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Hurled overboard from the USS San Diego, a big new
amphibious ship which that isn't even in the water yet. The culprit is the usual, "personal
misconduct." Why can't we ever fire
someone for combat ineffectiveness?
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11:46 AM ET
March 14, 2012
In a Navy that is shrinking its fleet size one would suspect that receiving command of a ship (particularly one of a new class) would be a prime and desirable billet for an ambitious and talented officer. Why the hell else be in the Navy?
And yet time after time aspiring, expensively trained sea-going officers risk their careers in the worlds most powerful Navy for some asinine ‘personal misconduct’ reason. I don’t get it?
GOLD STAR FATHER
11:50 AM ET
Holier than Thou...
12:17 PM ET
GSF, thanks for the article.
GSF, thanks for the article. I should read S&S more often. In the corporate world the ‘Bathsheba Syndrome’ is alive and well particularly in my old stomping grounds of Wall Street. In that debased environment the Navy’s tradition of sacrifice and duty is not widely honored and is in fact widely skirted. In fact the clever dodger is the one who seems to garner a discreet veneration.
When I was a kid (a voracious naval history reader) I used to dream of being on the bridge and commanding a Navy destroyer. Alas, as a result of some childhood horsing around I incurred an injury to my left eye that ended that fantasy. But still, it just floors me that whatever nutty syndrome a sea-going officer suffers from that the opportunity to command at sea would come in second to his egoistic indulgences??
12:20 PM ET
You answered yourself with "...widely skirted."
12:42 PM ET
Normally, I don't pay attention to these Navy CO firings. However, I recently finished Charles Thompson's A Glimpse of Hell, concerning the 1989 mishap on board the USS Iowa.
It seems to me that the Navy is trying to turn a corner in changing its culture from the Iowa, Tailhook, and CNO suicide days. From what I read, the Navy was not a good service to enlist in during the 1980s and 1990s. The CO of the Iowa was not fired after presiding over an avoidable accident that killed 47 sailors. Now, these Navy COs are fired for comparatively small problems.
Is there anyone reading who was around in those days who has a take on it?
2:18 PM ET
Tom, the 1980’s Navy was very
Tom, the 1980’s Navy was very excited to have such a large platform as the IOWA to launch cruise missiles from, as opposed to providing heavy naval rifle fire ashore on the flanks of Marines. Some of us old timers in that separate branch under the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, at the time of the investigation into the explosion of one of IOWA’s 16 inch turrets, believed some in Big Blue were covering for the skipper who was probably following some poor advice to give priority to the missile inventory, which lead him to give short shrift to proper gunnery practice. . .obviously that's my personal opinion, and biased by my disgust with the matter, and the incident's alternating investigations.
However, originally there was call for him to be relieved by a superior, but was then over-ruled by the common superior of both, who only saw fit to have a non-punitive letter of caution delivered. . .and now that same skipper, Captain Mossally USN (Ret) has a job working for some Italian ship building outfit that has something to do with the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship contract. . .Anchor's Away. : |
3:59 PM ET
Defense contracting is a racket, and contractors don't get enough oversight on the quality of product that they're providing or cost control. He's a perfect fit for that sort of environment.
On an unrelated note, we recently bought a digital camera from a GSA vendor for $500 (available on Amazon for like $120), and the vendor had removed the lens that originally came with the camera, and wanted us to purchase it separately. Things like that are the explanation for why I'm EAS'ing.
5:46 PM ET
We complain about 6th month tours but in the age of sail it was 2-3 years. And then 6 months later they did it again. Maybe if we still keelhauled... or believed women aboard ship was unlucky... we would have less "misconduct". Also having someone to fight. Whens the last time we have had a real naval battle? Maybe if we put more stock in seamanship than paperwork.
lol everyone dreams of commanding a ship. I was always more of a battleship kind of kid. Get the enemy in the T and blow them to pieces. At night! In a hurricane! The more ridiculous it was, the better. I can relate.
Maybe the rail gun will bring back the gun club.
5:53 PM ET
2-3 years! British
2-3 years! British battalions went to India for 7 year tours in the era of the Raj.
7:48 PM ET
Navy HAD turned a corner until...
TOM K: I enlisted in 1980 and retired as a commissioned officer in 2009 - a Navy Mustang. I can vouch that the "Reagan Navy" of the 1980s was a great place to be -- after all, it couldn't get any worse than Jimmy Carter's Navy of race riots and ships unable to get underway. The Navy, like society,went "pc" in the 1990s, so we shifted mores post-Tailhook, etc. This also coincided with massive numbers of females embarking in ships which has increased unabated until the present, where they will soon embark even in submarines(!). My take on the morals mess is not so much the Bathsheba Syndrome -- since that's not a new concept/theory -- but rather a degradation in morals of a younger generation of officers (even they emanate from our carnival culture) and the temptation inherent in mixed crews. And, I think we are way too friendly and close in leadership these days. For most of my career, officers and enlisted stayed apart and thus away from temptation.
9:57 PM ET
There are plenty of Female Officers too, so the temptation would still be there and either way, a ship over 6 months is not exactly a huge area that you can avoid folks. Young, isolated, lonely males and females are going to hook up, to think otherwise no matter how much we might not like it is just willful and bliss avoidance of reality.
The people who get promoted now are the company men who keep the PC mindset, love platitudes and who are not innovational, it is just what happens after decades of the zero defects mentality and a culture that encourages thinking inside the box, micro-management and hoping that they never have to go to a real way on their tour unlike the JOs and Mid-Grade O's and NCOs in the ground forces. All the branches are victims of this with the Marines (again) being the least infected with this terrible disease of poor leadership. I have to go chase some hooligans off my lawn right now, excuse me for a bit.
