Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What I hope we don't discover...

The events on the left coast this past weekend are very sad... and I am afraid they are going to show up some series systemic issues.

I'm afraid we'll discover this was a crew of part-timers... or that they didn't have the requisite night underway hours... or that they hadn't been maintaining currency... or the coxswain was a 20-year second class who wasn't at second class by choice... or that they had a cowboy reputation... Something... something that will, in the end, be a game changer...

It's a dangerous world, a dangerous work environment, but generally it's dangerous for the Guardian, not the young child... I think about the accident in the Grand Haven turning basin, the unbuckled reservist thrown in Seattle, the frozen capsized souls in Erie, the wreck on the rocks of Quillayute... those all just impact the Guardian... This, well, this is different. And that's why, in part, this is going to be a game changer...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Internet: Ensuring secrets don't remain secrets

Motor Life Boat off Montauk Point
Photo by Thomas Colla
Posted at flickr by Tidewater Muse
More than ever, everything is public and in the clear...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Podcamp coming to Virginia Beach: Set for 11/17, first day of the Innovation Expo

Interested in social media? Web 2.0? Web-based communication? Using the Internet to develop stakeholder relationships? If so, you don't want to miss this, for sure. If you're planning on attending, you can register here:


Please only register if you're actually going to be there... Thanks.

See you there!

Monday, September 28, 2009

And the question is...

I've been thinking a bit about the service's embrace of social media. Well, the Thadmiral's embrace of new media... and the host of people who are waiting for next summer.

A couple of my compatriots, er, shipmates in the vernacular, I guess, have decided that the heat is cranking up. There are too many dinosaurs and it is too darn easy to post something that is thought to be career ending. Too bad, frankly. I know that SIGNO 1 values honest dialogue, but too many other senior officers and civilians are running scared. And scared for the darnedest things. I even had a senior officer deny me organizational data for a dissertation -- yes, the bloody doctorate I've worked on for five years -- an academic exercise done under the close supervision of the university's institutional review board. Not blogging, for sure. And he has denied me access to all organizational data. I didn't want names, just numbers; numbers of vacancies over time, numbers of attrition and retention, numbers of formal and informal civil rights complaints. Nope, nada, nil. And, why? Fear. The same reason people are down on social media. Fear. Said the naysaying senior officer: "Once you have the data, you are free to interpret it as you wish without the filters of a command structure." Er, isn't that the purpose of academic research? But, hey, I'm just one person, and sorry if this puts a "crimp on [my] educational goals but the security of sensitive data, the trust of our people, and the reputation of [the agency] outweigh any individual benefits."

Bloggers and academics, beware. "They" don't want the truth to rear its ugly, ugly head. I fear where we might be in 12 months.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I will be off-net for the next month. Back OOA 8/1/2009. No tweets, posts, or email. Nothing. Dropping off completely. Have a gr8 month.

Dropping out, 2009 style: I will be off-net for the next month. Back OOA 8/1/2009. No tweets, posts, or email. Nothing. Dropping off completely. Have a gr8 month.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Just where have I gone?

I've gone to Twitter, actually. I'm currently enamored of micro-blogging, working to keep individual posts to 140 characters or less. Those micro-posts don't show up here, but posts here do get sent out over the Twitter stream.

You can follow along on Twitter here.

For the several dozen of you subscribed to this blog's RSS feed, you can subscribe to an RSS feed of the Twitter stream.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

A recruiter who wouldn't speak about recruiting

Buried deep in Rachel Raskin-Zrihen's Uncle Sam wants you -- maybe in the Contra Costa Times was this gold nugget:
A local . . . recruiter who declined to reveal his name, said his service branch is also seeing more people wanting in, and fewer leaving once their tours are up.
Er, whatever happened to speaking about what you know? He's a recruiter, right, so everything he said was within his scope. No need to be coy.

Compare Petty Officer I'm-not-going-to-tell-you-my-name to this:
Kelly Walker of Tracy, 24, serves . . . at the Vallejo Station. She said she's been with the [service] about 1 1/2 years.

"I was living in Florida, bartending, and that got old fast," Walker said to explain why she joined the [smallest branch of the military]. "I had done Sea Cadets as a kid and really liked that, and I wanted to find a career."

Walker said she considered the Navy, but settled on the [sister service] and has not regretted her decision. She said she especially enjoys the search and rescue and law enforcement aspects of the job.

