Lemoore, as Told by Pravda

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I’ve had occasion to talk with a few people who had built intentions of taking their story to the press. The Navy got to post its narrative, so why should they not have the same opportunity? Deservedly or otherwise, the first outlet that usually comes to mind, given their historical coverage of the sea services, is the NTs. It’s a semi-logical choice.

When I dispense my advice on the topic – advice that is neither expert nor won by wealth of experience – it is to warn folks that they are not likely to get multiple chances to make their case public. That particular forum will give you one and only one haymaker. You’d best hope that it lands on the jaw. After that, you’re on your own, for our friends who work for Gannett are fully aware that they will not make a living out of poking the bear. They are, after all, fed by the bear. While the bear will take some good-natured ribbing of the infrequent variety, it will not tolerate repeated assaults. Once the threshold is crossed, the “MCPON Exclusive” interviews dry up, and those attention-grabbing headlines run first elsewhere.

My first thought upon seeing the recent article about NAS Lemoore’s hidden gem status had nothing to do with content. I know the base has a bad reputation amongst Team 757’s starting lineup, and I will readily admit that I’m a bigger fan of NLC than most, but we can discuss that another time. There is plenty of material there.

What struck me was the mere presence of the article. It felt unsolicited, like when a kid plops down next to you at the airport and says, “I like matches!”. Um. Okay. Me too, I guess.

There was no recent crime spree at NAS Lemoore. There was no recent decision to add on-base tenants. Pending F-35 and FA-18 squadron moves have been on the books for some time. In short, there is no compelling reason for that article to come out now.

I tried mightily to imagine a roomful of journalists sitting around a room and brainstorming ideas. It’s dead-end after dead-end, right up until a fresh college graduate shouts, “I have one! How about ‘NAS Lemoore – it’s not as bad as you think’?” I can’t picture it. There is simply no catalyst for the story. Which started me thinking.

Am I the only one who believes the Navy initiated this effort and used the NTs as an accomplice instead of the other way around?

 

 

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The DEOMI Survey – From Cute Puppy to Rabid Killer

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Command Climate. The words sound innocent enough. I can’t provide you with of an exact definition for command climate. Some might equate it to organizational culture. I would not. Culture takes much longer to build and much longer to dissolve. You can have a culture of precision and professionalism, and you can have a culture of rule-breaking and carelessness. I’ve even seen a culture where habitual rule-breakers were remarkably competent.

Compared to culture, command climate seems amorphous. Does Airman Timmy like to go to work in the morning? If he does, the climate is good. If he does not, the climate is bad. It’s almost as if you could measure climate by emoji. This is a 1…

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This is a 10…

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There are 8 others in between. Circle the most appropriate emoji given how you feel today.

Regrettably, the term command climate has followed the lead of the term shipmate. If someone calls you shipmate, it isn’t because he wants to help you carry a heavy bag down the passageway, it’s because he wants to know why you are walking about during cleaning stations. Similarly, there is no gathering of O-6s whereby one says to the group, “Have you seen the awesome command climate at VFA-71? Gee whiz!” You will, on the other hand, see command climate etched into the wood of the hangman’s gallows.

I once wrote about the entity known as the Inspector General (IG) in a piece called The Grudge Committee. In retrospect, I was mildly heavy-handed and unfair. The IG is not an institution of evil-doers. In contrast to many other investigations, the IG’s work is notably agnostic. Their existence is founded upon the principle of protecting people. Blame for abuse of the IG lies more at the feet of those who manipulate them to wage a campaign than it does the IG itself. The rest lies at the feet of those who enable it.

Just as the wafting scent of barbecue grills riding on the summer wind yields to the bursting colors of fall foliage, the vehicles preferred by evil-doers change from one to the next. If the current Make is Command Climate, the current Model is the DEOMI Survey.

DEOMI (day-OH-mee) is the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. They produce, distribute, and analyze results for a survey that is administered periodically throughout fleet units. Their mission, at least in its original form, is to assess issues pertaining to equal opportunity. Over time, that has morphed into much more than simply eliminating bias in the workplace. In their own words, the DEOMI Mission is…

To enhance mission readiness from development through delivery of world-class human relations education, training, and innovative solutions for our customers.

So, yeah.

The process with which most members of the military are familiar is the DEOMI Organizational Climate Survey (DEOCS). True leaders welcome scrutiny is what they say. I won’t anoint myself with any labels, but I will say that I always enjoyed getting the survey results while in command. They often give you a perspective that you might otherwise miss. Commanders and Commanding Officers can’t be everywhere at once. If there is grumbling, it suits you well to learn about it, sooner rather than later.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the survey is the open-ended comments. Respondents can use free-text to say, anonymously, whatever it is they feel compelled to say. There is always some chaff, but it is easily separated from the wheat, and some of the chaff provides welcome comic relief. I am terribly sorry, Airman Suzie, that your workcenter bought for you a vanilla birthday cake knowing full well that chocolate is your favorite.

On the whole, the DEOCS is a good thing. It was a good thing. It could again be a good thing if the Navy reverses a fateful decision to require electronic delivery of the survey results to the Immediate Superior in Command (ISIC, the CO’s boss). I have to believe, as a general optimist, that this decision was well intended. Good intentions, however, do not preclude negative consequences. While the ISIC may be able to provide mentoring, guidance and other benefits of his/her sage counsel, that’s not how it plays out. Those wonderful words disguise the problems that come with taking an organic tool and shipping it outside the command lifelines.

You’ll recall that I said true leaders welcome scrutiny. So why now bottle up evidence that potentially exposes the seedy underbelly of a command? The answer is too easy. The external audience taints the purity of the survey.

The best investigative process (note that I didn’t say perfect) in the Navy, by an order of magnitude, is the Safety Investigation. This is remarkable given that the Safety Investigation Report directly attributes errors via causal factors. The who is in it, even if not by first and last name. Safety Investigations are privileged. They don’t go to the press. The senior member of the board draws conclusions with the other board members, and in doing so, he doesn’t have to worry about the “optic”. He has the privilege of dispensing truth in its most raw form. How very refreshing.

By allowing, nay directing, that DEOCS results leak outside the confines of the octagon, there are three possible outcomes, and only one of them is good.

