Monday, May 24, 2010

A voice from the Annapolis Underground ...

A note from a member of the USNA Class of 2010 ... speaking here things that cannot be spoken openly. The rest of the post belongs the author. I can't confirm the numbers ... but if they are incorrect, let me know. I'm running with 'em though. It's a blog for goodness sakes .....
With one week left, the Naval Academy class of 2010 braces for one of the most exciting points of their lives. For four years they have been privy to one of the most celebrated and respected educations in the world. That being said, I am confused why with a week until graduation and thus the largest pay promotion of their careers they skimp of giving back. The Naval Academy Alumni Foundation set up the 'First Gift Program' two years ago to get newly commissioned classes contributing to the Foundation. The class of 2008 had nearly 60% participation and the class of 2009 had the increased participation of 70%. As of 10 days before graduation, the class of 2010 has the participation of 27%. 'Its discouraging', said our Class President, reflecting on the poor participation.

The recession seems a likely culprit, but what about the class of '09 then? It seems like the today's Firsties have just seen too much go wrong at the Naval Academy. It appears that the degradation of the founding principles, which may seem commonplace to younger classes, actually struck at home. 'Why would I want to contribute to this place?', said one Firstie. 'My values, and those of this institution no longer agree', said another. Perhaps the Marcus Curry exceptions, World Series Color Guard exclusions, and countless other instances were not just 'waved off' as Washington politics or bad leadership but rather defining character statements of the Naval Academy. Midshipmen used to believe in 'US' verse 'THE MAN'. It was a point of pride to fight 'THE MAN', because Midshipmen knew what the Naval Academy should be. Midshipmen knew what the Naval Academy meant!

With the class of 2010, cynicism has subsided to a feeling of disgust for what has happened. They no longer fight 'THE MAN', because it seems like there is little to fight for! They sit behind closed doors voicing their complaints to close friends, justifiably scared of retaliation if the wrong set of ears were to hear. Occasionally a Plebe is invited into the circle of trust. Much like their Firsties did to them, the soon to be graduates share their thoughts on today's policies and their recollection of how it used to be.

The Firsties have never known a Honor system that didn't favor an athlete, a minority or a privileged child. The Firsties have never even known conduct or separation policies that didn't do the same. They have spent four years watching good men and women, whom honorably faulted in grades and conduct be separated. For four years they understood that that decision was not their's to make or even scrutinize, because of the nature of their future duties as officers. Then, with frighteningly increasing frequency they have watched the un-honorable, unqualified and un-dedicated be retained for reasons of athletic and statistical contribution.

Twenty-seven percent reflects the number of 2010 graduates contributing to the Alumni Foundation fund. It reflects those who want to give back to Alumni Foundation sponsored programs, but also those who want nothing more than to build a fountain in 20 years. If money talks, which might explain why Football has such a big ear to the Superintendent, than the Alumni Foundation should be singing hymns soon. It will only be a matter of time before Alumnus choose to spend their money is a wiser place, because good football has begun to cost a hefty price.


  1. Byron06:19

    Another prime example of GI-GO. I know hope is not an option, but let's hope that they go to the Fleet and meet up with good CPOs and DHs.

  2. Jerry Hendrix06:23

    This represents a powerful indicator of the true internal state of the Brigade.  Thanks for posting.

  3. Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor07:20

    An interesting data point that would cross-check this: how many members of 2010 have asked for their Alumni Association dues back?  The AA has a compulsory life membership program, with dues collected from the midshipmen's pay during their four years.
    In my class, a handful of folks asked for their money back, mostly because they wanted the money.  Processing such a request involved a personal discussion with the Commandant.  If a large percentage of the class has followed this path, then the troubles may be even deeper than we realize.

  4. MR T's Haircut07:46

    Apathy.... does more damage than an enemy bullet...

  5. UltimaRatioRegis07:54

    <span>Well, you can say one thing for USNA.  If they are used to a system of accession, promotion, and "mentoring" that favors minorities simply based on race, gender, or ethnicity (and soon sexual preference), then Annapolis has prepared them well for the United States Navy.</span>

  6. SNAnonymous08:34

    Sad, but I think a lot of my classmates from '07 have the same feeling about donating.  Every time they have some diversity/character/preferential treatment/set-aside fiasco, it reflects poorly on each and every Alumnus of the boat school.  Until they start doing it right, they're not getting a dime of my money.  

