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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cross country transfer.

I have to admit, although I have thought about moving from Virginia Beach to San Diego, Hawaii, even Iowa, I never thought we would ever leave our home port of 28 years.  But, the pull of family, grand kids, no income taxes, and little or no winter, made the move a reality.  We purchased a home which is another thing I never wanted to do again.  But, my mortgage payment is $200+, per month, less than the rent on a 1200 square foot apartment.  Our new home is 1736 square feet with a two car garage and no pet restrictions!  Additionally, no one stomping on the floor above us or having a screaming match below us, like our last Seniors Apartment.

So, here I am, unpacking bodes, moving furniture into that perfect spot, and aching in places I thought would never ache again!  But, it is fun!!  A little disorienting for me with my medical issues, yet even that is manageable thanks to my wonderful wife.  So, we are Floridians, with all the benefits and problems that come with that home port.  My first order of business, after the last picture is hung, is to fine a Black Shoe, in this sea of Airdales, to talk with!!

More later.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cuts in Military retired pay!

I read an article this morning about the bureaucrats wanting to change and reduce the Military retirement program.  Let's loo at history.  Since World War Two, we have had the 50% retirement with 20 years of service for all active duty military members.  Why, because being in the military is a demanding, tough, away from home, divorce prone, career!  I don't care what branch of the military you are in, even the Air Force!  In the years before the monumental changes in health care, the average retired military man lived 4-6 years after retirement.  The government was OK with that.  Now, we live longer and the bureaucrats are not good with that.  The truth is, they want us to fight their wars and then go away!  Death is OK too!  But the truth is, not everyone is dedicated enough to make the military a career.  And, since we have an all voluntary military, if we do not have some enticement, no one will join in the first place.  And another point, the liberals are always trying to re-engineering society and level the playing field for every person.  The military is the true equal opportunity employer.  People are hired, promoted, and trained based on individual talent and determination.  Men and women of all nationalities, races, creeds, and sexual orientations have and will be promoted based on their accomplishments.  So why mess with the military members now?

I honestly can't answer that question, but I can tell you, that based on past attempts to change the military retirement program; "IT WON'T WORK!"  Furthermore, it will result in lower retention, lower recruiting numbers, and and increase in training costs, reduced combat readiness, and more deaths from no experience in the first level leadership.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Defense Cuts!

It is somewhat curious to me to hear all the whopla about future Defense spending cuts.  History is always our best teacher, so let's look at what the founding fathers thought.  They were frightened by the concept of a large standing armed force.  That made sense since we had just won our independence from the Imperial Power of England.  So, in the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, the concept of a Militia, or a Peoples Defense force was established.  In the early days of our nation, we commissioned Army and Navy units for specific wars and then disestablished them after the need was gone.  Even before World War Two, we have a skeleton military.  They were almost a care taker unit.  Then World War Two happened and it was quickly followed by a number of conflicts that we had no business getting into because our National interests were not threatened.  Why do I say that?  Because Congress DID NOT declare War in any conflict SINCE World War Two!!  According to our Constitution, it is the duty of Congress to Declare War on another Nation.  Think about that for a minute.  Even the two Gulf Wars were not declared.  Yes, Congress gave their approval, but they stopper short of doing their Constitutional duty of declaring war!

So, since the completion of World War Two, we have un-Constitutionally wasted Trillions of dollars on the building, scraping and building again, of a military/industrial complex.  Who benefits, the civilians that own those commercial industries that build the equipment of war.  Who looses, the tax payers of our country.  Pretty evolutionary talk from a retired military man!

But, if our men and women are fighting and dieing in foreign lands, shouldn't Congress do their Constitutional duty of declaring war?  Now, I am not saying we should not be able to defend ourselves as a nation.  But we kept the Soviet Union at bay through Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).  Why won't that work now.  For instance, a nice, small, succinct  nuclear device dropped on the mountains of Afghanistan would surely quiet those folks down!  Why have we spent ten years, billions of dollars, and many lives, in a war that we cannot win, fighting an enemy that only understands total destruction?  Again, history is the best teacher.  Other nations have invaded Afghanistan and failed.  Most recently, the Soviet Union.  We should LOOK before we LEAP!

As far as the Navy goes, their job is projection of force and keeping the sea lanes open for trade.  The Marine Corps is a rapid strike force, not designed to occupy lands.  The Army's job is to occupy land.  An, frankly, I don't know what the Air Force's job is except to build beautiful bases with great golf courses.  Especially since we have all by gutted the Strategic Air Command!  Another issue is grade creep!  Today, we have more Flag officers that we had in World War Two, but a factor of TEN!!  Do we really need an Admiral for every ship, submarine, and aircraft carrier in commission?  I think not!

What am I saying?  We can reduce the size of our military drastically if we return to the original missions of each branch of service, and only use military force when Congress declares war.  We need to delete the War Powers Act and require Congress to do their job instead of permitting them to hide behind the President!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thanks!! I am honored.

I learned very early on in my leadership journey to be appreciative of the individuals who work with you.  Without them, I would not succeed!  Therefore, any success I ever had came from those who worked with me and shared my goals and vision of the task at hand.