  1. Respondents continue to provide candid, positive, and critical feedback.
  2. Respondents who are proud of their command, or do not want any negative repercussions on anyone in their command (to include the CO), will not provide feedback that might be otherwise very beneficial.
  3. Respondents who do not like someone in their command (to include the CO) will provide inflammatory feedback, and sometimes embellished or outright false feedback, in order to see that person taken to the gallows. This is the survey-as-weapon outcome. Particularly nefarious respondents might even try to convince their squadron mates to provide similar feedback to make the “evidence” appear more convincing.

In the worst possible scenario, splinter investigations are born in the aftermath. And thus the term command climate has come to replace, or accompany, the term loss of confidence, especially when modified by words like toxic, substandard, or deficient. It is like a stew that becomes a home for the undesirable remnants of your refrigerator. A synonym for miscellaneous. Don’t know where it goes? Put it over here in the poor command climate bin.

We’ve taken a force for good – a non-punitive process that was meant to stand on its own for the betterment of the service – and allowed it to become another arrow in the villain’s quiver. It’s unfortunate.

Even an angel’s wand can do harm if it’s in the wrong hands.

Editor’s note: optic, as a term and concept, should be permanently stricken from all military vernacular.

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FY15 Aviation Department Head Retention Bonus

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The monetary amounts are listed below. The full message is located here.

HM Pilot             $75,000

HSC Pilot           $75,000

HSL/HSM Pilot  $75,000

VAQ Pilot           $125,000

VAQ NFO           $100,000

VAW/VRC Pilot  $125,000

VAW NFO           $75,000

VFA Pilot            $125,000

VFA NFO            $75,000

VP/VQ(P) Pilot   $75,000

VP/VQ(P) NFO   $75,000

VQ(T) Pilot         $75,000

VQ(T) NFO         $100,000

Aviation officers designated 1310 or 1320 are eligible if their active duty service obligation (ADSO) for undergraduate flight training expires in FY-15 or FY-16. Payment will begin when the officer is within one year of completion of the ADSO. All ADHRB contracts incur a five-year service obligation beginning at ADSO expiry or at contract approval date, whichever is later.

My apologies in advance to anyone on active duty whose spouse sees this before they do.

Too soon?

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Hard is Authorized (Guest Post)

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Hard is Authorized: Dragging Navy Personnel Systems into the Future

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter seems like a man on a mission. After a conference of senior commanders that reportedly included a ban on PowerPoint, SECDEF has set his sights on defense personnel management systems. Luckily, the Navy has already started some overhauls to its personnel records systems. The “My Navy Portal” [PDF] system is the first step to making sense of the tangled web of websites now required for Sailors to manage their records. At first look, it seems promising.

If you’re like me, “My Navy Portal” (MNP) brings with it the feelings of excitement and dread heretofore only experienced by Chicago Cubs fans. The excitement: military personnel raised on the Internet (those pesky Millennials you’ve read so much about) may finally graduate from the opaque labyrinth of websites, mass emails, spreadsheets, and smoke-filled rooms that generates orders to Fallon. The dread: the Navy will over-engineer the whole thing and inevitably screw it up. But take heart, I’m an O-4 with some ideas for Big Navy, that’s a recipe for success if I ever heard one.

Before we dig into ideas for the future, let’s take a fantastic voyage through four of the most common Navy websites that are probably related to personnel management. I say probably because who actually knows? Not included in this quick rundown: NKO, FLTMPS, myPay, DTS, iNavy, ESAMS, NFAAS, TRiPS, and who knows how many other sites?

The BUPERS website, which will help me drop my letter, call (but not email, oddly) my detailers (disclaimer: other communities provide email addresses; but my community currently lists just the detailers’ callsigns, which, to many aviators’ dismay, are not searchable in Outlook), and find other broadly career-related info, but doesn’t say much about my snowflake-like journey through this big scary Navy. It also links to…

BUPERS ON LINE (BOL). This site has everything! My PRT info is in a fairly non-user friendly subsystem called PRIMS. My record is called an OMPF, and it’s a compilation of scanned copies of documents that don’t talk to my other record, which is my OSR, or maybe it’s my ODC, or maybe it’s… Well, it’s triplicated at least and seems pretty comprehensive. Unless I get a new medal (and I will, because everyone does), then I have to update…

NDAWS, which is maintained by my command admin (not me) and has records of all my decorations, except unit awards. Those live…

On NSIPS! Unlike the other sites, this is the Navy’s INTEGRATED PERSONNEL SYSTEM! So it should talk to all the other sites and make BOL, NDAWS, and the BUPERS site obsolete. Except it doesn’t.

Case study:

When you’re up for a board, the board separates your record from your OSR (which is fed by a DOS based system maintained by a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters in a basement in Millington, probably). It looks older than NAVFIT98 (as in 1998, as in the year next year’s new enlistees were born), our evaluation system, which doesn’t talk to any websites and requires me to print out and fax or email my FITREP to the board when things don’t line up (true for any item missing from my record). Because one day computers will talk to each other, but they don’t in 1998.

Anyway, if the copy of your record that a board will see has issues, you’ll have no idea unless your detailer calls you. Because detailers are the only ones who can look at the record that the board will actually evaluate ahead of time. And if there’s a problem, you can correct it on your OSR (or ODC, or OSR, or NDAWS, or PRIMS, or NAVFIT, or Friendster, or wherever) as much as you want, but it won’t go to the board unless you email it to them. Helpfully, you can download most items from your OMPF on the BUPERS website and send it back to BUPERS.

Technically you’re emailing the board, which meets right next to BUPERS, but sequesters itself from your OMPF, a system that doesn’t feed your summarized record (OSR), which is what feeds the board. (Confused? You should be.)

Sometimes, detailers miss problems because they’re using a million different computer systems too. Or, they’ll contact you and tell you there’s a problem when there isn’t. For example, my detailer told me that I had three instances of an award, when I actually only earned two. He said it was no big deal because the board would only have two citations… so to the board it’ll just look like I’m a dummy who can’t manage his own record. Which is true (the record part, not the dummy part).