  7. ender08:45

    This is a non-starter.  A good number of moons ago when I was awaiting graduation we had the same problem.  Oh, and I hate to break the news to everyone, USNA has a life of its own and will pass all of this drama.  This shipmate is merely reflecting the same attitude that thousands have had while couting the days until it is all over.  Except for the Plebe part.  You should let them find their own path.  Bringing them into "the circle of trust" is what I like to call poor leadership.  I swore I would never go back to USNA, but I did.  I also swore that I owed so much to USNA that I would never say a bad word about it, and I haven't.

  8. Salty Gator08:59

    Good question about the DH.  Speaking from personal experience, my graduating class from NROTC (a large batallion) has retained only ONE officer who has gone on to department head, and he was the absolute bottom of the class (and bottom of rankings on his first and second ships).  Most young surface warfare officers I know from year groups 03, 04, and 05 have elected to leave active duty service.  Many have rolled into the NECC for reserve jobs.  All are jaded.  The numbers are so bad that ANYONE in YG 03, 04, 05 who desires a department head billet gets the nod.

  9. Anonymous09:19

    Certainly a flag to be considered...

  10. AW1 Tim09:54

      Hmm....  FWIW, here'a an interesting response to Bruce Fleming's article from the other day regarding the academies versus ROTC. The author is a West Point Graduate whose blog I follow. He's a good writer and a leader of men currently deployed to Afghanistan. I put this link in solely for it's value to the argument, not because I support his views, etc.

  11. Anon09:57

    I can relate and my mixed feelings for USNA has certainly led to my lack of donations. 
    And speaking of Curry - does anyone know where funding of his defense came from?

  12. DeltaBravo10:55

    Drama has a way of catching up with you if you push it too long and too far.  Your loyalty is admirable.  But it's like your mom... you may owe her everything, but if she's falling down drunk in public and the episodes are getting closer together, it's time for the "circle of trust" to say something.  The "poor leadership" comes into play when those who believe in true principles are afraid of voicing their real opinions for fear of reprisal.  (SEE:  Old Soviet Union)

  13. cdrsalamander11:16


  14. Compulsory?  How does any private organization get to dip their hands into a Midshipman's paycheck?


  15. Redeye8011:40

    I haven't sent a penny to the Academy in more than 20 years.  Best decision I've made.

  16. From the Sandbox12:21

    If you ever have a chance to have honest conversations with enlisted sailors, you understand why that type of Academy politics is not only toxic to Alum Donations, but the Navy at large. When given an off the record opprotunity, Experienced sailors would tell you that most USNA grads adapt and excel as leaders in just a few years. It is obvious to them (and even to a civilian observer) that those coddled by the Academy never outgrow it, make poor leaders, and cost the Navy dearly (definately in re-enlistments, who knows how else).

  17. Anon12:35

    Mistyped - I was thinking of Lamar Owens.

  18. Combat NFO13:09

    Donate time and/or money to the groups that you believe in at school.  I refuse to give to the general (unrestricted) fund, but I support Mids and programs in other ways.  Those fiascos/lapses in judgement aren't limited to USNA or Academy graduates.

  19. Combat NFO13:14

    USNA isn't falling down drunk in public.

  20. usna2141213:32

    Well, Herndon just ended.  1.5 minutes.  That's right.  One minute and thirty seconds, more or less.  No grease on the monument.  Just a grey statue to climb.  I guess that ends the tradition, effective right now.

  21. Byron13:53

    How about they've been lying their asses off to the Mids?

  22. Combat NFO13:55

    That's unfortunate.

  23. Combat NFO13:59

    I see you're a member of the circle of disdain.  When did you last visit USNA?  Upon what are you basing this assessment?

  24. UltimaRatioRegis14:03

    When did I last visit?  End of last month.  Upon what am I basing the assessment?  Read the link.  Honor.  MIA among senior leadership at Annapolis.  Disdain?  More like disgust. 

  25. Combat NFO14:05

    Well that's unfortunate.  What are you doing about it?

  26. UltimaRatioRegis14:33

    You just read some of it.  And you?

  27. Combat NFO14:53

    Read some of what?  I don't see any action, I just see complaining.  

    I don't view the Naval Academy as "falling down drunk in public." There are always challenges, and I disagree with some of what the leadership is doing, but I'm far from disgusted or disdainful with or about the institution.  I'm well aware of what it's like to live in the pressure cooker that is USNA.  Unfortunately the benefits of that environment aren't as obvious to the Midshipmen as the pain experienced while gaining the benefits.  

