Sometimes good people and good institutions find themselves doing things that are wrong, self-destructive, and corrosive.
Often they find themselves at a place they never wanted to be, but got there on a path of the best intentions derived from bad advice, bad theory, or misguided leadership decisions that ride on the back of bureaucratic inertia.
As time brings the realization of the wrong path taken - a learning institution starts to change course and look for another way than the bad path they are on.
A hearty BZ is due to the United States Naval Academy. They have done the right thing. A small thing perhaps, but one that matters.
Here is the background.
Back earlier in the month, a member of the well compartmentalized Annapolis Underground (all praise to them on this) sent along a link to COMDTMIDNOTE 1301 Class of 2013 Service Assignment Review Board (Sarb) Precepts. You can read the whole thing below; but here are the meaty bits from the 25 JUL 12 version that was up until just recently.
"(5) Per Department of the Navy policy, Midshipmen service assignment is dedicated to equality of treatment and opportunity for all Midshipmen without regard to race, creed, color, gender, or national origin.
(6) Per Department of the Navy policy, Midshipmen service assignment is dedicated to provide the Navy and Marine Corps with officer accessions that anticipate the expected demographic changes of tomorrow – that is, it takes over 20 years to develop senior leadership. Accordingly, community assignments should reflect uniqueness, different perspectives, and talents. Careful attention should be given to selecting Midshipmen who have demonstrated the potential to lead large organizations composed of personnel coming from widely varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds."A clear reading shows the contradiction, and the mixed message it sends. Comdtmidnnote 1301 Class of 2013 Service Assignment Review Board (Sarb) Precepts
I reached out to USNA via CDR William Marks, their PAO, with a few questions.
I was hoping to get the Commandant of Midshipman, Captain Clark's point of view the apparent contradictions in his COMDTMIDNNOTE 1301 dated 25 Jul 12 para 4.c.(5) & (6).
... Where does USNA define, identify, and track such traits as "uniqueness" "perspectives" and "talents?" How are those metrics determined? If, as it reads and was my experience on active duty, the Navy does track ethnicity and cultural backgrounds in a way that can be measured and treated as a metric, but "uniqueness" "perspectives" and "talents" are not so tracked in any way that lends itself to the "rack and stack" process, then there is a clear contradiction between the direction of the last sentence of para 4.c.(6) and the entire paragraph of 4.c.(5). Really, if race or cultural background is used in any way in service assignment, there is a contradiction between (5) and (6).
Also, specifically, how does one "demonstrate the potential to lead large organizations composed of personnel coming from widely varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds."? How is that metric determined? What are the variables of that metric? If someone does not "demonstrate the potential..." then how is that determined in the negative? If someone cannot - then why? If not, how have they spent 4 years at USNA and not reached that simple ability - and if they don't have it, why are they being sent to the Fleet to lead anyone?Yes, I'm trying to play inside the system (again).
Reason I didn't launch on this right away is that I have seen a lot of positive action by the present leadership team at a USNA. Though USNA is not my Alma Mater, it is a very important part of the Navy and Marine Corps, and therefor is important to me. That contradiction just did not seem in line with what I thought of the leadership. So, when in doubt, ask.
Well - here it came in yesterday. Not line by line - but better. Here is the Naval Academy's official response provided to me by CDR Marks.
Information in paragraph six was meant to be informative rather than directive in nature, providing general background affirming the Navy’s goals that officers be able to lead a diverse cross section of Sailors and Marines. We can see how the wording could potentially be confusing to board members. It is now removed. Paragraph five directing that service assignments be made without regard to race, creed, color, gender, or national origin is accurate, is the correct direction to assignment board members, and is the current practice at USNA. We removed paragraph 6 to clarify the precept and reissued the instruction to all USNA staff and faculty.That's fair - and the right thing to do.
There you go. See folks; a good institution with good leadership focused on a 21st Century construct, not mired in debunked 1970s racialist theory.
Here is the new instruction with a 17 OCT 12 date; executive summary - they took out the retrograde and patronizing racialist diktat paragraph. Comdtmidnnote 1301 Class of 2013 Service Assignment Review Board (Sarb) Precepts-1 BZ USNA. We should all pause and nod our heads at the sign of progress in the right direction of looking away from something as meaningless as the color of a person's skin, and towards what really matters - the content of their character.
Now, in the big picture - we know that the well entrenched tentacles of the (D)iversity Industry as led by our own (D)iversity Bullies are not in alignment with the concept that all officers regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin are;
... able to lead a diverse cross section of Sailors and Marines.All you have to do is sit through their training and attend their conferences to know that ... but that is common knowledge. As their theories never survive the follow-up question and more people are starting to stand up to their bullying, we'll get there.
One step at a time.