From http://www.thinkhero.com/2010/02/26/star-wars-propaganda-artwork-pics/

One of my side jobs is helping nearby Navy commands understand Operational Security (OPSEC), a term used to describe protecting unclassified information from the enemy, which they might use to get some sort of military advantage.  Given the speed and connected nature of today’s world, it is significantly harder for the military, and especially military spouses, to keep information protected.

A few nights ago, I was asked to talk to a command’s family readiness group.  This command’s schedule had been leaked from at least a few spouses and Sailors, and the captain was having a tough time getting people to understand the seriousness of these leaks.  So I gave my normal presentation, walking through how OPSEC issues had killed ISIS members, destroyed Army helicopters, and are increasingly used to target service members.  It gets a bit scary, because it’s not hard to show how Facebook, Twitter and other apps sell data to anyone, making it increasingly hard to argue that they aren’t evil in some way.

Even Hakim agrees with me

I took questions at the end, and for once, I was surprised.

Continue reading “You’re worth a story”

I joined my local student parish my freshman year of college, and I spent most of the next four years volunteering as an usher. I wasn’t a particularly hard-core Catholic, but my belief system had served me well enough that I didn’t see a reason to change it. Luckily for me, I fell in with a decent crowd and managed to make it to Mass every Sunday, and while I had plenty of philosophical debates on a liberal campus, it only served to make my faith stronger.

I now get asked if I’m saving every last penny for my kids to go to college, and when I reply “No,” people sometimes act like I’m clinically insane. But truth be told, I don’t see how a $200K degree helps in most cases.

Continue reading “Should you send a Catholic kid to college?”

Yesterday was my first time volunteering for Junior Achievement, a school program designed to teach kids about setting themselves up for economic success. My coordinator was more than happy to give me the more difficult crowd of 24 7th graders. Luckily, we were at a Catholic school, so the kids were pretty well behaved.

As a cryptologist, I often get asked to talk about social media and technology, so it was no surprise that the topics came up. I didn’t know what to expect 12 year olds to know, and quite a few things surprised me.
Continue reading “Talk to your middle schooler”

The Haikou during RIMPAC 2014. U.S Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Manda M. Emery, from Wikipedia

It wasn’t too long ago that the US invited China to participate in the RIMPAC Naval Exercise. It was pretty amazing to see Chinese warships, including the Type 052 destroyer Haikou, at the Pearl Harbor Naval Station. Access to the Naval Station included allowing foreign Sailors to purchase items from the Naval Exchange. The exchange had a massive boom in sales, such that they even chartered a bus to move Sailors back and forth.

When I walked into the NEX I saw the normal purchases of alcohol, cigars, Hawaiian food and the like. I was really surprised to see Chinese Sailors purchasing baby formula. I was absolutely baffled, so I walked over and asked one of them why. He explained that he planned to sell it at home, because nobody trusted Chinese-made baby formula.

Continue reading “You can keep your Chinese steel”

My last duty station was Hawaii, and now I’m in the north east. In both cases, the local government treated me like a criminal for owning a weapon. For example, I had to pay 16 dollars and 50 cents (in exact change!) in Hawaii to have them do a background check. Despite the check being essentially instant, it took the Hawaii PD an hour. While I sat there, the guy said “You know it’s fairly intensive,” to which I replied “The government gave me a clearance, I’m really not too worried about my background.” Low and behold, I cleared.

It was almost impossible to find a range on the island and shoot regularly without paying an arm and a leg. So I didn’t. And for many service members, that’s what happens too. We get into an intensive job and in our time off try to spend time with a young family, and before long it has been years since we hit the range for anything but a mandatory once a year pistol shoot to stand the quarterdeck watch.

So if you’re slightly older and remember the days when kids had shotguns in the car so they could bird hunt after school, then you have some responsibilities.

Continue reading “You need to take your friends shooting, hunting and to Mass”

Over 10 years ago, I was the electrical officer aboard a submarine. One of my Sailors was a massive slacker. Every time he was on duty, I would catch him gaffing off his maintenance responsibilities. Every collateral duty I assigned him was done poorly, and almost always required another Sailor to ensure completion. Luckily for me, he indicated he didn’t intend to re-enlist, so I was happy when he finally received his separation orders.

