Tuesday, March 08, 2011

USNI Editorial Board - Nay

OK folks, this has gone beyond insurrection - this is open civil war.

Galrahn, SJS, myself and a few other bloggers with great affection and concern, have in many ways been the irregulars in the fight against the change in USNI's mission statement; wandering about the woods taking pot shots with hunting rifles at the massed armor of the main force, and providing intelligence to those who can raise and deploy an effective resistance.

Now and then we would get words of encouragement from major leaders as they gathered their armies in the shadows, but still the opponent's forces stood in silence from the high ground.

Suddenly we look at the saddle at the near end of the valley. Another main force formation to reinforce the opposition above? Same uniform, ... but wait ... they seem to have a pennant from their colors, a sash of blue and gold across their chests.

Hey - those are our colors - they're on our side!

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

The USNI Editorial Board has formed the line across the center of the Board of Directors main force. LCDR Claude G. Berube, USNR, SgtMaj David K. Devaney, USMC, CMDCM (SW/AW) Jacqueline L. DiRosa, USN, CAPT Douglas M. Fears, USCG, LT Bradley D. Harrison, USNR, Maj Marcus J. Mainz, USMC, CAPT David M. McFarland, USN, LCDR Jeffrey W. Novak, USCG, CDR John P. Patch, USN (Ret.), LTC Kendric H. Robbins, USA, Col Philip C. Skuta, USMC, and CAPT Mark L. Stevens, USN. Lady and Gentlemen, thank you and welcome.

Read the whole thing at USNIBlog - but here are the meaty bits.
Therefore, we, the USNI Editorial Board, are submitting this letter to express our desire that the United States Naval Institute remain an independent forum – as it has since 1873. We strongly recommend that the reasons behind the mission statement change be provided to the membership through any USNI forum whether that is through Proceedings, the USNI blog, the USNI website and/or directly to the members via an email. As important as topic this is, an open, respectful debate regarding the benefits and challenges of such a change would help all members make an informed decision whether they vote “yea” or “nay.”

We understand that there are compelling reasons both for and against changing the mission statement. What we do not understand is why the membership has not been able to hear, debate, and decide collectively what the outcome should be for such a historic determination. As the noted author Norman Polmar wrote in a recent letter, one of his objections to the change was that the phrase “an independent forum advocating” is self-contradictory. We agree. Individuals may advocate certain points in their articles, but the independence of the Naval Institute allows for those views to be heard.
The independence of the Institute is paramount; without that openness, the Institute risks simply becoming an organ of whatever entity, whatever program, is deemed permissible by only a few, whomever those may be. It would be difficult to find a member or an author who is not a proponent of U.S. sea power, but we must remain open to those who define it differently or who might disagree with it. If we do not, then we remain stagnant in our thoughts, and in the 21st century with all its traditional, non-traditional and unforeseen challenges, that is a concept we can ill afford.

We wish to state for the record that we, the Editorial Board, vote “no” to the proposed mission statement change.
Being that the pro-change forces have not come out to explain why they want the change - let me help.

In the summer of 2010, as I understand it, a variety of organizations and people were forming the reasons and frameworks for a changed institution. I have one of those documents. I am not going to publish the full thing, tell you where or how I got it - but you need to see the important parts of it.

There are seven screen shots to follow. They give a good thumbnail sketch on the mindset, goals, and methods of those who want to make the change.

Before we go forward, this disclaimer. Assume this is a working document, a draft proposal, a think-piece, a non-paper - it is not as far as I know an approved final outcome or even 51% of their final proposal. It could also be 95% of the final proposal, we don't know.

What I do know is that this was an integral part of what is informing and shaping what they want to do to USNI, and where they want to take her this summer.

Ideally I would not have to use this, as those in the membership would have been informed like members of an organization should be.

Instead, we have to do our own work. This should provide insight - and from what we have heard, this is darn close.

Disclaimer complete. Here we go.

OK fellow Staff Weenie - what is the first thing you want to see? The C2 diagram of course.

Note power structures and influence. Also note that USNI as we know it is now just a framework - a hulk - which the "new USNI" will be built around.

Next, what do they want to do? Well, sounds harmless enough ....

My first thought; isn't USNI doing that already? What is the worry? Well, the devil is in the details.

Yes, my ears perked up on that. Who is "we" and how do "they" decide? By "stay on point" - you mean on message, right? What if someone has a different point? Would that take you off point? Do they get spiked not due to value of the argument or debate - but because it is different from what "we" say is the message?

Good googly moogly - it is the exact top-down attitude we see in the worse of Staffs ... you know ... the one that started me blogg'n six years ago. This is just a bad Staff habits of restricted, hide-bound and thoughtless obedience wearing civies. Let's continue.

Ooooo. "We" again. How do you define "misconception?" What is "misinformed" and "inaccurate?" Which Commissariat determines such thought crime so we are "consistent?" Who makes the call in the "monitoring program?"

Good Googly Moogly II: Electric Boogaloo - it is the '92 Clinton Campaign War Room all over again. Instead of fighting bimbo eruptions, USNI will be fighting free-thought and intellectual debate eruptions? Really?

So. I will admit that Navy PAO's messaging is a pile of pants sometimes, but USNI needs to do that too? Oh, and what if someone like John Patch thinks LCS is about as transformational as the A-5 Vigilante? Does that story get put out as well?

So, read that again - what does that sound like to you? A little bit of PR spin, aggressive lobbying .... and yes; an INFO OPS campaign against the American people, its Representatives, and its taxpayers. I know that is also called an advertising campaign - but the "A" word; advocacy.

That is the problem. These screen shots give us some insight into the direction those who want to take the USNI.

Good people with the best of intentions can have bad ideas. You see, that is the great thing about a free society with free and open discussion - the Creative Friction of a free people, one of the hallmarks of USNI when it is at its best.

If USNI becomes an advocacy organization - that will go away. USNI will not be what it was, and we will have lost a treasure.

Good people with the best of intentions can be wrong. When they are wrong, good people must oppose them. Not in a cut throat way - after all we do have to get along when this is all over - but in a firm and direct manner, as adults who respect each other.

Taking off my Salamander blogg'r hat for a brief moment let me finish with this. USNI is bigger than and better than simply another DC-centric advocacy organization. We have plenty of those. I know those who want to change the USNI love our Sea Services - we all do - it is just that you are doing something very wrong here.

Let us do those things we need to do to advocate for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard - but let's do it somewhere else. USNI has an important mission - if we take it away, there is no one else to do it. It will be lost, and for nothing.

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