    If you think USNA is broken because the donations to a fund are down, you're missing the big picture.  The vast majority of Mids are great people that are learning valuable life and leadership lessons. Leadership lessons are taught both in the positive and negative.  "I will never lead like that" can be a very valuable lesson during a career in the Navy. Its unfortunate that you are disgusted by an entire institution because of a few issues.  You may want to consider the impact of expressing your disgust for the entire institution in uniform, and in public.

  28. DeltaBravo15:15

    "Because of a few issues"  .... other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

    "I will not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do" becomes "I will not lie, cheat or steal, but we'll look the other way if he can run with a football really fast" and YOU don't have a problem with that??  Once you have lost honor, all is lost. 

    You are navigating through life without a moral compass then.  You are lost.  Sad for you.

    An organization that picks its leadership based on the least important thing about them (and the thing the candidate for leadership can least control) is an organization that is heading into a downward spiral. 

    "Don't be like the leadership that taught you how to lead" is hardly a creed to live by. 

    If you think the USNA fund's being down because of issues like this isn't part of a bigger picture, you're missing the big picture yourself.

    (Now I shall go back to ignoring you.  I just wanted to point this out to those who may have wandered in and read your silliness)

  29. Combat NFO15:22


    If you're going to make quotes, make them accurate.  <span>"I will not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do" is not USNA's honor concept.  Shall I consider that a failure of your personal integrity, a lie, misleading, or just ignorance?</span>

    <span>If you're going to misquote, and lie, please do me the favor of continuing to ignore me.</span>

  30. UltimaRatioRegis15:24

    Ahh, but I am not disgusted with the entire institution.  Some here would advocate the closing of USNA.  I disagree for reasons that have been expressed here and elsewhere a number of times. 

    I am disgusted with the leadership, there and in the Navy.  Admiral Mullen, and now Roughead, pushing diversity uber alles, to the great detriment of the Navy and combat readiness.  And Fowler either doing what he knew to be wrong, or being too stupid to know the difference.  True of the Color Guard incident, and of the Curry incident. 

    My name can be known to all of those gentlemen at any time, and if they want to defend their actions publicly in a give-and-take forum instead of a "statement" after which juniors have no accepable input, I am more than willing to do this, in uniform or out.  But don't hold your breath.  Forthright discussion of such discrimination and favoritism, and the dishonesty that it has been wrapped in, has not being their hallmark.

  31. MR T's Haircut15:30

    Nice snarky come back NFO.. I had a dickhead XO once that acts just like you.

  32. DeltaBravo15:53

    Oh, for pete's sake!  I did not put "USNA HONOR CODE" next to it!  I was commenting on the concept of honor itself and how it is viewed in various places.  Honor does not consist in having one set of standards for yourself and another for those around you who are also given responsibility for lives and taxpayer-funded equipment.  Again, you miss the big picture.  You don't seem to understand why people here are upset at an institution that has seemingly traded its birthright for a mess of pottage and some football trophies.  Being a literalist, you can now condemn me for messing up that quote too.  ;)   Go ahead, impugn my honesty, my integrity and intelligence.  I find that funny coming from you.  Of course.... being a literalist yourself, you should know you don't "make" a quote.   By its very nature, a quote already has been made.  But you knew that... didn't you?

    (Phib, the internets are eating my replies.  I just reconstructed this somewhat from my original reply.  Dunno if it's a glitch or what.)

  33. Combat NFO16:06

    I don't need to impugn your integrity. You lie while condemning the integrity of others.  You compromise your integrity while demonstrating hypocrisy.  I'm impressed.  So when you said (and I quote), "<span>Now I shall go back to ignoring you." were you lying?</span>

    What "HONOR CODE", and/or Service Academy were you talking about?  I assumed you were talking about USNA and the USNA Honor Concept.  Perhaps I was wrong?  Please feel free to correct me with the correct Service Academy and Honor System you were referencing.

  34. Combat NFO16:10

    This appears to represent your disgust/disdain with the entire institution.

  35. cdrsalamander16:10

    This isn't about money.  This is about the leadership and stewardship of an institution.

    FWIW - in the last couple of months I have had one-on-one conversations with over a half dozen serving MIDN somewhere in the neighborhood north of six hours.

    The problem is not the MIDN.  Just the opposite.  These young men and women are outstanding individuals.  

    Instead of blindly defending the institution - focus instead of the people and ideas it is supposed to represent.  That is what is important.  All else is decoration.

  36. Combat NFO16:25

    CDR, I agree with you. I don't believe it's about money at all.  USNA will never escape those that want to snipe.  I disagree with many of the decisions of the current administration.  I disagreed with many of the leadership decisions while I was there.  The bottom line is that it will never be perfect.  The positive far outweighs the negative, and the continual negative coverage does much more harm than good.  How many positive articles have your run, how many negative?  Any mention of Ken Hamm USNA'87, or Steve Bowen USNA '86 this week?

    There are roughly 4,000 midshipmen there, and people want to say USNA is "falling down drunk" because of the actions of less than 1% of the population, and use the Naval Academy as a proxy to express contempt for fleet wide leadership issues.  I'm sorry, but I don't accept this and I expect better from those that go by Commander or Lieutenant Colonel in public.  It's easy to tear down, it's much harder to lead.

  37. DeltaBravo16:31

    Maybe this venerable institution still respects its honor code.  Perhaps you've heard of it?  (How sad if USNA would no longer compete in this arena with its archrival.)

    Tell me where I lied. 

  38. cdrsalamander16:53

    You need to clear your eyes and see.  Those I talk to not only love the Navy, they love USNA ... and they are upset on what is being done to it.  I would also offer that you look click the Midrats link on the upper right hand of this page.  Look at the 2 hours we spent talking about Annapolis with both Professors and MIDN/Alumni.  Listen to them.

    No, we cover both sides here.  If you want one side of the issue, USNA has a very good, very professional, very nice, and very easy to work with PAO.  A blog is about talking about the pointy bits.  If they hurt you, I am sorry - but they are real and they exist.  Organizations do not get better by ignoring poor performance or bad decisions.  They get worse.

    When you care about something, you correct it when it is wrong.  To ignore it is cowardice and contempt.  I always counsel NROTC or OCS - but that is my bias.  One thing I do not have though is contempt towards USNA.  If I did - I would never post anything about it here.

  39. Byron16:55

    Did a fair job of dragging you off topic, DB.


  40. UltimaRatioRegis17:08


    Don't lecture about leading.   Yes it is hard to lead.  Which is why I expect more from them.  The Color Guard incident and the dual track admissions and academic standards and the lack of forthrightness in dealing with them, capped by the shameful Curry incident tells me Fowler and the Commandant aren't leading at all.  I would fire a company/battery commander for displaying that kind of lousy leadership.  Because a leader willing to do those things isn't to be trusted. 

    I expect better from a Vice Admiral and Navy Captain.  And am not terribly concerned with what you think you should expect or why.  From your constant trolling and your bizarre reasoning, you seem pretty light on credentials.

  41. Combat NFO17:16

    If the Mid that wrote that letter loved USNA he wouldn't have written a nameless condemnation of USNA's leadership.  You haven't hurt me, I'm well aware of the many issues at USNA _AND_ the other service academies.

    I don't ask you to ignore the issues, I only ask you not to feed the contempt or as Regis termed it "disgust".  O-5's ought not publicly express "disgust" for Flag Officers, or encourage others to do so.  It's not only poor leadership for the many Midshipmen and Cadets that read this blog, it's poor follower-ship.

    I'd have much more respect for you if you wrote articles in Proceedings while you were on Active Duty.  That would have been courageous.

    <span>Take heed what you say of your seniors, 
    Be your words spoken softly or plain, 
    Let a bird of the air tell the matter, 
    And so shall ye hear it again. </span>

  42. Combat NFO17:19

    "<span>Yes it is hard to lead.  Which is why I expect more from them."</span>
    -Now that's good comedy.

  43. UltimaRatioRegis17:58


    You use the term "courage" as if you think you know what it means.  You oughtn't do that.

  44. Anonymous18:04

    <span>"You use the term "courage" as if you think you know what it means.  You oughtn't do that."</span>

    -When in doubt, just attack me personally.

  45. UltimaRatioRegis19:16

    You seem to think I have doubt.

  46. Combat NFO19:53

    I apologize.  Let me rephrase. When your position of publicly insulting USNA leadership is indefensible, you take to insulting other people personally.  If you're going to use your rank, you should have the courage to use your whole name.

  47. cdrsalamander20:07

    1.  I am a citizen of a Representative Republic based in individual liberty and freedom.
    2.  I am retired.
    3.  Even when I was on AD, I did not wear jackboots and/or leave my mind behind.
    4.  The only time I 100% owe a Flag Officer my unwavering obedience and concurrence is when I have been given a lawful order, the door is open, and I have to brief my Sailors.  
    5.  Sunk ships, cemeteries, and mass graves are full of unidentified bodies because officers - AD and retired - never questioned authority.  Sims, Mitchell, Connolly, - no - I am happy with the examples I follow.

