A while back I was the training department head, called the “N7” in department head speak.  One of the divisions I owned was indoc, which has new people at our command before they go to their jobs.  Indoc gives new Sailors a place to work while they get their stuff moved in, find a place to live, and finish required paperwork they need for their new jobs.  This division included our junior officers, young ensigns that have recently graduated college and attended a few weeks of Navy training.  When I took over the job initially, I thought I would enjoy mentoring them upon arrival.

I was in for a rude awakening when one of my first check-ins told me “I’m really concerned about work/life balance.”  I told him “Uhm, you’ve had a lot of life and not a lot of work, so yes, you’re out of balance.”  It probably seemed like a dick-thing to say at the time, but it was true.

Seems doable…From Dilbert.com

Your first job out of college is a big challenge.  You have to prove yourself to your employer and your fellow employees, plus you have to learn about your industry.  This holds true for Naval Officers, who have to learn about the Navy, their specific job, and how to lead Sailors, all while getting qualified.  Oh, and occasionally contribute to the local community.  Until you get qualified, it’s an uphill battle that takes much more than 40 hours a week.

Increasingly people are graduating college with flawed ideas about work and a lack of critical thinking skills.  I’m shocked at the junior officers who can’t write a cohesive paper, can’t arrive on time for work, and think that the Navy’s rules about physical readiness are flexible.  Part of the point of college was to eradicate these bad habits, but college is increasingly becoming an extension of high school, rather than an adult incubator.  I used to think “adulting” memes were cute, but now I sadly realize they honestly reflect the internal thoughts of most graduates.

So if you’re a soon-to-be college graduate, and you’re looking forward to a graduation speech about taking on the world and how you’re going to solve world hunger, all within a 9 to 5, Monday to Thursday workweek…please stop yourself.  Get a job, and get a mentor or two that are successful.  Talk with someone successful about finances and how you build wealth in your twenties.  The “cool kids” that are drinking their pay checks and scamming out of paying student loans?  They aren’t going to be the cool kids in their thirties.  Trust me, it won’t mean working yourself to death, but it will involve a bit of sacrifice and thinking ahead.  The thing is, you’ll find real happiness and satisfaction when you do.


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

Have you checked out my blog?  Have you donated to Da Tip Jar?  Because you know you should!

I received an email notification that a Department of Defense Civilian Reduction in Force (RIF) was coming.  I almost deleted the email.  RIFs are nothing new, and they typically go like this:

  • Some older employees use it as a chance to retire early
  • Most employees that have been around greater than 2 years continue to stay
  • Young employees or ones with extensively documented issues get let go

The problem is that RIFs consider tenure status and veteran status over performance.  This makes it extremely hard to fire someone.  The performance portion has to be absolutely horrendous, and most employees are smart enough to do the bare minimum so that as a supervisor, you struggle to find anything negative to document.

Even when there are problems, they take forever to solve.  Out in Bahrain, I had a civilian employee that regularly sent angry emails to our entire command, in many cases including the Admiral.  But her previous boss had written glowing performance reviews, so when the command wanted to fire her, she had a case against them.  Her new boss (who I had gone to school with) painfully documented her performance issues and outbursts for a year.  During her performance review, she received such a low score that the HR office called us and asked if we had made a mistake.  She lost a $10K bonus and was removed a few weeks later.

Had she been a Google or Amazon employee, I doubt she would have lasted 4 weeks.

So imagine my surprise when I read these paragraphs:

In order to comply with the law, the department has reprioritized the “order of retention” as implemented by Office of Personnel Management in government-wide regulations, by placing performance as the primary retention factor.  This is a substantial change for DoD from existing, government-wide provisions.  The current, government-wide RIF retention factors are:  tenure, veteran’s preference, length of service, and performance, in descending order.

Under the new procedures, employees shall be ranked on a retention register based on periods of assessed performance, followed by the retention factors of:  performance rating of record, tenure group, performance average score, veteran’s preference, and DoD Service Computation Date- RIF (DoD SCD-RIF).

