Mar 31 2012

A serious rant

Only one day left in the month to get in a post on March Madness. Not basketball, but the Madness known as Women's History month. Yes, Yes, that oh so special time of the year when we get to celebrate the history that women want us to know about, while white washing the details they would rather just not see printed in the paper. Which is designed to be translated into its real meaning:

“Setting the bar for historical achievement so low-than any average everyday achievement for either a man or a woman becomes ‘historic’ if it is done by a woman”

You can quote me on that if you wish.

Oh and I guess after recent experience-we should get the usual disclaimers out the way first. I don't give a rat's ass if your daughter is a Naval Aviator, an engineer, CEO of a  multi-billion dollar firm, or for that matter the first woman to eventually walk on the moon. Nor do I care if your husband is supportive of what you want to do. These are my feelings and thoughts, these are issues that need to be discussed-not swept under the rug, and I'll write about them. If you think that gives you a carte blanche to go after me-I've got a message for you.

 

So, as is my custom in March- I intend to use this little missive to write about something that got me really peeved the moment I read it and heard it.The source of my anger? This little headline in Navy Times:

Getting Personal: Naval Air Forces plans character-building workshops.

(It appears the article is behind Navy Times firewall so I can't send you a link-but the article is on Page 18 of the April 02, 2012 issue.)

Starting this spring the Navy's  air wings, squadrons, and aircraft carriers will take a moment to stop and delve into some real life, but awkward scenarios in a move the top commander hopes will tamp down personal misconduct and misbehavior.

Naval Air Forces will roll out its new "Character and Integrity" program, developed by a contracted consultant and organized in the "train the trainer" format. Each training workshop will provide group discussions and include a video message from VADM Allen Myers.

" The real intent is to improve decision making skills  and give our people interventional strategies so that we do not adversely impact our readiness as war fighters because of character- related and integrity -related incidents, " said Cmdr Pauline Storum, a Naval Air Forces spokeswoman.. Top leaders "heard….we don't have a tool to help our people make better decisions."

I'll pause while you throw up now.

If that last paragraph, does not make naval veterans angry-very angry, then I think you have not been paying attention recently. Or have just given up, and acknowledged the fact that every thing the nay sayers said back in the bad old days about the great experiment has come true with a vengeance. 

So by implication, the generations of officers that fought the war in Vietnam, lived through 70's, gave rise to the 600 ship Navy and fought Desert Storm and Desert Shield were unprincipled, bastards with "no character?"-No character indeed because after a long at sea period they went ashore and got a little unwrapped, and part of that getting unwrapped might have included a tryst or two with the local female population? Bullshit!

But so many people are getting fired!

Yes they are. But as I pointed out before its as much about today's environment and the lack of consistency in application of standards that contributes to those firings-as well as an interconnected world that intrudes on things that quite simply: are none of Al Myers-or the rest of flag counterparts business.

I'll say it again: "The "moral character" of our force (whatever the hell that means) is just fine. 99% of our Sailors do the right thing-every time, all the time when it comes to the particulars of their profession. For the other 1% there are already sufficient remedies in place-there is absolutely no reason to add to them."    

And of course, later in the article-the familiar old canard of Tailhook gets trotted out. THAT Navy was killed a long time ago-by stupid Politically Correct actions like this one. ( And for what its worth-THAT Navy was a hell of lot more fun than this one.)  And just as full of "character"-where character had a clearly defined professional basis and less of a personal one. of course it was Tailhook that led the Navy down the path that made it think that its leadership had as much of right to tell you how to live your personal life as well your professional one. ( P.S." the true story behind the sensational Tailhook Scandal and how Paula Coughlin was anything but innocent"-but 8 million dollars works wonders.)

What should be an insult to anyone's "integrity" however-is that the Navy has to outsource this training to an outside firm, with several folks who just happen to be "friends of a friend of friend".  That should strike more than just me as odd and particularly insulting-the institution and to our Sailors.

But today's Sailors don't have the time.

Really? They don't have the time to do their central job as officers and chief petty officers? Lead their Sailors?   Yea-I think that would get in the way of all the diversity training that needs to be accomplished.  And it certainly would get in the way of IG's throwing people under the bus. Give me a fucking break. Hey Al-how much did this little ( probably non competitively bid) contract cost the US Navy? How much-probably a fair amount I think.

So what does all this have to do with Women's History month, you ask? Good question-and it really doesn't- save for one major thing. The primary argument against gender integration was the amount of problems it would create by having men and women live together in close quarters in a profession that prizes companionship to a  large degree. Add to that- long series of events that closed the doors on other more discrete and non threatening means of releasing that tension concurrently ensued-and you should not be surprised at the result.  The Star Trek Navy doesn't exist. And it never will. 

There is no moral crisis in the Navy. The average naval officer or Sailor is getting up each morning and going to work on time, pays his bills, takes care of his family, serve his country-and maybe just maybe-desires to have a good time once in a while, while doing so. Its not an unreasonable expectation on his or her part.

I wonder if there will be a module in the course about how its bad to stab your contemporaries in the back. That always denoted a certain lack of integrity-right Al?

4 responses so far

Feb 02 2012

As Mr Lehman was saying……

Published by under Navy

And NO-we are not going down that rathole again.