This time, I am far more humble.  Yesterday, the viewership of this blog went over 20,000 views!!  That is amazing to me on many levels.  First of all, I am amazed that anyone would want to read anything I wrote well enough be interested in the stories related to my Navy career.  Second, I am amazed that so many individuals make comments, pro and con, on the articles I write.

I also want to thank the other blogs that link to my blog.  Your connection has greatly increased my readership.

I deeply appreciate your viewership!  It encourages me to be even more proficient and to search memory deeper for the events that shaped me.  I also appreciate you comments.  Many of you tell me about your experiences in the Navy or the other services.  Sometimes, you disagree with me, but you do so in a thought provoking way.  That also spurs me on to do better.

Since I started this blog as a way to pass my experiences on to my son and grandsons, and others who may be interested, it has also become a sort of therapy for me.  As many of you know, I have a progressive, terminal, neurological disease called Lewy Body Dementia.  The short description of LBD is Parkinson's with Alzheimer's.  In any case, I have received much more from writing this blog than I ever expected.

Again, thanks for being there.  You are more than this old Gunner's Mate deserves!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You can owe the "Big O"!!

Do you remember that advertising slogan?  You should if you were stationed in Norfolk anytime before the early 1970's.  The "Big O" Naval Tailors was a landmark on the "Strip" in Norfolk.  Admiral Tausig Avenue was a two lane street, with bars, cheap jewelry stores, and a couple of Naval Tailors, biggest of all, was the "Big O".  I bought my first set of gabardine Blues there.  Had liberty cuffs and everything!!  I was hot sh#t!!  Or, at least I thought I was.  I had a locker there also.  Why a locker, because we could not wear civilian clothes on or off the ship!  Chiefs and Officers could, but not enlisted personnel.   So, we would leave the ship in a dress uniform, go to our "Locker Club" and change into some civilian clothes, go on liberty, get drunk, go back to the "Locker Club", try to get our dress uniform on correctly, and walk back to the ship!  Sounds bad, but it was a lot of fun!!  I guess you just had to be part of the Navy at that time to appreciate it.  But, that was the Navy I joined.  What about you?  

Today, Admiral Tausig Blvd is a four lane divided street.  There are no bars, no "Locker Clubs" and no rip off jewelry stores.  That may be better for our "Blue Jackets".  But I really miss the old "Strip".  It was an adventure.  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Friends will stick closer than a brother!

During my 20 years in uniform and my follow on career in Civil Service, I have had many good friends.  Good, Loyal, generous shipmates, who would and have sacrificed their own well being to help me out!  I have had friends stay loyal to me when I was a complete jerk!  I have had friends stay by me when I was completely down and out.  When I was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, the out pouring of love, assistance, and companionship was heartwarming.  I have thrown-up in friends back yards because of too much beer, called and canceled events at the last minute, and put my career and desires above my friends.  Yet, my friends have always stood by me. loyally, and with love.  They have even put up with numerous house changes, crazy ideas, and my big headed desire to be the smartest, the best, and first, even when I really was not.  All in all, I am blessed to have such wonderful friends and it is a wonder, knowing me as I do, that any of them ever wanted to be my friend, well enough, stay my friend.  The truth is, I love the people, mostly men, who call me, and I call, friends.  Thanks!  I don't say that enough.  You know your names, Linda, Marcia, Lynette, Joel, Jim, Tim, Pam, Don, Jon, Al, Jerry, Ernie, Wayne, Barry, Steve, Phil, Rob, Doc, Phyllis, Troy, Zaldi, Mary, Fred, Art, Carlo, Ann, Bobby, Tom, Tommy, Dennis, Tracy, Andrea, Shirley, Ed, Paul, Rachel, Pete, Donna, Patricia, Bruce, and many names that I just can't recall at this time.  If I did not list your name, please excuse me.  I really do have issues with memory and it has taken 30 minutes to compile this list.    

But, this posting is about a very special friend.  You can have many friends, good friends, but to have a friend for 35 years, in the Navy, is a real blessing.  My best friend Jerry is that friend!  He is the person that is always there for me, anytime, anyplace.  I have asked him to do some strange things, like drive all the way to Northern Virginia from Hampton Roads, see the "Nations Gun Show" and drive all the way back in one day!  I won't do that again!  We have put shocks on my pick-up in the driveway in the winter, put a roof on a big ranch house in the summer, and watched the three stooges install a window and a patio door.  He has suffered my ego, and believe me it IS big, my opinions on everything under the sun, and my other quirks with a very special understanding.  We have cried together over the deaths of our parents, In-Laws, and friends.  We have walked the isles of more gun shows, car shows, and camper shows, than any two humans in the world.  He is my best friend.  My friend through thick and thin, sun and storm, and I would do anything in the world for him.  Jerry, I thank you from the depths of my soul for your friendship and for the way you have included Linda and I into your family.  I am the luckiest man in the world to have YOU as my friend.  I love you, respect you, and I am proud of you!  Thanks Pal!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hey, YOU!! Admiral!

