Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pirates, Politics, & 'pologies: Part 3

I almost titled this, "As Cassandra Stood Crying" or "Byron has an Aneurysm" or "Calling Admiral Lombardi" or even another edition of "... and we aren't doing this now because ..." but none of those seemed to fit as well as " 'pology" as in apology. Our senior leadership owes the Navy and the nation an apology; and apology for ignoring the lessons of decades and selling quasi Six-Sigma, Just-in-Time, Shipbuilding-is-new happy talk to explain their pet theories and throwing away ships today for a PPT tomorrow that all proved false.

One of the most important concepts to any marriage is the apology - that and the ability to unconditionally accept an honest apology offered. It is also something that, sadly and to our great detriment, we almost never hear from our senior leadership unless it is for something that they cannot be personally held accountable for. Not to apologize for plain, egregious wrongs is to make yourself out to be perfect. If anyone thinks that our Fleet plan has not been worthy of an apology worthy and therefor is good - please tell my how and why. BTW, I am in alignment with those in the Hill who do not trust anything they are told by the uniformed Navy about shipbuilding and Fleet plans .... you are you in alignment with?

OK, maybe that was a bit too much in the last paragraph ... but I will leave it as a marker of my scab being ripped off. Here is what pulled it.

The day before I fell off the grid, I had a chance to read Philip Ewing's bit from the 23 MAR
NavyTimes that just left me - well - sad.
The Navy's first office dedicated to keeping ships around as long as possible will stand up at East and West Coast waterfronts by early May and begin to provide details for how to get the most good our of the fleet.

The Surface Ship Life Cycle Management Activity, which will fall under the aegis of Naval Sea Systems Command, will determine the best ways for ships to reach their full service lives ....
More on the "Surface Ship Life Cycle Management Activity" can be read here and here.

As a great American poet and son of a great Navy man once said, As I thought of all the good officers who where told to "sit down and shut up" and "get or board or I will throw you overboard" and all the other threats that were made against those who cautioned over the last decade and a half that we needed to make sure we got full life out of what we had because a PPT is not a program - my first flush of anger had to do with the usual,
"Well what the h311 else have you been doing instead of "get(ting) the most good out of our fleet." at NAVSEA? Instead of having our SES planting trees and the mindless bleatings in rambling emails about Diversity CYA feel-goodism, how about do the job that you should be doing. Where are you getting the BA/NMP for those billets? Hopefully out of hide ..."
... and so on. Again, a bit too much and some anger I should pray on.

However, I just feel sad. All the decades from FRAM on up that we have had experience with getting every year out of our ships we could. All the happy talk, self-delusion and bad ideas of the last decade on WRT "recapitalization of the fleet" that has left us with very little capital to build a fleet with. All the outstanding FFG sold off to nations from Bahrain to Turkey. All the DD sunk with years of life left - if we had our fundamentals down right.

Especially with the SPRUANCE, I don't want to hear excuses about the condition of the ships. That is like a person with herpes blaming the virus for their inability to find a steady "relationship" and vivid s3x life. No, the problem is with your personal behavior - behavior that we see has not changed.

I see our incredibly shrinking Fleet and the mad rush by many for ideas to find something to fill the void until sanity returns - and I see that the source of our problem all revolves around fundamentals and the failure to know and practice them.

If we cannot maintain our ships - and NAVSEA is only now talking about and trying to get back to basics - then we have an incredibly challenging and long climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves. Classifying INSURVs just advertise the size of the hole we can no longer hide. Adding on top of that is the very flawed
Maritime Strategy as well - and are in quite the pickle.

As part of the mad rush out there I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of proposed solutions being floated to fill the intellectual gap left by senior leadership. That is where your homework assignment is coming from.

In this month's Proceeding, a friend to this blog, CDR Henry J. Hendrix Jr, has an article titled Buy Ford not Ferrari. If you are naughty and do not subscribe to Proceedings or cannot find a copy, email me and I will send you a PDF. Here is the assignment. I want you to read article, unpack the ideas, and then come back on Monday to discuss them for a new edition of Maritime Strategy Monday.

No cheating by starting your thoughts on commets to this post either. Hold your fire until Monday. In addition to the base article, CDR Hendrix's ideas were discussed last week in the Washington Independent and the Boston Globe. Read them as well.

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