"I'm glad I joined when I did. I have a roommate who lost her job and that's an eye-opener," she added. "Compared to people trying to hack it in the real world, this is great."
That's the way to do it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Danger Room Interviews "The Thadmiral"

Okay, well that's not how Nathan Hodge refers to Signo 1; however, Mr. Hodge does have a great post at Danger Room about the Commandant's thoughts as he looks south of the border: [Service] Chief Eyes Narco-Navy Threat
Last week, the White House released a new counternarcotics strategy for the U.S.-Mexico border that calls for better intelligence and new surveillance technology to stem the flow of drugs, weapons and cash between the two countries. But according to the head of the [United States' smallest military branch], Mexico’s vulnerable southern border is an equally serious concern.

In a conversation with Danger Room, . . . Commandant Adm. Thad Allen said that between 75 percent and 80 percent of all the cocaine moving toward the United States – on go-fast boats, fishing vessels, and narco-submarines — first goes to Mexico, where it can be broken into much smaller packages that are harder to detect.

“The southern border that should be of concern to us as well is Mexico’s southern border, between Mexico, Honduras and that area with Belize,” he said. “Once those products get into Mexico, a couple things happen that really, really increase the problem set for Mexico and the United States. Everything gets distributed into smaller loads, and it’s much harder to identify and intercept. And number two, the drug trafficking organizations are increasingly paying off their transportation people and folks in Mexico with drugs instead of money. So they are creating a user population in Mexico that creates another corrosive effect.”
Good stuff. And if you don't check out Danger Room every once in a while, you should. Always something in the way of food for thought.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Taking Charge: & now we know why it took so long for the Service to release the report

Very interesting news about the sinking of the F/V PATRIOT and the response from America's smallest military branch. From CG News: [Service] releases results of investigation into fishing vessel Patriot response efforts.
The commander of the . . . Atlantic Area here released Thursday the final action memo detailing the results of an administrative investigation into the [Service]’s response efforts during a January search and rescue case off the coast of Gloucester, Mass.

Matteo Russo and John Orlando died when their 54-foot commercial fishing vessel, the Patriot, sank about 14 nautical miles southeast of Gloucester, Jan. 3.

“Our review of this case showed that we were slow to launch search and rescue assets because of poor collection and analysis of information, and decision making regarding the Patriot’s status,” said Vice Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr. “The remedial actions I’m requiring are designed to ensure that our people have the right tools, experience and training to be able to act quickly and decisively when emergent and unpredictable cases happen.”
Wow. Slow to launch. Poor collection & analysis. Poor decision making.

CC/RCC watches, no matter the level within the organization, can be a crucible. Often, controllers will breath a sigh of relief: "But for the grace of God, there go I..."
A copy of the Final Action Memo, which includes all of Papp’s opinions and required actions, can be downloaded/viewed at: http://www.uscgnewengland.com/go/doctype/778/33818/
Great read.
In January, the . . . 1st District in Boston initiated a Search and Rescue Case Study to review the Patriot case. But by April Papp was becoming anxious to know what issues had been found.
I'll bet. I know a reporter at a little newspaper that was hot on the trail and throwing gasoline on the fire making certain everyone knew there was more to be learned than what had already been released.
“A [Coastie/Guardian] never wants to lose anyone while on watch, and I wanted to know what issues had been found so we could begin to implement any needed changes to operations in my area of responsibility,” said Papp. “I asked for a working copy of the case study and when I noted the extent of the 1st District command center’s involvement in the case I made the decision to convene an administrative investigation. Assigning an independent, third-party investigator to maximize the amount of information available and ensure there was an additional, independent level of review, gave us a broader look at all aspects of our response to the Patriot case,” added Papp.
I applaud Admiral Papp, Atlantic Area, and the Service for taking such an open view and perspective. And, while I know the family and community was upset with the pace, hopefully they are, now that they have been personally briefed, more understanding of why the delay.
“We are committed to providing the best service possible to the maritime community, and reviewing unusual cases like the Patriot helps us to improve our search and rescue operations,” said Papp.

. . .

“I have personally spoken with Mrs. Russo to pass on my condolences for her family’s loss, and to express my regret for the length of time this investigation has taken,” said Papp. “I also sent a team earlier today to personally share the final report with them and answer any additional questions. The Russo and Orlando families have my commitment that this review of our response will help us perform more effectively and decisively, even during uncertainty, and may one day help to save someone’s life.”
May we, indeed, be a learning organization and take these findings, opinions, and required actions to heart, fully internalizing them.