Performance?  That could be a game changer.  The memo gives you an idea of how they will score people, but just the fact that we’re going to use performance as the driving metric is a huge step in the right direction.


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. 

Except the actual memo…that’s totally real DoD policy.  No fake news here.

Feel free to check out my blog.  And…hit up Da Tip Jar, because you KNOW the NY Post was never going to tell you about civilian RIFs.

“Bring up the turnover blog on the big screen”

The first time I said those words on the US Pacific Fleet watchfloor, I got a weird look from my Intelligence Specialist, a Navy Sailor who only recently joined our team from his basic school.  “A blog?  Sir, we work in intelligence, not blogging.”

My watchfloor, a small group of 4 enlisted Sailors and one officer, maintained the intelligence plot for Commander, US Pacific Fleet (at first Admiral Harris, and later Admiral Swift).  We watched all of Pacific Fleet’s area, a huge swath of the world that covers everything from Pakistan to China, North Korea and Russia to Indonesia, and up to the west coast of the US.  When I came to the team, I learned how we partnered with a lot of other organizations and put together one neat picture for the Commander to make decisions.  It was (and still is) a really important job.  I watched our Commander use our information to make decisions that I would read about later in the news.

What I like to THINK I do, but in reality I point at a screen. A lot. Image from Wikipedia.

One of our biggest challenges was turnover.  When you turnover what is happening in about 50% of the world, it’s a daunting task, and it’s easy to miss something.  People before me had created turnover sheets that covered most things, but as the world got more complicated, it often fell short, especially for smaller countries.  Most importantly, it was a paper sheet.  Nobody outside our organization ever saw it.

I thought it was a weak spot, especially since many other organizations cued from us as to what was important in the world.  So I persuaded my team to start writing our turnovers using Intelink’s blogging service.  Intelink is a suite of sharing tools we have on our classified networks.  The government buys a license for a tool, puts it on the network, and everyone can use it.  The most well known is Intellipedia, which looks exactly like Wikipedia, except that you have to portion mark every paragraph with the proper classification.  We also have WordPress for blogging, Pintrest (called IntelPin), Twitter (called Chirp) and a few others.

The beauty of Intelink is that the services are reliable and make it really easy to share and discover.  If you tag your products on IntelPin or Intellipedia, suddenly others who are creating intelligence on the same issue can easily find them.  Too many people have this idea that everyone in intelligence is on the same page and somehow has access to all the information about a topic, but in reality the landscape is divided among the 16 Intelligence Communities, and someone in the CIA could be working on the same thing as me and have no idea what I’ve done.

“This is how I build the daily brief,” said no person in Intelligence ever.

So we started the Pacific Fleet Intelligence Blog.  It started as just my team, but soon it caught on to the other teams.  They liked that we could hyperlink products, add images, and that you could easily pull up previous turnovers.  It gave my boss and other organizations the ability to see what we were working on remotely.  Soon my Intelligence Specialists were blogging like professionals.

Intelink came under fire in a recent article on Wired, which said it mostly failed and may have been manipulated by the outgoing Obama administration to spread disinformation about Russia’s influence in the 2016 election.  Wired said that bureaucracy killed Intelink as a way to build a better National Intelligence Estimate, conjuring images of some creepy old guy in a suit holding folders of classified information yelling the spy equivalent of “Get off my lawn!” at some younger analyst.  But as Hanlon’s Razor teaches us, the truth is probably much simpler.

The reality is that most older analysts don’t know how to share.  They are very used to email.  I managed a group inbox on the watchfloor, and it was constantly deluged with intelligence reports from all over the world.  We would send out our brief, a 100 slide monstrosity, over email to customers.  I started posting our brief on a document sharing site (called IntelDocs) and sending out a link.  I swear, some people’s minds were completely blown that you could actually do that.

Yes, there are people like that in Intelligence.

