Thursday, March 21, 2013

CIMSEC Ask the Right Question

The answer is a bit more complicated than 42. Asks Jason;
... where is the sailorbob or cdrsalamader ‘site on the high side? Given the requirement to keep much of our tactical discussion away from prying eyes, how easy has the Navy made it for the average watchstander to find high-side sites where tactics are routinely and robustly discussed?
Reminds me of the Great Loss of '92 when the PC police took away the Esoteric Book of Gouge. You know, the green-cloth covered watch-book written in the blood of years of upgraders/non-quals - boiling down piles of hard to get information in pubs with lessons learned and the most tricky oral board issues to one easily accessible package - where you could revise and improve the gouge as needed.

The PQS sadists always hated it - but the Gods of JOPA always protected it ... until ... some hinge of a fun-sponge post-Tailhook also realized that it had some of the better liberty gossip and "observations" about certain unevaluated "qualifications" and "specialties" some people had and how they could be procured. So, one day the XO took it and that was that.

Well ... that was about the only written TS forum I can think of that was close to what CIMSEC is asking for ... and it was on deadtree. The question is; does the Navy have the culture, infrastructure and hours in the day for their to be something new mediaish on the high side? I don't think so, for a variety of reasons.

I think a SB or CDRS in RED or ORANGE networks would, unless given proper the top cover, quickly die once the wrong person got butthurt because LTJG Upstart put out a scathing POSTEX about VADM Insecure's favorite program/theory that he just published that LT Nevergetscredit ghost wrote for him, and VADM Insecure called RDML Paranoid - the ISIC of CDR Needtofeedfivekids - the CO of USS COLDIRON - who was informed in no uncertain terms that the COLDIRON's wardroom needed to shut up and cover ... and then ... "Delete that post, ban that user, get me the number of the administrator's boss ... etc ... etc."

We talked about just that problem on the last Midrats with a Naval War College professor. That issue is very real.

While a lot of people know who SB-actual is, and a smaller number who CDRS-actual is - they are separate from DoN and their personalities are somewhat prickly and hard to eradicate. SB has a degree of separation from some of the ideas on his forum, and when on active duty - only two people knew who CDRS-actual was - so no real direct threats.  Govt. owned, govt hosted, and subject to all that means? A bit hard to duplicate.

Perhaps that isn't fair. Perhaps it is. Perhaps that is why the anon side of the web works - people can share with some protection if they trust the venue. SB has its own culture (stab, stab, twist, stab ..... just kidding, I kid because I love) and my little front porch has its own too. People know that their identity and confidentiality is safe with me. I only post 10% of the things that are sent my way. So many things are sent, "on background" or just, "don't even hint at this, but I wanted you to know..." or "Look at this, but don't publish the pic as its source would be easy to track back ..." because since 2004, people have learned that CDRS is a "safe place." Will people trust DoN RED and ORANGE SB and CDRS like that? Not for long methinks.

Though CDRS is a one-man-show, if someone is itching to tell story, I let guest posts once a quarter or so - or as is often the case, people will hand me a story and say, "Publish as your own if you wish in whole or part ... but keep me out of it." And of course, comments is a free-fire zone, where unless you are excessively personally rude or make psycho-sexual threats, you are as free to advertise your ignorance as the host is. You can't be that free wheeling in RED and ORANGE.

Both SB and CDRS serve a certain part of the information ecosystem - but they are what they are because Sailor Bob and 'ole Sal run their ships they way they do, service the same cause - just in slightly different flavors - and it works because of that. But ... as the folks at CIMSEC point out - it has a huge limitation; UNCLAS.

I exchanged emails with a friend of the blog who knows me IRL too, and we were talking around a few things that we used to do operationally back in the day - topics that we simply cannot dig in to via any UNCLAS means ... so we talk around it. The two specific topics just beg for the open forum of SB and CDRS - if there were such a thing TS-SCI. That is where the cynicism of the above paragraphs is pushed back against what is a real need for an open forum on the high side. Just and example.

X & Y is put out in industry publications claiming Z ... but we have known for WW years that what is put out by industry is a lie. A lie that a lot of national security assumptions are based. Lies that are fudged in wargames, simulators, and yes - open source publications. You cannot directly push back though because to do so breaks well past UNCLAS.

Behind the cypher door, I am quite sure people are still saying, "This won't kill sh1t outside very specific _____ and _____ if you happen to _____. Do they know that there are only ______ of ______ that will support_____ of _____ anyway?" ... just like we did about the same systems 10, 15, and even 20 years ago.

And no one outside that small circle hears that. A dozen people read what has been written before behind the cipher door - but for most up the chain the Best Case is briefed as the Most Likely, the Most Likely is briefed as the Worst Case, and the Worst Case is put in backup slides. The filter performs its function - and the programs continue unchanged.

It would be good to have such a Navy wide forum online in RED and ORANGE ... but I don't think right now we have the culture to support it. Heck, I remember a specific topic that came out of a RIMPAC that was cut out of the TS brief simply because it was too negative an estimation of a new system's performance in the real world vice simulation. Not inaccurate ... just different than what the Flags were briefed about what its performance would be. We didn't say it was great, we didn't say what it actually did, we just said it was tried.

From what I hear in the Fleet, not much has changed in the last few years. Put another way;
The more insidious factor being a silencing of innovation in warfighting thought because of the perception that sharing of views outside of one’s own chain of command is seen in a negative light. Jeff Gilmore’s excellent post titled “Where is Lt Zuckerburg“ illustrates the challenges the military has placed upon its own innovators, from the lack of a coherent social media policy to the impediments placed upon junior thinkers by senior staffs. When coupled with the perception of ideas flowing into a doctrinal “black hole” once they leave the unit (due to the length of the vetting process, or due to failing to find advocacy outside the lifelines), what motivation do junior leaders have to share their ideas?
That is a panel discussion I would like to see led by Admiral Stavridis with a bunch of uppity-LTs.
We can overcome the lack of organizational inertia that bureaucracy forces upon warfighting; but doing so requires us to train our young leaders to use a healthy dose of critical thinking, some self-righteous zeal, and a bulldozer when necessary.
Critical thinking, self-righteous zeal, and a bulldozer personality ...  a pain in the tail at times - but isn't that what you want in the balance of your warfighting JOs to be?

This is a tough line of work - we should encourage a wide ranging and intellectually challenging exchange of ideas - it is better to do it in peace, than to wish you had in war.


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Anonymous said...

There was a tryout with a forum for aviation on the TS/SCI level a while back.. The hope was that it would be a "high side" version of AirWarriors (Naval Aviation version of SailorBob with much less stabbing, and more ballbusting) with honest discussion.

My brief experience with it was, mostly as you feared.. I was a terminal LT then, so I had nothing to fear, but god help me for questioning the tactics gods at CAEWS (E-2 Top Gun), when I KNEW the tactics they stated for ASuW and ASW were flat out wrong.

Nevermind I used to fly said tactics when I was in HSL.

So I gave up on the idea of trying to use it for an honest discussion.. How dare I, a 6 year LT question a LCDR.

And this was in Aviation, where we tend to be on a callsign basis with the Hinges

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