This is just the surface. I’ve also got information for which I’m responsible on NKO, DEERS, DTS, NFAAS, myPay, milconnect, move.mil, and who knows what else? (A new one appears every month, it seems.) The best part is that none of these sites seem to share information, since I’m constantly logging on to different sites to verify information that exists elsewhere. When we bought a house, my address had to be updated in no fewer than four sites, including one or two that I had no direct input to at all.

Meanwhile, my phone connects my contacts, social media, calendar, and photos of my lunch seamlessly and allows anyone I know to find out everything about me in moments. But my job is completely stovepiped, it’s scattered across a dozen websites with outdated security certificates, partially correct information, and redundant info. There’s no central place to go to find out what jobs are available, what awards I have, what my leave balance is, or even who my boss is (or his boss, or his boss, or their contact info). When I want a new job somewhere, I ask around, find out who knows the skipper or XO of that unit is, see if someone will vouch for me, maybe arrange a phone call or interview, and then beseechingly implore the detailer to please, please, please get me that job.

But I only know what’s happening around me if my detailer tells me. If there’s a need for a reasonably-likeable, French-speaking, baseball-loving, 1320 out there (is there?), the only way to know is word of mouth and/or a wink and a nod from the detailer, who may not want me there because he’s trying to groom me for command. But what if that’s where I want to go? Why can’t I search for jobs that would fit my interests, contact the responsible CO/XO, talk timing, and then see if my detailer can make it work?

I’m here to serve, but maybe, over the course of ten years, I’ve learned that I serve better as the US Navy’s baseball fan liaison to the French Navy than I do as the guy handing out the basketballs at the base gym (I assume that’s an O-4 billet). What if the CO of the US Navy Sports Fan Liaison Brigade (again, I assume that’s a thing) knows what he needs but can’t find me, his dream employee?

I know, nightmare scenario. Let’s get practical.

SECDEF mentions social networking sites as a potential model. Sites like LinkedIn and RallyPoint look to create a social network for professionals and military members (not necessarily mutually inclusive, am I right?) to make connections and hopefully make those dream job/dream employee matchups happen. But why doesn’t the Navy do this on its own using My Navy Portal (MNP) as a starting point?

I’m sure the answer relies on something like, “different contracts for each website,” [PDFs] and “it would cost too much to set up,” and “security concerns,” which are probably partially true. But they’re also excuses for doing a poor job of managing people. I’ve seen Sailors explain to their CO that something was too hard to do, citing bureaucratic inertia, too many different source documents, and an undue burden on personal time. Imagine the results for that poor Sailor.

In the words of one of my COs: “Hard is authorized.”

What would this mythical unicorn look like? Well, disclaimer, I am not a web designer or programmer or even a fan of “the Big Bang Theory,” but here’s my idea.

Each command becomes its own “community” and the assigned personnel are members of that community. Important to this process would be tagging each unit with pertinent information: “sea duty,” “staff job,” “kinetic operations,” “FA-18 Super Hornet,” “Chick-Fil-A out front gate,” so that by association, each member of that command has those attributes by virtue of being there.

In addition, each Sailor’s quals, awards, evaluations, and even family information can be entered in the system (it looks like MNP will possibly incorporate some of these things eventually). So now a Sailor is associated with a level of experience, specific qualifications, and personal performance.

Imagine being a unit CO. He needs a 12XX that has experience on a sea-going staff, was a command legal officer, and loves Diet Coke (don’t ask why). He can use this site to search for legal-o’s on sea-going staffs and neck it down from there, or he can just hunt down 12XXs who love Diet Coke by searching the whole Navy (spoiler alert: it’s everyone).

If I want to move to El Centro and run the Motorcycle Safety program, I can find the guy who’s in the job, and start the conversation just by searching “middle of nowhere” and “motorcycles.” We talk, we figure out that the timing looks good, and I reach out to my detailer, who consults the monkeys in the basement (I assume they’ll survive the digital revolution), and ba-da-bing, I’m packing up my wife and kids and heading to La Pasadita for celebratory burritos.

Anyone who’s transferred to a new command has learned one thing: They are the first person ever to transfer between commands, apparently. Currently, the number of datapoints and web databases and phone trees that need to get updated when transferring between commands is almost uncountable. But what if it was as simple as the admin chief from the old unit clicking a “detach” button on your profile and the new chief clicking “attach”? Boom, you’re transferred. Take a second to update your address and the site pushes that info to DEERS, myPay and other non-Navy sites, and you’re set. These DoD sites will probably survive the purge, but let’s make our Navy site capable of talking to them so you don’t have to.

Using a social network construct would let you easily explore your chain of command (if each unit is a community, the small communities can be grouped under the larger ones, from squadron, to wing, to TYCOM, etc.). If you were tagged with your rank and designator, then you could also be tagged with a detailer, or your profile could just have a link that says “My Detailer” or “BUPERS FOR ME!” or something.

Command pages could host instructions, calendars, admin information, addresses, photos, phone numbers, etc. Personal pages could include dream sheets, private messaging options, even chat (you know the Navy loves its chat!) so that when you find the guy with the job you want, you can start a conversation right away.

Gone are the days of hand-updated phone trees or scrambling to update command biographies for changes of command. A brief career summary could be easily displayed on your profile page; once the old skipper leaves, the chief changes the XO’s job to CO and a little note says: “CDR Schmuckatelli assumed command of Basketball Distribution Det ONE on 15 April 2015” on his profile.

The unit’s “community” page could even have a setting that creates a sanitized public profile that doubles as the command’s website, a constantly updating social network page.

My page would have my personal info, my quals, my awards, my chain of command, e-leave links (which would live on this site, not an external one), my FITREPs (ditto), and a nice summary of my career (2000: assembled in the Naval Architecture lab at the Naval Academy).

Again, I am by no means a web guy, so I can’t tell you which 1 goes next to which 0, or how many pages have to be made, or how much it will cost. But I can see that this sort of site could have huge growth potential. I don’t know who’s in charge of making this happen; it has to be someone who works for VADM Moran, but there isn’t an intuitive social media page where I can find out who BUPERS’s “Director of Future Social Media” is… yet.

In this man’s humble opinion, the link between records management, career management, detailing, and job searching needs to be the future vision for My Navy Portal (which, by the way, is not the worst name ever; a million thanks for not making it a ridiculous acronym, ugh). It would be a massive undertaking, but one that could revolutionize our personnel system, reduce administrative distractions, comply with SECDEF’s vision, and lead the way for changes throughout the military.

