Wednesday, January 25, 2006

LT Blacks Court Martial: unintended consequences

First of all, everyone needs to review:


I want you to focus on REF A: para 7.e, 8.a.1 (with review of Encl.1, para 4), 8.b-c.2, 9.b, and 10.c; as well as REF B in toto just to drive yourself nuts seeing that, yes, we have quite the EO system in place (you don't really need to read it...I am just being mean).

There, now that I have lost 90% of you; if you are a Navy Enquirer subscriber you can access, if you have not already read on dead tree, the next info dump on the drama, As the Severn Flows. It has some nuggets out there to ponder for those who followed the first and second posts I did on this. Once again, I am not defending LT Bryan Black, only .... well .... interested in the process, lets say.
Lt. Bryan D. Black, a Naval Academy oceanography instructor, faces a court-martial Jan. 31 for making an offensive sexual comment to a female midshipman and using crude terms in mixed company.

Black’s comments were made during an August field trip to Norfolk, Va. Despite later apologizing to the midshipman, per Navy policy — and the midshipman’s acceptance of that apology — Black was charged by academy officials with conduct unbecoming an officer.
While walking past the decommissioned battleship Wisconsin in downtown Norfolk, Va., Black allegedly said among his students, “Battleships are just so freaking awesome, it gives me a hard-on just talking about it.”

That in itself probably might have been brushed off as the crude bluster of a junior officer.

But Black allegedly then turned to a female midshipman second class and made a more personal, pointed comment. “Even [name] would get a hard-on, wouldn’t you ... oh, that’s right, you can’t do that, so I guess it would be tweaking your nipples.”
Oh, he also used the "C" word and the "B" word when describing his ex-wife at a different time (Skippy comment here). Stupid, yes. Worth at the most what the investigating officer recommended, I think. Worth all this? No one touched, threatened, or ignored? Just dirty words? So many better ways of doing this....and getting a better result.
In a statement read by the prosecution at a Jan. 13 pretrial hearing, the midshipman said she was “appalled” at the comment, but that Black said he was sorry the next day. She said she accepted his apology.

Under established Navy procedures, that should have been the end of it. But Black’s oceanography department colleague, Lt. Cmdr. Shelly Whisenhant, pushed the matter up the chain of command. Whisenhant would not comment on the matter.
Oh, I would love to know the pre-kerfuffle interactions between those two officers. Something tells me they didn't exchange Christmas cards.
David Segal, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, specializes in military culture. He says the large-scale public proceedings of a court-martial can backlash.

“One of the costs of overreaction is women who feel offended are reluctant to go forward,” he said.

As for Gittins, he thinks the academy has fallen victim to political correctness at the expense of forging hardened warriors.

“We are creating a ‘let’s pretend’ society,” Gittins said. “They’re going to see a lot worse than this in the war on terrorism shortly after they get their commissions.”
To be fair and balanced.
Lory Manning couldn’t disagree more. A retired Navy captain, Manning served 25 years in the Navy, commanding a signal station on Diego Garcia and serving on the staffs of the chief of naval personnel and chief of naval operations. She directs the Women in the Military Project for the Women’s Research and Education Institute in Washington, D.C.

“In the old days, 20 or 25 years ago, this was the ‘man’s navy,’ and if you didn’t like it, you can get out of the ‘man’s navy,’” she said. “It’s not the ‘man’s navy.’ It’s the citizen’s navy.”
I'll let the links speak for themselves. I've been in the Navy less than 20 years, almost all in a "gender" integrated environment. The good CAPT should get out some more. This whole thing does a disservice to the great women I have served with who have more important things to do than get the vapors over some big talking LT, and wind up chewing up dozens to hundreds of Flag Officer hours over less than she will hear in the first liberty call overseas. Then again, with the blowback from this - the smart officers will gather their male buddies and ditch their female shipmates at the first chance they get on liberty or the weekends. Wait, my male JOs already do that.....those who aren't sleeping with them.

Here are some of the unintended consequences behind the decision to go high order on this low order infraction. (1) Everyone in the fleet will now know that the Sexual Harassment policy and redress of grievances does not work, and you are at the whim of the ears and fear around you. The lowest form of sexual harassment as defined by REF A, even when satisfactorily resolved IAW guidelines at the lowest level, will/can result in a CM. (2) Many of your best and brightest (already, especially for a Warfare Qualified officer USNA duty can be a career killer) will avoid the USNA. Rightfully so. (3) Many of our female Midshipmen will be ill-prepared to function in an international, joint environment. Have the vapors around a Japanese, Saudi, or Polish officer because he said something off-color and you not only make yourself useless, you set back women officers years by your immature behavior. Fact.

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