Monday, September 06, 2010

The strategic Corporal vs. the babied 3rd Class

You get what you inspect. We all know that those who report to you will expend time and effort on what they know is important to you. You can tell what isn't getting time and effort by what starts failing.

They know what is important by what you say, where you spend your time, and what you state as your priorities. Especially when a nation is at war, it is important what you emphasize what is important as leaders - because there are only 24-hrs in a day and a finite budget in money and man hours. The prudent person will respond accordingly.

So, let's review. We are a Navy at war, right? This war is handled at the pointy end by the junior NCO leading heavily armed E1-E3. On a personal level - when I was deployed to AFG, every day I was surrounded and protected by fully armed junior enlisted personnel - thank goodness because few things are less useful in armed combat than a Navy CDR with a M9.

Even more so - many of those junior enlisted were foreign nationals ... sometimes illiterate Afghans.

And here we are, via
Sailors below E-5 are temporarily barred from standing armed watches aboard Atlantic Fleet surface ships, and chiefs and up must monitor crew-served weapons stations, following four instances of negligent firearms discharges aboard separate ships since June.
Thomas directed all ships to temporarily limit the issuance of firearms to “qualified sailors E-5 and above.”
How about this. We shift all the TAD funds we are spending to send non-warfighters to A-OOO and instead send more of our Sailors to get range master qualified or otherwise play with their USMC and Army E4's who know more about weapons then they do about women. Look at more ways to get MORE Sailors holding MORE weapons. When you do that, then you will have fewer incidents.

I spent months around hundreds of staff weenies from E-1 to O-10 from almost 30 nations - all armed to the teeth. If we weren't in the shower, the gym or the rack, we were armed. I could do the clearing barrel in my sleep. I think we had one incident - one - and that was a Macedonian methinks.

Once again - the problem is not with the Sailors, it isn't with the CMDCMs, it isn't with the COs. No Rear Admiral Thomas, the problem is the atmosphere your predecessors set for a Navy at war. Weapons take time and experience, otherwise
you get what you get.

Personally, I'll give you a pass for the "high and right" response to this - it is a problem and you had to get folks' attention. However, I am more interested to see what additional funds you will be putting towards getting our COs what they need to get their Sailors trained. If you need help finding TAD money - then prioritize. If you need assistance, I'm willing to help - but you won't like my answer.


LT B said...

We have a weapon's range.  We have a bunch of SEALs, and SWCC Sailors that teach.  I tried to get the command to let us go out and practice.  No go.  It would interfere w/ ESAMS, production work, NKO and diversity drivel.  I am disgusted with our priorities.  The Navy is being run by pansies w/o a warrior ethos trying to make pansies in their image.  Good job gentlemen.  You've made the Navy into Smurfalicious sissies. 

Anonymous said...

Good God.

John Paul Jones is spinning in his sarcophagus.

Southern Air Pirate said...


Does this really suprise you? I was on ASF on the Big E following the USS Cole, they got all of us watch standers trained on the M9 or 12 Guage shotgun, a few lucky folks got the M14 or M16 training on top of that. All up and down Norfolk NOB we were told to carry our weapons in Condition 3 that is a magazine in but no round in the chamber. The powers to be were too scared of us shooting a toe or finger off, then we had 9/11 and the powers to be decided that everyone on the pier had to be armed. For the next year there were so many incidents of people having a round fired out either into the pier, bulkhead, another person, or into themselves that the Safety Center actually went out to figure out where the breakdown happened. I remember one of the mishap reports had a situtation where a GM2, who also had range safety NEC, was praticing his quickdraw and western shooting iron tricks with a condition 1 M9 and managed to put a round into his boot. Another mishap report had a AOC manage to take off part of his nose and damage his kevlar helemt while helping a watchstander readjust his condition 1 M14 sling the weapon fired while the AOC was bent over the weapon trying to loosen the sling up. The final one that stuck in my mind was a QM3 who managed to shot themselves in the chest while removing a weapon from a tactical holster that was known to flip the safety from S to F and due to poor finger placement discharge the weapon into themselves while coming off a watch. In the end the Safety Center found the number one reason sailors were having negligate discharges was due to poor training, fear of the weapons, and complancy around weapons. One of the suggestions was to have sailor, just like Marines, qualify annually in the M9 and 12 Guage similar to how most large city police forces do thier qualifications. Another was to increase the exposure of weapons training through out the training pipeline for a sailor, in that just two days in boot camp is not enough. There should be range time given while member is at boot camp, A-schooling, C-schools, and finally as part of the initial check in process at the first fleet command. Those recommendations were made back in the 2003/04 time frame. Six years later and still stupid things are occuring on the piers. I would also love to compare and contrast our sailors and thier level of negligate discharges with a police force like LAPD/NYPD/Boston PD/Baltimore PD and the hours of training. I have dollars to donuts those numbers would scare the living daylights out anyone.

ActusRhesus said...

sweet jesus.  Glad my command is full of gun nuts who even let the JAG get range time.

ewok40k said...

In a naval assymetric war, boarding action is quite common way of getting ships captured. It is also a standard pirate tactic of all centuries. If you want sailors armed, train them for that. If you dont want sailors armed, prepare for unpleasant surprises.

Andrewdb said...


Andrewdb said...

I don't know that I would like to be qualified like a police force.  They often don't get enough range time, nor do very well in a real-life, live-fire situation.

I was up giving some briefings a couple of years ago.  An MP unit was qualifying on the range in back of the building I was working in.  4th day at the range, they had to pull more ammo,  still couldn't met standard - and a lot of the Guard MPs are cops on their day job.

Byron said...

In January 2002 I was working nightshift on a CG running a crew of shipfitters and welders. Twice that night I had come across the rover carrying an M-16 on a really odd sling that let the rifle hang at his waist so that it could be pointed pretty much anywhere in a hands-off possition. Twice I had to tell him not to point his weapon at my people. Sometime later as I was coming across the midships quarterdeck this same dipstick was getting warmed up by the heater they had there. I was showing my ID to the POOW when I caught the barrel of the weapon pointed right at my head. I gently picked the end of the weapon and pushed it away from then turned to the CPO on watch and said, "if this stupid sonofabitch points his weapon at either my people or myself again I'm going to take it away from him, butt stroke him, then come down here and smack YOU upside the head with it. He's YOUR responsibility, so fix this problem before I have to fix it."