Sure it sounds tough; but remember, Big Navy: hard is authorized.


Graham Scarbro is a reasonably-likeable, French-speaking, baseball fan. His views are his own and do not represent official U.S. Navy, DoD, or government policy… Yet.

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Aviation Department Head Screen Results

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Repeat after me: “I believe that bringing the duty section in this weekend to clean up the ready room and polish the squadron fineware for your personal guests is a fantastic idea, Skipper. Moreover, I will appoint a small cadre of junior officers to oversee the effort. It will be a great opportunity for them to get meaningful, hands-on leadership experience. These windows for community engagement only come along so often. We can’t afford to pass on the chance to showcase our unit pride and the unique role we play in carrying out the Navy’s mission. Shall I bring Starbucks, an assortment of delicious goodness from Panera Bread, or both? Both it is. Great decision, sir!”


 

Embedded below is the list of FY16 Aviation Department Head Selects. Congratulations to all of you. We’ll dig into more specifics as they become available. In the meantime, this is how selections broke out by the numbers.

447 Total Eligibles
272 Operational Selects
28 Operational Training Selects (FRS/VT/HT/VTC)
67.1% Overall ADH Selection Rate 300/447
69.2% Minority Selection Rate 27/39
63.2% Female Selection Rate 12/19

Make sure they put those stitches at the hairline so they’re not quite so visible. And WD-40 for the fore-and-aft rocking hinge is always a good idea. Have a great weekend, everyone.

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Odd Promotion Criteria

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There are surely some of you who are not long-time readers and are thus not well-versed on the back-story. I’d rather we not take another lap on the spinning teacups. My stomach is only so strong. Should you need an introduction or refresher, my most recent post on the matter is located here. A synopsis of the most salient events…

After a wave swept a Navy helicopter and two pilots off the flight deck of a destroyer in the Red Sea last year, early reports described a freak accident caused by a “rogue wave.” But a recently released investigation points to the speed of the ship as it changed course, and the admiral overseeing the report has faulted the ship’s commander for the accident.

Navy pilots Lt. Cmdr. Landon L. Jones, 35, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jonathan S. Gibson, 32, died after their MH-60S helicopter broke its chains and slid off the flight deck of the USS William P. Lawrence on the afternoon of Sept. 22, 2013, the result of a large wave hitting the aircraft as the ship rolled violently. Both men were still inside the aircraft when it plunged overboard.

In a 10-page assessment of the investigation, which was released in April and recently made public by the Navy, Harris faulted a decision by the Lawrence’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Jana A. V, to turn the ship immediately after the helicopter landed on the flight deck. Combined with the ship’s speed, the move put the vessel into rough “quartering seas,” he said, causing it to roll as large waves hit the deck.

“There was time to rectify the situation by simply reducing speed after taking (the helicopter) aboard,” Harris wrote. “[A] significant reduction in speed, thereby creating a more stable platform, could have been achieved in seconds.”

The admiral promised “appropriate administrative action” for V. The former CO is now serving in Coronado, California.

The Navy did take “appropriate administrative action” on CDR V by screening her for major command. I’ve dispensed administrative action many, many times. The recipients never smiled.

Although I can’t say for sure, I’m confident there are still some card-carrying members of the “this was an unfortunate event and sometimes bad things just happen” crowd. If you are one of them, I will jumble the story in an effort to give it new life and find a way to reach you.

Imagine that you are a married man. Your wife, and the mother of your children, is a devoted triathlete, among other things. She is a gifted athlete in dogged pursuit of a new personal record at an upcoming event. Because the bike is her weakest leg, she bought a road bike she uses on group rides with other women to push herself harder.

It’s Tuesday, which is hill day. The morning is graced by a light sprinkle that is expected to be no worse than moderate rainfall at any point in the day. Still, it’s rain, and that will have to figure into the aggressiveness of the ride.

The spoke-sisters set out for their training session, taking the appropriate precautions that are second nature to them. They have lights and reflective clothing, and they ride in a group so it is easier to see them.

Coming in the opposite direction is a tractor-trailer truck. The driver is operating his truck at a safe-speed, even considering the wet roads, until he gets a call from his boss. The boss urges him to drive faster, telling him that the company gets a bonus if the truck arrives before 9 PM. Although it jeopardizes the safe arrival of his haul, the truck driver does not tell his boss that driving faster will be dangerous. Either by accepting the increased risk or by being blind to it, the driver gently depresses the accelerator.

The wet roads force the truck wide on a downhill blind turn, where it carefully extracts the outer-most bike-rider in the pack, killing her instantly. Knowing what he has done, the truck driver stops immediately and returns to the scene. Your wife’s fellow riders have already phoned for Emergency Medical Services. Crest-fallen, the truck driver calls his boss to explain the details of the horrific accident.

Your phone is lighting up with vague details of a bike accident. Someone is badly hurt. Rather than jump to any conclusions or promulgate bad information, everyone is patient. Except the trucking company. They post the story on Facebook while expressing their condolences for your wife’s death. That’s how you were notified.

Understanding that your wife will never come back, and that your kids will not grow up to know their mother, you do what you can to pick up the pieces and move forward. There are good days and bad. More bad days than good. On the worst of those bad days, you wonder what ever became of the truck driver. He never even called. You know he didn’t kill your wife on purpose and so you don’t want revenge. That doesn’t mean you don’t wonder.

That’s when you discover that the truck driver was not only retained in the company, he was actually selected for a more prominent position in it. In this more prominent position, he will not only keep driving trucks, but he will also supervise a great number of other truck drivers and be responsible for their performance and safety. Soon thereafter, you learn that the promotion was approved by the President of the trucking company and received a stamp of authenticity from the US Department of Transportation. All that awaits is the pay raise.

That’s where we are now.

Do you still think that bad things just happen? I don’t. Not in this case, anyway.

The contrarians here use two words. Random. Unlucky. I have two words of my own. Offensive. Disrespectful.

The FAA, hardly known for being efficient and succinct, offers the following guidance in its Federal Aviation Regulations to pilots entering turbulent air: slow down. It really is that simple. I suspect it applies equally well to seagoing vessels.

