While the Fat Leonard scandal continues to rock the US Navy, and collisions put two US Navy destroyers out of the fight, the CNO asked his leaders to stand down their organizations for a day in what he called an operational pause. His basic message was that we’re taking casualties in “routine” operations that we’re supposed to be good at, and that’s a problem. For my organization, we stood down on Thursday, and my leadership team had some enlightening discussions with our Sailors.

If I had to speculate on what’s happening, I think the high tempo placed on too few platforms, coupled with old-school leadership mentality, is starting to break our toughness.

Continue reading “Building Tough Sailors”


We’re getting a new President, and given Secretary Mabus’ long tour, I’m guessing we’ll get a new Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV).  The next SECNAV will have to tackle a lot of issues.  If you want to score popularity points with the military, there are five issues that would be quite popular with our Sailors:


navyratingIt’s funny because we can’t say “Corpsman” anymore, because we got rid of rating titles AND the word “man”

Rollback the rating disestablishment.  I don’t think you could find a more despised and needless action then the disestablishment of Navy Enlisted Ratings.  If President Trump wants to score easy points with Sailors, simply restore Sailor’s ratings.  It would be cheaper in the long run (no more studies and training on whatever the new system would be) and certainly less confusing than whatever we would come up with.

nwufireWe wear a flammable uniform…apparently we never have fires in the Navy.

Put a 5 year limit on uniform changes.  It seems every other year we are getting a mandated uniform change.  All changes require enlisted Sailors to get extra uniform money to spend on uniforms, which seems like a good deal for uniform suppliers, but a terrible deal for the Navy’s budget.  Limit us to only one new uniform every 5 years, so we can stop wasting money designing flammable, non-camouflage pajamas.

Ely, past Barracks #1 at #2.It’s not my building…we at least maintain the lawn

Fix the Military Construction (MILCON) process.  We spent so much money on LCS and the F-35 that we had to rob someone’s piggy bank, so we chose building funds.  If you think that is my opinion, try reading the 2016 budget (emphasis is mine):

The  Department  has  been  challenged  to  meet  Combatant  Commander  demand  for forces,  and  associated  higher-
than-planned  operational  tempo,  while  dealing  with the  reality  of  reduced  resources  in  the Budget  Control  Act.    Surgeable  forces  have decreased  due  to  increased  maintenance  on  aging  platforms,  a reduction  in  aircraft and  weapons  procurement,  and  risks  taken  against  support  infrastructure.    This budget  continues  to  put  a  priority  on  readiness  while  maintaining  the  minimum investment  necessary  to maintain  an  advantage  in  advanced  technologies  and weapons  systems.    While  we  have  accepted  some  risk  in  weapons  capacity  and delayed  certain  modernization  programs,  this  budget  provides  us  with  a  plan  to keep the Navy and Marine Corps as a ready, balanced force.

Our Navy facilities are in poor shape in many places.  Unless you have a 3 or 4 star admiral, you are likely in a dilapidated building that should have been torn down 5 years ago.  My building, for example, was built in 1942, has scaffolding holding up the foundation in the basement, has flooding and cockroach problems (no matter how many times we poison them), struggles to maintain temperature…and it’s one of the nicer buildings on our waterfront.  It, along with many others, needs some new construction fast, something that our incoming President should be familiar with.

radm_eugene_b_fluckey_colorReview more combat awards, and cut down on other awards.  The guy in the above picture is Eugene Fluckey.  He was a WW2 badass submariner.  He got 4 Navy Crosses and the Medal of Honor for doing daring stuff, including putting his own Sailors ashore on Japan to blow up a train.  He has 4 rows of medals.  Nowadays, I see people who have done nothing close to that walking around with 6 rows of medals.  The sad part is that we hand out more medals for simply showing up to work, but we’re so stingy with combat awards, despite being at war for over a decade.

f_35_bobThis was the nicest F35 meme I could find…

Fix our broken acquisition process.  If you want a new weapons system, the best way to guarantee success is to ensure the parts are made in as many states as possible.  That will make killing the program in Congress nearly impossible.  Never mind if the weapon isn’t doing the job, or over budget, or eclipsed by technology.  Making our procurement processes buy gear and not be a source of Congressional graft would go a long way.

vaapptAt least you got some weight loss!

Actually fire someone in the VA.  Seriously.  Nobody has lost a job, except for the guy on top (and really, he resigned).  A President Trump that goes hospital by hospital firing poor performing employees would get cheered by all sides.  What a perfect image: “You’re fired” from a President who made that his punch line for quite some time.

This post represents the views of the author alone and does not represent views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy or any other government agency. And no, I wasn’t making the cockroach part up.

If you liked this story, you’d probably like others on my blog.


If you watch the news, you might not realize that on the Navy’s birthday, the USS MASON had already been attacked twice from Yemen. Or that we sentenced an NCIS agent to 12 years in prison for a massive Pacific scandal. The Navy isn’t as interesting as our Presidential election, which is why you’ve probably missed that it’s being slowly dismantled.

Consider these points:

hsvWhat happens to aluminum hulls when they meet missiles. From MarineLog.com
  • We’ve purchased the next generation of warship, the Littoral Combat Ship, where we focused on speed. Yet it’s hull is aluminum, it lacks a lot of firepower, and despite being billed as being cheaper, we aren’t getting a lot of cost savings.
  • We’ve changed personnel procedures to allow transgender personnel, without having first fixed our broken health care system, so we setup the system for failure before even getting out of the gate.
  • We completely dissolved our Navy rating system so that we could better align with the civilian sector. Never mind that we had multiple programs to make it easy to transition from the Navy. We also changed the retirement structure. It’s almost like we don’t want career Sailors anymore, and certainly not any with warfighting experience.
  • We’ve spent millions on multiple uniform changes, but many of us are still working in dilapidated buildings built in the 30’s and 40’s, and we’re told there isn’t any military construction money to help us.
  • We ignored offensive sea weapons, and now the Chinese and Russians have missiles that can strike us long before we ever get within firing range.

The Chief of Naval Operations said the Navy was to focus on three tenets: Warfighting First, Operate Forward and Be Ready. USS MASON was certainly ready to strike against an adversary in Yemen, but are we building a Navy that can keep us safe from Russia and China? Maybe that question isn’t as enthralling a discussion as the Presidential election, but it certainly is one we should be having.

The views in this post do not reflect the official views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other branch of the US government. They belong solely to the author.

If you’re curious about the Navy rating disestablishment, check out my post here.