Lots of bad words afterwards, never saw this kid with a weapon in his hand after that night. Seriously, You guys act like Keystone Cops sometimes.

Curtis said...

No No.  You aren't grasping the most salient fact.  Giving a sailor or soldier a weapon cert is kind of the equivalent of an OOD Fleet Steaming certification or pilot certification.  Some sailors and soldiers et al should NEVER be given a weapon.  Ever.  They're not useless, merely disadvantaged.

It's not a matter of training or familiarity.  In my experience the worst negligent discharges were always caused by cops and gunner's mates.  Chief Gunner's Mates.  Complacency plays a large part but so does stunning and appalling indifference to procedures.  We trained our sailors in NAVY clearing barrel process which differed from the Army clearing barrel process and each one of our squadrons experienced a minimum of 3 ND in the first 2 weeks of deployment.  That was usually the point where the General called in our deployed Commodore and announced that the next ND was a career ender for the 06.  We were training them in the wrong procedure but refused to admit it and couldn't really get around it since we had NMETS that had to be satisfied and screw it if they worked for a JTF commanded by the Army using Army procedures.

As a CO I knew a handful of sailors that would never ever ever draw a gun from any armory under my control.  That's the facts.  Some people are too stupid to give a firearm to.  When you draft an IA force, give the poor waifs an online CBT and then give them a 9mm or M16 equivalent based on successful completion of computer based training, shame on you. 

There are a lot of people that deservedly fail to make the cut to fly aircraft, drive ships or carry a weapon.  Only an idiot arms idiots.

cdrsalamander said...

Why is every marine a rifleman?  Why did I work around hundreds of illiterate Afghans with weapons, not to mention Nepalese peasants and Anatolian goatherds with crew served weapons ... without a problem?

sid said...


You wouldn't want <span>members of the military</span> handling weapons.

Global Force For Good...and all

The United States Navy...

We Are Too Good To Fight!

ActusRhesus said...

completely disagree.  Safe weapon handling is nothing like flying a jet.  the NRA qualifies 8 year olds for pete's sake.  and if you can't be trusted with a firearm you have NO BUSINESS being downrange.  I am clearly in the Staff bracket, and I still got trained, qualified, and continue to work on my shooting.  Granted, in most missions I will be under armed escort...but what if the shit hits the fan, my "private security" are shot, and I need to defend myself?  Everyone...EVERYONE going down range needs the basic rudimentary skills to defend themselves, and that includes use, and possession of a firearm.

LT B said...

Are you crazy?!  That will cost money to have consistent and repetetive training!  We have diversity conferences to hold and go to.  Proper hug training will be offered on NKO and will be provided at the next diversity meeting. 

UltimaRatioRegis said...


Please stay a long way away from me or ANy of my Marines.  Were you in my command, a statement like yours, "<span>Some sailors and soldiers et al should NEVER be given a weapon.  Ever." would get you immediate relief.  </span>

Your job, first and foremost is to train those in your charge for the furnace of combat.  If you are unwilling or unable to do that, you should leave the service immediately.  In fact, in order to lead by example, it is YOUR JOB to be familiar with each and every weapon your sailors may be required to use.  That means doing some homework, hands-on assembly-disassembly and Q&A sessions with the armorer.  If you don't think it is important, neither will they. Men get killed because of that.

The officers and SNCOs with us in Iraq, Navy and Marine Corps, spent many hours with the M249, M240, M2HB, and Mk19 on the ponchos assembling and disassembling, reviewing clearing stoppages and malfunctions, misfire procedures, etc.  before going to the range. 

The fact that Navy NCOs cannot reliably handle weapons is a leadership failure of the first magnitude.  Indicative of the lack of warfighting focus of the political hacks that occupy senior positions in the US Navy. 

They need to join up with a Marine Corporal and be a part of his fire team to clear a few buildings or assault through a blocked ambush.  Imagine their surprise when they find out that the 20 year old leading the section is a maintenance management NCO or a motor transport mechanic and not an infantryman by MOS. 

Global Force for Good.  Turns my stomach.

UltimaRatioRegis said...


Cops are some of the worst pistol shooters I have ever taught.  And I have taught a lot of people.  (Right Maggie?)

My personal belief is that they teach the sexy reaction shooting stuff without teaching them basic marksmanship, and the results are horrendous.

That is akin to trying to teach someone to hit a curveball without teaching them how to hit.

LT B said...

One of he Senior Officers in my unit is about to do an IA.  I offered to take him on the range to give him some basic, and I mean BASIC firearms training.  I didn't want him to embarrass him, the unit or the Navy when he went to the Army IA training site.  He has hemmed and hawed and been a bit uncomfortable with that idea.  Oh well, silliness, institutional sissidom abounds.  Shame on us for not taking care of the fundamentals!

glab said...

Sal,  You gonna count the Marine in Silent Assurance that sent SAW rounds into Doha International.  General Bolten came out for that one  personally.  The Company CO, a major was visciously irate since 3 of his men were wounded in a bunker in ODS by an idiot Marine putting SAW rounds through their legs in an ND. 

We can compare and contrast if you like.  Stepped out on the fantail at anchor with the change of the watch after eating a fine meal when the new guy took the M60 watch, put his finger on the trigger and pulled.  5 rounds impacting the sea about 5 feet in front of a West Coast MSO.  Looks over at me and asks if it needs to reported and me....., nah, CO is 20 feet away and closing.

Me, "where's the bullet", CPO, "its either in the INMARSAT or the Zodiac.
Me, "why does it smell like someone fired a gun in here?"  "look at the ceiling."

ND are not a joke but seriously, every squadron we deployed had 3 ND one had 4 (2 from the same officer).  You train and you train and you train and still you get guys too stupid to give a gun to.  I had the same thing as a CHENG.  Every single night for months we'd shut down mains and a generator and go over every single aspect of controlling a main space fire, most of them centered on atomization of fuel or lube oil and I get a wake up call at 0300 announcing that we 'had a little problem'.  I trundled off to the forward engine room to find atomized lube oil from one of the generators filling the space with a lethal cloud and nobody had shut it down.  We trained on this, every single damned day with real world reactions, with AFFF shot off, non simulation responses to simulated casualties.