When money is tight, the first thing to get cut in the military is training, and I think we’re seeing that now.  We have a lot of older analysts that we should be training on how to effectively use these tools, but we don’t.  They aren’t stupid, they simply need someone to show them how to use these tools.  But it’s not just the older folks.  My junior analysts are smart people, but they are third generation users of the internet.  Most never built a website from scratch on Geocities like so many of us did back in the day.  Their internet usage consists of Facebook, Snapchat, Google and Tindr.  We simply assume that Millenials have these skills, an assumption that I see proven false on a daily basis.

I think the future is bright for Intelink.  The Pacific Fleet Intelligence Blog continued after I left, a good sign that it wasn’t just my “good idea fairy.”  They also extensively use SharePoint, something I had helped setup with our network people in the last two months of my time there.  My boss, who had started his career building briefs on paper, was regularly surfing our sites and pulling information down by the time I left.

Change it would seem happens one person at a time, and even those in intelligence can learn to share.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, US Pacific Fleet, or any other government agency.  And please note that I use the word “spies” liberally, “intelligence professional” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Did you hit up Da Tip Jar yet?  Did you check out my blog?  Because what else are you doing on a Saturday?

This week the Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosted a workshop called “Biological Extinction: How to Save the Natural World on Which We Depend.”  If you read the declaration on the workshop, or look at the workshop agenda, or read any of the articles linked on the Vatican’s website, it doesn’t seem controversial at all, and fits nicely with the role of the Church around the world.

And then…fake news!

The Pope has urged us to have fewer children! claims Life Site News.

I’m not buying it, for a lot of reasons:

  1. There is NO direct quote from the Pope.  Couldn’t find it in the article, couldn’t find it on Vatican.va.
  2. It doesn’t jive with what he’s said earlier: Large Families are a gift to society.
  3. It doesn’t fit with the narrative of the workshop, which was focused on economic inequality, maintaining biodiversity and proper use of the Earth’s resources.

Nothing actually written by the workshop seemed out of line with the Catholic Church.  If someone would like to comment and prove otherwise, please be my guest, I will gladly post again admitting I missed something.

The Pope needs to realize he has a fake news problem, and it’s hurting his Church.  For reference, see the contrast between the media’s portrayal of Pope Benedict’s comments on homosexuality and Pope Francis’ comments.  Despite saying almost the same thing, Benedict’s were largely ignored, while Francis’ comments were seen as changing fundamental Church doctrine.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The media is using fake news to rip apart the Catholic Church from the inside.  By misquoting Pope Francis, it makes traditional-thinking Catholics think he’s extremely liberal, and it reinforces their wrong belief that Vatican II should be completely rejected.  For Catholics who grew up after the 1960s, the media’s portrayal makes it look like it’s OK to accept ideas that are actually heretical (and ideas they have been pushing for some time now).  For those of us in the middle, who like tradition but also try to understand the spirit of the Catechism, we get marginalized by both sides, and the media simply tries to overwhelm us with volume to silence our voices.

It’s nasty.  As a military planner, this is the sort of thing I would want to do to my adversaries.  The media are using fake news to tear down the Catholic Church in a way that could cause almost all persons to turn away from teaching and towards what makes us comfortable.  We would do well to reject it and focus on understanding our Catechism and why we believe what we believe.


The post represents the views of the author alone, and does not represent the views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency.

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Now that I have school-aged children, I spend more time every time we move analyzing school districts.  A friend of mine that lives where we are moving to next sends both their kids to Catholic elementary school, to the tune of about 9,000 dollars.  Although I choked when I heard the cost, it didn’t surprise me too much.  In Georgia, we ended up sending our oldest kid to kindergarten at the local Baptist school, which cost 150/month, instead of the Catholic school, which would have cost 650/month.

Hate to say it, but the Baptists got it right.