The guardians of Liberty

The guardians of liberty?
Originally uploaded by AnotherOz
Great pic.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Moving this blog's Twitter feed to @AnotherCGBlog away from @pastinson

While the headline says most of the message, here's the gist. I've decided to move my CG-specific Twitter posts away from @pastinson over to @AnotherCGBlog. You can follow along at Twitter for both @AnotherCGBlog and @pastinson. I also, earlier this week, I created @OrgConsultant for organizational and consulting tweets. I'll be re-racking things over the next couple of days. Questions or concerns or whatever, comment below.

What the Army has done

Originally uploaded by Army.mil
From Noah Shachtman at the Danger Room: Army Orders Bases: Stop Blocking Twitter, Facebook, Flickr.
The Army has ordered its network managers to give soldiers access to social media sites like Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, Danger Room has learned. That move reverses a years-long trend of blocking the web 2.0 locales on military networks.
Will the other services follow suit? Will America's smallest military step out and join the Army in doing what is, clearly, the right thing if we are to become nimble, change capable, agile, and learning-focused?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What helicopter are we giving to India?

This caught my eye:
US offers . . . choppers to India

New Delhi, June 8, IRNA -- The US has offered to lease out 12 of its ... twin-engine helicopters to India which is looking to strengthen its coastal security following the Mumbai terror attacks.

"As the acquisition process will take time, we (India) want to have 12 twin-engine helicopters on lease . . . The US has offered to lease out its . . . helicopters [which are used by the United States' smallest military branch] to us," a senior Defense Ministry official said in New Delhi on Monday, Indian official media reported.
Do we have frames just sitting in the desert along side some HU-25's just waiting to be brought back into service? Are they 60's or 65's or something else?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Well that didn't help

Give Way
Originally uploaded by jay2boat

Guess staff doesn't want this blog to sail under the radar...

Well, truth be known, the only people who aren't reading here are those people who don't know it's here. I know, that's blatantly obvious.

Who knows this is here: Well, Signo 1 and Signo 3, for sure. And the PA watch desk at OC-30. The good folks in CG-092. And the 361 people who follow me on Facebook. And the 162 folks who follow on Twitter. It's no secret, for sure.

Who doesn't know this is here, and will likely never stumble on it, at least coming from a search engine: Joe Sixpack.


Welcome, reader.

Sign that young man up

Check out this story from WXII in North Carolina.
Two Piedmont teenagers who helped save the lives of two strangers told their story on Saturday.

The two boys said they were just at the right place at the right time when they saw two men in the water after their boat had capsized in the Yadkin River Friday night.
Read the whole story or view the news clip here.

Here's hoping that a recruiter is working with young Mr. Fields...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

DCMS Blog deemed too sensitive for public consumption

The fifth military service decided that one if its official blogs was too sensitive for public consumption so the entire website has been locked down so that no one can see the divisive material:
Okay, in truth I'm pretty sure it's an oversight and someone has just toggled the wrong button.

h/t to comments at An Unofficial Blog.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Powerpoint... Come on, you know you hate it...

And you hate it because when someone is really good with it, it just blows your mind:
Sad to say, that one wasn't by an actual member or contractor the fifth military service, but rather a professional... who took a traditional, old school ppt and gave it umph wrapped in a make-over...

h/t to Ryan at An Unofficial Blog.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fifth Military Service left off the list, again

Seems it happens a bit... and often not from where you'd expect to find it. Yes, Americans are quick to forget their are five branches of the American military.

Here's a little bit about the corps of cadets at Norwich University:
Military colleges have a long and proud tradition in American history and were not designed solely for students planning military careers. The Corps of Cadets prepares students to become competent and responsible citizens. Norwich, established in 1819, was the first of all private military colleges in the country. Our founder, Captain Alden Partridge, understood that structured military lifestyle combined with rigorous academics would benefit those pursuing careers in both the military world and the private sector. His vision resulted in the creation of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). As the birthplace of ROTC, Norwich houses all four branches of the armed services—Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. Our Corps of Cadets program allows individuals to gain military experience while earning a degree.
The reason this one pains me so is that if any school ought to know better, it's Norwich University. Afterall, the university's president, Dr. Richard Schneider, holds a commission as a general officer in the Vermont Militia... and is a retired Reserve flag officer... from that fifth branch of the American military.