The Marines and the Army exist to train riflemen, (except for the artillery, helo drivers and crewmen, maintenance crews, LAV crews, Cargo types, Parachute landing types, beach landing types, paper pushers and morons nobody would give a weapon to.  They're easy enough to point out.)  Every Marine a rifleman is kind of a sick joke with me.  They are not, have never been and will never be.

Sal, the answer to your question is, I cannot tell you.

Actus Rhesus, note how many are not in fact carrying a weapon on the pointy end.  It is essentially a lack of trust.  I don't know about the NRA but dads qualify any kid to carry a weapon.  Certification.  I snear.  We certified these losers who get into a tussle and fight over downloading and cleaning an armed 50 cal weapon with the result that one E6 is thrown against it by another E6 with the expected result; the weapon fires as long as the guy is thrashing on the spade trigger.

Let me tell you about my FCO experience where I learned of any number of ND of Harpoon missiles.

Guest said...

I agree we have ranges, tons of open ocean, and too much reliance on NKO.  But putting our weapons training in the hands of SEALs, IMHO, is not the right answer.  They might be great at spec ops missions and killing bad guys, but training the average Seaman is not their specialty.  Some people might think it's painful and overly controling, but a Marine style course is what is needed.  You can't argue with the results.

Curtis aka glab said...


You just don't get it.  Simple.

The USMC and the USA weed recruits at Boot Camp that cannot grasp weapon safety and use.  They take them to the range day after day and they say, you do this with the weapon we gave you and you learn robust weapon safety and you carry a weapon till the end of your days in the USMC or AUS.  Simple right?

THE NAVY DOES NOT DO THAT!  They might spend 4 hours on the topic of hand guns or rifles.  IT IS NOT THEIR JOB to be USMC or AUS.

In 26 years of dealing with USMC I was not all that impressed.  The FAST in Bahrain after Khobar left a permanent bad taste.  Idiots and morons, thugs and turds all alike united in making life just as miserable as they possibly could.  Didn't put up with it for a moment.  LCDR at the time, par with the FAST commander and never hesitated to call that miserable shit and tell him when his guys had crossed the line or when he was too stupid to live.  FMF and FMO were in my court.

The NAVY FURNACE OF COMBAT IS WAR AT SEA.  We don't usually close to pistol range anymore before we open fire.  We train people to an entirely different standard than USMC or AUS.

Curtis aka glab said...

Spruance Class Destroyer with SAT/BAF.  Draw weapon from the armory race to station and, in the unlikely event it was not a drill, put a magazine in the weapon and arm it.  CDO rotation differed from crew rotations from time to time.  Found one section was jamming in the magazine, arming the weapon, shouting "halt halt or I shoot" as they raced away from the armory.    This was back when the SEALs in Coronado used to 'aggress' against warships for training.  Didn't much care for SEALS so I figured the after action would be interesting.  I mentioned my misgivings to the XO but he, OPS and Combat Systems Officer were fairly sanguine about the departure from specs in that duty section.  It firmed my resolve to off that ship within 2 minutes of Liberty Call since most of our duty section drills were run after duty hours.  It was kind of a Tailhook prem.  I wasn't there.  I didn't see a thing.  Nobody can prove I was there.  I wasn't there.

Steeljaw said...

My personal belief is that they teach the sexy reaction shooting stuff without teaching them basic marksmanship, and the results are horrendous.  
Which is one of the reasons I'm working on teaching my daughter marksmanship before she gets to the police academy.

cdrsalamander said...

You just don't get it.</span>"


Curtis aka glab said...

Actually, you can in fact argue with the results that wend their way into the service and aren't weeded out at Boot Camp.  Millions of people carry every single day and don't shoot anything that they did not mean to shoot.  ND types are instantly recognizable and only a complete moron would arm them and give them ammo.  I've seen thousands of guys carrying with box cartridges and the answer in a lot of cases is, the box is empty.

Curtis aka glab said...

Upon reflection, I'll just wait.

Wanta hear what I have to say about SEALS I have worked with in the meantime?

UltimaRatioRegis said...


I would wager the Marines were not all that impressed with you, either.  That Navy boot camp doesn't weed out the idiots is the Navy's problem. 

No, Curtis, I don't want to hear what you have to say about any SEALs you worked with.  I would not care to hear from someone who is as ignorant about leadership as to tell a Marine with 28 years of service that you think that the idea of every Marine a rifleman is a joke.  That statement shows me you know next to nothing about what you talk about. 

Marines are warfighters.  They know their jobs as well as their weapons.  They can engage in unarmed combat.  From infantrymen to ejection seat mechanics.  It is what we do and do well.  Don't believe it?  Get your fat a** to Helmand Province and earn your spurs.  Those young Marines are superb.  Brave and skilled. 

Meantime, messages like Sal has posted above tells me your half-trained sailors will never be given responsibility for being adults because of the kind of crap you are telling me here.  Stick to what you know Curtis.  Warfare ain't it.

AW1 Tim said...

I guess this rules out the possibility of sending shore parties to assist American citizens in trouble?

It used to be that there were sailors trained not just with small arms, but with some basic fire team procedures so we had the flexibilty to operate ashore if the need arose.

 Now we have McHale's Navy.

 When I was a lad, I got my first BB gun at 10 years of age. At 12, my team qualified for, and took 2nd place in the State in the Daisy National Competitions.  At 16 I got a Marlin 22, and once my father was confident I wasn't going to injure someone else, he let me use the Remington 12 guage and his Winchester 30-30. 

 I grew up with firearms, and feel comfortable around them. I just cannot imagine how our Navy can reach such a point where sailors, who should also be competent with sidearms and small arms, can present such a dangerous situation.

   Someone needs to tell CNO to stop referring to sailors as "warfighters" and "warriors" unless they really mean it and back it up with training and testing.

   I would also not hesitate to have some serious discussions about this whole situation with the CPO's and the LPO's wh are responsible for these junior sailor's training.  If the men in your division are tasked with standing watch under arms, how can you NOT be involved in their training, to ensure safety and competency with their weapons?


Marvin said...

Good thing the LCS is in the Pacific, or the CO & XO would be standing port&starboard Quarterdeck watches. !;-})

curtis said...

