Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Five years of the Salamander

Who'd'a'thunk? I've been at this half a decade.

Time to review my first post for those who wonder how this got started. From 22 JUL '04;
I have been thinking about getting this started for awhile after bothering a man greater than myself, CDR Bluebeard, to start a blog. If for no other reason than to post his rantings (if he will let me), err insights, I decided to give this a start and see what happens.

As for me, well I'm a Navy Commander. That is about all you are getting out of me. Going public with your opinions as an active duty officer is in a way just dumb if you want to get recommended for promotion and don't want someone's "pinky finger" spiking you at a selection board. The Naval Institute's Proceedings ( is a great institution, but you publish at your own peril. Sad really. You can publish technical and tactical pieces with them, I have. But opinion? Not so smart. We will cover boards and command influence later, but let’s just say that blogging is a better institution until you get outed. Lets see how long this takes..............if I get edgy. I don't know how edgy I will get. Maybe my random thoughts and postings will just float around in obscurity and be ignored. Hey, if nothing else, it is cheap therapy.
I don't know where to start, but first of all, I think CDRSalamander is still roughly on the same track - though a bit more edgy now than at the start. The first month I covered the media, Iraq, Politics, China, Leftists, rogue General Officers, and the Mil/Civ gap. In some ways, I think I do more Navy specific topics now than before.

I know some of you get a little flustered with me when I drift to other than Navy subjects or ping on higher levels of the Navy's command structure and their policies - but that is this blog's set-up. The Economist does more than Economics - CDRSalamander does more than Navy - and doesn't carry anyone's water.

Winding back through five years though, I do have a failure or two. I never got CDR Bluebeard to blog. After his CDR Command, he left active duty and never looked back. Long story I am not at the liberty to discuss - but a huge loss to the Navy. I also overreached a couple of times my first year and had to delete posts and apologize to people I pinged on wrongly. Blogg'n has a learning curve, especially as an anonoblogger. It is easy to do things out of character if you are aren't careful, and it takes a good self-editor to keep you on centerline and trust in some of your loyal readers' advice as an idiot check. I also got a bit too mean now and then, but that was the exception and I like to think that I only did that to those who deserved it. Never blog angry or tired, remember other people's agenda - and always have more than one source before you blog on a tip. Those were the early lessons of '04 that I hope I hoisted onboard.

I have also tested the envelope on what I should blog about as an active duty officer. I try to avoid the CINC (both this one and the other) as much as I can - though I think policy is fair if done right, and we all need a sense of humor.

I also have pinged fairly hard on some of our Flag Officers - but I only ask of them what they demand of their Sailors ---- and once they put on that star - if not earlier - few if any will tell them what they are really thinking or what Sailors and peers in the Fleet are discussing. I try to remember how isolated and difficult managing different priorities can be the further you go up the chain - but that does not mean that no one can disagree with you. Sure, I agree with and execute the "behind closed door argue - outside, close ranks and execute" doctrine, but that is why I don't blog about issues I am involved with on a day to day basis. Now and then I will sneak one in on you, but only when it is out in open source.

I always open for specific examples of chapter and verse where I crossed through the envelope - but none so far has been sent in. General comments don't count - and no specifics have played out. And yes, that is an open invitation - I have a thick skin and an open mind. Constructive criticism is always welcome at CDRSalamander.

Some could argue that sometime I unfairly criticize, but I don't think so. I don't want to be described as a "Navy Critic" like I have been described in a couple of places in the MSM. I call out the positive when it happens, and I love the Navy - and as with most things I love, when others act towards that object of affection with a lack of candor or for their own selfish purposes - I get a bit flinty.

I also cannot stand when persons or institutions destroy their inheritance and legacy without regard to the sacrifices and lessons of greater men who came before - and do so for personal "inside my PCS cycle" short-term reasons. Call it a personality defect on my part - but that drives me nuts.

Enough of them though; let's talk about me!

I don't think I would have started blogg'n if not for a few specific people. First was Jonah Goldberg and his baby, NRO's The Corner. They posted a few hints I emailed their way over a year or so before I started blogg'n, and that gave me the idea that I might have a thing or two that others might be interested in.

Then there was John at Argghhh!!!! Not only was I a regular reader of his blog early, but once I started my own blog he was nice enough to provide some thoughts, ideas, a few rudder commands, and some links to get things going. Just a good guy to make it simple. As the MilBlog world has grown and changed, we don't link back and forth as much as we used to - but we do bounce in to each other now and then and it always puts a smile on my face.

Shortly after I started, there was also Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette who put me on the then young MilBlog ring and also provided some timely advice and recommendations along with Matt at BLACKFIVE, drifted left and dropped out of the fight (for now) Commissar, and the sadly departed to more interesting fields, LTSmash.

There were a few other bloggers that were critical in CDRSalamander getting started and going past the first hump, and they remain "blog buddies" to this day. Lex, Eagle1, Anne, Bookie, ninme, Rusty, and Joel were in the first batch. Then came Skippy, SJS, and Chap mostly. Recently Galrahn joined the frequent flyer program as well. These not only linked, but commented, emailed and now and then provided constructive criticism in ways that hopefully improved the blog. The way it should be.

I would be remiss if I did not also say hi to my co-bloggers at MilBlogs and USNIBlog. Here at the homeblog it is a one man show, it is nice to have a couple of group blogs to share with as well.

There are also the regulars in comments most who make CDRSalamander what it is; Byron, Sid, MTH, LBG, C-14, AW1, LT B, T1, AM, E40, GB, FbL, Maggie, Kristin, xformed, bullnav, deltabravo, YNSN, OMC, Scott, Mike, Chris, GOH, LS, BW, MA ... The Professor and Mary Anne ... as well as the less frequent commenters but regular readers .... thanks.

The above is not an exhaustive list - and I know the minute I press "Publish Now" I will remember that I forgot someone - so please accept my apology if you feel forgotten. Give yourself a shout-out in comments and we'll throw some love your way.

Again it is the commenters, spies, and emailers - new and old - that really make CDRSalamander what it is - so blame yourself - you add the flavor and spice to this blog. Though I average ~1,800 pages view a day, 500 of those come from return IP addresses inside the cycle. Those are the regular readers every day - every day or so that stop by to see what my addled mind finds worthy of discussing and what "the usual subjects" have to say about it. Look at those that just stop by every few days and the core weekly readership is, well, a unknown multiple of that well in the four figures - a week. That, and ~1,775,000 page views makes me humble - and makes this "cheap therapy" worth it.

I owe you a big "thanks" for your interest and support. In the end analysis though, we have made some impact. The highlights range from the re-birth of Riverine, the highlighting of the LT Black PC-cowardice railroad (which resulted in one of the most popular subjects - Diversity Thursday - and also - in way - Fullbore Friday), expanding the LCS debate, and bringing to light some topics left on the cutting room floor - and that is just a few. I think we have produced a positive product here in the creative friction that is needed and healthy in an environment that breeds forced conformity and promotes loyalty to personalities instead of the service.

What is coming up? Well, I plan on keeping going, though this year looks like an "interesting" one for me professionally and even more so personally - as the Chinese might say. In both ways, I am at an inflection point, but more on that later.

That's ok though - I'll keep plugg'n along, I hope you stay along for the ride.

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