Monday, November 09, 2009
Honesty always struck me as a good management policy. That often includes care not to blindside your boss, no one likes a surprise, and thorough documentation to cover your 6.
My biggest headache was a sailor who kept going over the hill, Unauthorized Absence (UA), but came back just before the book said we could call it Desertion. As someone once explained to me the rules are written so that if he is caught wearing black socks his lawyer can argue that he intended to return. He was making no money but his file was a mess. I called him into my "office" and explained to him that every time he ran away we had to tear up the old paperwork to get rid of him and start over. He said that no one had ever explained that to him before and then the following conversation happened.
"Do you want to get out of the Navy?"
"I have a secret for you. The Navy doesn't like you either. We want to get rid of you."
"In fact I can promise you that if you just sit tight and don't cause me any trouble I can get you out within a month."
"Is it a deal?"
He stayed on the ship for the first leg of our deployment between San Diego and Pearl Harbor so I got to use him for a training exercise. We had the 3rd Class Midshipmen (College Freshmen from the Academy) on board for their Summer Cruise. My orders were "Make sure they don't get hurt." The 3rd Class get to play and dress like enlisted members and the 1st class get to dress and be treated like officers. The troops were told that they were all to be treated carefully and legally they rank between a Chief Warrant Officer (Tells God what to do in the Navy) and an Ensign.
What I did was have my Chief assemble them on the Fo'c'sle, up at the pointy end of the cruiser where we kept animals like the Wildcat, which I owned as the ship's First Lieutenant Afloat/Deck Division officer, and had my Leading Petty Officer, who was no good but I digress, fetch my soon to be discharged problem child. He introduced himself by saying "Hi I'm Seaman X and I'm what you call a dirtbag. Mr Y wanted me to tell you how to deal with a guy like me." He was absolutely honest with them and I had not a speck of trouble out of him after that until we could get him off the ship and out of the Service in a couple of weeks.
Well said, I am surprised that Walter Reed did not inflate his file with more junkets and special classes to keep him out of their hair. That indicates to me that he was so bad that they were afraid to let anybody even see him. You always send all your stars off for special assignments. Evelyn Waugh has one officer say it was going to be a hell of a war when all the shit came back from special training with promotions.
When I was on ACDUTRA in Munich I had to participate in a mandatory post Tailhook flagellation session. Your analysis is on target. There is no surprise in how we ended up here. Just to make whiskey feel better he can look up the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS) process. My ship, the LHA not the CG, was used as a prop for an awards ceremony where we had to line up and smile as they gave an award to a female Personnel Support Detachment officer from Adak. Discipline held, barely.
Did I ever inflict myself on your command? We hope that the core remains sound and The Service can get past this. The Surface Navy faced serious problems 20 years ago and now that it is half the size it was then there is less room to hide problems. Gresham's Law takes over and the bad drive out the good.