AW1 Tim,

The root of the problem does not lie with the LPO or CPO.  This is an instutional dissonance.   One cannot bark an order to the CPO or LPO demanding that such and such qual with the weapons before an IA in 5 days!  Won't happen.  Can't happen.   Not their fault.  One would hope that ECRC would do something when they show up in country but I worked with them and I'd sooner expect Al Gore to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.  It's hard to suss when you know weapons.  Every gun is loaded.  You always clear it, drop the magazine, check the bore, etc but that's us.  Lot's of people who have little experience assume that if the magazine is out the weapon is unloaded and pull the trigger.  It's a no brainer, see light through the bore and we're clear.

Alen said...

I was in from '93-'98, serving aboard the USS Guam from late '94 on and leaving the service as a 2nd class. Iremember carrying a firearm on POOW about 3 times (with a 3-5 day watch rotationfor 4 years). All of those times happened overseas. I also remember being given my firearm and then having the OOD order me to turn over all of my ammunition to him immediately after assuming the watch. I complied but respectfully told him that I was qualified on the weapon and on the watch and I disagreed with his decision.   

curtis said...



Bite me asshole.

I need to have some 5th Marine officers to advise me on some security issues for a little tiny mission and get two who both tell me that it will now take 5 times as many marines to provide security for a certain location than the USAF guys they relieved while at the same time hauling in a zillion more OPP then first advertised to my Fleet.  Yeah, every marine a rifleman but only 1/5th as good as USAF AP.

FAST in Bahrain were completely worthless.  "Oh dear, the building is under sniper attack, all personnel should leave the building instantly and muster in the front yard in front of the Omani Embassy." 

Nah dude, I worked with Marines a bunch over the last 27 years.   Don't impress me much.

I'll bet your marines could fight a main space fire?  Fire a 5 inch gun?  Fire CIWS in local or Auto?  Drive a ship?  Wrangle a boiler?  Light off?  Shut down?  76mm gun?  Fire control with Mk86?  UNREP from any station?  sweep mines?  fire Harpoons?  fire tomahawks?  do the whole Aegis thing?  how about ballistic missile defense, you good for that too are you?  Saw something about GBADS 10 years ago but little since then.  What did take the place of IHAWK? Know anything about electronic warfare?

Tell you what loser, why don't you describe some of the NAVY jobs that the MARINES are doing for us?

glab said...

Pretty crappy teacher I guess.  You Marine?

Byron said...

You're such a joy to talk to, Curtis. /sarcasm.

Stu said...

 "That Navy boot camp doesn't weed out the idiots is the Navy's problem."

Boy, isn't that the truth. 

YNSN said...

Cdr, Sir, I almost posted on this last night.  But, didn't. I didn't cause that Navy Times artilce hits a little too close to home.


Look at where two of the Commands mentioned in the article are:  The Yards.  One of those ships has been in the yards for a VERY long time. 
When you're in the yards you might as well be standing duty in some foreign port far from CONUS.  At best 4 section duty and at worst port and stbd duty, with all the working parties, tiger teams, and everything else that comes with being in the yards. 

Weapons quals are not the biggest issue here.  It is still a major issue.  But, not the cause of the problem here.  Not from what I've expierenced with three yards periods in my four years active. 

2nd FLEET came aboard my old ship one day when we were in the yards.  Looked at RADM, and said, 'the majority of your personnel are not qualified for SAT/BAF.  Take them off the team.'  I was the one of the lucky few who was qualified.  I ended up port/stbd 48 on and 48 off SAT/BAF.  It took two months to get off of that schedule and go to THREE sections, and another month to get to four.  This happened just after POM leave from my first cruise.   Talk about soul crushing.

Commands and more precisely the Chief's Mess are being faced with challeneges like these.  Sailors who are doing little else besides standing watch. 

Second Fleet seems real quick to come and do ATFP inspections of ships.  But, I have never heard of them also seeing how they could augment these commands outside of NOB to take some of the watch standing burden off of ships in the yards. 

Is it all 2nd Fleet... No.  Is it all the Command/Chief's Mess... No.  Is it all the Sailor standing behind the M240... No. 

It is a systemic failure from the top down as well as the bottom up, and it will take fixing the entirety of the system.  This is becoming the norm in my Navy and I 'effing hate it.

YNSN said...


Have you recently served with the Army? 

I've got E4s that as ME, a SAILOR to clean their weapon.  Because they a SOLDIER have NEVER cleaned a weapon. 

The Navy isn't perfect with weapons training, there is a lot that could be improved if we can find the time/money to devote to more training.  But, the Army does not exactly weed anyone out either.

Curtis said...


cdrsalamander said...

Curtis - dial it down.  Everyone else too.  Go to your corners and focus your attention off my front porch - you're spitting pork rinds all over Kristen's Many Janes.

Byron said...

Might want to watch your blood pressure, Curtis, sounds like you're about to stroke out. No, I don't build billion dollar warships. Yes, I fix aforementioned ships. Yes, I and my team mates work very hard to make our customer pleased with our work and to get it done on time. Ask YNSN, his ship got worked on by our folks in VA.

As far as the cuss words and descriptions such as "sandcrab", I consider the source. After doing so, I yawned.

Curtis said...


You encouraged it.

Sparticus said...

Curtis, you better get back on your meds before your diaper gets soiled again.

Curtis said...


was there once.  Welcome home LT you are one of 2 officers qualified under the former regime as CDO you will qualify again in our unique 13 duty section to replace the port and starboard CDO in our 13 officer wardroom.  "I thought not."  I'd rather enjoy 13 section duty UI to port and starboard.  Felt a little sorry for the juniors.  Merten and Sapp.

Curtis said...

No it isn't.  It's not our role.  Maritime from a boat, sure.  Ocean surveillance and security, sure.  Port Security, sure.  Giving any other sailor a gun is madness without giving them the requisite training with marine gunny on the range instructing them.

Curtis said...

Some take sides based on experience and the rest of us play by your rules. 

Sorry about that.

I agreed to play by your rules. so mote it be.

Mark1Mod0Squid said...

