Friday, March 30, 2012

It's Your Ship -- Tips from Captain D. Michael Abrashoff

“The key to being a successful skipper is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew. Only then can you find out what’s really wrong and, in so doing, help the Sailors empower themselves to fix it.”

“Give the troops all the responsibility they can handle and then stand back.”

“Whether you like it or not, your people follow your example.  They look to you for signals, and you have enormous influence over them.”

“Give me performance over seniority any day of the week.”

“Leaders need to understand how profoundly they affect people, how their optimism and pessimism are equally infectious, how directly they set the tone and spirit of everyone around them.”

“Never once did I do anything to promote myself, just the organization. That way, no one could ever question my motives.”

“Your people…are more perceptive than you give them credit for, and they always know the score – even when you don’t want them to.”

“In addition to ensuring our safety and security, we should be providing life-forming experiences that shape the characters of young men and women to make them outstanding citizens and contributors to this great country.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012


“You owe it to your men to require standards which are for their benefit even though they may not be popular at the moment.”
GEN Bruce Clarke

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thoughts for today

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face."

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ethical Decisions

Your job is to make decisions. But your duty is to make the right decisions...the ethical decisions. In my first letter to all Flag and General Officers of the Navy and Marine Corps, sent the day I was confirmed as Secretary of the Navy, I stated this duty very frankly: "If we cannot do something ethically, if it is not in keeping with our values--then we just won't do it."

I want to restate that to each and everyone in the Naval make sure that every Sailor, Marine and civil servant knows that that is the standard. If we can't do something ethically, I don't want it done. We need to develop and maintain--within each of us individually, and collectively within the entire Naval Service--the character to make ethical decisions. 
Former Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton

Monday, March 26, 2012


  1. the forms, manners, and ceremonies established by convention as acceptable or required in social relations, in a profession, or in official life.
  2. the rules for such forms, manners, and ceremonies.
Some of you should brush up on your etiquette lessons; some could use a simple refresher; still others need to start from scratch.  And then, there are some Commanding Officers who simply don't have a clue.  You know who you are.  It will come back to bite you in the end. (And, by in 'the end' I mean butt also!)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Captain

The Captain, in the first place, is lord paramount.  He stands no watch, comes and goes when he pleases, is accountable to no one, and must be obeyed in everything, without a question from his chief officers.

Richard Henry Dana
Two Years Before the Mast (1840)

Friday, March 23, 2012

MCPON West on Hazing

Our men and women are tremendously dedicated to our Nation and our Navy: They make many sacrifices. No matter where they are in the world, or what they do for our great Navy, their contributions to the country’s Maritime Strategy are impressive. Today’s Sailors are the best ever, performing their missions with distinction and integrity. I am very proud to be their shipmate. We owe them a positive environment that fosters equitable opportunity for success based on proven merit, professionalism, and mutual respect.
It is the responsibility of every Sailor, and leadership in particular, to ensure that we are creating a climate of inclusion, where every member of the team believes his or her views, skills and dedication are valued. Consequently, every man and woman serving in our Navy, from the most junior seaman to the most senior admiral, has an obligation to abide by regulations and to make the appropriate authorities aware of any conduct that runs counter to organizational excellence and the fair treatment of all: This unequivocally includes hazing. No commander, no Chief Petty Officer, no Sailor may condone or ignore hazing in his or her unit.

From MCPON West's congressional testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on 22 March 2012.  His entire prepared statement is HERE.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Navy Vision for Information Dominance

The promise of future strategic and operational capabilities arising out of information dominance and decision superiority is profound. The U.S. Navy stands on the cusp of a transformational revolution no less important to our warfighting preeminence than the transition from sail to steam, from battleships to carrier aviations, from fossil fuels to the introduction of nuclear power. The implications for our force structure and the operational employment of information-centric warfighting capabilities are equally profound, spanning all current mission areas. The Chief of Naval Operations has set a clear course for realigning Navy organizations to operationalize cyberspace and information operations by establishing FLTCYBERCOM/TENTHFLT and reorganizing the OPNAV Staff to achieve integration and to foster innovation. Information-centric functional integration, innovation and an end-to-end approach to development of unmanned and autonomous systems will deliver warfighting dominance across all domains. Our follow on strategy and roadmap will guide requirements, architecture and the procurement plan to attain Information Age operational capabilities.
Our job is simple:  deliver on the promise.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Truth sells itself.  Truth gets you through situations nothing else will.

Looking dumb is oodles better than lying.