11:28 AM ET
March 15, 2012
Seems like some of the 16 " ammo bags were literally 40 years old. The Navy analyzed them and analyzed them and then decided PO Hartwig must be gay and homocidal.
1:31 PM ET
The late Commander Don Kniss:
"In the Navy there are no new problems ... just new people."
6:00 PM ET
You know how I know this guy is a f-up?
His ribbons are wrong....in what appears to be his official command photo.
7:50 PM ET
It appears his Navy Commendation Medal is subordinate to his Navy Achievement Medal, at the least I can see. Guess he was otherwise engaged when he should have been squaring-away his uniform.
9:06 PM ET
Another reason why all the
Another reason why all the services should only wear Purple Hearts and medals for valor. Decorations for just showing up and brushing your teeth everyday are absurd.
12:33 AM ET
More significant news?
Which is more significant to the future of the Navy - another officer being fired for misconduct, or this article about the state of ships in service?
I'm assuming the Captain of the Essex won't be fired over his failure to keep his ship operational, even though it failed to accomplish missions this year, because he can point to a long list of maintenance problems he was ordered to defer because of his location and operational tasking.
I'm also curious to know if the practical service life of that ship is going to be shortened because it has ridden so hard without a break.
Anyone with recent time in an engine room care to comment on their perception of our fleet's operational readiness?
RVN SF VET
2:04 PM ET
IT WAS THAT THE ESSEX'S REPLACEMENT BROKE DOWN!
The USS Bonhomme Richard, enroute from San Diego to Sasebo, Japan lost a boiler VIC Okinawa and had to put in there to repair it! The Essex is of the same class and around 20 years old. The Bonhomme Richard is only 14 years old. She had just completed a major overhaul in San Diego and still broke down!
So both the Essex and her replacement suffered casualties and could not fulfill their missions on time. This demonstrates then when times are tight, maintenance funds are cut along with training funds. The priority goes to the ships that are supporting OEF and funds for new shiny objects.
If you read the military media, you will still see talk of shiny new objects while existing programs are considered for elimination. Nothing changes.
1:53 PM ET
Short memories abound
"We complain about 6th month tours but in the age of sail it was 2-3 years. And then 6 months later they did it again. Maybe if we still keelhauled... or believed women aboard ship was unlucky... we would have less "misconduct"."
Of course, back then no one gave a crap if you had a girlfriend in every port. Nelson and Lady Hamilton ring any bells? It was a scandal, but had zero effect on his career.
I'm NOT defending misconduct, and personally believe that officers who are disloyal to their wives are likely to be disloyal to their peers & subordinates.
But those of you who suggest this is a result of recent "declines in morality" are way off base -- it is more like the institutions no longer accepting behavior that was ignored for generations before, and through most of history in the military.
I recall friends who served under Doug McGregor (who has a cabal of fanboys on this website) talking about his "two river rule" -- that if your adultery occurred two rivers away, it didn't "count."
People went to war for years, and it was also almost universally acceptable to "live their lives" like people -- not warrior monks. You granddads and great granddads drank and screwed their way across Europe in WWI and WWII -- Eisenhower's mistress was a subordinate on his staff! And I expect that was more the rule than the exception.
Plenty came home with looted weapons, art, and other valuable souvenirs liberated from France and Germany. They posed for pictures with dead Japanese laid out in comical positions. They even mailed home ears and fingers of their enemies, and nobody cared -- there are even newsreels about it.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe some of the real historians here have examples of WWII era officers getting relieved for having French/British girlfriends or having affairs with female nurses -- but I doubt it.
2:38 PM ET
Nothing says it like the names. . .
Dominique, Elaine, Claudine and Huguette, all positions at Dien Bien Phu, named after Col. Castries mistresses. . .Why the French even went to the extent of flying in an entire brothel of French women to keep their soldiers happy!
I remember sitting in a half rain-filled fighting position one night and listening to my radio operater tell me about his girl friend and what a good women she was. . .thinking to myself, what I needed right then was a "bad women!" : )
3:04 PM ET
One note -- random relationships outside the service are a completely different issue from fraternization.
The fixation of marital fidelity is likely a byproduct of the very real concern with sexual relationships within units. When there were very few females in the service, and even nurses were not Regular Army, it didn't matter as much.
Now it is a big issue. Unlike in WWI, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and pretty much every other war in history, the current wars have taken "civilian companionship" off the table. Apart from the random journalist (Lara Logan) or rare female contractor (and that is frowned upon), fraternization is pretty much the only alternative.
We expect celibacy, but is that realistic?
11:48 PM ET
Although the Athenian practice of executing generals for military incompetence might be a tad too harsh, firings happen all too infrequently.
I think it was David Halberstam in the Coldest Winter who said something to the effect of "privates get in more trouble for losing their rifle than generals for losing a battle/war
2:56 PM ET
March 22, 2012
It is true that he didn't
It is true that he didn't have experience in foreign policy. But it is true that he was the worst thing that could happen to some foreign countries. Anyway, I don't think one thing has anything to do with the other..
"Is rio orange war always comparateur forfait mobile inevitable ?"
8:37 AM ET
March 23, 2012
Lack of leadership seems to plague all military branches
When a person accepts a leadership position, he or she ascends. Yes, they should ascend - not in an arrogant, better-than-you way, but in a manner that exhibits competence, mindfulness, discipline and focus on the mission.
We have to assume that people who accept leadership roles work hard for these and are qualified and prepared for them. Any human can have lapses, but these become noteworthy if they are carelessly displayed and if they signal deeper issues within the leader.
9:11 PM ET
March 28, 2012
Lester, not sure if I understand the $500 GSA comment. All purchases under $2500 are made with a Government Purchase Card and you are required to shop around and get the best deal. There is no requirement to go to GSA for cameras...
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
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