Catholic schools are too expensive for most people in a one-earner family.  So we face the choice of either having both parents work, living paycheck to paycheck, or sending our kids to public school.  Public schools don’t have the best track record of being friendly to Catholics, which means the parent staying at home has to spend a considerable amount of time educating the kids in the faith.

From PewResearchCenter.org

Given that too many parents don’t have a good understanding of the faith as it is, we’ve just setup a system that allows our kids to be plucked away from the Church.

I think we’re missing the mark on Catholic education.  If we want a future generation, we should be educating our young parents in the faith.  Poor understanding of the faith creates kids with a weak understanding of what they believe in, which sets them up to be lead astray in high school and college.

School choice is going to help as well.  I think a large part of the negative reaction to Betsy DeVos is because she threatens to break the stranglehold of public elementary and middle schools, a stranglehold that has been contributing to an increasingly non-religious world.

Our future generation is caught in an education setup that is pushing them to leave the church. We would be wise to recognize that.

This week the press freaked out about a Russian spy ship off the eastern coast.  It even managed to roll up my way, obviously hoping to capture information about submarine operations near Groton.


The Viktor Leonov, from shipspotting.com

The truth is, this is normal.  The Viktor Leonov didn’t violate any rules.  It didn’t cross into territorial waters.  It didn’t get in the middle of a live naval exercise.  It operated in international waters according to the rules.  Before we jump all over Russia, realize that the United States puts warships in their backyard and conducts military exercises near their borders on a regular basis.  Allowing this vessel to operate where it did is part of being a responsible member of the established world order, an order that has given prosperity to all nations around the world.

What we should be afraid of is attempts to dismantle this order, which is exactly what China is attempting to do with a revision to its maritime law:

The draft revisions stipulate that authorities will be able to designate specific areas and temporarily bar foreign ships from passing through those areas according to their own assessment of maritime traffic safety….”As a sovereign State and the biggest coastal State in, for example, the South China Sea, China is entitled to adjust its maritime laws as needed, which will also promote peace and stable development in the waters,” Wang said.

This should frighten people.  China already considers the entire South China Sea to be its territorial waters.  They’ve gone so far as to plant Chinese flags on the sea floor.  The certainly don’t respect property rights in the area either, as demonstrated by the illegal seizure of a US unmanned drone.

And in case it still doesn’t scare you:

“China’s waters are open to foreign ships as long as they do not damage the waters’ safety, order, or China’s sovereignty,” Yang said

China’s sovereignty.  Which begs the question, what is China?

What is China? From Wikipedia.

That definition seems to keep expanding.  As the above graphic shows, what is China has morphed over the years.  Now it includes Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, and apparently the South China Sea, and even perhaps Hawaii.

That should scare us.  The bear, while a problem, is deviating from the rule book.  The dragon is throwing out the book entirely.


This post represents the views of the author and not the views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency.  The featured image is from politicalforum.com.

Drop some money in Da Tip Jar, because otherwise CNN wins, and we all know they are fake news. And stop by my blog when you get a chance.

This last week I asked everyone to pray for Rebecca, my youngest daughter. She had gone in for open heart surgery on Wednesday to repair an Atrial Septal Defect. The surgery was fairly routine (at least, as far as open heart surgery is concerned), and considering that Yale New-Haven was performing the surgery, we couldn’t have had a better team. But as you know from that same post, she wasn’t recovering well.

On Monday, I went to work, only to get called back to the hospital. My wife and I arrived and consulted with the surgeons, who said Rebecca had gone into heart block, where the heart doesn’t pump well and blood flow is sluggish. They wanted to install a temporary pacemaker so that her heart would keep working, and the surgeons were very hopeful that she would heal out of it. We agreed, and they wheeled her down to surgery.

Thirty minutes later, the nurse came up and said we needed to go downstairs. We were rushed to surgery, where the doctor came in and said Rebecca had gone into cardiac arrest after anethesia. He asked if I wanted to continue compressions or put her on bypass. Either way, she had a high chance of death. I told him “You walk into that room and make the best damn medical decision, and I’ll stand by you.”

