Tuesday, January 08, 2013

OK, E7s and above it is then


Chief's Mess.


When I was just a clueless 4/C MIDN, I knew that the senior enlisted who wore officer's uniform were a special lot.

As I progressed, I knew that some were more special than others, and that there was a difference between a Chief and an E7 - but I also grew to admire what our Navy had created with their Senior NCOs.

"Chief, just make it happen." Never were there more powerful words, and never did that fail me in my decades in the Navy.

"The Chiefs' Mess will take care of this." That was exceptionally true ... but started to weaken in the mid-late 1990s some; but still was and is true.

I guess the change coming now is not shocking. Because a few idiots went too far, in the finest traditions of self-loathing, we are again going for the mindless anti-intellectualism of group punishment couched in therapeutic phrases and SOC101speak. There is more to it than that.

There is a larger culture war that is pushing against any type of meritocracy. The "everyone gets a trophy" attitude has met the mindset of "softly, softly, softly." Not hurting anyone's feelings, judging "hurt" by the lowest common denominator, is the most important. Things martial are aggressive, are too male ... so are bad. It must go, and as we are wiser than others - our new dialectic construct must take its place.

This is not taking place in isolation. We can see additional shadows of this mindset in our selection boards. A decade of war, and our boards are run like it is SEP 10, 2001. IAs and combat deployments do not matter as much as the right staff job and the right gate jumping. They just don't. Even a decade of war has not brought a change in our Millington-DC diktat. Heck, the argument could be made that some of those at the highest levels of the officer and enlisted side of the house do not reflect the reality of a decade of war - or at least rewarding it. Check the bios yourself.

Back to the Chief's Mess.

Bullies haze. Hazing is bad. If you make me feel like I am not entitled to be just as good as you at all times, you are a bully. I am hazed. You are a bully. You are bad.

Yes, there were some over the top things in the past - but as part of a larger effort, over the top has been defined down to almost nothing.

There has been a concerted effort to degrade the mystique of the Chief's Mess, why I still do not know. The socio-political philosophy behind this effort, and others like it, are deeply rooted in Marxist and deconstructionist theory - but that is what you get when you polute your staffs with those with that academic training. More GS and SES than operators.

We saw the move in the slap to the face that was the "black and tan" uniform for E-6 and below. It made in one sweep, "putting on khaki" when you made Chief just that less unique and special.

Yes, our sister services do not make that big of a distinction as we do - but who cares. I always thought that it was right and good the special way we treated our E7-9.

But again, I guess perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps we do need to let that go. Perhaps it should just be more E-7 and less Chief. Perhaps I am wrong. I am willing to accept that; but I am not wrong.

We will still have a Chief's Mess. Chiefs will still be Chiefs - but visuals and mystique matter in a martial organization.

When you move the Chief closer to the E6 and further from the CWO/LDO, you weaken the brand. You degrade their authority ... and heck, you are just plain weakening one of your best cornerstones to your culture.

If there are no-kidding, real, harmful abusive things that take/took place at CPO Induction - then hold those people responsible, but don't throw it away. 

In a way, this sounds like what they are trying to do, but not really. This is intentional, this is "transformational" - and it is what it is.

Oh, well. So much for my ideas.

Chiefs, this is your culture, this is your Mess. This is your Navy. Silence is approval. You lost the khaki, now you have lost Induction (nee Initiation). What is next?  Does it really matter? Is this better?

I think good people can argue both sides of this, but here it is.

Your battle, but don't complain that we get to a point down the road that no one respects "The Chief" quite the way they used to; an E7 is just one block up from E6, right?
Not only that, Stevens has eliminated all use of “chief petty officer induction,” the term used to describe the lead-up to promotion.

“‘Induction’ is hereby officially and respectfully sundowned,” Stevens said in the message.

In its place, Stevens said, is the yearlong CPO 365 professional program introduced by his predecessor, MCPON (SS/SW) Rick West. The goal of CPO 365 is to prepare first classes to assume the role of the chief on the deck plates. It’s not about initiations or anything that could approach hazing.
Like many long-standing traditions, it’s gotten an even closer look in recent years as the culture of the Navy and the nation have gradually changed.

That churn and scrutiny were often spurred by negative events, such as the 1991 Tailhook convention, where bawdy behavior and hazinglike events ended the careers of many.
Stevens stressed that his changes were “natural and evolutionary,” and were not an indictment that all sailors were misbehaving.

“I knew two years ago that this was the direction we were heading,” Stevens said. “It just so happens that on my watch [as MCPON], the next step in this evolutionary process needed to take place.”

Each of the last four MCPONs, Stevens said, gradually changed the philosophy and intent of the process from a largely fraternal event to a professionally focused one..


Anonymous said...

My view is that the Navy cannot have two officer corps, and that is what was evolving.

We should professionalize the E-8 and E-9 s and make them warrants, with a normal progression to commission for those talented.

LongTabSigO said...

A warrant officer IS commissioned now.

Concur on the two (really three) officer corps (counting the aforementioned Warrants).

LongTabSigO said...

A warrant officer IS commissioned now.

Concur on the two (really three) officer corps (counting the aforementioned Warrants).

Anonymous said...

The talented do not want a commission.

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Justthisguy said...

Even as a 100% lifelong civilian, I deplore this kind of thing. Traditions count. Oh, and don't get me started on what Those People (as Lee called them) have done to The Church.

Please restore and preserve the sanctity of The Goat Locker.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. I had occasion to be at a VA clinic on Monday, with a veteran friend. While we were standing outside smoking among the old Vets, somebody broached the possibility of a Military Coup to restore the Constitution. The problem was, nobody could think of anyone O-7 or above who is fit to play Caesar.

Anonymous said...

Honestly - I watched the CPO induction process from the outside, all it did was diminish my respect for CPOs as a group. That and admonishing subordinates for walking on the wrong side of the street (even though that was the safest side because it had a sidewalk) because that's "Chiefs Country". Time to dump the click and start acting like professionals.

Anonymous said...

That's what the commies in washington think!

Anonymous said...

I was initiated in 1990 and it was nothing more than a good-natured hazing. There were no lessons to be learned, no deep meaningful, thought provoking questions answered. It was more a celebration, a welcoming to the club. I've seen good Messes and I have seen bad, and it has always been because of the people in the mess. If they worked together, the command as a whole was better. If they didn't then the command was fractured and had the every man for them self attitude. Chiefs were meant to be technical professionals. The very best leaders in their respective rates. But with being required to have Warfare Specialty's and College credits, the technical side has been lost on the Chief leadership. Don't get me wrong, their are still plenty of technical CPO's out in the fleet. Good men and women who are all about serving the command and their troops. But the ones that seem to get promoted to E-8/9 are the ones who tend to stop worrying about the troops and start worrying about what they need to make the next rank. Stop requiring college and the extra warfare quals and start promoting sailors that are all about grooming the sailors below them. If those sailors want to become Officers "fine". Show them the ways they can proceed and help them acquire their goal. If they want to become Chiefs, then do the very same thing. But stop making sailors who will never want to be an Officer, waste time on things such as college and warfare specialties, and make them learn how to lead. I've always felt that our community has been taken over by Wanna Be Officers. Who would you rather have, a guy who stays late trying to learn how to work on a piece of gear for the ship, or someone who is leaving the ship early everyday because he has class for his bachelors degree? I'll take the sailor who stays late every day. Because a 3rd class with a degree doesn't really make a difference when it comes down to who is cleaning the head now does it. Feel free to "Tee Off" on my comments all you want. It's a free country after all, or at least it is right now!

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