Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Strange Goodbye to Annapolis

This week saw the two most senior Admirals make a cringe-enducing departure from our Navy.

First out of the box was Admiral Roughead. I understand a few days before FRI AM you have a few things to do ... but really; this is how you do it?

When I first received a heads-up about this - I had to tap in to additional sources - all confirmed. This week, Midshipmen were told they couldn't use Stribling to go to class, they must keep their blinds pulled, and not be seen or heard as Roughead makes a farewell tour of USNA for a few days (MIDN source for the pic on the right; at least they are having fun with it). If Admiral Roughead wanted to confirm the worse speculation about him among the MIDN - well - he just achieved his accountability metric on this account.

Next was Admiral Mullen.

Speaking at Alumni Hall the other night as part of the Forrestal Lecture Series, there are a couple of things that if I were a MIDN would make my head tilt a tad.
He said that five years out of the Naval Academy, he took command of the gasoline tanker USS Noxubee. Months later, he let the ship strike a buoy.
1. As CNO and before, ADM Mullen was part of the leadership that removed almost all opportunities for any Junior Officer to command anything - much less at the 5-year mark. Our junior officers are never given the chance, except for a very few, to ever learn early - nope - we'll see you at CDR Command with little time on the bridge/flight hours and then hammer you when you demonstrate your lack of experience in your warfare fundamentals.

He has also been at the leadership of a culture that destroy careers at any slight infraction. There is no recovery. The system is on such a zero-defect hair trigger that we have had to reverse decisions to relieve COs ... years late and careers unrecoverable.

Pointing those things out doesn't encourage MIDN - it just points out that you left the system worse than you found it.

Now this head scratcher.
"We in the military must remain apolitical - stay out of politics," Mullen said.

"I see too many militaries that are badly politicized - that would be the end of us as a country, and of us as a military."
Two things. 1. Though I was on the same side as he was in the DADT debate - Admiral Mullen was totally political in the process to the point of questioning people's honor who were opposed to repeal. See that grin on his face to below - that is politics. There are other examples, but I'll stick with that.

2. What does he think the whole-hog effort of his and Roughead's support for the Cultural Marxist socio-political Diversity Industry is? Few things are more political than the intentional support of sectarianism. If they spent half as much effort to supporting shipbuilding programs and maintenance of existing systems - perhaps we would be in better shape. Everyone.

Now it gets thicker. Like most of his generation, the Admiral has very little sense of self-reflection.
"We all have to recognize that we have to cinch up our belts, and we haven't done that in a decade," he said of military spending.
Who was at the helm for the budget-busting development of DDG-1000, LPD-17, & LCS - creating the lost decade of shipbuilding? Ummmmm, you.

Admirals Roughead and Mullen have dedicated the balance of their lives to the service of their nation and did the best they could as they saw it. A nation and its people should always respect that service - I do. That doesn't mean that they should not be held accountable for their actions - just like they hold COs of ships responsible for theirs. Their lack of self-reflection almost requires it.

What messages do they send to the MIDN heading out the door? Depends on the MIDN, I presume. The ones I have heard from; not impressed.

UPDATE: In case you wonder why the MIDN used that hat on the photoshop. Click here.

Best keep up with you'se memes.


  1. MR T's Haircut22:58

    "Well Bye..."  Curly Bill...

  2. Door, W.T.23:06

    As far as ADM Mullen is concerned, perhaps we can consider his speech a heartfelt farewell to the Naval service at the institution where it all began. Interestingly enough, the fact that he proceeded to shake hands with every member of the Brigade was left out of this post.

  3. cdrsalamander23:18

    It's there at the link.  Fair use doesn't let me copy everything .... and any way .... your point is?

  4. It sure would be nice to say "whew...glad that's over".  Unfortunately, these guys are only the most visible part of a larger problem.  Flag officers tend to replicate themselves during selection boards, and they recommend their clones for important jobs.  These two have politicized their positions more than anyone in memory, and left cultural and structural damage that may take a naval war to undo.

  5. He could offer to shake my hand too.  Still wouldn't change the fact that his tenure as CNO/CJCS has been detrimental to the health of the Navy.  

  6. LT B06:07

    The man came to the house, left less than a swallow of milke AND orang juice in the cartons and put them back in the fridge, clogged up the toilet w/ a big stinking, corn infested turd, but hey, he shook my hand on the way out the door, so all is forgiven?  Your premise amuses me.  His tenures as CNO/CJCS, do not, however.  He and his buddy Gary have done serious harm to the Navy.

  7. Redeye8006:59

    Ah, to be young and ignorant again.  I long for those days when I thought I knew everything.

    Get a few years in the fleet, then reflect on his speech, his actions, then you will see how hypocritical it really was.

    Shaking hands! Sounds more like a politican.

