When I was just a clueless 4/C MIDN, I knew that the senior enlisted who wore officer's uniform were a special lot.
As I progressed, I knew that some were more special than others, and that there was a difference between a Chief and an E7 - but I also grew to admire what our Navy had created with their Senior NCOs.
"Chief, just make it happen." Never were there more powerful words, and never did that fail me in my decades in the Navy.
"The Chiefs' Mess will take care of this." That was exceptionally true ... but started to weaken in the mid-late 1990s some; but still was and is true.
I guess the change coming now is not shocking. Because a few idiots went too far, in the finest traditions of self-loathing, we are again going for the mindless anti-intellectualism of group punishment couched in therapeutic phrases and SOC101speak. There is more to it than that.
There is a larger culture war that is pushing against any type of meritocracy. The "everyone gets a trophy" attitude has met the mindset of "softly, softly, softly." Not hurting anyone's feelings, judging "hurt" by the lowest common denominator, is the most important. Things martial are aggressive, are too male ... so are bad. It must go, and as we are wiser than others - our new dialectic construct must take its place.
This is not taking place in isolation. We can see additional shadows of this mindset in our selection boards. A decade of war, and our boards are run like it is SEP 10, 2001. IAs and combat deployments do not matter as much as the right staff job and the right gate jumping. They just don't. Even a decade of war has not brought a change in our Millington-DC diktat. Heck, the argument could be made that some of those at the highest levels of the officer and enlisted side of the house do not reflect the reality of a decade of war - or at least rewarding it. Check the bios yourself.
Back to the Chief's Mess.
Bullies haze. Hazing is bad. If you make me feel like I am not entitled to be just as good as you at all times, you are a bully. I am hazed. You are a bully. You are bad.
Yes, there were some over the top things in the past - but as part of a larger effort, over the top has been defined down to almost nothing.
There has been a concerted effort to degrade the mystique of the Chief's Mess, why I still do not know. The socio-political philosophy behind this effort, and others like it, are deeply rooted in Marxist and deconstructionist theory - but that is what you get when you polute your staffs with those with that academic training. More GS and SES than operators.
We saw the move in the slap to the face that was the "black and tan" uniform for E-6 and below. It made in one sweep, "putting on khaki" when you made Chief just that less unique and special.
Yes, our sister services do not make that big of a distinction as we do - but who cares. I always thought that it was right and good the special way we treated our E7-9.
But again, I guess perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps we do need to let that go. Perhaps it should just be more E-7 and less Chief. Perhaps I am wrong. I am willing to accept that; but I am not wrong.
We will still have a Chief's Mess. Chiefs will still be Chiefs - but visuals and mystique matter in a martial organization.
When you move the Chief closer to the E6 and further from the CWO/LDO, you weaken the brand. You degrade their authority ... and heck, you are just plain weakening one of your best cornerstones to your culture.
If there are no-kidding, real, harmful abusive things that take/took place at CPO Induction - then hold those people responsible, but don't throw it away.
In a way, this sounds like what they are trying to do, but not really. This is intentional, this is "transformational" - and it is what it is.
Oh, well. So much for my ideas.
Chiefs, this is your culture, this is your Mess. This is your Navy. Silence is approval. You lost the khaki, now you have lost Induction (nee Initiation). What is next? Does it really matter? Is this better?
I think good people can argue both sides of this, but here it is.
Your battle, but don't complain that we get to a point down the road that no one respects "The Chief" quite the way they used to; an E7 is just one block up from E6, right?
Not only that, Stevens has eliminated all use of “chief petty officer induction,” the term used to describe the lead-up to promotion.
“‘Induction’ is hereby officially and respectfully sundowned,” Stevens said in the message.
In its place, Stevens said, is the yearlong CPO 365 professional program introduced by his predecessor, MCPON (SS/SW) Rick West. The goal of CPO 365 is to prepare first classes to assume the role of the chief on the deck plates. It’s not about initiations or anything that could approach hazing.
Like many long-standing traditions, it’s gotten an even closer look in recent years as the culture of the Navy and the nation have gradually changed.
That churn and scrutiny were often spurred by negative events, such as the 1991 Tailhook convention, where bawdy behavior and hazinglike events ended the careers of many.
Stevens stressed that his changes were “natural and evolutionary,” and were not an indictment that all sailors were misbehaving.
“I knew two years ago that this was the direction we were heading,” Stevens said. “It just so happens that on my watch [as MCPON], the next step in this evolutionary process needed to take place.”
Each of the last four MCPONs, Stevens said, gradually changed the philosophy and intent of the process from a largely fraternal event to a professionally focused one..