However, the former SECNAV did point out that while the Navy's material problems can be overcome-destroying a hard won culture, has a more lasting impact:

CDR Jonathan Jackson was relieved of command in December for violating the Navy’s sexual harassment policies and for conduct unbecoming. But having read through the Navy IG Report and the commander’s NJP appeal (both pdf files found at the U/T link above),  I find that the one is damning and the other exculpatory. We apparently have a department head who bore a two-year grudge, and a struggling junior officer who either was deliberately insulted, or she was not. And a CO who maybe spent a little to much time celebrating with Bacchus, leaving himself open to charges that he spoke thoughtlessly and acted imperfectly, while letting off steam.

 

A couple of additional points: 1)Admin's are kind of a logistical necessity in places like, Haifa, Dubai, Athens ( where the ship pulls into an entirely different city-Pireaus), and several French ports. They serve as safe havens for your accumulated loot-and back in the day were places where a lot of learning took place in the company of dear Bacchus while stories from cruises past were passed down.

Of course in those days, what went on cruise stayed on cruise. And any women you brought back to the admin became fair game-if not community property. Nowadays they end up on someone's Facebook page.

Doesn't anybody get put in hack any more? More pertinently -where was his XO and when did the "lets close the door and talk a bit" conversation happen that might have saved his ass? My XO and I had a few (and I emphasize the word few)  -in both directions. Sometimes he brought me back to the ground and sometimes I did to him. He's a great man-and a great leader. We each took care of each other.

Furthermore-its clear that when you read both documents linked to by the article-there was rush to judgement by the IG. Unless you think giving a guy a charge sheet two hours before mast is somehow OK. Plus a few other things-like a disgruntled JO with a score to settle. I thought advancement by assassination only happed in the alternate universe. Something is aromatic in Denmark.

And now ask yourself why the Chiefs don't go on liberty with their junior Sailors. Don't think this doesn't send a chilling message to them-go drink alone.

And not one word about how he did in the aircraft. Nuff said.

4 responses so far

Jan 26 2012

Gotta show a gash.

Published by under Feminist Buffoonery

That less than polite statement was one I heard during the middle of the 90’s from a fellow Navy person. His rather blunt point was that AFN- or any other military mouthpiece had to show a woman doing just about any military job; regardless of the actual demographics of that particular MOS or Designator. It was one of the dirty little secrets of the Navy’s PAO world-that they had accepted the subliminal mission of serving as an active advocate for the feminist mission. When the speaker said this particular phrase-the PAO effort to preach the feminist gospel had probably been underway for over 15 years, if not longer.

If you don’t believe me-go back and look around the Navy.mil website. For every picture of an individual-there will be at least 50% (or more of them) female. And the papers and TV have gone out of their way to trumpet any number of female “firsts”.

Even when they didn’t merit notice whatsoever.

Gotta show a gash. Anywhere and anyway you can. This is rule number one at AFN and in the PAO community in general.

Crude way to say it? For sure. But 100% accurate.

Long time readers of this blog will know that I am not exactly a fan of the repeal of the combat exclusion laws, nor the aggressive thrust undertaken by the services-having broken down that obstacle-to recruiting to a designated quota or percentage (30% by the previous CNO’s sellout embrace of the diversity mantra) of women in the service. I am, however, a realist and I do accept the reality that it is the world we live in today. Women will continue to serve and be advanced within our military, our nation as a whole—unwittingly IMHO-has agreed to accept the costs that come with that course of action.

So it was with a certain degree of resignation- that I was greeted to this picture on my Facebook page. Courtesy of the Tigertail Ombudsman, there was a whole series of photos outline the courageous act of scheduling an all female crew for a mission over Afghanistan.

From left to right, Air Control Officer Lt. Nydia Williams, Radar Operator Lt. j.g. Ashley Ellison, Plane Commander Lt. Cmdr. Tara Refo, Pilot Lt. Ashley Ruic, 

and Mission Commander Lt. Cmdr. Brandy Jackson, all assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125 pose for a photo before flying

the first all-female-crewed combat mission in an E-2C Hawkeye aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

 

 

Voluminous coverage in Navy Times and Navy.Mil guaranteed to follow. Hallelujah-the greatest thing since sliced bread! Hallelujah brother-we have seen the light!

Except of course its not the first all female mission. Perhaps for the E-2 community, although I remain convinced that we had our female pilots fly together back in 1996 and several other squadrons had done similar things in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

The PAO beast would have surely demanded it. After all-its been years since they already broke the barrier of a non qualified female aviator being nominated to command a carrier battle group. This is old news-if anything it shows the E-2 community has been behind the times.

All kidding (sic) aside-this really should have been a non-event. Not worthy of so much of a mention in the SDO’s log book-much less blazing headlines. If the Navy was really true to its rhetoric-this would have been just another day at sea among many days at sea-enduring mind numbing drudgery punctuated by a isolated moments of excitement.

After all, isn’t what the women said they wanted? “We just want to be treated just like the men!

Except of course we know that is not true. What they really wanted was to ensure the men and the institution they served in, were changed to be treated like the women-and to ensure that whatever advancement of women occurred, took place at breakneck speed. I mean literally hundreds of thousands of combat hours have been flown by five guys without so much as a whisper in the news media-save for when there is a mishap or someone gets fired for giving into the instincts God gave him.

But this. This-is something different. 5.2 hours of flight time to be emblazoned in the history books. A banner day among banner days for the E-2 community!

Excuse me while I sneeze-Horseshit!

I’ll say it again. Gender should not be a scheduling criteria-and if it happens that the dice roll to have five women flying together, that should be a non-event. Just another day at the office. It’s what we signed up for-and oh by the way women have been flying at sea from carriers for almost 20 years.

Old news-except for how it supports the Navy’s ever growing business of institutionalized racism and sexism, known as Diversity.

A burning devil to take them!

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