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The Navy's traditions live on in the hearts of those who serve

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Balance the budget on the back of the military personnel.

Again, the politicians in Washington want to solve their over spending on the backs of those of us, past, present, and future, who do their dirty work.  They want to reduce the amount of retirement pay we receive in a number of ways.  First, buy changing, again, the way our retirement pay is computed to a "High five" verses a "High Three" as it is now.  Of course it used to be based on your last salary.  Then, they want to change the computation of our COLA!  That COLA is meaningless now because they "Suits" removed fuel and food from the COLA computation already!!  And, some of the wimps in Congress want to lower the pay of our military members.  Look wimps, what we do is dangerous, it shortens our lives, if we even live to retire, and it robs us of family time, if we even keep our families.  We are exposed to dangerous chemicals without protection, explosives, NBC warfare, and other unseen dangers like the mechanized pneumonia virus that has been traced to the deserts in Iraq, Bahrain, and all the way back to Bethesda!  But, the news media does not tell you of that, do they!!  Our military is exposed to dangers, mental and physical, of unbelievable terror, while they do what those in Congress would never have the balls to do, Senator McCain excluded.

Congress, both parties, have spent us into a hole!!  They have spent what we don't have and won't have.  Now they have to pay the piper, but they want those who can least afford it, to make the largest payment on their excesses.  What do we do?  Write, your Congressmen and Senators and tell them this is not acceptable.  Notice, I said write, not call or email.  Why, because letter, in hand writing, carry more weight than any other means of communication.  So, write, unless you like this idea.

It is time to reduce spending to reduce the debt.  I agree, so let's start by reducing the salaries of Congressmen and Senators.  Let's reduce the size of their staffs, the size of the President's staff, the use of military aircraft, and the size of the State Department, The Department of Education, and any other department of the Executive Branch.  Then, we can take on the other no loads and reduce their take.  Is our military too big, does it spend too much money?  Yes, and I have outlined many ways to reduce that size without reducing the personnel ready for combat.  All we have to do is look at the Marine Corps for for our example.  

The time to reduce is now, but the Fighting men and women are not the place to look for savings!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gays in the Military.

Since the Gay Community has now joined the "Main Stream" they will need to quit being so sensitive about some good natured ribbing.  That's right, good old, morale building, fun poking, (no pun intended) ribbing.  I just read an article where the, now fired, Commanding Officer of a VFA Squadron got censured for assigning an Aviator's Call Sign that made jest of a pilots openly Gay life style.  The Junior Aviator took umbrage and reported the Commander to the Squadron Commander who promptly fired him, lest he be stained with the  Squadron Commander's sin..  Look folks, do you know why Drag Racing gave Don Prudhome the nick name of "The Snake"?  It's not because he is fast on the strike.  It's not because he had a desire to own pet snakes, it's because of a particular part of his body!  Did he go running to Mommy about this teasing?  No, he made a million dollars from it.  As I recall, there was a baseball player in the 1930's they called "No Shoes".   Why, I don't know, maybe he liked being bare footed.  We had kids in our neighborhood who had monikers that were down right embarrassing that they wore with pride.   I worked with a fellow for 20 years that had the nick name of "Big Head".  I knew a Cruiser Commanding Officer who was nick named "Crazy Karl".  The bottom line is, if you are going to play with the big boys, you have to have thick skin.  If you whine about how bad you are treated, the treatment will only get worse.  If you toughen up, grow a set, and take the minor jokes, they will soon respect you for your abilities.  All of us have had to go through it.  It's part of acceptance in a team.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The scrapping of our defense!