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What I’ll Miss About Serving in the Navy

For the second time in a week, I received a request from an active duty Naval Officer in pursuit of first-time-guest-poster status. The post that follows was authored by Ben Kohlmann. You may recognize Ben’s work. He is a prolific writer and enemy of the status quo. If you sit him in the corner of a room and repeatedly say, “But we’ve always done it this way”, he will curl up in a ball and sob uncontrollably. As will I. Unlike Ben, I will even start sucking my thumb. Our Navy is better because of officers like Ben. I wish him well, and I thank him for his contributions. If the ball is in the middle, add a little power, my friend. If the ball doesn’t rise, you were underpowered. Add a little more.


WHAT I’LL MISS ABOUT SERVING IN THE NAVY

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After 11 years of service, I’m leaving active duty. There are many reasons why, most of which have been thrown out time and again on various “why I’m leaving the service” articles. Indeed, I thought about penning my own screed. Yet, as I draw closer to the end of my active time, the memories I have are filled with fondness. I know the decision for me to leave was the right one, but with the aid of hindsight, I can’t help but think what an amazing ride the last decade was.

I’m no stranger to launching broadsides against the establishment. In a fit of frustration, I wrote “The Military Needs More Disruptive Thinkers” in 2012, igniting a firestorm throughout the defense world.   I cringe a bit when re-reading it, yet the term “disruptive thinking” has found its way into the defense lexicon – often popping up in places surprising and amusing. Along with “Bus” Snodgrass, I helped co-author and spearhead the 2014 Navy Retention Study, eliciting both vigorous criticism and energetic support. I even started and currently run a non-profit, The Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, that has built a robust and growing community around reforming our pervasive bureaucracy.

However, my frustrations are best aired over a few beers, so I’d like to shift the conversation to 3 things I’ll miss most about being in uniform.

The People

My first Carrier Air Group Commander and Aircraft Carrier Captain were CAPT Tom “Trim” Downing and now Rear Admiral Mike “Nasty” Manazir. They were larger than life characters, and while I was just a struggling Nugget, their outsized impact set the standard for what I look for in leaders. CO’s like “Goody” Gudmundsson and my FRS XO “Frag” Grindle showed me what it meant to command or support in challenging environments. To them, I am forever grateful.

Two senior officers took a risk on me when they didn’t have to – RADM Terry Kraft read my Disruptive Thinkers article and immediately reached out, giving me the chance to put my money where my mouth was. His vision and trust in a crazy JO enabled the creation of the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell, where we got to build a military innovation organization from scratch. He let us assemble our team, ran interference at the highest levels of the Naval bureaucracy, and advocated for our projects when establishment players like the Office of Naval Research looked askance at our proposals. Those projects, by the way, are helping to reshape the 21st century Navy. His visionary work is being carried on with much enthusiasm and acumen by RDML Scott Stearney.

Soon after, ADM Bill Gortney took me on as his speechwriter. I don’t think he knew I was a rabble-rouser when he hired me, but his mentorship and guidance is something I will always hold dear. I’ve never seen a man treat his personal staff better – he demanded a lot, but taught us an immense amount as well. My naïve eyes were opened to a new world – and a peek behind the curtain did wonders for my maturity.

Finally, and most importantly, my squadronmates. From crazy shenanigans in foreign ports to late night ridiculousness in dreary Lemoore, CA, those men and women got me through many a scrape (many of my own doing). Sweet P, Heed, Delilah, McLovin, Chas, JK, Preg-ho, Golden, Euro and many others were the face of our mission, and friends of a lifetime. It’s hard to quantify the amount of beer we consumed and all the problems we solved over many hours in the Fallon O-Club and in far away ports, but I don’t believe I will ever find the same camaraderie anywhere else.

The Mission

I can be a vain and ambitious person, which is one of the reasons I’m leaving. But nothing in the world will match what we in the military do day in and day out. How can you replicate a night in the barrel behind the ship, where it takes you 4 passes to get aboard? How can you replicate the perfect three-wire, “CLARA Ship,” night trap? Where else in the world will you be in a $70 million jet, seeing a firefight emerge on your FLIR, and be called in to save your brothers on the ground?

What we do is hard. Where we go is sometimes forsaken.   Being a staff officer sucks – endless powerpoint slides that have little impact. Yet those few moments when years of training focus on a split-second decision…that is irreplaceable.

I remember sitting off the coast of a foreign country early in my first tour. The crew was surly, they’d been gone from home for too long, and we didn’t understand why we were there. But returning home, understanding the strategic picture better, our presence had impact. It demonstrably affected the course of world events, even if only for a season.

I hope to end up running a successful for-profit venture, and maybe even run for office. But the best professional outcome will still pale in comparison to the first time I signed for a jet, solo, and was launched off the deck of a United States aircraft carrier – right after almost killing myself enroute to my first arrested landing in the might T-45 Goshawk. I still get goosebumps thinking about that incredible feeling.

The Opportunities

Before I started writing, I was warned that there would be sea-monsters, and retribution for those that stepped out of line. And the stories may even have been true – but my experience was much different. I’ve found that those that engaged constructively, even if a bit hastily, were given a fair hearing. There is no other military in the world that would allow such robust and irreverent discussion to go unpunished. From the Duffel Blog and Terminal Lance to CIMSEC and Small Wars Journal, there are frequent and robust conversations that challenge every bit of military orthodoxy. Indeed, it is one of the things that makes our military so effective, despite the many (valid) complaints we may have.

Furthermore, senior leaders are looking for the interesting solutions to their most pressing problems. We have leaders who get it, and want to make our services a better place.

On a whim at last year’s Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, one of my colleagues pitched an Assistant Secretary of the Navy on a revolutionary manpower management tool leveraging the intelligence community. The ASN was intrigued by this cheeky LT’s proposal, and a few months later, invited us to brief him, the Chief of Naval Personnel, and a room full of staffers on our idea. While still in the works, these leaders devoted scarce time to a bunch of crazy JOs. They listened – and are actively looking for ways to get the idea implemented.

These opportunities are in part due to the bureaucracy. We are nearly immune from being fired, so a well-placed, disruptive idea with the right audience can be nearly riskless. Furthermore, I’ve found that the bureaucracy is so tied up within itself, that it cannot react to a swift application of innovation .