Well, this certainly takes things to a different level

BERT, C-144, H-65
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse
When I started to read Michael DeKort's recently-filed federal law suit, I thought that it weighed in about where my dissertation ought to be right now...

h/t to Mandy Smithberger of POGO.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another book for your bookshelf...

Well, er, maybe not.

Earlier this month, I wrote Guess what ought to be on the bookshelves of your local bookstore today over at An Unofficial . . . Blog.

Today, I read about Guarding the Coast by Samantha Gail. This is going to rank up with the second episode of The Pretender; from Amazon:
Captain Frankie Moriarty is an ace rescue pilot -- a hundred pounds of redheaded dynamite answering mayday calls along the northern Pacific coast with her elite . . . helicopter crew. As the commanding officer, she has a reputation to uphold and it’s one that doesn’t include getting involved with her coworkers.

Gage Adams is not your typical pretty boy. The team’s co-pilot and former pararescueman has seen battle and lived to lose sleep over it. For four years he has worked alongside Frankie, treating her with respect, viewing her as a sister...

Tonight, everything between them will change forever. . .
Well, at least Ms. Gail is writing (more than I can say for some people we might know). This is her 5th published novel.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And the definition of is is?

Admiral Blore told me that both the visual and the instrumented tests for the TEMPEST were completed in April. But follow-up questions on that statement suggest that it isn't the case at all.
That's from the good folks at the Project on Government Oversight following an interview Mandy Smithberger had with Rear Admiral Gary Blore, the service's Assistant Commandant for Acquisition. Turns out we're not debating the definition of is but rather done. From where Ms. Smithberger sits, seems like things are done only if done means started.

Did Admiral Blore adamantly wag his finger for emphasis as he said that things were done in terms of testing for TEMPEST?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wear it!

Ericka Watson, in her About.com Ericka's Powerboating Blog, writes Go Beyond the Law, Wear a PFD . Indeed.

Ms. Watson says, "Make this boating season the one where you commit to wearing, not just carrying a PFD."

DOG Assessment 2009 at Air Station Cape Cod

H/t to Cape Cod Today.

Tilt-shift rescue

Bathtub IV from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

H/t to Robin at Decisions for Heroes blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First there was BREAK ALL THE RULES...

... and now there's Google...

In First, Break All the Rules, Coffman and Buckingham lay out a case that employees join organizations but leave supervisors.

Now, it seems that Google is working on an algorithm which will help identify employees who are on the verge of leaving... before the employee even knows they're thinking about it.

Scott Morrison at the Wall Street Journal tells us Google Searches for Staffing Answers.
The Internet search giant recently began crunching data from employee reviews and promotion and pay histories in a mathematical formula Google says can identify which of its 20,000 employees are most likely to quit. . . .

Applying a complex equation to a basic human-resource problem is pure Google, a company that made using heavy data to drive decisions one of its "Ten Golden Rules" outlined in 2005. . . .

Google's algorithm helps the company "get inside people's heads even before they know they might leave," said Laszlo Bock, who runs human resources for the company.
I wonder if America's smallest military service could do something similar.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

There's only one. Do you know who it is?

Only one person wears this uniform; do you know who it is?

Photo from S J Collins at flickr and used with permission.

A frog (and a) prince to save the rain forests

Nothing to do with the topic of this blog... more important, actually...

Gift giving

A very funny post over at Waiting for Ships to Come In: Gift Giving. Links to gifts for children and gag gifts for folks of different ratings.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Deconstucting the SAR response to the F/V Patriot

Richard Gaines, a graduate of my alma mater in Hartford, continues his work focusing on the life and times of Gloucester, Massachusetts, with his recent article in the Gloucester Daily Times: Leader leaving with no word on Patriot probes. And, I'm sure I'm going to take some heat.

So be it.

Richard Gaines is certainly out to shine a light on truth. In a recent column (Stop upsetting my routine!) in the paper, Ray Lamont opines that the Gloucester Daily Times is using it's fourth estate position to dig through the muck and expose what's really going on in our public institutions. He wrote,
Let freedom ring shouts the editorial policy of the paper! Shine a light on the news, the boards, the process.
Mr. Gaines continues today, using documents provided to me in a FOIA request.

And that's where, I'm sure, some will say I've betrayed the service. Well, I've betrayed the service if what we're about is hiding the truth, not letting the public know what's going on, and not learning from our mistakes.

Mr. Gaines notes that the Gloucester community and the family of the men on the F/V PATRIOT were told they'd be given, in fairly short order, the results of internal investigations about the case.

