounded in the roots established by the likes of Captain Joseph J. Rochefort, Station HYPO, OP-20-G, and the “On the Roof Gang.”  Though the specific means by which we do so continues to evolve, our mandate remains “to create time and effects” for, and as, operational commanders.  As we do just that, it is clear that no single term in the U.S. Military lexicon, to include IW, encapsulates the core skills to which we are clearly committed and have been since that document was signed by each of our community’s Flag Officers and Senior Civilians serving at the time.

The final step of our transition should be to reestablish “Cryptologic Officer” as the official title for our officer cadre.  Information Warfare is no longer valid and the term IWO serves as a distraction from the clear course you continue to set. More importantly, as we “go forward to our roots” this change will make clear that we are a singular Cryptologic Community with both officer and enlisted warfighters who are aligned in name, competence, and vision.  A return to the title Cryptologist is far more than symbolic.  It is a name that represents our rich history, communicates who we are, and will serve to help focus our future.  As with any public change, this one will take time and the messaging is critical.  Should this change occur, it will be our collective responsibility as a community to amplify the message, and help all to understand the intent behind this change.

C. H. Hall
LCDR, U.S. Navy