It amazes me that those politicians, in uniform and in suits, fail to understand our history.  What do I mean?  We have and are in the process of decommissioning, scrapping, and scuttling every U.S. Navy ship that could be used in the defense of America.  Good ships and submarines with tens of years left in their service life.  First we decommissioned and scrapped the CGN class ships, when each of them had over 20 years of Nuclear fuel left!! Then the New Threat Upgrade Cruisers.  Ships with weapons with far more capability than the AEGIS wonder ships.  Don't believe me.  We had to bring a Leahy class CG out of mothballs to do the ER AEGIS missile shoots because the famed AEGIS weapons systems did not have the range to track the missile!  Then it was the Spruance class destroyers, most with vertical launch systems installed.  Then the DDG 993 class ships with 2 MK 26 missile launchers and two MK 45 Guns, equipped with New Threat Upgrade.  Then the first 5 AEGIS class ships because they had moving missile launchers.  All of these ships have either been sunk, scrapped, or sold to a foreign nation.  Then we removed the only offensive weapon on the Perry class FFG's, the MK 13 Missile launcher, capable of hitting an aircraft 40 miles away!  They could also launch Harpoon anti-ship missiles.  We have scrapped 20+ nuclear Attack Submarines, most equipped to shoot Tomahawk cruise missiles, and a large number of Fleet Ballistic Missile Subs.  We struck ALL of the Iowa class Battleships after extensive, expensive, modernizations that made them as potent in today's world Navy as they were impenetrable.

What the hell is going on?!?!  If a war does start with China, Iran, The Soviet Union, (yes they still exist, only the news media does not talk about them) Venezuela, or any group of bad guys allied together, what are we going to use?  unmanned drones?  They have to get there somehow.  Control of the seas and a free sea lane is the DUTY of the nation's military and the U.S. Navy is the only military unit that can do this.  China, the Soviet Union, Iran, are all building capable, offensive, long range, submarines.  Do you thing they are building them for a new Disney ride?  They are building to go to war, against us!!  And not only did we decommissioning these valuable assets, we sunk, scrapped, or sold them for pennies!  We did not even place them in mothballs for a future war!!  Again, I ask, what the hell is going on.  Have the politicians, in uniform and in suits, surrendered the United States to the enemy?  Do they have a deal to hand over the keys of this great Nation to the next aggressor who shoot one missile.  It appears so to me!  I have no platform from which to sound the alarm, except this blog.  Maybe someone of influence will read this and wake up.  But, I doubt it.  It seems the politicians have sealed our fate!!
I hate to say it, but just like the financial crisis caused by the liberals, progressives, and moderates, they have destroyed our great country.  America is DONE!   We have met the enemy and he is us!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Generosity beyond measure

Back in 1984 or so, the Girl Scouts were hit with a contamination scare in their Girl Scout cookies.  This recall of ALL of the Girl Scout cookies, nation wide, due to the contamination made it impossible for them to raise much needed operating funds.  I was Command Master Chief on the USS Caron (DD 970) and we had been adopted by a Girl Scout troop in Indiana.  We decided to do a fund raiser for the Troop since they would not be able to sell their annual cookies.  We publicized it in the Plan Of the Day and on the specified pay day, I sat on the Mess Decks and had my hat setting on the table.  All contributions were voluntary and most of the crew were donating $5, $10, or even $20 dollars.  These were very substantial contributions since most of my shipmates were married and sent most of their pay home through the allotment program.

Now on the USS Caron there was a GMG1 who was a legend.  He had spent over 13 on the USS Caron at the time of this event.  "Fred" walked up to me and placed $1000 in the hat!!  I was shocked and overwhelmed buy this generosity.  I asked him if he was sure and he said;  They need it more than I do.  Now "Fred" was single, lived on board the ship, and was a throw back to the earlier days of the Navy when career Petty Officers lived on board, without the benefit of automobiles, apartments, or the trappings of civilian life.  But, his unselfish generosity was above and beyond the call.  I was then and I am now proud of "Fred".  He was a unique individual.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Headline: Ships need repair work!

That's an understatement.  I hope the Admiral that said that does not expect anyone who has been on a Navy ship to be surprised.  I have written about this issue for a long time.  We have cut the funding for ship maintenance.  Ship's have missed availabilities.  Work has been delayed or even canceled.  The ship modernization program has suffered badly from budget cuts.  All of these are facts.  But this time is no different than the time after the end of the Viet Nam war, World War II, or other  major wars throughout history.  But there is one difference today.  The Sailor!  We have stopped training our sailors to do basic and advanced maintenance.  We closed, but now have reopened, the Ship's Intermediate Maintenance Activities (SIMA).  This was a training ground for sailors to expand their technical knowledge.  The same with the Mobile Technical Training Units (MOTU) and the military billets at the NSSA commands. (Formerly known as NAVSEACENLANT/PC, FTSC, RMC)  Another loss to the maintenance community is the loss of the Destroyer and Submarine Tenders.  These mobile repair facilities provided deployable intermediate maintenance support and another training ground for the sailor.  Just LOOK at all of the lost maintenance training and capability.