The risk of false accusations is one of those risks that accompany success and senior leadership positions.  The only way to insure yourself against this risk is to be publicly, privately and deliberately squeaky clean.

Integrity ensures you solve and do not ignore real problems.  It acts as a forcing function for needed improvements.

Lack of integrity on the part of an individual is often a key indicator of a deeper problem in the organization of unit.

No matter what you have heard, personal integrity is in itself an excellent armament.  There is always room at the top for an honest man.

A single lie can deed your soul to the devil for eternity.

From my Shipmate and occasional mentor - Rear Admiral Dave Oliver Jr.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The ultimate sacrifice

Since the attack on America on September 11, 2001, a total of 128 women who deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait have given their lives in our Global War on Terrorism.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Neither intelligent nor energetic nor moral

"I have known people in leadership positions who were neither intelligence nor energetic nor moral. They create as much havoc among our own forces as an enemy. In most cases they were quickly found out and summarily removed, but their mere existence represented a failure of leadership on the part of their seniors, the ones responsible for or who tolerated their appointment."

Admiral James L. Holloway III, USN (Ret)
Chief of Naval Operations (1974-1978)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Security is trump

Even in peacetime, naval communications involve the complex and cumbersome manipulation of difficult technical means and intricate human resources.

...the Navy persisted in its adherence to a communications policy in which 'security' was trump. They steadfastly refused to realize the truism that often it is more important to get information to one's own forces that to withhold it from the enemy. "During the first year of the war'" Morison noted, "the Navy Department laid such a stress on security of communications that they sometimes failed of their essential purpose to communicate."

The TENTH Fleet
Ladislas Farago

We still live by the same truism today with cyber security.  Fortunately, the architecture in NGEN will solve all of that.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Colonel Robert D. Heinl's plea of nearly 56 years ago - restore the special trust and confidence of our officer corps

Point 4: Officer discipline must be unsparing.

Officers who transgress the code of their profession must be punished. In most cases they should be gotten rid of. Misguided reluctance on the part of commanding officers to do individual hurt must give way to realization that the price we pay for “special trust and confidence” is unsparing personal accountability.

If the individual failings which have given rise to blanket restrictions and erosion of officer status had been dealt with individually, the horrible examples with which this essay commences need never have existed.
Furthermore, unsparing officer discipline oughtn’t to start with the cases on the critical list—that is, at the general court martial stage. Commanding officers must discover the moral courage—and be fully supported by higher commanders—to correct and bring to notice officers whose habits and qualities are in the least below par.

An administrative reform which would greatly facilitate such corrective action would be a more realistic philosophy of fitness reporting so that individuals could be routinely appraised in their defects as well as in their virtues.

But commanding officers are not the only ones concerned with officer discipline. Every officer must be jealous of the special trust and confidence reposed in the whole officer corps.

The full essay remains available from the United States Naval Institute PROCEEDINGS archive - HERE.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chief of Naval Operations Focus

"My guidance for the Navy and what we believe.  We use these three tenets – Warfighting First, Operate Forward, and Be Ready – as “lenses” through which we view each decision as we organize, train and equip the Navy.

I am in the process of drafting a “Navigation Plan” to define our course and speed now that our defense strategy is established and our budget request submitted."
From CNO's Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on 15 March 2012.  The full text of his prepared statement it HERE.

Keep a close eye out for the CNO's "Navigation Plan".

Thursday, March 15, 2012

With All Due Respect...back in the day

Excuses for failure or negligence are always unacceptable. Officers should assume responsibility and not depend on alibis. If at fault, they should freely accept blame. Bootlicking, a deliberate courting of a person for favor, is despised. Seniors may temporarily mistake such tactics for a sincere desire to please and to do a good job. However, through long experience with such behavior, they in time recognize this false sincerity. However, junior officers must make a genuine effort to be friendly and cooperative to succeed. 

Persons with a continued willingness to undertake any task assigned and perform it cheerfully and efficiently eventually gain a reputation for dependability. They also ensure their popularity with fellow officers. Continued complaining has the opposite effect. The satisfaction of having done a good job should be sufficient reward in itself. The junior officer should not report each personal or divisional accomplishment to the senior officer. Of course a report that is required must be made, but work well done generally reaches the attention of superiors.