Hasn't happened, notes Mr. Gaines.
Indeed, the [agency] has offered no further insight into the cause of the sinking — which is the subject unfolding litigation involving a Louisiana-based ocean tug company — or the [service]'s own performance in evaluating the flow of information in the overnight hours of Jan. 3.

There were signs and signals, none unequivocal but together imprecisely pointing to a vessel in distress not far from reach. There were the many steps in the assessment process — uncertainty, alert and distress — that finally led to an all-out effort to search for and rescue Matteo Russo, 36, the captain of the Patriot, and John Orlando, 59, his mate and father-in-law.

An official chronology of the response — known as a "case report," which was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Peter A. Stinson, a civilian employee of the [service] living in Virginia, and posted on Scribd.com, a document sharing Web site — adds some clarity.
You can follow along the chrono here as Mr. Gaines deconstructs the events of that fateful morning. And the deconstruction is troubling, at best, and, I believe, highlights training and juniority issues within America's smallest military service.

Hopefully, we will receive a full accounting of the events of January 3rd. And, even more hopefully, we will learn from those events, learn as an organization, so that we will not make the same stumbles in the future.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wear a uniform, become a person people get their picture taken with...

Members from the Response Department of MSU Pittsburgh participated in the safe boating exhibition outside PNC Park and tonight's Pirate's game: an opportunity to talk about boating safely and wearing PFDs... and to satisfy the public's urge to have their picture taken with Guardians. Indeed.

Come on folks: don't be stupid... protect your children... all of them... including your babies...

Oh, this just irks me... I'm boiling... people who put their children in danger ought to be, well, strung up, perhaps...

From Joe Nicks at Radio Kenai: Family Rescued.
A . . . rescue crew was part of this week's efforts to rescue five people near Homer, involving two adults, two children and one infant. The five were in a 16-foot skiff that became disabled about three miles northeast of Homer Spit around 11 p.m. on Monday. Anthony and Dawn Crump, along with three children, had been camping in Halibut Cove since Friday. They were returning to Homer when the engine broke down. The [fifth military branch] was notified by the Homer Police Department after Anthony Crump, the owner of the skiff, called saying their vessel was disabled. Crump also shot a flare to assist the [smallest military service] with the rescue.
Okay, you're wondering what raised my ire? The last line:
Everyone on board the skiff, except for the infant, had personal flotation devices.
Urgh... come on. No PFD for the infant? Can he swim? Doubtful.

Let me tell you what irks me more than anything else: adults who put their children in stupid danger.

Come on, folks... protect your children. Get life jackets for everyone, including the babies.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Video from testimony on The Hill

Not today's testimony from the Commandant, but from recent testimony concerning the service's civil rights, equal opportunity, and equal employment opportunity programs. You can find the video here.

On the lam for nearly 30 years...

Here's an interesting tale from Hampton Roads, as published by The Virginian-Pilot in a story by Kristin Davis: Man who escaped from Chesapeake prison arrested in Georgia.
In the fall of 1982, Richard Paul Boucher was near the beginning of a 10-year sentence for beating and robbing [five people]. Then Boucher and another inmate struck a prison guard in the head with a clothes iron and disappeared from Tidewater Correctional Unit No. 22 - a prison on Greenbrier Parkway that closed years ago.
I know; you're wondering what this story has to do with America's smallest military service.


Just kidding. Actually the link is slight, but present nonetheless. One of the people he beat and robbed was a member of the fifth military branch; the other four were Navy sailors.

Here's my question: what were four sailors and a Guardian doing hanging out together?  ;-)

Cat's out of the bag

The cat is in the bag.
Originally uploaded by Kevin Steele
I think Another Unofficial Blog is out of the bag. We've now had 60 visitors; a few of them have stumbled here by searches; most from my pushed out feeds on Twitter and Facebook. I know, 60 visitors isn't much, but it does mean this is no longer flying totally under the radar...

Welcome, gentle readers.

Another headline with bad news

Originally uploaded by n.elle
From the AP in Detroit:
Federal prosecutors are seeking a 3-year prison sentence for a former . . . petty officer who extorted $35,000 from a Detroit-area illegal immigrant. . . . He pleaded guilty in December to shaking down an immigrant in his Macomb County neighborhood with the promise he could help the man avoid deportation.
I posted about this at An Unofficial Blog a couple months ago, wondering if he'd use the Boatswain Mate Defense.