Rebecca’s heart recovered on its own. Pacing wires were placed. The Code Blue paging stopped. We went back to recovery, and the local priest came in and performed an emergency Confirmation. The surgeon told us she was critical, but stable. We cleared our Tuesday schedule and drove home, an hour away from Yale, scared, but confident that things would work out.

We pulled into our driveway and called the hospital. They told us to come back. We made it back at 10 pm. I walked in and the heart rate monitor was reading zero. The doctor had his stethoscope on Rebecca’s chest, looked at me, and shook his head.  I clutched her tiny hand, desperately hoping she would squeeze, but that movement never came.  I spent the next hours cradling Rebecca in my arms and crying.

Everyone was in shock. We had the best team of pediatric heart surgeons, cardiologists, NICU and PICU nurses that you could assemble in America.  Rebecca had been recovering.  Her echocardiograms had all been good.  The pacing wires had been firing.  Everything should have worked.  It was like the A Team of cardiology teams was on her side.  They simply don’t lose people, certainly not kids like Rebecca.  But as the head surgeon later told us, “One minute she was fine, the next she was in arrest and would not come back.”

The next few days made me wonder, “Why?”  I’m used to death.  As a Naval officer, I know that I willingly place my life on the line for others.  I work with other members that do the same thing.  I’m OK with that. But Rebecca?  She was just a 7 month old kid.  She spent too much time hooked up to tubes and wires.  She didn’t deserve that.  Honestly, as a Catholic, it depressed me.  It didn’t seem fair.

So we started planning a funeral.  And a wake.  And a reception.  We filled out forms.  We called people and sent emails.  And all of a sudden, I realized that I had missed the point.

Rebecca’s death wasn’t about her. It was about everyone else.

It was about the Yale New-Haven team.  The team of doctors, nurses and surgeons that saw us choose life, saw us pray over Rebecca, and watched her emergency Baptism and Confirmation.  Many of them didn’t share our beliefs on abortion and life.  Some of them do now.  Rebecca had tons of people from Yale that came to visit her even when she wasn’t in their ward or on their floor.  I spied on many a nurse and doctor playing with her and making faces to make her smile.  She touched their lives like no one else could.  Rebecca’s death was about that team.

It was about the Down Syndrome community.  It dawned on us when the Eastern Connecticut Down Syndrome group set up a Go Fund Me page that netted over 1,000 dollars in less than a day.  Rebecca was born with Down Syndrome, and the Down Syndrome community in the northeast mobilized to support us.  So many people that we had never met, or only met briefly, were praying for her.  It brought them together.  Rebecca’s death was about that community.

It was about my Navy command.  My Assistant Officer in Charge told my Sailors the next morning what had happened.  Almost immediately, my Sailors and their families began reaching out, asking what they could do to help.  They didn’t have to.  There are plenty of Navy resources, and often the going assumption is that Navy Officers have it all figured out.  But as one Sailor put it in a text message, “He’s our Officer in Charge, and he always helps us. I want to help him.”  Many of the Sailors had only ever seen Rebecca at the occasional family event, yet they wanted to help.  Our Navy team grew closer.  Rebecca’s death was about my Sailors and their families.

It was about people who lacked faith.  People we didn’t know were suddenly reaching out to my wife.  They said that Rebecca brought them to church and they were praying when they hadn’t done so in years.  A friend of my wife that is a very vocal atheist asked people openly on Facebook to pray for Rebecca.  No clauses in her request.  No “If you believe” or “keep her in your thoughts” disclaimers.  She made a genuine request for prayers.  Rebecca’s death was about her.

It was about our family.  I was honestly frightened about the thought of raising a kid that might live with me forever.  It made me do a lot of research and talk to people.  After meeting people from all walks of life who loved people with Down Syndrome, and seeing kids and adults with Down Syndrome do well in life (even swim the English Channel!), I realized that all life matters, even the ones that we view as disabled.  My kids learned to love Rebecca, despite her being very different from other babies.  Or perhaps, it was because she was so different that they cared even more.  Rebecca’s death was about us.