I write an abundance of articles pertaining to the actual problems that the Navy is going through.  I offer well thought out soloutions, based on 40 years of deck plate Navy experience and a degree in Management.  I worked at the highest levels of the Navy's military and civilian leadership.  Briefed the CNO, the Secretary of the Navy, the Assistant Secretary of Defense, and numerous flag officers and SES civilians.  I am not a johnny come lately when it comes to the way the Navy is run and it's inherent problems.  Yet, I never hear from the actual people who can actually address and constructively change the way the Navy does business.  Yes, I remember this blog is supposed to be my remembrances of my Navy career.  But, I also have something to give to the Navy and I offer it freely!  You would think that at least one Admiral or SES civilian would reply and either agree or tell me I am full of hot air.  Yet, what I see is the senior leadership of the Navy maintaining the status quo, being political, and trying to cover their own collective posteriors.  No one takes on the military industrial complex.  The ED community continues to waste tax payer's money with the "Not Invented Here" mentality.  And our senior leadership is afraid to publicly say that the emperor has no clothes.

For instance, there is not enough money to pay for repair availabilities for our ships.  Instead of saying that, like we did 20 years ago, we pretend that everything is OK.  I remember  Flag Level briefs on the "Bow Wave" of deferred availabilities! We NEVER hear that today.  When I was in Bahrain leading a team of MARMC magicians repairing the MCM's that were in such bad repair that they failed INSURV, I got in a heated discussion with the One Start Admiral that was the Mine Sweeper Commander in Ingleside Texas.  She was angry that I was reporting to the Four Star Admiral, my boss, at Fleet.  She accused me of putting her on report.  I replied that I was just reporting the facts and that her inaction had put her on report.  She did not like that, but it was the truth.  She was taking care of the ships in Texas much better than she was the ships on the pointy end of the spear!

It is time for our senior leaders to stand up, grow a set of balls, and tell the unvarnished truth about maintenance, training, manning, ship design, weapon capability, everything.   Most of you are too young to remember that we had a serious problem with the fuze's used in torpedoes at the beginning of World War Two.  We would shoot a torpedo from a submarine and it would HIT the ship and not explode! A Navy O-5, a Lieutenant Commander, took on the Flag Officers and told hem the truth.  He found a way to fix the problem, and the rest is history.  I also remember the Commanding Officer of an Adam's Class DDG home ported in Norfolk, who, in the early 1980's, refused to deploy because he did not have enough qualified personnel to safely operate his ship.  He lost his command and his career, but his brave actions brought to light the manning shortage that everyone was dealing with.  It is time for today's senior leaders of the Navy take one for the team!   So, who's going to take the first punch?!

Same Stuff Different Day!

Today, I visited the Navy Command that I worked at as a Civil Servant.  The place looks the same.  A few new walls have been put up to accommodate some high grade civilians and Naval Officers.  But, many of the same old faces were there.  It was good to see everyone.  My friend, invited me into a "Brown Bag" managers meeting that the Department Head was holding.  I was reticent to go in, but the boss welcomed me.  As these Division Heads and Branch Heads discussed the problems of the day I noticed that they were discussing the very same issues we discussed before I retired and the very same issues we solved when I was first a Civil Servant in 1990!  It was amazing!  There was nothing different.  And the same "in the grass, cry baby people" were complaining about the same old issues.  They need to get a life!  The Branch Heads were complaining that the In Service Engineering Agencies (ISEA) were on the waterfront doing the job of FTSCLANT, or what ever their name is today.   I truly don't know what name they are going by.  There were complaints that the Branch Heads were not documenting their work on ships sufficiently.  There were complaints from the Branch Heads that the accounting codes did not work in the transition to the new fiscal year.  Nothing was new.  And the Division Heads just sat their like the furry dog in the back of a low rider Chevy!

I could have taken 5 minutes and solved every issue, and still had time for a sea story!  It seems no one learns from the past, or they have more memory problems than I do!  And I take heavy medication for mine!!

For the Government infrastructure to solve the budgetary problems that it has, the managers within Civil Service are going to have to quit reliving past issues.  The turf wars between the ISEA and the waterfront tech assist commands must be solved NOW!  Millions of dollars are being wasted reliving the same issues every 5 years.  Either all tech assist, system development, and system life cycle management belongs to the ISEA's and the other organizations are decommissioned, or the ISEA's are relegated to system development and the maintenance, tech assist, and life cycle management belongs to the waterfront maintenance commands.  I truly don't care.  But it has to be one or the other, NOT both!

And why the Navy, or for that matter the Government, cannot come up with an automated personnel time and accounting system that works, all the time, for any instance, is beyond me.  Hell, hire some computer geek from outside of government, task him to solve the issue and give him 15 minutes to complete the task!  Trust me, it will be done and workable.  But, the Navy continues in the "Not invented here" frame of mind and nothing gets done or something gets done, badly!

So, my take away for today is;  Same stuff, different day.  And, until someone actually grows a set and sets some rules for waterfront maintenance, we will continue to waste billions of tax payer dollars addressing the same issues, all the time.  GOD help us if the federal government ever gets control of health care!