Today's sailor receives little or no hands on maintenance training in "A" or "C" school.  The Class "B" schools have been gone for decades, and the "Fleet Training Center" Maintenance schools are all but gone.  All of these schools served to equip the fleet sailor with the skills to maintain his/her equipment at a standard much higher than the PMS specs.  I was a young GMG3 when PMS was first implemented, it was designed to be the MINIMUM level of maintenance.  Now it is the only maintenance being done by the sailor.  If the equipment degrades below the PMS level, the ship almost always calls for a tech assist!!

If we are going to continue down the budget cut path, we must equip our fleet sailors with the ability to be as self-sufficient as they can be.  If we do not, we will face ships unable to deploy or operate and a fleet unable to meet it's commitment.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Replies, I love them!

I have received a number of replies on various postings, and as I have said before, I publish all of them, unless the are too profane. And, I have made it a practice not to reply to your comments.  Why?  First, remember that I write this as therapy for me, as a remembrance of me for my families and friends, and as a forum.  I do not want to start an argument.  I put my ideas, experiences, and observations out there and I encourage everyone to reply as they desire.  Your input is very important, and I respect what each of you say.  And, in every case, you who have responded have been respectful to me, even in your disagreement.  I appreciate that.   One thing I have on my side is age.  My Dad used to say;  I know a lot of old people and a lot of dumb people.  But I don't know any old, dumb people.  You have to be smart to be old!  That is a true statement.  Wisdom, which is the application of knowledge, comes with age.  Second, but related, I have 40+years working for the Navy.  I have seen many ideas and changes come and go.  I have seen brilliant ideas fail and dumb ideas succeed.  Go figure.  Just think how many working uniforms I have seen in the Navy in the last 40 years!!  And most of them lasted 4 years or less.  Morale of that story, don't buy too many powder blue camo uniforms.   It will change too!  The bottom line is, the people of the Navy are it's strength.  The men and now women who are the deck plate leaders of this Navy are the pivot point of success or failure.  If you lead, the Navy will succeed.  If you put yourself first, the Navy will fail.  I guarantee it!!  It does not take a program, a new rating, or someone to be your spokesman to the Chain of Command.  All that is needed is for every Petty Officer to lead their people, set a positive example, and mentor your people towards advancement.  If we all did this, the Navy could do what I wrote about a few posts ago.  Remember, you lead from the front!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Paper mache ships and rubber bullets!

I enjoyed CDR Salamander's musings about the (lack of) capabilities of the LCS class ships.  I have written about these Paper Mache ships before, as has he.  The Navy EDO community and the ship builder, has touted this "toy" as the answer to the decommissioning of the Battleships!  According to these non-war fighters, you know who I mean, the guys with the chest full of "I was there" ribbons, the LCS can do it all.  ASW, AAW, Shore Bomb, and Battle Group commander communications.  The truth is, nothing slated for teh ship is ready.  It has not passed a single OPEVAL, and it won't.  My 16 foot WENONA Canoe has better armament, I carry a Ruger Red Hawk .44 Mag, than the LCS has.  OK, that 37 mm cannon is pretty impressive.  But that came from the Spec War warriors, not the EDO community.

The CDR Salamander discussed replacing the FF(G), no missile thanks to the EDO's in the AEGIS program, with the LCS.  Another pipe dream from the boys and girls who live in the rear with the beer and the gear.  The FFG7 class ships, with their MK 13 Mod 4 missile system could at least shoot at an aircraft, even with the anemic, all things to all people,  MK 92 Fire Control system.  At least the FFG 7 class ships had the ability to stay on station longer than 7 days.  At least the FFG 7 class ships could replenish at sea including chow, fuel, and ammo.  But, we are decommissioning them prior to their scheduled service life and selling or scrapping them just like the DD 963 with VLS that could shoot Cruise, ASROC, and anything else that fits in VLS, and the first 5 CG 47 class ships and the four DDG 993 Kidd class ships, both with the new threat upgrade already installed!  If we still had those ships, already decommissioned, and we would have a great Navy.   Instead, we are scraping proven war fighters for paper mache "toy" ships with no hope of any capability.  LCS, PC, LPD 17, MCM, all ships without any capability to fight, sustain at sea operations, or survive a single attack.  We are in trouble friends!!  Big trouble.  And I am afraid it is too late to recover.  The ED's have struck again, and nobody cares.  The Emperor has no clothes and the Navy has no ships!

