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

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