The conduct of members of the service must be above criticism. The Navy is often judged by the appearance and behavior of its personnel. Officers should carefully consider all undertakings and projects in advance and make all preparations necessary to their success well in advance. Officers should be capable of thinking ahead and making intelligent plans; they must always strive to demonstrate that they are entitled to the grade they hold. One of the best things a senior officer can say about juniors is that when given a job, they can always be depended upon for satisfactory results.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bathsheba Syndrome - Revisited

A 14 March 2012   STARS AND STRIPES   article by Wyatt Olson asks "Do Fired Navy COs Suffer From Bathsheba Syndrome"?  The post below is from my blog in September 2010.  This subject is part of the lesson plan at the Command Leadership School for PCO/PXO.  It's worth reviewing.

And also review the SHAKEN GLASS theory HERE which is an excellent argument against the Bathsheba Syndrome.

Commanding Officer leadership challenges

Ethical leadership is the way a particular leader acts within ethical guidelines, however set. Ethical leaders use their power to serve others and to further the mission, values, and goals of the organization. Unethical leaders use their power to further their own personal vision and goals.

Stories abound of the unethical acts of top-level leaders. Misuse of the organization’s resources, insider trading in stocks based on confidential information and sexual impropriety are a few common occurrences. Why do leaders act in this way? Do those who have no moral code to guide them take these actions? Or are these people under pressure to compete at any cost? One argument made is that it is not only unprincipled leaders or those under heavy competitive pressure who act unethically. It can be the very success of leaders that gives them the power and resources that can cause them to take actions that are obviously unethical.

The Bathsheba syndrome is named after King David of Israel and his affair with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his army officers. It describes how a leader’s success can cause unethical acts that the leader knows to be wrong. When the leader becomes successful, that person is given privileged access to information and the control over organizational resources. These are given for a reason. They are tools with which the leader keeps in touch with events in and outside the organization and which the leader uses to set and revise the organization’s strategy. But a leader might come to think that these tools of top leadership are in fact rewards for past successes. The leader may relax and enjoy the privileges and control of the position. When the leader succumbs to temptations that abound at the top, strategic focus may be lost. The job of leader is not being done.

Often these unethical actions can be covered up using the power that comes with the position. This then reinforces the leader’s belief in a personal ability to control outcomes. Further unethical actions are then taken. Leaders may come to see themselves as above the law with respect to the rules of the organization. Information about these actions is kept from those lower in the hierarchy. Power is wielded to force others to accept these abuses. Those who complain are likely to be removed from their positions.

The lesson in the Bathsheba syndrome is that everyone is susceptible to the temptations that come with power and control. It is not just the unprincipled that take advantage of being on top. To avoid this problem the leader must lead a balanced life of work and family. In this way the leader is less likely to lose touch with reality. It is also critical for leaders to remember that privilege and status were given to do the job and not as a reward.

The leadership of ethics refers to the leader’s actions to help set ethical guidelines and to encourage their use in organizational decision-making. Because leaders help to create the social knowledge in an organization, they must concern themselves with acting ethically and creating the conditions that encourage others to act in an ethical manner.

Acting ethically is critically important. Organizational members must see the leader as responsible and credible if they are to act ethically themselves. To create ethical awareness and the conditions for ethical actions, the leader needs to take three actions.
  • First, a code of ethical conduct should be created.
  • Second, ethical and unethical actions must be made explicit. Ethical gray areas must be discussed and clarified.
  • Third, the leader must be willing to reward ethical behaviour and punish unethical behaviour.

From Richard Field on Management and Information Science HERE.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Number 5 - Not proud of this one

CNO gets topside brief from CDR Haydel

Commander Jon Haydel, Commanding Officer USS Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) SAN DIEGO (LPD-22) was fired by Rear Admiral Gerard Hueber, Commander Expeditionary Strike Group THREE.  Commander Haydel was relieved for while an investigation into allegations of "personal misconduct" is ongoing.   USS SAN DIEGO is an amphibious transport dock.  The ship is en route San Diego from Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Award Winner - Proud of this one

After my award rant a week ago, I did want to point to one award I have that still gives me a great deal of pride, even 39 years later.  It was awarded to me as a Squadron Commander when I was a Cadet Lieutenant Colonel in Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps in the GR71st AFJROTC at General H.H. Arnold High School in Wiesbaden, Germany.


This award consists of a bronze medal and ribbon and is presented annually to one third-year (in a 3-year program) or fourth-year cadet (in a 4-year program) that meets the following criteria:
  1. Rank in the top 25% of their AS class. 
  2. Rank in the top 25% of their high school class.
  3. Demonstrate qualities of dependability and good character.
  4. Demonstrate adherence to military discipline.
  5. Possess leadership ability and a fundamental and patriotic understanding of the importance of JROTC training.