I realized that I made a mistake.  I focused on Rebecca’s pain.  I watched her cry when she was stuck with needles.  I watched her struggle to finish a bottle because her heart wasn’t strong enough to breast feed.  It made me sad, but what I didn’t realize was that she was changing everyone around her.  My focus on her pain blinded me to how she was an instrument to change those around her.

Many of us spend a large part of our adult lives influencing, or trying to influence, those around us.  We read books, we devise arguments, we make PowerPoint presentations, and we argue on Facebook.  And yet here I had a little girl, not even a year old, who came into my life and changed everyone around her, including people she never met.  Her broken heart was changing those with hardened hearts.

She did it without words, without slides, and without a social media account.

It truly was never about her.  It was always about us, about making us better.  And even though it took her death for me to realize it, I’m glad that I did.

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18: 1-5


Rebecca will be buried on Tuesday, with a wake on Monday.  If you are in the Eastern Connecticut area, you are welcome to stop by.  Please follow the link for details.


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

All was well the day of my daughter’s surgery.  Despite waiting an additional two hours because of a higher priority case, the surgeon came out around 4 pm to tell me everything was finished and looked great.  He said someone would arrive in about 15 minutes to take me to my daughter’s recovery room.

Unfortunately, that person never came.  I sat in Yale’s Pediatric Surgery waiting room for another hour, and when the lights went dark, I realized I had been forgotten.  An hour after that, after speaking with various Yale officials and frantically scouring the hospital, I finally found my daughter on the 7th floor in recovery.  Right about that time, I received a Yale text message asking me for my opinion of today’s service.

After dashing off my response, I figured that was it.  Yale is a massive hospital, just the sort of place where little people like myself get ignored.  To my surprise, two days later a young man called me and wanted details.  We spent almost an hour going over what was great and finding where the breakdowns were.  By the time we were done, he told me the two very specifics things that Yale would work on to make sure that breakdown never happened again.  A few months later, when my daughter returned for surgery, I observed first-hand a smoother post-surgery process.

Thinking about it as I’m typing still makes me smile.  Yale took my feedback and acted on it, making their process better.  They took a negative interaction and ultimately made it a positive.  They didn’t pay me compensation, apologize profusely, or give me candy to make the problem go away.  Instead, they acted on the problem, solved it, and continued to provide great medical care.

I’m also part of the military’s medical system, and the difference is stark.  When a doctor at Eisenhower Army Medical Center messed up my wife’s surgery, instead of working to fix the problem, he told her to essentially shut up.  I was at work and got a sobbing phone call, which I acted on.  Our command’s medical team met her at the hospital to address the issue.  She filed an ICE complaint, and our patient advocate met with the hospital to try and resolve the issue.

And in the end, none of it mattered.  The doctor was never disciplined.  The hospital never corrected anything, nor allowed her to go out in town to see a civilian doctor.  Despite all the documentation, nothing was ever done.

This isn’t a one-off.  I’ve had movers break and steal items.  I’ve had an investigator negligently list false information on my security background check.  I’ve had big issues with the Navy’s handling of special needs children.  I’ve discovered yeomen throwing away submitted awards for my Sailors (if you ever wondered how a Medal of Honor could get “lost,” now you know).  And in almost all cases, despite filing complaints, documenting the issues and saving emails, nothing happens.  Nobody gets fired.  Nobody gets disciplined, especially DoD civilians.  I’ve had some great advocates get me compensation in some cases, but the process rarely gets fixed, meaning the Sailors after me probably got screwed too.  Worse, I’m often told that my claims are baseless and I should watch what I say.