And then…my Engineer asked me to write him up for an award. I protested. “The guy sucks. He hasn’t done anything worthwhile.” Still, my engineer persisted. Fortunately for me, he was too busy to follow up, so I simply didn’t do it, and this Sailor separated without a Navy Achievement Medal.

The achievement medal, quickly becoming a default “I worked here” award. Image from Wikipedia.

Continue reading “The unused tools in the military”

Anyone who watches Star Wars, Star Trek or any other sci-fi flicks knows the excitement of watching humans explore a new world. It’s exciting mainly because we currently can’t do it. At best, we can send trash can-sized robots to Mars and a few older robots at the edge of our solar system. The last time we stepped on the moon was in 1972. Essentially, we’ve been stuck in low earth orbit for 40 years.

Trump indicated he wanted to lead in space, including going back to the moon and then to Mars. Plenty of people talk about going big in space. I remember Bush telling us we’d get a moon base, and Obama saying eloquent words about NASA. But they didn’t get the job done.

It is easier to do something in the realm of the possible. Sending people to the space station, while it is challenging, doesn’t push any boundaries in space. We aren’t going to learn a lot more in low earth orbit. Building a moon base will give us the knowledge needed to build a base on Mars, and building on Mars will eventually get us off Earth permanently.

You would think people would be excited about this. Trump understands he can’t fund both efforts, and his push to allow funding for the space station to expire is done for exactly this reason. Yet already people are lining up to say they will fight him.

This isn’t unprecedented. Back in age of exploration, plenty of people never left the shore line. They told the exploring mariners of their day that they were crazy to try and cross into the Indian Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific and eventually travel around the world. But after each of these feats, it encouraged others to do the same. Magellan’s expedition nearly ended in failure, but his survivors (Juan Elcano and 17 others) returned home to a huge welcome, and Juan was awarded money and numerous titles. Subsequent circumnavigations were never viewed nearly as highly, and over time it was just routine.

We need to get that way in space, first with the moon and then with Mars, and we can only do that if we leave our own shore line behind.


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.

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I don’t normally watch cable news, but on Friday I had no choice. My sponsor at a command I was visiting hadn’t put in a visit request, so I had to sit in the lobby while my credentials were checked. On the TV was CNN, and they were showing their “Pulse of the People” segment, with the topic “Women on Trump.”

As I watched a good ten minutes of this, I picked up on a lot of nasty setup items that put people at disadvantages.

Continue reading “Lacking a pulse of real people”

Every year, more than a few people make the New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Gyms get crowded, diets get started…and then by about now, people start falling away. Work comes back in force, kid’s activities start again, and life gets busy…and resolutions get discarded.

Maybe you just quit, or maybe you’re thinking of quitting. A few years ago, I was in your shoes. I weighed 225 pounds, and the Navy was taping me (measuring my waist and neck) to see if I was within body fat standards. I was always near the line, only a percentage point away from failing. Now I am 185 pounds, well within Navy regulations. On top of feeling better, my blood pressure and cholesterol is at very healthy levels.

So if you’re still up for losing weight, here’s what I recommend:

Continue reading “Keep that new year resolution”

“Nobody gets removed for adultery! You’re charges won’t stand.”

These words were spoken by a (now former) Sailor when I officially delivered charges. He had been trouble since almost his first day showing up at the command. Besides going through a messy divorce for his shotgun wedding, having a kid and then not paying child support, causing my first safety stand down in years when he shorted out an UPS battery…all these and more, this guy was just problems. After numerous verbal and written counselings, being put on report just wasn’t getting the message across, so I administratively separated him on three different charges, one of which was a self-admitted adultery.

Or in his case, a quick separation…

If you ask most military members, they’ll tell you the same thing he did: that nobody gets removed for adultery. And they are wrong, if only because I removed a Sailor for it. Adultery is still illegal in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

But that statement speaks to something else…that somehow, because we disagree with a law, and because it’s socially acceptable to partake in such actions, that somehow that justifies doing those things, and thus we shouldn’t enforce that rule.

Continue reading “Laws don’t work that way”