<p><span> Curtis........You always clear it, drop the magazine, check the bore, etc but that's us.  Lot's of people who have little experience assume that if the magazine is out the weapon is unloaded and pull the trigger.  </span>
</p><p>Your grasp of the order in which a weapon is cleared scares me.
</p><p><span>'s a no brainer, see light through the bore and we're clear.</span>
</p><p>You also show a complete lack of how to safe. clear, or load an M240B, belt fed and all, firing on an open bolt and such............

ewok40k said...

If someone cannot be trusted with a handgun, how can be he/she trusted with howitzer, missile or tank?
Anyone getting into ARMED forces should be told in the first interview, that he/she will be taught in the personal weapon shooting and maintenance. With a lecture of the relevant history episodes whether army rear troops in the Bulge, downed pilots in the many wars or Navy personnel in the brown waters of 'Nam.

AW1 Tim said...

But the training shouldn't have to be done 5 days before the inspection. It ought to be done continuously, and harped on until the men can recite it in their sleep.

  It's still a warship, and those onboard ought to be conversant in the sorts of things that they might be called upon to do.


C-dore 14 said...

To quote MM1 Jake Holman (from the movie, not the book), "What the Hell happened?"  Back in the day of the SAT, BAF, and RF, pretty much everyone aboard was at least familiarized with the three weapons they could use for ship's defense.  Heck, I was even required to have a qualified range master and a Navy-approved firing range aboard my FF.  One would think that more attention would have been focused on this area since 9/11.  Sure, there were "accidental discharges" in the Force from time to time (only one happened aboard my first 5 ships) and most involved violation of safety precautions that resulted in putting a round into the overhead.  You can't legislate against stupidity.

However, what disturbs me is RADM Thomas' "sledgehammer response" to a real and potentially lethal issue.  I can only imagine what havoc this directive caused to watch bill coordinators and senior watch officers throughout the force.  A cursory reading of the "Navy Times" article leads me to conclude that the problem lies with the training and supervision of M240B MG teams.  Perhaps the Surface Force would be better off (and safer) had effort been focused in this area.

But then, wasn't RADM Thomas the same guy who went "high order" over the picture in the Chief's Mess?

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Sometimes it's safer to be the Badger UNDER the front porch.

Curtis said...

No No.

No round in the barrel, none in the feed, weapon is safe.  How hard is that?  GO AHEAD AND PULL THE TRIGGER.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

URR, speaking as a Badger, I would say that it isn't so much not being taught the proper safty rules, as the people forgetting them, or not caring.  To the average police officer, the sidearm is just another thing on the bat belt. Since it is very rare to actually have to use it, it tends to get ignored.  That is one of the biggest reasons that the GLOCK has taken over the role of the standard issue weapon for most PDs. It is simple enough that you could train a chimp to use one,  and  the 9mm/40 are light enough recoil that they don't frighten the unused. The single action striker fired action is easily learned, as you only need to learn one trigger pull. 

  But this leads to problems as well,  that same trigger that makes it easy to learn has no real safety to it, and many, if not most ND in law enforcement are from people putting thier fingers inside of the trigger guards of GLOCKs when they shouldn't.  Yes, they are told not to, but people are people. 

   Another problem that many in Law Enforcement won't even admit is a problem is the proliferance of the TASER. Too many people now believe that ,"I have a magic TASER, I won't really need the sidearm".  So they don't bother with practicing anymore.

   But probably the biggest reason is that shooting takes time from leisure activities.  Most peeople, if given the choice in November, of sitting in a warm living room, drinking beer, snarfing down snack foods, and watching the Packers play the Vikings, or going out in the 40 degree rain to shoot, will stay inside thank you.

  Mind you, I myself carry a HK USP45F, and bought a S&W M&P 15-22, Smith & Wesson's .22lr AR-15, so practicing with an AR doesn't cost so much. 

YNSN said...

Know what? 

Screw it.  Bring back the MARDETs.  Problem solved...

UltimaRatioRegis said...


My Marines know how to fight.  So do I. 

The opinion of someone who doesn't matters not at all.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

My Marines know how to fight.  So do I.   
The opinion of someone who doesn't?  Matters not at all.</span>

Andrewdb said...

Scott - how do you like the HK? 

With all the plastic, mine isn't heavy enough to feel like I am controlling the kick.  I prefer a basic 1911.  Even the service issue variety seems heavy enough to control, although my post-smith'd SA 1911 has a tighter group (or so I am told, I am sure my low scores have nothing to do with my skills and must be an equipment failure!)

Curtis said...


Where's that Marine contribution to Navy missions you all cross trained on?  You're guys standing watch on the bridge, CIC, Main Control etc.

C-dore 14 said...

YNSN, Be careful what you wish for.  One of the accidental discharges I remember from some time ago involved a MARDET guy playing "quick draw" and shooting his relief. 

UltimaRatioRegis said...

What on earth does that have to do with being proficient in the small arms and crew served weapons you will be expected to use?

When was the last time you walked a combat foot patrol?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

True enough, Scott, the matter comes down, as it does in the military, to discipline.  Which also drives the desire to learn as much about your weapon as possible. 

One caviat to my comments here regarding police proficiency with the sidearm is that the small-town cops who literally never have to unholster the weapon for years at a time in the line of duty are indeed the worst.  The ones who do?  Our state police, and police in towns with violence/gang/drug problems?  They are serious.  And they are good. 

Problem when you apply the same reasoning to military service is that people tend to underestimate how impoirtant such skills may be to them in a hell of a hurry.  See: Jessica Lynch convoy.

Mike M. said...

All too true.  My grandfather's copy of the Bluejacket's Manual (1943 edition) had a whole section on small arms - and another on small unit tactics ashore.

And it always seemed to me that you can't engender much of a martial mindset without frequent practice - including small arms.

Curtis said...

Why 22 minutes ago I snuck up on Main Control and held them at gunpoint [m240] while using my frequency hopping radio to call for fire to kill the men there because that is what I trained to do.  You seriously don't understand.

and no sense of humor at all.

Curtis said...

Like just exactly how?  No feed, no bullet no ND.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Ah, me.......(sigh):

RANT ON:  Anyone too stupid and irresponsible to qualify for armed watchstanding is too stupid and irresponsible to serve on active duty.  Process for discharge on grounds of unsuitability.

If already qualified and screws up, fine, bust, restrict and retrain. Screws up and kills somebody, general court martial; hurts somebody, special courtmartial. Screws up twice, process for discharge on grounds of unsuitability.