Too many people think the military is some sort of wonderful organization that can get stuff done.  Maybe that’s why people are calling (foolishly) for a military coup.  News flash: there is a lot of inefficiency that you don’t see and don’t want.  All too often, uncaring people are allowed to make life miserable for the young men and women in uniform, with no repercussion.

Plenty of people freaked out when Congress approved rules that could zero-out a civil servants pay.  Are you surprised though?  There is plenty of frustration when organizations like the VA still aren’t cleaned up.  And I have to give Congress credit, because when nobody would fix a situation where almost 200 Air Medals for my Sailors “disappeared” (thrown in the trash), a letter to my Congresswoman actually got results.

For those of us who have been constantly screwed by the system, we’re a lot more hopeful that this might bring about real change.  Maybe as we’re improving the military we can truly make our bureaucracy great again.


This post does not represent the views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency.  It only represents the views of the author.  But that should have been obvious from the start. 

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I’m hijacking a post to ask for prayers.  My 7-month old daughter Rebecca went in for open heart surgery on Wednesday.  She has a variety of heart issues, and the surgeons were able to fix many, but not all of them.  Everything seemed to be going well in recovery, and we were hoping for a Sunday or Monday return home.

Those hopes were dashed yesterday.  Her left lung collapsed, she spiked a fever, and now the atrial part of the heart is beating at twice the rate of the ventrical part (I think I said that right, don’t quote me, I’m not a doctor!).  At best, we’re looking at a week stay in Yale’s PICU.  At worst, she may have to have another surgery to install a pacemaker.  She’s hooked up to so many lines right now the tree that held them all fell on one of the nurses yesterday.  It’s not good by any measure.

We are very fortunate that TRICARE (the military’s health insurance) covers all this, and I know that comes at a cost to the taxpayer, and that taxpayer isn’t a faceless person, it’s people like you.  So thank you.  Seriously, from the bottom of my heart.  Without the generosity that America has shown towards their military families, we would be in a lot worse situation.  You should be proud to know that at least in this case, it’s going towards saving a life.  And while I occasionally rail about the bureaucracy (as in my previous post), in times like these I count myself fortunate for having coverage.

We’re asking for your prayers.  We’ve been praying to Blessed John Duns Scotus for a miraculous cure of her heart.  I know Yale has some of best everything in terms of doctors and nurses.  We’ve been trying to stack the deck in our favor, but I think the earthly stacking attempts are not enough.  So please, when you get a chance, please say an extra prayer for Rebecca.

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.


China is not an Asian version of the United States.  It is an imperialistic power that through its 3,000+ year history has sought, in times of power, to turn its neighbors into tributary states, and in times of weakness, to retreat from the world and preserve their gains.  After a humiliating 20th century, where European powers and the Japanese empire exploited China and her people, she is now poised to become a peer competitor to the United States.

Which is exactly why we should fight in the South China Sea.

China is playing an extremely smart long game.  By slowly degrading our alliances and building its Navy, China is set to simply own the South China Sea by default in 5-10 years.  China is best served by the US doing nothing.  Given the last 8 years of US inaction, they have gotten exactly that.  Pressing for war in the South China Sea short circuits this plan.

But let’s not duke it out like China wants. In a bizarre twist, China is now quite similar to pre-World War 2 Japan.  They own a lot of small islands that are difficult to defend and supply, spread out over a large area and contain little to no resources.  Japan expected the US to attack island by island.  Instead, the US hopped around islands and choked out the strongholds, causing them to die on the vine or be destroyed by local forces.  China’s “wall of sand” appears eerily similar.

They are also very vulnerable to economic disruption.  The western provinces of China are not tamed, and although China has tried to develop the region (and outbreed the locals), the western provinces are still quite susceptible to disruption.  This means China relies heavily on the sea for trade and economic prosperity.  Unleashing the US Navy with unrestricted economic warfare, similar to the unrestricted submarine warfare unleashed on Japan, would threaten China’s basic way of life.

A fight with China would be hard.  But China stands to lose much more than the US.


View more of NG36B’s writing here.