  8. LT B07:03

    How so?  He has said time and again that we must keep politics out of the officer corps.  then again, his mentor, the campaigner in chief also SAYS he is about job creation.  Whatch what they do, not what they say.  THAT speaks volumes.

  9. Anonymous07:27

    As  an American Government major, I was definately not impressed with his anti-political thesis. Increasingly, it seems if you don't choose your ground and take a stand somewhere, you will be walked over. I just don't want to see the Navy walked over by the time I am commissioned in May.

  10. former 8th wing player08:05

    wait.  do the mids still go to class on friday?  shouldn't they be in class during the coc?  makes sense they stay off stribling and have their blinds shut if the event is in t court.

  11. former 8th wing player08:10

    all is well.  coc has moved to alumni hall with the rain. 

  12. The Usual Suspect08:19

    <span>They have been in this mode - blinds down/off Stribling - since he arrived Wednesday. . Does that seem reasonable to you?</span>

  13. UltimaRatioRegis08:26

    "<span>did the best they could as they saw it"</span>

    Sorry to disagree.  I can't give them the benefit of the doubt on that.  Both Mullen and Roughead made several politically-motivated decisions and statements that they knew would not be in the best interests of their services, and that they knew were attempts to curry political favor.  And if they didn't know it, and believed their actions the best for the Navy, they had no business rising to 0-4, let alone as CNO/CJCS. 

    Neither of them are fit to lead.  But Mullen in particular is repulsive, as his he couched his attempt to instruct me as to what my personal values should be in terms of integrity.   Despicable.   I would not have a drink or break bread with such a hollow and arrogant puppet.

    Yeah, They were apolitical.  Like these guys were apolitical.

  14. UltimaRatioRegis08:33

    But look on the bright side.  Maybe Mullen can work for the Dallas-Fort Worth school district

  15. I long for the day when I was Mid and thought all of the Flags were going to be like Halsey and looked forward to serving.  Man, did I ever get a surprise!

  16. CDR Ashore09:10

    I saw the draw the blinds exercise when ADM Crowe retired, also on visits by POTUS (Bush, Clinton). Not really all that unusual. Easy access to photoshop, though, makes mockery that much easier.

    As for the rest... we'll get some distance between us and their turns in the hot seat to give them a fair shake at what their track record was.

  17. Cap'n Bill09:15

    One can only be pleased that their tours of duty are over and the Nation's Military Services can look ahead to what I pray will be a return to the Norm.  

  18. UltimaRatioRegis09:17

    No distance is required for Mullen, CDR.  His words and actions will be the same in five years as they were when he said/did them.   They were despicable, insulting, and exceedingly unprofessional then, and they will be in five years.

  19. Adversus Omnes Dissident09:31

    Admiral Greenert's favorite book is "Moneyball."  Read the book, see the movie.  Consider it part of your N2 training on how to deal with, and forecast, the thought processes of the PCNO.

    By the way, nice to meet all of you.  Adversus Omnes Dissident, or AOD for short.  Been a big fan of both the blog and the comments section for a while, finally decided to throw my hat in the mix.

  20. Adversus Omnes Dissident09:38

    Compare and contrast the farewells of Roughead and MacArthur.  Who just VISITED the academy and who SPOKE to the academy?  Who inspired them? 

    Only MacArthur.

  21. Lyrandar09:44

    Can't say I agree with this post very much.

    "Not be seen or heard"... yeah, I know that's what everyone's been saying. And the picture certainly is a funny joke. That doesn't make it an accurate reflection of ADM Roughead's opinion, though. He may have a responsibility to think about the messages he's sending, but why should we assume the worst message is the one he wants to send?

    ADM Mullen... first off, your point 1. I don't really see any attempt to argue that things were better before he changed it, frankly. The simple fact that they have changed means very little in my opinion.

    And the point about politics... again, you assume the worst motives (and from such a tenuous connection as a smile as Obama signs it). Is it possible that they think the good of the military will depend on having an organization that accurately reflects the cultural makeup and ideas of the country itself?

    For that matter, do you even know how much effort they spent on other programs, or are you focusing on the diversity programs because it's the point you want to make and/or the point you want to see?

    Final point about military spending - I would argue that that's a more recent development than the shipbuilding programs, and that it's perfectly sensible for ADM Mullen to have changed his mind about the advisability of such things given recent events.

  22. I'm a big fan of your brother, Adversus omnes haereses (Irenaeus).   :)

  23. Adversus Omnes Dissident09:50

    Lyrandar, I would argue that we are seeing the last vestages of "Clark's Boys."  Mullen, Roughead, Greenert, etc.  These were his guys, guys like LaFleur who were architects in the Navy that we have now.  We are not doing well not only because of these guys' tenure as CNO, but their tenure in multiple flag positions.