My 3D printers-on-ships CRIC team was very creative in how we put a test platform on the USS Essex for sea trials. Piggybacking on a NAVSEA experimental contract, we were able to bypass much of the lengthy and costly redtape most programs need. 10 months after its successful implementation, we got an email from a mid-level civilian staffer directing the ship to cease and desist because the right paperwork wasn’t on file. Fortunately, the initiative was so entrenched and compelling to senior leaders (including being made an official OPNAV program), the Essex was able to hold on to the printer. SECNAV even talked about its success in a recent speech on innovation at Sea Air Space.

It’s heartening to see many of the frustrated conversations we junior officers had a few years ago getting play at the highest levels. A robust discussion and public remarks about the need to reevaluate talent management. A need for better and more realistic training. Bringing our retirement system into the 21st century. Things are changing – slowly – but they are changing. Implementing concrete reforms will be the next step, but I am cautiously optimistic.

So, why am I leaving?

Given the above, it seems insane to explore other options. Especially since I’m over half-way to the Promised Land of a 20-year retirement. I was fortunate to be promoted to O-4 relatively early, and in retrospect, have gotten nearly every opportunity I’ve ever desired. To wit, one of my department heads once wisely said “don’t leave a good party to go find another good party.” Yet, the time was right. My commitment was up, and the graduate education option I wanted to pursue was not possible on the aviation golden path – and I wasn’t interested in doing the career intermission thing.

Furthermore, while I loved flying combat missions – indeed, they were the most fulfilling professional experience of my life – I never wanted to spend 8 months on a carrier again. With a newborn, this desire to take part in as much of his life as possible has only grown. The Navy deploys. I don’t want to any more. It’s voluntary for a reason.

Finally, I felt I’ve done all I can in uniform, and my insatiable (self-directed) wanderlust pulls me onward. This was a difficult decision – and I almost reversed it. But I know it is right for me – and our Navy is in good hands whether I stay or go.

We need those who express dissatisfaction, even if they don’t have ready solutions – good leaders know how to harness that wild energy and put it to productive use. The canary, while it doesn’t know why it’s killed in the coal mine, is still a useful indicator. But there is always a silver lining. As one who was the poster child for throwing grenades, I’ll be the first to say this is a remarkable organization, warts and all. The past eleven years have shaped me in ways I am only beginning to understand. Whether they like it or not, my grandkids will be regaled with stories that begin, “This one time off Mexico, I was caught in a thunderstorm over the carrier…”

Godspeed, and Fair Winds. First round is on me.


LCDR Ben Kohlmann is a naval aviator. He will matriculate at Stanford Business School this fall. The sentiments above do not necessarily reflect the position of the United States Navy, although sometimes he wishes they did.

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Civility, Manners, and Missed Opportunities

Mister-Rogers-2

LT Anna Granville’s article, and the ensuing rebuttals, one of which was posted here, created quite a stir. I didn’t predict it. I rarely do. There are times when I publish a post that I’m sure will land me a major literary award. Without fail, people seem more interested in “25 Ways to Lose More Belly Fat”. Other times, I labor through research, pull a few teeth, throw something on here that feels like a third-grade essay, and the crowd goes nuts. Relatively speaking.

Anna’s topic undeniably evoked tremendous response. There is, however, a razor-thin margin between controlled passion and unbridled emotion. The former is meaningful and beneficial. The latter often leads to hurt and regret.

I did not entirely agree with Anna’s post. A few of her points resonated with me, and we have discussed them on this site a great many times. Other points felt like finger-pointing and a lack of ownership. At no time did I feel offended by what she wrote. Ultimately, I applaud her for writing, I thank her for her service, and I wish her well. If you asked me to best describe her article, I would tell you it reminded me of a Men’s Large polo shirt on a skinny eighth-grader. Hollow by a smidgen. Not filled out.

I did not entirely agree with Jack’s rebuttal either. I did agree with most of it. He took Anna to task for what he perceived as an attack on a demographic, and for presenting problems with no proposed solutions. Anna exercised her rights. Jack exercised his. To his credit, he  did not take issue with her, he took issue with her ideas. There is a difference.

Unfortunately, the very worst of our comments on Jack’s work devolved into men vs. women, SWOs vs. aviators, and retirees vs. junior officers. The discussion should have never focused on white, Christian men. White, Christian men don’t get a vote on being white or male, so you can only “blame” them for being Christian. Even then, no one should need to apologize for being like those who landed on our shores a few short centuries ago. The typical internet food-fights distracted us from what could have been meaningful work. We had a chance to have a real discussion that moved the enterprise forward. Instead, we chose to call each other names. That makes me sad. We missed a great opportunity.

I still allow anonymous comments, and I stand by that decision. While it does permit entry to the occasional troll, it also gives a voice to those who might be harmed by revealing their identity. I am thrilled to have an audience of active duty readers. None of them should ever fear being called into The Man’s office because of what they say here. I want to hear from them. We need to hear from them. I love comments (usually) because they turn my blog into a conversation. If it’s just me talking, it’s not a conversation at all, it’s a soliloquy.

You will notice that I also have a Like/Dislike plug-in. I’m not in love with it. My opinion of it changes almost daily. What I like about it is that it’s an effective defense against someone who wants to dominate a discussion. If one person authors 50-percent of the comments on a particular post, that doesn’t mean he comprises 50-percent of the group opinion. Those stupid thumbs-up and thumbs-down icons help to make that clear. What I don’t like about the Like/Dislike plug-in is that it perpetuates our collectively-short societal attention span. It is far too binary and simplistic for me. My preference would be that you take the time to fully elucidate your praise or scorn in a well-written comment. I acknowledge that isn’t always appropriate, and that time is a commodity. Alas, the plug-in stays. For now.

There is an elephant in the room. We’re going to talk about it. The article written by “Anna” has created a kerfuffle beyond what most of you have seen. As it turns out, Anna is not a real person, which is why I put her name in quotes above. Anna is a pen-name. A pseudonym. She is Mark Twain to Samuel Clemens. You didn’t know that because it was never made clear at Task & Purpose nor elsewhere. To the extent that I perpetuated that ruse, I apologize.