Any officer too stupid and irresponsible to process an individual so handicapped promptly,  needs their butt chewed first offense, cashiered second offense.

Small arms safety is simple and clear, once trained, it's fairly easy.  Not like operating a small boat as a shuttle from ship"s anchorage off a crowded harbor. at night, in a high wind and a rainstorm: or trouble shooting a piece of electronics in rough seas with live high voltage in close proximity; or discovering and taking immediate actions on a fuel fire in an engineering space. We expect these things done properly by third class PO's all the time, or did in my day.

Training none too bright (and worse, extremely bright) 17 year olds to do difficult and potentially lethal things safely and reliably is an integral part of THE JOB. Small arms are not special, just important. Besides, it's your relief and successor you are training.

It is not easy and it is not for the faint of heart. Iron and humane discipline is essential. 

If you don't care to do so, you don't rate a crow or a pair of Khaki pants. If it was easy, TV weatherbabes and sports bozos would do it.  You wanted a grown up's blue suit, the job comes with it. Locking up anything that could be improperly operated and hurt somebody, so the new kids can't learn to use it right,  isn't leadership. It's CYA.

In my day, I would no more use a Marine for on board security on a ship of mine than I would use his tooth brush. Not because Maines couldn't.  Because they shouldn't, the practice shortchanges the the training and experience of up and coming sailors. They need more responsibility, not less.


Mike M. said...

Very, very true.  Shooting is like any other martial art...or dance, for that matter.  You have to master the fundamentals before you try anything fancy.

And the fundamentals take patient, thorough practice.

Curtis said...

You show a shallow understanding of the way things work grasshopper.  Once the FAST deployed the Admiral used to ask and make sure that the Adults understood the way things worked with Marine FAST and idiot SEAL teams we let ashore.  You'd purely be amazed the contempt both were held in.  Trust them for mayhem and lunacy.  No, we had your number.  

fighting was something we sometimes really really really did not want.  Like in Port Calls.  didn't marines run away from aqaba and cover themselves in glory?  you were probably there though and can bear witness to the bravery of the marines that bravely ran away.

From time to time I worked with the bravest people on earth.  They were USMC to the core.  We are blessed beyond measure to find their like volunteering again and again.

URR, i'm not a marine hater.  you got the best people on the planet on your team.

Curtis said...

Well Grandpa, let me tell you how it was in the day on a nuclear armed ship.  There simply was not enough ammo to train the  SAT/BAF and RF with more than one magazine of .45 or 5 rounds from a 12 gauge shotgun annually.  Feeling a warm secure feeling now?  Our mobile units got to shoot one course of fire annually using shot thru weapons that had been passed around for decades.

Curtis said...

Yeah, here in San Deigo the cops average 49 holes per branch or trowel waver.  OTOH, they took down an M60 tank!

Southern Air Pirate said...

There use to be a time up to the 50's that every ship smaller then a CA (of which was the smallest ship to have a MarDet) would form a landing force with their sailors, and even the larger ships the sailors would still train to be a landing force since between the landing force and the MarDet they would form at least two platoons of men. All of whom would be trained in the usage of weapons from the simple S&W revolvers (such as the M1909 or M1917) up to the BAR. There use to be a whole chapter dedicated in the Bluejackets manual on proper firearm usage, the four rules of firearm safety as dictated by Jeff Cooper, and how to field strip in proper order such weapons as the M1909, M1911, M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, Remington 870 or Winchester M12, BAR, M1919 .30 cal machine gun. There was also a whole chapter dedicated to basic infantry tactics that a sailor should know when formed up as a landing force. Such things as how to scout, how the march properly with a basic kit, how to set up/avoid ambushes, and how to defend a point. All of this was cause of the need at the time for sailors to go ashore and rescue "American Interests" in places away from where the main line might be. See for example the Yangtze Patrol, Vera Cruz in 1914, various times in the 46 years the Philippines was a US territory to suppress the Moro's, etc. Since the end of World War 2 the US Sailor has slowly yielded that need to be a solider ashore to the "professionals" of the Marines and Army. Yet, we are still having sailors do such things as preforming VBSS, UDP and forward deployed airdales who are operating in injun country, Joint staff HQ tours on the forward edge of a combat zone, and anywhere that a need to properly handle a firearm is needed. The training needs to be bumped up. It needs to be moved beyond just two learning periods in boot camp. Make it a requirement like with the Marines that to graduate boot camp a sailor needs to pass the M9 with Marksman at a minimum and the M16 if they want to be a superstar sailor. Then every year the sailor has to requalify with marksman at a minimum. Maybe thrown in some pro pay for those folks who pull off expert with such weapons as the M16 or M14. It also being dependant on them being able to requal at that level every year. If the sailor doesn't requal at marksman level, then they will need to spend time on thier own time to raise thier training. Just like one has with the PRT program. What is also said is the CMP says that servicemembers are part of a marksmanship program and sell at discounted prices .22 rifles and ammo that is perfect to go and pratice with. No one knows about it in the fleet.

Southern Air Pirate said...

Oh and CDR, I would suggest you take a look at NKO. Last time I had to get qualified that is where I had to recieve my initial safety training on how to properly handle both the M9 and Mossburg M500 12 guage. I couldn't complete the shooting part until I passed the online course and you had to score 100 to pass. Sailors being sailors, someone "cheated" and purposely failed the test to learn all the answers from the test bank. I had pride on doing it right and still failed a few times mainly trying to remember the various conditions that we carried in and some of the more obscure names for components of both firearms.

Andrewdb said...

URR - can I hit "Like" twice?  That Transport Co. was the first thing I thought of when reading this piece.  Annual re-quals for police departments just isn't often enough (I leave as an exercise to the reader whether that has lessons for the Armed Services). 

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I quite like mine.  I have both the USP9F, and the USP45F.  I also have a Colt MK IV/Series 70 that I bought in 1982.  LOL, I remember taking it home from the Gunrunner's in Sun Prairie, at the horrendous cost, at least to a 20 year old, of $250.00.    They are light, but I think it's like most things, it's a matter of acclimation. 

Stu said...

I'm fairly confident in state that we don't weed out idiots in boot camp and that such is our problem. 