  24. cdrsalamander09:55

    There's plenty of room on the front porch.  Grab a chair ... just keep 'you paws out of the pork rind bowl; they're getting low and Byron gets grumpy when we run out.

  25. Matt10:02

    I wish Mullen was as decisive about identifying the enemy in Pakistan as he was in getting rid of DADT. The man failed to indentify much less defeat our most dangerous enemy in a war. Forget about everything else he ever did...he failed at war fighting. Period.

    ONE week before he retires he finally tells the truth about ISI and the Haqqanis. Just a pathetic failure never before seen from any American general officer EVER.

  26. cdrsalamander10:03

     - "... assume worst motives ..." where do I mention motives? I am commenting on actions, not motives.  Please re-read, do one turn to holding and try the approach again.

     - "Time spent on other programs ... " Of course, don't be silly.  That being said, what did Roughead say was his #1 priority again?  I am only following his lead.

     - We have been discussing the danger WRT spending and shipbuilding since 2005/6 here.  This is not a recent development - if we saw it here, they had to have seen it earlier than that.  If not - then shame on them.  

    I'm sorry, buy you will need to find a better excuse.

  27. LT B10:20

    I'll put it on the list.  Thanks AOD.  I truly hope that this is the last we see of Clark's Brigade.  Drinks are on the new guy!  :)

  28. The Emigrant12:09

    For discussion:

    Re: Mullen at the DADT repeal signing: What would George Marshall have done? Would he have even have shown up Would he have said "I'll sit in the crowd". I have no answers, though I do have a hunch--he would have made sure that he a.) acknowledged civilain control of the military, both operationally (Commander in Chief) and legislatively (Congressional rules, policies, etc.)--and he would have made it very clear to staffers that he was not a political prop in any way, shape, or form.

    So as far as keeping the military out of politics, lets lay down the first commandment as "we don't do photo ops".

  29. Boat School Grad12:14

    <span>In many ways Mids at USNA are like young children in a family.  They have yet to be compromised by the adult world (Big Navy).   So, when they see Bullshit they haven’t yet developed the BS rationalization skills, or career self-preservation skills, to keep them from raising the BS flag.  The Log magazine, Salty Sam, 8th Wing Players were prime BS Flag raising venues.  Of course the USNA administration despised such venues and the opinions rendered within.</span>
    <span> </span>
    <span>My point being, I trust the Mids when they say "Here's the deal”. <span> </span>Mullen and Roughead, not so much.  Good riddance to the two political toadies.  Note to Barry, please hire warriors to replace them.</span>

  30. The Emigrant12:15

    Along those lines, I want a rule saying that military members may no longer appear behind politicians as backdrops when those individuals give speches. Period. Taking an oath to defend the Constitution does not mean one volunteers to be a visual reference for the "statesman-like" quality of whatever office-seeking pol is talking this week.

  31. former 8th wing player12:54

    greenert only said the word, diversity, once in his remarks today.  didn't count how many times roughead used it. 

    i sincerely hope the brigade of midshipmen survives the trauma of not using stribling walk and having its blinds closed.   

  32. Adversus Omnes Dissident12:59

    No worries about me sticking my paws in the pork rind long as there is bruschetta in the spread (with premium olive oil) there will be AOD!  I have no problem providing for the porch!

  33. ex swo chaps13:00

    Stay away from politics?  Hell!  The entire DADT repeal movement got traction once ADM Mullen had his off-the-topic excursus in Congressional testimony.  No doubt he'll reveal his real motivation for it once he pens his memoirs.

    Salamander, with most of the chaplains I was on the other side of the DADT repeal.  That was tough enough to take, but we're in a war so I'll suck it up.  But when the CJCS goes out of his way to impugn his opponents, telling us that there is no place in today's military for us troglodytes (though CYA not putting that into written policy), it is a bit much.  More so when the stars-wearing chaplains respond to "Jump" with "How high?" before realizing that their sucking-up to the CNO conflicts with DOMA.  The morale-busting and dissention-causing EO reps onboard ships have done much to politicize matters that have been handled discreetly by XOs, Chiefs, and chaplains in the past.  How many junior Sailors have found themselves in trouble for initiating bogus EO complaints at the instigation of EO reps?  The blue jacket gets busted, the EO suffers no ramifications.  I hope Diversity Thursday is an eye-opener for those who think that things are peechy keen in the Naval Personnel system. 

    Life was never good for junior SWOs, but at least with good captains you had opportunities to learn from your failures without being crushed on your FitReps.  Since we all knew that any mark less than perfection would be a career buster, rarely did Captains pull the trigger and give a 3.0 mark.  Instead, the JO would get flamed by the CO and XO, but he would learn.  In my experience it's a rare captain outside the destroyer/frigate/LSD world who follows that style of leadership now.       