Guess not.

The article goes on to say, "But [he] did nothing in exchange for the money."

Well, that's not fair...
Prosecutors say his conduct "disgraced" the [service] and "tarnished the image" of people who serve their country.
I'll say; if you're going to shake someone down, you ought to follow through and actually provide the service. Yes, otherwise you are a disgrace.

UPDATE 5/13/2009 2130 EDT: According to Ben Schmitt at the Detroit Free Press, the former petty officer received 2 years and was fined $2,500.

From Mr. Schmitt's article:
"The privilege of federal service and the honor of protecting the United States in the U.S. [military] should never be sullied by soliciting bribes, particularly when the purpose of the bridge is to prevent the execution of an officer’s lawful duties of enforcing the Nation’s immigration laws," U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg said in a statement today.

Captain David R. Callahan, Acting Commander of the Ninth . . . District said, "[His] actions were contrary to the [service]'s core values of honor, respect and devotion to to duty. The [service] is disappointed that [he] chose to violate the public trust rather than embrace our core values and serve the public."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Another post about the Alaskan relief for cause

More on the relief of the Sector Anchorage commanding officer... James Halpin writes in the Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage commander removed... faces allegations of misconduct. Looks like whatever has been brewing in the great white north has been on the stove for a while...
Reached Monday night, [Rear Admiral Arthur E.] Brooks, said the investigation of [the CO], who held the third-highest billet in the state, has been going for about a month and is likely to continue for another month or two. The investigation, conducted by the [service's] Investigative Service, has produced increasing evidence of misconduct in that time, he said.

"We do have an ongoing . . . investigation that had determined enough misconduct that I felt that I could no longer leave him in command," Brooks said. "I still don't know the full extent of it, or the degree of this, and so decisions on what to do and where it will ultimately go still pend. But I've reached a point where I needed to relieve him."
And then there was this tidbit:
Perhaps the most visible project [the CO] has overseen in recent weeks was the removal of millions of gallons of crude oil from the Drift River terminal after it was threatened by the eruption of Mount Redoubt. Though he wouldn't comment on the investigation, Brooks did say [the] removal had nothing to do with that operation.
Well, seldom does relief for cause have to do with operations. Wrote someone in a comment to my FB wall:
Anymore it seems, trouble with money would be ok... it's alcohol, command climate, and friggin' in the riggin' that's getting COs relieved anymore.
Sad, really, that we seem to be having this run on reliefs for cause.  I've thought aloud before that we seem to be eating them up and spitting them out. Clearly, at least from where I sit, it appears we have something of a systemic problem. Are we not screening properly? Is there something about mid-life crises that seems to raising its head every once in a while.

My brother is working on a dissertation about law enforcement officers who end up on the wrong side of the law. I wonder if someone could do a formal study about reliefs for cause and attempt to find the root causes, and then develop strategies to stop the run. I think, generally, these men and women are good people; what brings them down? Can we do something to stem the tide?

What do you think?

Monday, May 11, 2009

The removal of a commanding officer is not common


Over the weekend, Matt Byrne of the Boston Globe told us Captain relieved of command. Mr. Byrne wrote,
The captain of a Boston-based . . . cutter on patrol in the Caribbean was relieved of his command yesterday after his superior officer lost confidence in him, . . . officials said last night.
What caught my eye was the last paragraph of Mr. Byrne's article:
The removal of a commanding officer is not common, [Lieutenant Eric Halvorson, a spokesman for the First District in Boston] said. "It's not something that's regularly done, but it's certainly something that can be readily done if the area commander believes it's necessary."
Not common? Well I guess it depends on your definition of common. It seems like we're getting one relief a quarter. That's four a year. And for the size of the fleet, I'd say that's pretty darn common.

Anyone out there keeping track of the actual numbers? I'd certainly be interested.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Station Indian River to get stimulus cash

dollar$ and ¢ents
Originally uploaded by fpsurgeon
Okay, not directly. But it seems that the recently enacted stimulus package is going to help build a new station.

Tomorrow, Delaware Senator Thomas R. Carper will announce the award of $11.5 million as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to America's smallest military service. The funds will be used to refurbish the critical infrastructure at Station Indian River.

I guess that's one way to rebuild our failing shore infrastructure... although eleven and a half million dollars doesn't come close to putting a dent in the backlog...

Releasing PII... or not...