Nights awake, thinking...

Because of my condition, I spend most nights, or at least part of each night, awake.  I spend a large portion of that time playing Solitaire or Free Cell.    But, a person can only loose so many times before your mind begins to wander.  And when I am lost in thought, it is almost exclusively about my Navy career.  I have thought and rethought my success' and my failures.  Some of these thoughts I have blogged about in this media.  I have also unloaded, in writing, about the mistakes and mis-starts I believe the Navy has made in the last 40 years!  That's quite a bit of time to look at.

I know I have written about my disdain for the Ratings, dreamed up by some feather merchant, like Navy Counselor, Musician, Religious Programs Specialist,  Master At Arms, and those special folks in the Career Recruiter Force.   All of these so called "Ratings" were at one time collateral duties.  Collateral duties that some gold brick who could not do his job, turned into a full time waste of tax payer's money.  One I have neglected to pontificate on is the Command Master Chief program.  Now let me make one thing clear.  The Command Master Chief program is in no way related to the Chief of the Boat (COB) program.  The COB actually has a professional responsibility that has historic provenance and value.  But the Command Master Chief program, much like the afore mentioned pseudo Ratings, was actually a collateral duty performed by the President of the Chief's Mess!  And that is the way it should be done today.

How did I get on this diatribe tonight?  I was contacted by a very dear friend of mine from the past.  A Corpsman of Corpsmen.  A real shipmate, who really knows me.  We did a lot in a few years together both professionally and on liberty.  He knows how I think.  So as I replied to his email and I tried to catch him up on the last few decades of my life, I typed the comment that I regretted going into the Command Master Chief program.  I wrote that and I mean it!  I went from a very competent Master Chief Gunner's Mate, who really loved his job to a mediocre Command Master Chief who was miserable all of the time.   Again, it is true!  Did I have my success as a CMC, yes, some.  But I had many more as a Gunner's Mate and I, like most Master Chiefs, would have made a far bigger contribution to the Navy if I stayed in my Rating.  I venture a guess that if I stayed in my Rating, I would have stayed 30+ years in the Navy.  Instead, I left at 20, unhappy, unfulfilled, and disillusioned with the enlisted bureaucracy of the Navy.  But, as I reflect on my experience as a CMC and as the Force Master Chief, I have begun to question the effectiveness of this program.  What does a Black Shoe Master Chief have to offer an aviation squadron as their CMC?  I did that job for 9 months.  It was fun, I will admit it, but the learning curve was steep and I was never really effective.  I wasn't one of them!  I did not have the back ground or experience to know when to throw the BS flag.  Yes, some will disagree with me, and that's OK.  But ask yourself, as you try to justify your own existence, what positive effect does any CMC have on the unit's combat readiness?  At least on the Caron, I was part of the Damage Control Training Team, manned .50 caliber machine guns, worked on the MK 45 guns, tried to teach the Executive Officer to spot for Naval Gun Fire Support, and even could stand a Bridger Watch if necessary.  But the Senior, Master Chief, Senior Chief of Chief Petty Officer on the ship could do the same collateral duties, their main duties, and still cover the CMC duties as a collateral duty.  So why pay a Master Chief, $100K per year, to be the Captains messenger boy?  You can't answer that one, can you?  The CMC used to be the spokesman for the crew.  Now he is the Captain's spokesman.  I have said it before and I will say it again, that Seaman, Airman, Fireman needs a spokesman.  The Chief's can speak up for themselves!  If they can't they should not be Chiefs!  I can't tell you how many times the Chief's mess would tell me; "get the Captain down for lunch, we want to tell him where he is going wrong."  So, I would invite the Captain down for lunch, letting him know the Chiefs have some issues to discuss.  Then when the Captain opened the floor for frank discussion....NOTHING!!!  Silence!!   The  only thing they could say was;  "Doing a great job Captain."

