Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Everyone SHUT UP!!!!!", CNO.

Gal, did the CNO just say, "Everyone SHUT UP! You are free to give your opinion only after I tell you what it is."?
Internal and external pressures will be significant as we work our way through what will certainly be complex and challenging budget issues. We will stay aligned and keep our lines of communication open. Discussions and deliberations must take place only within the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense. Those internal discussions are exactly that, internal. Pursuit of individual agendas or initiatives is unacceptable. You may likely be pulled into parochial discussions. Do not go there.
That's how I read it. Interesting .... being that I am not an O7 or above or a SES that the email was sent to - I guess that doesn't apply to me. Happy day.

What does that mean to the little baby-steps we have seen by the higher pay-grades here at USNI to actively, and effectively, engage in a two-way conversation - a real "Conversation with the Country?" With that email, Admiral Stavridis and VADM Harvey have been effectively ordered to keep their opinions to themselves until they are told what they are.

I perfectly agree with the "...once we leave this room ...." line of thought and tradition - I use it - in the right place and the right time as I see it. Maybe I am wrong on this, probably, but on this subject though; where has this line of thought brought us to in 2009? Is it appropriate in the areas the CNO describes? Legal and well within his authority; unquestionably. But is it perhaps not the best route to take at this fix?

I have been that dork sitting behind an Admiral, silently scribbling in a note-pad at the right tonal inflections. I have sat in the cars and the bars making sure everything runs on time, nothing stupid happens, and phones/blackberries are answered - and have kept my mouth shut and my ears and eyes open. I know how these "internal discussions" often go - and head-nodd'n to the guy that owns paper on you is the norm, not the exception. If you have seen a pack of wolves fuss over a carcass, then you know how those discussions go. You know your place in the pack and only fuss to your limit - and the Alpha always wins in the end.

In 2009 we have LCS, DDG-1000, LPD-17, ACS, and a few other jewels to look at and ask ourselves; in the last decade have we had too many hard questions, or too few? Have we been too self-critical, or too self-delusional? Do we work within a political system, or have we become part of it?

Another part of the email came to the fore;
Years from now we will look back and know that we were the fortunate few to have been privileged to lead our Navy at this important time.
I think of ADM Sims, MG Billy Mitchell and VADM Thomas F. Connolly; would our nation be better if they kept their conversations within DOD and DA/DON? Would they if they received such an email? Don't know - but it is something to ponder.

This is an interesting, and challenging, time for us all.

Cross posted at USNIBlog.

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