Monday, October 24, 2016

Ratings fiasco isn't a leadership or a Navy problem; it is a Mabus problem

Though I think they are on the right path in macro terms, in the details I have to non-concur with the NavyTimes editorial of 23 Oct;Navy's personnel policy fiasco is an important lesson for leaders;
The Navy’s recent decision to strip job titles from every sailor is a misstep of epic proportions – one that should serve as a stark lesson for leaders across all the services.

This fall, the Navy revealed it was suddenly removing all 91 of its enlisted ratings. This so-called “modernization” effort has been billed as a way to broaden training and career opportunities for sailors. It also satisfies the Navy’s desire to strip “man” from its titles, i.e. fire controlman, corpsman and seaman.

This move, thrust on the service by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus with the endorsement of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and his former top enlisted adviser, was poorly conceived, researched and communicated to the fleet.

It’s been a total morale crusher, with thousands of sailors lobbying for an immediate reversal.

Unlike the other services, sailors have been identified by their job title and not just their rank. As one sailor noted, ratings have been part of Navy tradition since 1775. For sailors, it’s part of their identity – a badge of honor and a source of pride.

“Our sailors don’t understand it,” an E-9 told Navy Times about the change. “We don’t understand why this could not have been a two- to-three year, very gradual process that examined all of the effects from advancement to recruiting.”
This isn't a leadership failure, this is a leadership agenda. The SECNAV wanted this to happen, and happen this year, and it is. Part of leadership is following orders. In the USN chain of command, that goes to the SECNAV.

He gave a lawful order, one based on the most silly foundations of the 3rd Wave Feminism of today with a bit from the 1970s where he cut his intellectual teeth, as I covered on my previous post on the topic at USNIBlog.

This is all socio-political agenda in action. Nothing more than someone having power and using it for their own purposes. There is nothing modernizing in this move, but it does fit an agenda, the SECNAV's agenda.

I encourage you to go read the entire editorial and then come back. Better yet, read it twice. You can almost see where they wanted to pen a much stronger editorial, but backed off.
Future military leaders should use this as a case study. Avoid such fiascos at all costs. Challenge your superiors when they propose harebrained ideas. Make sure that sweeping change is done with careful forethought and proper execution.
How do they know that didn't happen? As a matter of fact, from what I have heard that is what happened ... but only to an extent. Warnings were giving, objections provided, but there is this simple fact; when the SECNAV gives you a lawful order, you have one of two options; you can execute that order as best as you can, or you can resign your position.

No one in a senior position decided this was worth resigning for.

SECNAV decided that he would do what he wanted to do based in the advice from others and for reasons best known to him. There was not desire for this from the Fleet. There was no initiative from the uniformed leadership. He created this out of whole cloth which whatever gender-issues advisors he listens to. He wanted it done before he left, and it hoping that institutional inertia and a guard of PC Commissars he put in place will stop it from being overturned when he leaves.
It’s a shame that Mabus took away these time-honored titles so abruptly, marring what is expected to be his last months of service. He’s created a mess and handed it off to the next service secretary to deal with.
That isn't the only mess, but this is one that will stick out early for whoever replaces him.
The remedy to this fiasco is to reinstate these titles immediately and wait for the results of the career flexibility review, when officials will finally be able to answer the questions on sailors’ minds.
That isn't going to happen as long as Mabus has a hand on the lever of power. Get used to it.

This is all so sad and unnecessary. For a SECNAV who I once thought had so much promise to bring us to this sad, fevered spot with full uniformed leadership support is useful in this respect - it shows that there is a full-submissive compliance to civilian leadership. That is a great tradition this nation has, shame it is being abused for such a petty, personal, political reason.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite sayings. When you continue to decided that this issue or the other one is not a "hill worth dying on," eventually you find yourself surrounded, in a ravine, with your opponent owning all the high ground. 

That isn't a great place to start to fight, so why would anyone expect one? The only options is surrender or death.

Political death does not get one seats on Board of Directors, appointed to Commissions or Panels, or appointed to positions of influence in the civilian sector.

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