So, while letting many of you know that I was unhappy as a CMC and as the Force Master Chief too, I am being totally honest and open.  These communities need to be done away with.  The people in these communities, that is CMC, Master at Arms, Musician, Navy Counselor, Career Recruiter Force, Religious Programs Specialist, should be placed back in their original ratings or discharged.  They are an expensive experiment in socializing the Navy that has not worked.  Again, disagree with me?  Show me one increase in unit combat readiness because of these communities.  You can't!  I win!  And again, why does it make sense to take a Master Chief from the pinnacle of his professional career and give him a bureaucratic position with one foot in the wardroom and one in the Chief's mess?  It does not make sense.  hat same master Chief, at sea, in his or her rating, could be the subject matter expert, the teacher, the mentor, the first level disciplinarian, the father figure, to some raw talent that sorely needs all of these qualities.  Instead, our Chief's are trying to be Officers, doing Officer duties, and leaving the development of their people to a group of First Class Petty Officers that can't advance!  Again, it's the truth and it's time we all recognize it before it's too late!  Trust me the shooting IS going to start soon.  Not is the sand box, but at sea.  Look at the Red Chinese, look at Russia, (The Soviet Union) and please look at Iran.  They all are serious while we plan human resources games and do "how do you feel" exercises.  Hell, we are more concerned with integrating Gays into the military that combat readiness of our ships.  Don't believe me?  Can you tell me the last time a ship's Captain secured liberty because of the material condition of the ship?   Captain Dick Marcinko used to say;" The more you bleed in training the less you loose in combat"  Or something close to that.  My memory is not as good as it once was.  But, I am still awake, thinking about our Navy.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I AM NOT on welfare!

The political elite in Washington DC, lead by the liberal left, have spent a great deal of time, and ink, telling the uneducated masses that Military retirees and individuals drawing Veteran's Administration compensation for their injuries suffered while in the Service of our country are on welfare.  The Liberal press goes to great lengths pounding home the idea that the nation's economic woes are the fault of those who draw ANY government pension, including career Civil Servants and Military.

Well, let me set the record straight!  Those of us who served honorably and retired from the military, just as the program was presented to us at the recruiters office are not taking from the government or the tax payer.  Hell, we are the tax payers!  Our Military retirement IS TAXED by the Federal Government and most states.  We joined or were drafted, reenlisted a number of times with enlistment contracts that states the reason we were reenlisting was for "Benefits of Rate", and then retired when the military told us we could, or in some cases, told us we had too.  All of our active duty time, we paid Federal Taxes and in many cases, State taxes.

As for VA compensation.  The politicians from both sides of the isle are quick to send us to fight anywhere, anytime.  Mostly without a formal declaration of war.  When we win, they want to have their pictures taken with us.  If we loose or fail, they blame us!  When we are injured or incapacitated either through the actions of combat or in preparation for combat, they want us to either die as quickly as possible or quietly go away.  All of us were young, fully physically capable, mentally capable, humans when we joined the military.  Through the horrors of combat, the chemicals used in the equipment or the process of combat, and the stress and trauma of combat, many of us are no longer fully functioning human beings.  Who's fault is that?  Simply put, the politicians that equip the military and send us to do their dirty work.  Much like the sign in the store; "You broke it, you bought it!"  The country owes those of us who are disabled, by our service to our nation and our unquestionable following of orders or the "President of the United States", compensation for our injuries, be they physical or mental.

I know many veterans who have not and WON'T file for VA compensation, even though they clearly deserve it.  Why, because they are proud!  My friend Master Chief James Smith said; " I am not disabled!"  Two purple hearts, agent orange exposure, three major heart attacks on active duty, 33 years of service, two tours in  country, Viet Nam, Persian Gulf, a part of the Cuban missile blockade of President Kennedy, at Guantanamo Bay when Admiral Bulkley turned the water off from Castro's Cuba, what a service record.  The Navy, our government, used him up and threw him away.  But he was proud.  And the politician's are happy, because Jim just went away quietly and died.

Those us us who served and are drawing a military retirement, VA compensation, or both, are not on welfare and we are not the bane of society.  We are, in fact, the reason this Republic has survived as long as it has.