There is still an elephant in the room. Like me, you likely believed that the picture of the saluting female Naval Officer at Task & Purpose was the author. We were duped. It’s not her. The author was presumably a female Lieutenant in her 20s (or thereabouts), so the connection appeared obvious. In reality, the Lieutenant in the picture is an active duty female who was none too pleased that her likeness was associated with ideas she neither hatched nor endorsed. I don’t blame her one bit. I removed her picture two days ago upon request. From others, I expect an explanation is forthcoming. That’s their business and not mine.

On my home page, there is a tab for Rules of the Road. Even though they are simple by design, we’re overdue for a refresher.

1. Be nice.
2. Don’t just visit. Please participate!
3. No personal attacks.
4. It’s okay to be critical if you are respectful.
5. Keep it clean.
6. Be nice.

Have a great weekend.

Photo Credit: www.pbs.org

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A Response to Ms. Anna Granville (Guest Post)

Yesterday, an active duty Naval Officer requested first-time-guest-poster status with the goal of offering a rebuttal to a recent post at Task and Purpose. Permission granted. His by-line is at the bottom. Enjoy.


Yesterday Ms. Anna Granville, presumably a Navy Lieutenant, penned a thought-provoking essay for Task & Purpose titled “4 Reasons I Am Resigning My Commission as a Naval Officer.” Before I offer my thoughts on her essay, I want to make two points plainly clear. First, I have a high level of respect for those who volunteer to serve causes bigger than themselves; clearly Granville has done so, and for that I say BZ. Second, I applaud any officer willing to stick his or her neck out by writing. More officers of all ranks would do well to turn their water cooler complaints into written thoughts, thereby adding to the collective conversation and doing something to foster solutions.

Ms Granville’s essay, as it appeared on Task & Purpose’s website, led off with the teaser, “I love the Navy, it has been an honor to serve, but I want this incredible organization to be better.” The hook intrigued me. I hoped to continue reading and find that she had offered fresh – dare I say innovative – ideas on how to solve the four problems that led her to resign. Sadly, in this regard I was left wanting. What followed her opening were well-worn and tired complaints laced together with sweeping (at times bordering on offensive) generalizations, all while using personal anecdotes to describe “the Navy.”   Some of this can be excused because, after all, these are her reasons for leaving. Her experiences inform her perception of reality and, in the end, it’s her decision to resign after several years of honorable service. However, the manner in which she lays out her arguments undermines what should have been the unassailable.

Granville’s first point, “Promotions are based more on ‘hitting wickets’ than exemplary performance,” is an argument that has been made for decades; as usual, her discussion precedes no actionable suggestion for improvement. Granville does not tell the reader what warfare community she served, but as an aviator I’ll offer an example I’m familiar with to push back at her premise. The new lieutenant who is killing it as the Coffee Mess Officer is not in the same league as the lieutenant who paddles hard to keep her head above water as the Assistant Operations Officer or Personnel Officer. Comparing the two and suggesting that one should be evaluated competitively against the other is to ignore the obvious – new junior officers are given less stressful and demanding “ground jobs” so they can dedicate more time to learning their warfare specialty. With time in the squadron (ship, unite, etc), this division of labor changes so that more experienced and tactically competent JOs are given more demanding jobs. While this example is specifically pertinent to the aviation community, I believe it transfers well across the various designators.

Ms Granville goes onto suggest that officers are often promoted on the basis of sustained superior timing and not the same high level of performance. In many cases she may be right; she may even have personal evidence to support this claim. I have personal evidence to suggest that this not the case. I watched a previous CO make gut-wrenching FITREP decisions that removed seniority and timing from the equation in order to reward the best performance. So who’s right? Her, or me? We’re both correct; what was incorrect was for Granville to use her anecdotal experience to characterize the entire fleet.

While our lack of agreement has thus far resulted from different experiences, perhaps the most off-putting and offensive portion of her opening argument centered on the “fog a mirror” trope. In 2014, 64 pilots and NFOs failed to select for LCDR despite having multiple high-water EPs both at sea and ashore. In particular, I’d like to ask Anna to explain to a similarly qualified group of twice-passed-over aviators what more they could have done – did they need a bigger mirror? Further, she argues the current promotion system “guarantees that the best, most energetic junior officers to [sic] leave active duty.” Again, the broad generalizations and an insistence on using personal anecdote and opinion of self to characterize the Navy as a whole are disturbing and, most of all, misleading.

Ms Granville’s second reason for leaving, “Unsustainable strain on your personal relationships” also caught my interest because of my personal perspective. My wife and I spent the first two years of our marriage travelling around the world to visit each other during three different deployments. We successfully navigated five more years of deployments, detachments, schools, etc. before my wife transitioned to the reserves. We knew what we were getting into and certainly didn’t (and still don’t) blame the Navy for the time away from one another. To join a seagoing, expeditionary service and be turned off by the “involuntary” six-month separations strikes me as naïve. Again, these are her reasons for leaving and as such, they can’t be wrong per se, but I’m left wondering what Anna’s objective in writing this essay really was? If she truly “wants this incredible organization to be better,” it might prove more effective to set aside the buyer’s remorse and focus on issues that can be addressed. Instead of giving her four reasons to Task & Purpose, perhaps she could have included them in her actual resignation letter to NPC – with a carefully considered list of recommendations for improvement.

The third reason Ms Granville gives for her resignation leads to her most controversial and offensive remarks. We can argue all day whether or not the Navy actually values education. In fact, Anna and I can probably agree that it doesn’t. I might even grant her that the Navy is in fact “anti-intellectual,” as she says; however, the reason given to justify her claim is preposterous. Her statement that “white, Christian, conservative men….who grew up middle-class or privileged and whose wives do not have a career outside the home” are largely to blame for the lack of intellectualism is disgusting and smacks of the same stereotypical and simplistic thought that is usually espoused by those denigrating racial, ethnic, or gender minorities. She attempted to salvage the argument by offering a Seinfeld-esque “there is nothing wrong with any of this…” but it’s too late. Anna showed her cards and it is a losing hand.

Ms Granville is presumably astute enough to realize that her description of senior officer demographics might be superficially correct, but to suggest that she knows how each thinks, what each values, and how each officer approaches a problem set because of outward appearances is shortsighted.  It’s almost as shortsighted as suggesting that racial or ethnic minorities will, by default, bring “diversity of thought” simply because they are racial or ethnic minorities. That’s a dangerous assumption to make regardless of if we’re talking about women, African-Americans, or “privileged” old white guys.