Back in January, over at Musings, I posted Now this is transparency:
Find the pay of most federal employees.

A week or two ago, I guess someone stumbled on the post and started an email chain accusing me of violating the Service's policy on the release of personal identifying information.

Er, let me get this straight... By linking to a website, a public website, which publishes public information which is provided by the federal government for the knowledge and edification of the public we serve, I'm violating the PII rule.

Get a grip folks.

Captain Q, in one of his final acts before retiring, provided cover, only even casually mentioning the email string to me as he'd squelched it directly.

Thanks, Captain, for adding a bit of reason to the discussion. And to those who over-reacted, do get a grip. Some things are in the best interest of the public we serve.

And, to those who think their pay isn't public knowledge, perhaps getting a job with a private company would be more your speed. Civil servants serve the nation, plain and simple.

LORAN-C: Killed by the Obama Administration

The Administration's budget for 2010 is published, along with a list of discretionary terminations and reductions... and the smallest military service gets a slight nod (er, inclusion). Wouldn't want to be left out, I guess... ;-)
The Administration is proposing to terminate the terrestrial-based, long-range radionavigation system (Loran-C) . . . because it is obsolete technology. Accounting for inflation, this will achieve a savings of $36 million in 2010 and $190 million over five years.
The justification is interesting as it pretty much lays out the nails for the coffin:
Loran-C is a federally-provided radionavigation system for civil marine use in U.S. coastal areas. The Nation no longer needs this system because the federally-supported civilian Global Positioning System (GPS) has replaced it with superior capabilities. As a result, Loran-C, including recent limited technological enhancements, serves only the remaining small group of long-time users. It no longer serves any governmental function and it is not capable as a backup for GPS.

Several Federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Transportation, and Homeland Security, already have backup systems for their critical GPS applications and the termination of Loran-C does not foreclose future development of a national back-up system. It merely stops the outflow of taxpayer dollars to sustain a system that does not now and will not, in its current state, serve as a backup to GPS.
And the folks doing LORAN support do a fantastic job; I only hope they understand that their super-human abilities to keep the system afloat are recognized... and that their talents get used elsewhere, 'cause they have been doing great management and leadership stuff, and their technical skills are unmatched.

A conversation missed

Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse
I was chatting recently with a senior officer who was telling sea stories about acquisitions -- and our recent "integrated partners" in particular -- and he was talking about a conversation -- I believe from several years ago -- where someone said that the money for aviation acquisitions wasn't going to do what it needed to do... and the response, the party line, from a very senior officer was, "Oh, don't worry, we'll always get more money," as if starting something we knew we couldn't afford wasn't all that big a deal as once started nothing could be stopped.

And people wonder why the members of the Legislative Branch of the government want to tighten down the oversight?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Please come back and get it back on track

Over at one of my other blogs, A School to Call Home, someone left an off-topic comment. Well, off-topic for that blog, but on-topic for this blog:
What happened to your [smallest military service] blog. very negative for months in the comments. we miss you. please come back and get it back on track.
Well, it's difficult to explain... or as many Facebook relationship statuses say, it's complicated.

You are correct, however, the comments did get very negative. This is one of the reasons I left my baby and came here. The comments were getting out of hand. One of the issues with all this new media is how one describes it. Is it new media, or is it social media. If you go and read much of the current stuff about the form, including Ryan's recent post about the status of the service's place in the social media hierarchy, you'll see there are two camps: one that sees these and other media outlets as new and the other that places the emphasis on the social. And, part of the social is allowing people to socialize, to comment, to add, to reflect.

Frankly, there are plenty of d***sh**s out there... and they were all pseudonymously commenting on that unofficial blog. Me, personally, I'm all in favor of posting one's opinion (I do it all the time), but I ask that people do it in the clear... and it was clear to me that commenting in the clear was going to not gain traction... So, for a cup of coffee, which I have yet to collect, I sold the blog to Ryan.

I do believe that if the Service is going to make gains in this new media realm, the emphasis must be placed on posting and commenting in the clear, under one's own name. I believe that posting and commenting under one's own name raises the dialogue and professionalism of the media.

Perhaps it was wrong of me, or weak of me, to turn tail and turn that unofficial blog over to someone else. Perhaps. But, frankly, it was a fight I just wasn't willing to take on. I know; you'll say it was my blog, and I could do whatever I wanted. True. But, it is also one of the grand-daddies of unofficial service blog, and every time I raised the issue, those who came out to comment were adamantly opposed. At the same time, I was losing my edge with the blog, not posting what I'm really best at, which is insight into the absurd.