As to the specific topic, we'd get much more benefit giving all of our potential Sailors a rifle and actually taught then to use it in boot than we do from that ridiculous Battlestations crap that is part of our intoxication with everything "high tech."  Teach a kid to operate, maintain and respect a weapon and you have prepared him for much more professionally and personally and he won't look like an idiot when actually given a weapon.  

Stu said...

<span>I'm fairly confident in stating that we don't weed out idiots in boot camp and that such is our problem.   
As to the specific topic, we'd get much more benefit giving all of our potential Sailors a rifle to lug around while in boot, to include actually teaching them to use it, than we do from that ridiculous Battlestations crap that is part of our intoxication with everything "high tech."  Teach a kid to operate, maintain and respect a weapon and you have prepared him for much more professionally and personally and he won't look like an idiot when actually given a weapon in an official capacity.  </span>

Anonymous said...

well let's face it - the Navy is not , and has never been, geared toward the kind of land-locked hands off namby pamby nation building "mission" that we are currently deluding ourselves as a nation that is "vital" to achieve.

we are  and will always be a maritime power - Once the realities of peak oil become apparent the powers that be - who are currently delusional and think the USA can continue to fulfill  its traditional post 1945 role ad infinitum - will get a clue as to our limits/ If they do NOT - then we are heading to the same fate as the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Southern Air Pirate said...

Oh, nice history epic fail here my friend. The Austro-Hungarian empire failed and collapsed due to its inability to get about thirty plus minorities to live in harmony. That there were three major empires all on the outside of it using state sponsorship of thier ethnic minorities to upset the empire (Germany, Ottoman, Russia), There was also the radicalism element that conventially saw the powderkeg that was the empire, and finally were dragged into a larger general conflict by thier neighbor to the north Imperial Germany due to some seriously bad politicking by the leadership.

Ultimately though I fail to see how this example and your minor rant about enviromentalism applies to the inability of sailors handle firearms properly. Also the US Navy and Marine Corps team has done nation building through out its history. The first mission of the US Navy was to create the nation of the United States of America. After that it was to rebuild and re-establish a friendly nation of Tripoli, Nation building was done in Mexico, Rebuild the Nation of the United States after that minor little temper tamtrum the folks south of the Mason-Dixon line threw for three years, Philippines, etc.

So for your epic failure in history, I award you the triple face palm sir.

Grandpa Bluewater said...


How was it on a nuclear armed ship?  Never was on any other kind, well, nuclear weapon magazine equipped, anyway. 7 for 7.

We got ammo by "destroying" "unfit for combat" army rounds through our naval  Army Ammunition destroying devices (M1911a1 and M1, later M14), exploiting the differences between the Army's ammo management criteria and the Navy's. Nobody in the Navy said we couldn't teach the fundamentals with it, and we didn't ask the Navy (some silly staffie might say no). Low level joint liaison is a wonderful thing.

We also trained our Chiefs as range masters and range safety officers. We big dealed a bus from the base motor pool with a little judiciously applied cumshaw and got USN drivers licenses (and training) for volunteer PO's by the same method.  

We drilled daily by duty section and weekly with all hands and critiqued the results for basic tactics and weapons safety.

We innovated. On one ship we got some paint ball guns, goggles and coveralls and ran the duty section through simulated attacks on Sunday....Church call in the chapel, war game on the signal bridge, signal storeroom and secondary conn, uninvolved crew stand clear.  We built our own aggressor force/"drill monitors".  

We trained to defend our ship. Hard. Every day. With very clear, close held safety protocols so they couldn't be used against us. We did our duty and did it out of sight...and we had fun doing it. Never had any trouble on an NTPI or with a staff, either.

None of which has anything to do with the fidelity, zeal, and obedience of the nonrated and junior PO sailors. We set our expectations high, make sure they knew the hazards, punished irresponsibility in small things quickly and firmly, and told them small arms proficiency, safety and responsibility were a part of the job that they needed to be good at. Because it was and STILL IS.

The kids got to be good, and they knew it. . They were defending THEIR ship. They did us proud. We made sure they knew we were proud of them. We took our duties and responsibilities seriously, and so did our sailors. Contagious stuff, that.  

IN SUMMARY: "Practice daily with the guns." You know, like in 1812.

Landing party stuff, I got nothin. Never needed to. Cross our lifelines with evil in your heart, dead man walking. The rest was the base's responsibility.

I guess my main point is good subordinates are a gift from a loving God, but the good Lord expects you to plant, feed, cultivate, and weed your own.

C-dore 14 said...

Grandpa, Good post and that's the same way we did it on the 5 "nuclear capable" ships I served in.  Sure, it could be difficult to get .45 cal ball ammunition but never had a problem with shotgun or M-1/M-14 ammunition.  Even finagled enough .45 to get my guard force guys over to a real range to shoot for quals.  I also don't remember the NWTG or DNSI guys being very sympathetic to the "I couldn't get enough ammo to train" excuse.

C-dore 14 said...

Badger, Lots of handwringing up here in the People's Republic of Seattle about TASERS right now.  Two deaths resulted in the past week up here from them.  Of course we're still waiting for the toxicology reports on the deceased.  I

Curtis said...


I could not say.  Neither confirm nor deny.  SAT and BAF, key holders, PRP stuff like that.  Serious business when the PRP rover holds a gun to the head of the EOOW just for giggles one night.  I was in Weps but fire control not guns.  Guns was losers.  M60 that fired single shot once one recocked it. Pistols without the recoil spring.  50's that didn't fire.  Only reason the main weapons fired was that pro's were involved in tramming them, aligning them, boresighting them, arranging with NAB to calibrate them and doing SHOBA at San Clemente. Still after 9 months in shipyard MT 51 had a misfire, not a hot gun.  Still, those idiots could not make it work.  The other idiots in guns were putting M60s back together again without consideration for proper assembly.  It was the Harry W. Hill in the mid 80's and it was rather dismal. We have different perspectives on the matter based on different perspectives.  Some were very good and some were the kind that put cruisers on a reef during a simple boat transfer.   Your mileage may differ.

Curtis said...

sheesh.  Our SAT/BAF got to fire one full .45 magazine and 5 shotgun rounds annually to stay qualified for SAT/BAF.  That's it.  That's all the DESRON and SURFPAC and CINCPACFLT authorized.  Didn't have to hit anything but the sea or ground.  Targets were optional.