    Overseas force protection is ridiculous.  No overnight libs in Europe and East Asia?  Really?  So junior Sailors have to be back by midnight:  no time to explore the inland country like their forebears.  With limited liberty, the youngsters stick around the port and tourist areas, with little to do but get drunk and get in trouble. 

    And don't even get me started on Afghanistan, the slow-moving train wreck whose sorrows exceed the rest.  I was honored to be an infantry chaplain, but it's tough. 

    I'm out of here, into the IRR.  If the senior leadership of the Armed Forces (I'll exclude the Marines from this rant) ever gets serious about becoming a fighting force again, they will know how to look me up.

  34. LT B13:19

    I shall pry for you brother. :)   Many of us here, feel your pain. 

  35. LT B13:23

    However, I will gladly stand behind the USO Cheerleader tour!  If I have to stand behind an a$$, that is one (or several) I can get behind!  ;)

  36. Boat School Grad13:35

    <span>I just remembered...How's this for a contrast in leadership.....</span>
    <span> </span>
    <span>In 1980 I was a Mid. My roommate’s brother was a Kaydet at West Point at the same time and calls his brother at USNA and sez...</span>
    <span> </span>
    <span>"Bro, you won't believe this. I was walking to class and this old man sitting on one of the benches asks me to sit down and tell him about life at The Point.  I share my views and then politely tell the old guy that I need to get to class.  The old man says 'Don’t worry son, stay here and talk to me.  I'll write a note for you to avoid any trouble'.  The old man turned out to be Omar Bradley."</span>
    <span> </span>
    <span>The General knew he was dying and took one last visit to West Point where he stopped random Cadets to discuss life at West Point.  No entourage.  No official notice.  Blinds up.  The General just showed up in the yard and started talking to Whoops sharing stories.</span>
    <span>Can you see Roughead or Mullen making a similar gesture?  I pray to the god of Karma they get theirs.  I pray to God we get some leadership the likes of General Bradley.</span>

  37. This circus just needs to get the hell out of town....

  38. UltimaRatioRegis13:50

    Here's the guy Mullen wants you to get behind.  Or wants behind you. 

    Either way, it is a matter of integrity. 

  39. LT B14:26

    Stinking flying fingers of death.  pry = pray

  40. Aubrey14:55

    Unfortunately Bradley was a man confident in his own honor.

    Mullenhead both want to be SecDef, which requires another Obama presidency on which they can perpetrate enough fella...err, never guarantee themselves that position.

  41. Aubrey14:59

    I'm a pretty conservative Presbyterian....but the most honorable man I've ever met was a fairly liberal Presbyterian pastor. He headed up the Protestant student church at UMaine, but also was a Navy Chaplain who considered it his mission to serve with the Marines (regardless of where), and from everything I heard from Marines who knew him gave them exactly the support and ministry that they needed.

    Never really agreed with him on a number of social or theological issues, but I would be damned proud if my kids would emulate him.

  42. The Usual Suspect15:30

    Character counts in spades.  God bless Omar Bradley and those like him.

  43. cdrsalamander16:29

    Chaps - drop me an email please.  cdrsalamander(at)

  44. cdrsalamander16:31

    Do you know how to get in touch with your former roommates brother?  If so, drop me an email.  

  45. Old Farter17:21

    Really curious to see how these two have packed their golden parachutes and where they land.

  46. C-dore 1417:35

    Blinds closed all day?  Just another reason why you don't want a room on T Court.

  47. Naval_Historian17:35

    INteresting thought: Anybody know who the likely Aviator candidate(s) are to be the next CNO/ Navy rep on the JCS?

  48. UltimaRatioRegis17:35

    Mullen packed his 'chute by telling us we shouldn't object to having our chutes packed.   That has to be some special award in and of itself. 

  49. Anonymous18:41

    good riddens adm Rough "dick" head, don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out. Now we just need to get rid of that other political piece of dung who has ruined our Navy-adm mullberry

  50. ex swo chaps18:55

    CDR, I'm going away for a couple weeks with the Devil Dogs and won't be online.  Try to remember to email you when I get back.

    v/r ex swo chaps

  51. Adversus Omnes Dissident20:04

    a tad crass for my taste.

  52. James16:34

    Funny thing. I couldn't see him in the pic. I kept looking for a Naval Officer....Funny when you cant see that Uniform it hard to tell the difference from a Admiral and a politican. Hell guys like him probably preffer the halls of Politics to those of a ship.

  53. DM0517:17

    Skipper & Gilligan may be Sailors and have made it to  the Island, but we'll be treated to their schemes and re-runs forever. Channel changing needed.

  54. Monster18:45

    I agree, the sooner he is gone the better, the more i read about him the more of a disgrace to the uniform and the navy he is.

  55. UltimaRatioRegis20:09

    "Mister President, look out for the coconuts!!!"

    I suppose that makes Mullen "little buddy".  And Hillary is Mrs Howell?