So, in short, I tossed in the towel.

And came here. Where, still, I'm running under the radar, albeit I know I'm starting to throw up some return and I'm showing on some screens.

Will I come back and get an unofficial blog on track? Nope. I'm here at another unofficial blog, and that's good enough for me.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

They thought he was "with their unit"

Let me get this straight. Four members of the smallest branch of the military are walking back to their hotel after an evening enjoying the nightlife in Hyannis when they see a guy running down the middle of Route 28... and they thought the man was with their unit, so they yelled and ran to the man to get him out of the road. At some point, I guess as they were trying to drag him off the median, they realized he was not a member of their unit and an altercation ensued. During the fight, the man, who was not a member of their unit, stabbed one of the four service members in the wrist and upper back before running off toward the nearby rotary.

If that's not an alcohol incident, then I really don't understand what happened.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Official Blogging: Staff work or blogging?

A rose is a rose, no matter what we call it, as the characteristics of a rose are what make it a rose.

Question: What makes a blog?

I'm not sure I have an answer, or, if I do, it's more convoluted than it was six years ago when I first entered the blogosphere.

Over at the Service Chief's blog, there have been a number of guest posts. Many of these have been assigned, and the scuttle is that there's fear among the senior officers (flags and O-6s) at Buzzard Point whenever it looks like they're going to get tapped to write.

Not sure why, as it seems it gets staffed like all other writing.

This past month, the "big four" were tapped to write about the leadership competencies in support of Spotlight on Leadership month. I was visiting HQ early in the month and ran into a captain who was working on a post for his flag officer. Several days later, I found myself with SIGNO 3 and the then soon-to-be most junior flag talking about a blogging assignment.

Frankly, I treated it like any other staff writing assignment.

My first staff writing assignment, more than 20 years ago, has tainted my perspective. I was working on the staff of The Reservist, which was then a newsletter, and the admiral decided on the topic of the "From the Bridge" column. So he told the captain, who told the commander, who told the lieutenant commander, who told the ensign, who told me, a second class petty officer. So I wrote it, and gave it to the ensign, who bled all over it and handed it back to me. So I re-wrote it and gave it back to the ensign, who gave it to the lieutenant commander, who bled all over it and handed it back to the ensign, who gave it to me. So I fixed it and gave it back to the ensign who checked it and then gave it to the lieutenant commander who gave it to the commander... Well, you get the idea.

In the end, there was a single sentence of mine left.

And, you know what, that was okay, because it wasn't my writing, it was staff writing, ghost writing for someone else.

I think I'm a better writer now, but the process for staff writing hasn't changed all that much, albeit I try to use wikis in order to ease the editing process. Although, dragging people along the wiki route is pretty darn painful.

Anyway, over at the Service Chief's blog, SIGNO 3 had a series of five posts Leadership Spotlight -- Self Awareness and Learning, a series of five posts. (One. Two. Three. Four. Five.)

But I'm still wondering what makes a blog a blog vs. just more staff work. Or, is that not really a relevant question?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Guest posts.... at the Service Chief's blog

Addressing NASBLA
Originally uploaded by NASBLASafeBoating
Likely you've read the Service Chief's blog. It started as an informal way for the Thadmiral to post; it has since turned into another public affairs venue with some posts ghosted and others as guest posts from senior leaders in the fifth military service. And, yes, some guest posts are ghosted, making it in some ways a little less informal and a little more "staffed."

This month, being the month for a spotlight on leadership, the "big four" will be guest posting. The three star for operations posted today about mentoring. An interesting read...

I have it on pretty good authority that the three star for the right coast will post daily for a week, likely cranking out enough posts to look like a real blogger. I look forward to that later this month.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A call for efficiencies... what are we going to do about it?

Nothing. By the looks of it. Business as usual.

From the message board, we learn,
Wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity to try some web-based meeting tools with streaming video? And then,
If the Secretary wasn't talking about doing things like this cheaper, I'm not sure what she was talking about.

It's going to take increased IT infrastructure and a dedication to redoubling our efforts at reducing waste and increasing efficiencies.

It is, indeed, time for a new way of doing business... or just waiting out senior leadership. What will it be?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Secretary Napolitano: Increase efficiency and save taxpayer dollars

Recently, the Secretary announced a department-wide program to cut waste, increase efficiency, and save money. