President Trump swore into office six months ago, and his foreign policy has been interesting to watch, since he:

  • Started with solid Secretarys of State and Defense
  • Didn’t have an immediate 9/11 event to respond to
  • Has had a chance to travel and negotiate high level deals

The past six months have shown he has a fairly regular negotiating style:

  • He walks into every deal saying “I’m going to change this deal”
  • He makes an initial offer
  • He changes the deal in some way, although it might be more symbolic than actual

So how has he done so far?
Continue reading “Challenging the status quo: Trump’s Foreign Policy”

So I’m a Millenial. Well, or a Xennial (or maybe an Oregon Trailer!) since I’m a bit older, or maybe something else. But in this crazy world, I can identify as a Millenial, so that should be good enough for you, and you’ll just have to accept me as I am.

I work with lots of younger Millenials. I like them, and I think most of the Millenial criticism has more to do with coming from broken families. But I’m seeing a few trends that seem to be unique to this upcoming generation. More importantly, I worry that these are holding people back when they have to work with older people.

Continue reading “How Millenials hurt themselves socially”

Poor Charlie Gard. First he is born with a nasty genetic defect, one so rare that only 16 people are known to have it. Then, when there is a chance to save him with an experimental surgery, the British Health Care System tries to override his parent’s decision and pull the plug on his life support. Luckily, he’s caught the attention of Pope Francis and President Trump, so perhaps he might still make it.

Health care remains divisive in America. Plenty of people want a single payer system, while others argue for privatization, and still others a mix or other variety. The media doesn’t help one bit, whether it says that uninsured people are robbing us blind, or that privatization would condemn poor people to death. That sort of over-the-top talk doesn’t contribute to the conversation.

Continue reading “Removing cost from the equation”

I don’t fondly remember college. I was in engineering, and engineering is hard. During my summer indoc course, we had two “welcome” presentations. The first one was this long skit put on while the whole indoc class was present, and it was really bouncy and cheery, like somehow college was all about the social aspect, with classes barely mentioned.

The next day I went to the engineering campus, and the welcome was different. We were brought into a room, the door shut, and the professor let us know that most people don’t last the first year in engineering. He told us that we could expect to work hard without a lot to show for the first three years. But one thing that stuck out was him telling us to “Just do when you have a lot going on.”

Seems easy right? But it isn’t easy, at least for most people.

My workday is pretty busy, and yet I get a lot done both at work and at home. I’m still amazed by the number of people that say “I could never get all that done.” But I’m not special. I don’t have a high IQ, and I wasn’t a brilliant savant in college. I wasn’t blessed with a lot of money, and I didn’t have parents that spoke lots of languages or taught me higher level math.

But what I do best is just do. Everyday, I focus efforts and make things happen. Sometimes it’s getting the family out the door for a trip. Other times, it’s replacing trucks and equipment at work. I take problems, break them down, and just start doing the small pieces. It’s not easy, and I don’t “do” it right the first time, but there is something to be said for just doing.

And yet, I see too many people that don’t “do” in their day to day life. From shipyard workers to government bureaucrats, I’ve seen people spend their days not getting much done. They also tend to be unhappy, even if they get paid well.

Doing leaves me with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Instead of analyzing, strategizing, or some other “ing,” perhaps we need to get back to doing.

This post represents the views of the author and not the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

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Millenials seem to leak like a cheap diaper. Manning, Winner, Snowden are only the latest in  a line of people that think it’s OK to send whatever information they want to the press. I recently received a personal-for message (sometimes called a P4) expressing dismay at people who were leaking information about the investigation into the USS FITZGERALD collision. While looking for answers as to why someone would do this, I stumbled on this quote:

“In 2016, Gallup found adults under 29 least likely to say they were “extremely proud” to be American, with just over a third agreeing. If managers in the national security industry think they can count on patriotism to dissuade potential leakers, they are mistaken.”
Continue reading “Stopping the leakers with mandatory service?”

USS FITZGERALD after collision, as shown in Japanese media

A forward deployed, global Navy is going to have problems. Ships are expensive, and occasionally they will go “bump” in the night, like the USS FITZGERALD did recently. While we can hold ship CO’s responsible and fire them when they screw up (and we do), the Navy’s dangerous business means that we’re going to occasionally take damage.

We take more damage during war. Looking back to World War 2, CDR Salamander (another blogger) wrote a great article at USNI about carrier losses during the war. Japan obviously lost 100% of their carriers, with 2/3rds of those in the first year. But the US and Britain suffered as well, losing over half of their carriers by the end of the war. That means that with our current inventory of carriers, we could expect to lose 5 carriers in a war with China or Russia, with 3 in the first year of the conflict.

Each carrier has about 5,000 people on it, so just carrier losses account for 25,000 Sailors. To put that in perspective, that is about half of our Vietnam era casualties, and 5 time the number of people we’ve lost in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. And this reality is not an “if,” but a “when,” if we go to war with China or Russia (both of which seem eager to do so).

But the sheer volume of losses isn’t the point of this article. We won World War 2 in the Pacific because we could replace those losses quickly. Carl Vinson, a Georgia Representative, saw our aging fleet and built it up inside the limits of existing naval treaties, at a time when the nation could have cared less about the Navy. His efforts ensured that the Navy had warships on par with the Japanese, and when they lost these ships, they could be replaced, something that Japan was never able to do. Carl Vinson created a “tough” Navy, one that could take a punch.

Secretary Mattis called out Congress recently for not doing their job of passing budgets. We can design the best ships, but the reality is that a major war is going to deplete them. We’re becoming increasingly vulnerable at sea, and we don’t have a good plan to get healthy soon.

We need a new Carl Vinson in Congress, now more than ever.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. Please take a moment to keep the Sailors of the USS FITZGERALD in your prayers.

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If you missed it, read part one here.

Your child is learning to act like an adult. So make them do so.

When we lived in Hawaii, I quickly became addicted to Japanese Ramen. Not the crappy 15 cent stuff you ate in college because you were poor (I cooked mine in a coffee pot, so I got my daily dosage of caffeine and salt at the same time!), but the hand made noodles, slow cooked broth and sauteed vegetables that characterize really good Ramen.

Real Ramen looks like this…
Continue reading “Child raising for the Millenial, part 2”

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I am a child raising badass.

Seriously, I must be. Anytime I take my kids out in public, I get the “How do you manage it?” question. Typically this comes from some young Millenial couple that is deathly afraid of having children. Society tells them that having kids is horrible and will end their life as they know it. Yet here I am, in front of them enjoying my time with my kids.

Since I am indebted to society to pass on my badass knowledge about raising kids, my wife and I came up with our top five rules about raising kids. You get them for free, so you don’t have to pay for multiple copies of the “What to expect…”, but if you find these useful, drop Da Tech Guy a couple bucks.

Continue reading “Child raising for the millenial”

President Trump told Philippine President Duterte that there were two nuclear submarines ready to respond to North Korea…and you would have thought the world ended on social media. After making the mistake of engaging on this subject on Facebook, I figured I’d break it down here for everyone.

NO, the presence of nuclear submarines near Korea isn’t classified. It would be impractical to do so, since we announce when they pull into port. The unnamed Pentagon officials (if they even exist) are completely wrong, because we do talk about submarines, in the countless Sailor evaluations and fitness reports, unit awards and in unclassified documents submitted to Congress to justify continued funding of the submarine program.

And even if it was classified, the President can decide to declassify that information. All previous Presidents have done so, including President Obama. It’s part of their job description, check out Executive Order 13526 when you get a chance. Us in the military don’t always like it, but it’s not our job to decide that. The overwhelming majority of military members are derivative classifiers, meaning we classify things according to rules handed down by others. It also means we can’t declassify most things on our own, and the constant “leaking” of information by “unnamed” officials is a far bigger problem than the President’s comments.

How is this different from what Secretary Clinton did? Easy. She wasn’t declassifying anything. She was transmitting classified information via unsecure means, and doing so intentionally. Considering the level of information she sent, that will have far larger consequences than anything President Trump has talked about so far.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency. Unlike “unnamed officials” from those agencies, I actually use references.

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I had the pleasure of acting as the presiding officer at the retirement of one of my First Class Petty Officers yesterday. A few people said they really liked my speech (genuinely, not the “nice job” you get by default), so I figured I’d share:

Ladies and gentlemen, family and guests of Petty Officer X, welcome to Groton Connecticut, homeport to the historic submarine USS Nautilus moored next to us on this wonderful Connecticut day.  You couldn’t ask for better weather, which means in good ole’ Connecticut fashion, it will promptly storm tomorrow and the temperature will drop at least 30 degrees.

It’s hard to write a speech to capture Petty Officer X’s career, because 20 years ago, when he raised his right hand and swore an oath to defend this nation, this nation was quite a different place.  Back then, our most popular cell phone was a flip phone, the Motorola StarTAC. It couldn’t run all the fancy apps you have nowadays, because software like Java had only recently been invented, and Intel was only just then releasing a 200 MHz Pentium chip, which probably isn’t even capable of running my washing machine at home. It likely felt like the stone ages, because Hotmail was just getting started. Although these facts might cause some of the Millenials in the audience to cringe and squirm, at least back then we had the Nintendo 64, bringing with it plenty of glorious hours of yelling and swearing at the guy next to you who bumped you off with a red shell in Mario Kart.

Yes, a lot was different back then. But many of these differences became the familiar stories of today. For example, Deep Blue, an IBM super computer, beat Gary Kasparov at chess, and succeeding models of IBM’s super computers would go on to win Jeopardy and even outperform doctors at analyzing medical anomalies and diseases. Iraq was then negotiating a settlement with the United Nations to sell oil on the auspices of humanitarian assistance, which would later be revealed to be front to purchase weapons and bankroll terrorism. Taliban forces in Afghanistan captured the city of Kabul and established a radical terrorist government, one that would eventually be toppled years later by an American-lead coalition. And a then relatively unknown person, Osama bin Laden, would make his now-famous statement titled “A declaration of Jihad against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy Mosques.”

This was the nation Petty Officer X swore to defend. It is too easy to look at recent events and our surroundings and assume it has always been this way. We take for granted the freedoms we enjoy today: freedom to speak our minds, work where we are passionate, hold religious beliefs and lead a lifestyle of our choosing. We often forget that this freedom can so easily be lost, can so easily be taken away by men and women that desire only to control and oppress others. It takes courage to stand up and defend these freedoms, even more so to volunteer to defend them when crisis is not imminent.

Petty Officer X had that courage, and still does today, 20 years later. He volunteered at a time when the military wasn’t popular, and definitely wasn’t paid as well as it is now. He volunteered and eventually lead his fellow Sailors to achieve great things on behalf of this nation, things that in many cases will never be revealed to the public, which is the way it should be.

Today, after we ring our shipmate ashore for the last time, I want you to go home and be thankful. Be thankful for the great nation we live in. Be thankful that for the last twenty years, Petty Officer X has stood the watch, keeping our nation safe so that others may rest easy. Be thankful that Petty Officer X has trained others to stand the watch so that he may now rest his oars.