I regret that Ms Granville felt compelled to cite this as a reason for resigning, and insofar as her experiences inform her perceptions, I won’t question those experiences. That being said, that after several years in the Navy she didn’t get to a point where she didn’t prejudge an individual’s intellectual capacity by their skin color or age is more regrettable.

I did not write this to criticize Anna for her decision to leave. I did not write this to point out how her experiences and perceptions are wrong – either task would be impossible and unfair. I wrote this because the reasons Ms Granville gave for resigning her commission leave a lot of questions. One would hope that if she genuinely wanted “this incredible organization to be better,” she may have offered suggestions for improvement. She may have left us with a set of ideas that would address some of the reasons she chose to move on. Instead we were given an oversimplified, overly generalized, and at times naïve set of ideas that leaves the reader thinking that Anna is the only one who “gets it,” while the rest of us are screwed up.

I once worked for a CAG that told me, “when you look around and realize that everyone else is screwed up, it’s time for you to leave.” His words seem rather appropriate – but of course he was just a middle aged white guy.

This is not the first, nor will it be the last, “here’s why I’m leaving” letters to be published. Each has a slightly different take and slightly different tone, but one thing that many (Ms Granville’s included) have in common is a sense of I didn’t like parts of it, so it’s wrong; parts of it didn’t work for me, so it’s wrong; it didn’t fit within the lifestyle I want, so it should change. Rarely do we see someone offer it wasn’t right for me, nor I for it, and that’s ok.   The Navy is a massive organization with countless competing personnel interests. In so much as Ms Granville suggests that there are policies that need attention – we agree. However, I challenge her to apply her talent for writing and her love of the Navy, and offer some carefully considered and actionable suggestions. Vice Admiral Moran and many other senior personnel managers have shown a willingness to listen and experiment with ideas filtered from the bottom up.

We understand why you’re leaving Anna, but maybe on the way out, help us to be the better organization that you longed for?


LCDR Curtis is a Naval Aviator with fifteen years of service. The opinions expressed here are his alone and do not reflect those of the Tailhook Association, the U.S. Navy, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

Photo Credit: www.taskandpurpose.com

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Shiny New Admirals

hat

Even though it will be a while before most of them pin on their new rank, here are the names. My advice to each of them: spend as much time as possible exploring the phrase “Widely Attended Gathering“.

Congratulations, and good luck. We’re all counting on you.


 

Navy Reserve Rear Adm. (lower half) Mark L. Leavitt has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral. Leavitt is currently serving as commander, Naval Air Forces Reserve, San Diego, California.

Navy Capt. Danelle M. Barrett has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Barrett is currently serving as chief of staff, Navy Cyber Force, Suffolk, Virginia.

Navy Capt. Eugene H. Black III has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Black is currently serving as director, Surface Warfare Officer Distribution and Career Management Division, Navy Personnel Command, Millington, Tennessee.

Navy Capt. Dell D. Bull has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Bull is currently serving as chief of staff, Naval Air Force Pacific, San Diego, California.

Navy Capt. Ann M. Burkhardt has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Burkhardt is currently serving as Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group fellow, Newport, Rhode Island.

Navy Capt. William D. Byrne Jr. has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Byrne is currently serving as commandant, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.

Navy Capt. Edward B. Cashman has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Cashman is currently serving as Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group fellow, Newport, Rhode Island.

Navy Capt. Ronald C. Copley has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Copley is currently serving as commander, Joint Intelligence Operations Center, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Navy Capt. Moises Deltoro III has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Deltoro is currently serving as major program manager (PMS-415), Program Executive Officer Submarines, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. James P. Downey has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Downey is currently serving as major program manager (DDG 1000 Program), Program Executive Officer Ships, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. Stephen C. Evans has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Evans is currently serving as senior military assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. Gregory J. Fenton has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Fenton is currently serving as chief of staff, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, Yokosuka, Japan.

Navy Capt. John V. Fuller has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Fuller is currently serving as deputy, Littoral Combat Ships, N96, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. Michael P. Holland has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Holland is currently serving as director, operations division, Office of Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management and Comptroller (FMB-1), Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. Hugh W. Howard III has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Howard is currently serving as assistant deputy director, Global Operations, Joint Staff, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. Jeffrey W. Hughes has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Hughes is currently serving as executive assistant, N98, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. Thomas E. Ishee has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Ishee is currently serving as executive assistant to the chief of naval operations, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. Stephen T. Koehler has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Koehler is currently serving as commanding officer, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), Norfolk, Virginia.

Navy Capt. John W. Korka has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Korka is currently serving as director, Maritime Headquarters, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Navy Capt. Yancy B. Lindsey has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Lindsey is currently serving as executive assistant to the assistant secretary of the Navy (energy, installations and environment), Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. David G. Manero has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Manero is currently serving as integration branch head, International Affairs, N521, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. Francis D. Morley has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Morley is currently serving as major program manager (PMA-265), program executive officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs, Patuxent River, Maryland.

Navy Capt. Cathal S. O’Connor has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). O’Connor is currently serving as deputy director, N31, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. Paul Pearigen has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Pearigen is currently serving as special assistant, Navy Inspector General, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. Peter G. Stamatopoulos has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Stamatopoulos is currently serving as assistant chief of staff for supply and ordnance, Naval Surface Force, U. S. Pacific Fleet, San Diego, California.

Navy Capt. Anne M. Swap has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Swap is currently serving as commanding officer, Naval Hospital, Okinawa, Japan.

Navy Capt. Jeffrey E. Trussler has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Trussler is currently serving as deputy director for analysis and requirements, N2/N6, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, District of Columbia.

Navy Capt. William W. Wheeler III has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Wheeler is currently serving as executive assistant to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe; Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa; and Commander, Joint Allied Forces Command, Naples, Italy.

Navy Capt. Stephen F. Williamson has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Williamson is currently serving as commander, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington.

Navy Capt. Michael W. Zarkowski has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Zarkowski is currently serving as commanding officer, Fleet Readiness Center, Mid-Atlantic, Patuxent River, Maryland.

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