Monday, March 12, 2012

America's Webbed Feet

Nor must Uncle Sam’s web-feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins they have been present. Not only in the deep sea, the broad bay, and the rapid river, but also up the narrow muddy bayou,and wherever the ground was a little damp, they have been and made their tracks.

Abraham Lincoln, 1863
President of the United States

As cited in the 2010 Naval Operations Concept available HERE.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Birth of the Naval Security Group and the Cryptologic Community - 77 Years Ago Today

In July 1922, the U.S. Navy formally established a cryptologic element, known as the Communication Security Unit, or Director of Naval Communications (DNC) OP-20-G. The unit was located at the Main Navy Building, commonly referred to as "Main Navy", 18th St. Constitution Ave.

On March 11, 1935 (77 years ago), the unit was re-designated as the Communications Security Group (CSG). This date is observed as the birth of the Naval Security Group. In February, 1943, the CSG transferred to a new facility at 3801 Nebraska Ave. NW, Washington, DC. The facility at 3801 Nebraska Avenue was known as the Communications Supplementary Annex from February, 1943. It was renamed Naval Communications Station Washington (NCSW) on July 7, 1948, and re-designated as the Naval Security Station (NAVSECSTA) on September 21, 1950.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

700,000 visitors

Pause and reflect.  1751 posts; 4143 comments and 1,689,018 page views.

Thanks very much for stopping by and sharing your opinions.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hope you're not offended - ASK HER WHEN SHE'S SOBER

If you were in the same situation as this poster, what else could you say to your friend to keep them from victimizing a fellow Sailor?

  • It’s not worth it man. She looks pretty drunk, and this could go really bad for you both.
  • Dude, just ask her for her number.
  • What if your little sister was in that kind of shape, how would you want a guy to act?

I don't know who is responsible for this advertising campaign and I am happy to say that I haven't seen these posters anywhere. The NYTimes had an editorial about "Sexual Violence and the Military" and they mention these posters as 'grotesque parody'.  There is plenty in this advertising campaign to offend nearly everyone serving their country.

All part of DoD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response SAPR.  You can read more HERE.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rich reward

The richest reward of command is the personal satisfaction of having measured 
 up to this responsibility and accountability.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Scourge of Sexual Assault in the Navy

From the 21st Century Sailor and Marine RhumbLine of 5 March 2012

  • Aggressively prevent sexual assaults from occurring, support sexual assault victims, and hold offenders accountable. The 21st Century Sailor and Marine will not tolerate any form of sexual assault.
  •  Improve motorcycle safety by closing the training gap with the Military Sportbike Rider Course (MSRC).
In my mind, sexual assault is NOT a safety issue but a CRIMINAL one.  Putting this in the same category as motorcycle safety trivializes a FELONY.   Telling someone to call the DOD Safe Helpline is stupid not smart.  If you don't believe me, give them a call and see what kind of help you get.  CALL 911 and get the police involved from the start.  3 digits are easier to remember, also.  What was that DOD number I need to call, 877-???-????

BTW, did 20th Century Sailors and Marines tolerate any form of sexual assault?  I don't think so.

Heaven's Third Wire

My Shipmate and occasional blog wingman, Neptunus Rex has departed this earth.  Flight lines everywhere are still.

Thank you for your leadership and blog mentorship.  Greatly appreciated.

You'll always snag the "third wire" in your heavenly landings. 

God Bless You.


SWO Leadership

"My ability to inflict pain far exceeds your ability to withstand it."

CDR Joseph William Murphy
CO, USS GONZALEZ DDG66 (attributed)
USNA '81

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I am... a man of letters (postal not intellectual)

 Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Politeness is as much concerned in answering letters within a reasonable time, as it is in returning a bow, immediately.
Lord Chesterfield

In an age like ours, which is not given to letter-writing, we forget what an important part it used to play in people's lives.
Anatole Broyard

Monday, March 5, 2012

Award Rant

In my mind, having your boss ask you to write your own personal award and FITNESS Report is akin to her telling you to write yourself your own 'thank you' note for your good deed or after your two/three year assignment.  It makes no sense at all to me; don't do it.  If you are a leader and you can't write your immediate subordinate's award/fitness report, shame on you.

This is something that is actually getting some attention in Congressional sub-committees of the Senate/House Armed Services Committees (SASC/HASC).  With the attention given to the Stolen Valor Act and similar issues - the Congress is paying much more attention to military awards - who gets them, how they get them, why they get them and how many get them.