Curtis said...

This is the mid 80's.  Congress was not approving anymore purchase of .45 ammo since they had selected the 9mm.  We had .45 because the powers that be chose to ignore Congress.  We got, no shit, 5 rounds a year to qualify watchstanders in PACFLT.

The only people that shot at me more than marines were SEALS.  Not a fan of either.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I think TASERs are very overrated. I have seen dash cam tape of a man on PCBs shake off a TASER hit. TASER syas, "yeah, but that was an early TASER, the modern ones never fail."  I remain cynical about that.

I also don't like that an officer with a TASER might reach for the TASER when he should be reaching for his sidearm.  Hesitation can get you killed, or hurt real bad, and then you don't help anyone.

I shall continue to prefer FOX brand pepper spray as my less than lethal weapon of choice. It is 6 million Scoville Heat Units strong. It rather stings, shall we say.

Curtis said...

The navy I joined in 84 had an ironclad rule.  Never give a sailor a gun.  It was set in concrete that did not change until ODS.  As far as I know, the last navy ship attacked in port, other than Cole, was the Amphibs in Aqaba.  In neither case would armed sailors have made a difference.  I'm happy to debate the topic but in the case of the Cole, the boat never demonstrated hostile intent.  Rockets were used against the ships in Aqaba.  I spent years on a ship that did not have a single weapon on the quarterdeck.  The skipper thought it was insane to put hazard in play for no reason and based on what the naval safety center said about the whole knife incident, well reasoned in my opinion.

ewok40k said...

If any empire is likely to draw comparisons it is the British one. Though difference of the size of homeland is enormous and even retiring to the own continent US will be a very powerful state.
2 major examples of early post colonial nation building are Cuba and Phillipines. While Cuba after series of dictators ended up even worse as communist state, Phillipines are doing not bad - they are not Singapore or Taiwan, but neither Burma or Vietnam.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see anyone without at least a 9 mm

stem said...

Really interesting comments.  From my little perch, I wonder aloud if there isn't another underlying reason for some of these accidental discharges - I submit this for consideration.  There still are old goats like me around who actually GREW UP handling firearms - shot my first shotgun at age 6 and was hooked.  Been hunting and shooting for almost 47 years since then and firearm safety, whether it involves a firearm from my collection or a military M240B, is second nature.  Training is critical but if folks don't handle firearms on a regular basis, folks tend to forget 'things'.  My unscientific poll of the USN folks I work with indicates that fewer and fewer recruits have never fired a shot prior to enlisting or entering officer training.  Me thinks that far more of our Marine and Army brothers and sisters possess basic firearm familiarity before entering the service and are both more comfortable and less curious about weapons than our sailors and officers.  Food for thought - take it or leave it.

Andrewdb said...

Scott -

The recent BART cop case out of Oakland, CA was the transit policeman reaching for his TASER, but pulling and shooting his firearm, or so he said and the jury appartently believed him.

Andrewdb said...

Curtis - if I remember correctly, that tank got hung up on the freeway median, and the Highway Patrolman opened the hatch from the outside and shot him. 

A good buddy of mine was the Gov's rep in town when that happened (Pete Wilson was from San Diego).  Talk about "not a good day"!

BostonMaggie said...

It is true, I learned to shoot with URR as my tutor.  As opposed to my one other experience at a range where men offered to teach simply as an excuse to touch me, lol.

URR is a very capable teacher and any Sailor would be lucky to have him as an instructor.

My BMCS is taking care of NMCB21 over in Afghanistan and no other group of SeaBees will be better trained.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

You make a good point, and it is indeed a factor. 

Andrewdb said...

Maggie - an USAF rangemaster once told me that the easiest students to teach shooting to were women - they apparently don't have an ego about already knowing all about guns!

BostonMaggie said...

This is the second time I have held a weapon.  The first time I had a guy standing behind me holding my hands and my eyes were closed.  None of that from URR.  He made me hold my own and there were little lectures.  It was like being back with the nuns.

This is my target.

I guess he would have to be pretty good to take me from hitting the ceiling to this, huh?  But if you want to credit me because I am a woman.....that's fine with me!

UltimaRatioRegis said...

"For the female of the species is more deadly than the male"....

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Women, as a whole, make good shots, as they tend to have better eye hand coordination.  Well Done Mighty Maggie!

Andrewdb said...

It's not a target, but I do like the muzzle blast on this one.

DG said...

This is 100% a training problem. The Navy has de-emphasized weapons training for way too long. I understand why - so many rates will never touch a firearm, its not in the job description, right? Well, that all works until it does, until the day when you need to stand a watch, take over a crew served weapon, defend your ship or unit.

One side issue is that its a heck of a lot easier to make PO3 than it is to become a Marine CPL. We need to reverse that, or else go the Army/AF route and make E4 a super E1/E2/E3 and not a junior NCO/PO.

DG said...

<span>This is 100% a training problem. The Navy has de-emphasized weapons training for way too long. I understand why - so many rates will never touch a firearm, its not in the job description, right? Well, that all works until it doesn't, until the day when you need to stand a watch, take over a crew served weapon, defend your ship or unit.  
One side issue is that its a heck of a lot easier to make PO3 than it is to become a Marine CPL. We need to reverse that, or else go the Army/AF route and make E4 a super E1/E2/E3 and not a junior NCO/PO.</span>

Curtis said...

Had so much fun tracking a zodiac full of SEALs one night attempting to infiltrate an LPD astern of us at the pier with a 14" carbon arc searchlight.  We notified everybody in the book of a potential threat from Base Security to the FBI and were told, 'no worries, it's not drill, we're all over this' followed by a call half an hour later asking that we douse the light and cease tracking the zodiac with the light because it was just a drill.

we never intended to let them over the lifelines.  they were going to die trying.  these weren't even formal Red Cell events.  This was just an attitude run wild at NSWG1 and BUDS.  Didn't work with some.

Used to hear from friends about the Zulu5Oscars at Norfolk and pizza delivery and crap.  Obviously not nuclear ships because our attitude was somewhat different.  Hostile penetration of any kind was met by deadly force and nobody could stop an engagement once it went sour. 

Only a complete fracking idiot would try something like that for "training".