  48. UltimaRatioRegis20:22

    Insulting would be insinuating or claiming something true that was not, and otherwise falsely impugning character. 

    I would have relieved them.  All of them involved in the Color Guard incident, and those who approved Curry staying after a drug pop and a tall tale about blunt cigars.  Integrity, judgment, command climate all irrevocably compromised. 

    They can find out who I am if the care to.  By the way, what nationality is NFO?  And how did your parents come to name you "Combat"?

  49. MaryR20:43

    Same answer. You

  50. Combat NFO21:26

    <span>You have every right to express your opinions, and you have every right to set the example you see fit for Midshipmen as well as military members.  </span>

    <span>I just hope that Midshipmen reading this don't get the idea that nameless internet posts are the place to express their opinions about leadership.  Good leaders seek dissent from followers, and good followers express their dissenting opinions to leaders in private, and give a cheery aye aye in public, or leave.  The military doesn't cope with public insubordination well.  You're entitled to your opinions, don't think I'm saying you're not.  You don't have to justify why you're speaking out, or the legitimacy of doing so, but you should be cognizant of the manner in which you do it when you're utilizing your rank to add credibility.  </span>

    <span>BTW: I don't recall Sims, Mitchell, or Connolly writing anonymous letters criticizing then men in the arena, but perhaps you can enlighten me.</span>

  51. cdrsalamander21:37

    Oh, I get it.  It's about me.  I forgot.

  52. Combat NFO21:46

    BTW: Points 1-5 contained the word "I", it would seem the post was about you.

  53. DM0522:57

    There remain some of us - taxpayers and no longer in uniform - that believe the whole zoo on the Severn would be better off shuttered in the interest of cost and integrity. NROTC is a fine, and produces officers - seedcorn - just as good, and maybe better as they don't have the baggage of living & learning in an unrealistic hide-the-truth environment. Perhaps that explains much of what's really wrong in the Navy...Start with dropping football, fire the leadership, and shut 'er down in 3 or 4 years. Sorry alums, and new grads.

  54. cdrsalamander00:02

    Have a nice night. 

  55. ender12:18

    The funny thing is that every couple of years this argument comes back around.  Same passion and same excellent points.  What is easy to lose sight of is that this is a pendulum with mutiple axises.  It swings from praise to shame within each Academy, but it also moves between Service Academies.  Remember just a year or two ago when USAFA was in the spotlight for religious persecution and other issues?  Now the eyes shift to USNA.  It is part of the check-and-balances requried to keep the Academies as pure as possible.

    Altough I won't get in the mud and wrestle over this, I will point out that there was a reason we called the Washington Post "The Enemy" while at USNA.  We are supposed to deal with these problems internally.  The fact that we can't and that mids are posting to blogs make me sad for the Navy and our society first, and then USNA second.

    However, I really can't get fired up over this.  Why?  Just like every Enlisted Sailor I serve/served with, you can't BS the mids.  They see right through the garbage and will fix these errors as they grow.  It is really like the free market in that respect.  Yes, you need some regulation, but when it doubt, trust in the mids and sit on your hands.  Men of questionable character and leadership will take the con from time to time, but their impact only changes superficialities.  The core is still the intensity of USNA where, as my detailers said, and I said/say, "Every person will find their challenge at USNA that forces them to face the mirror and ask if they can really do it." 

  56. ender16:31

    I meant axes...not axises...maybe USNA needs to buff up their spelling...

  57. Although I usually find little to agree with the CDR about ... I believe this situation can be laYED DIRECTLY AT VAdm fowler and his reign ... while there have been a few notable accomplishments with which I agree, there have been far to many which exhibited the fact that -virtually from the outset- he far exceded his level of incompetence ... the feeding fiasco, the retention of a misfit, incompetent Commandant [and it has nothing to do with the fact of her sex ... for all my mysoginous, racist, homophobic, and/or antisemitic brethern out there], the flip-flopping, caving to the far-right evangelical "amerikan taliban" and gutless refusal to respond to critism concerning the ignoring of his oath in the color guard-chapel altar situation, the marcus curry affair, even the Herndon climb dictate and ridiculous statement concerning it, etc., etc. His reign is over ... good ridence ... hopefully, those responsible for the appointment of the new Sup took foler's shotcomings and outright failures into account and chose someone with the cajones to fix things rather than destroy them ... considering those who appointed fowler and those who've selected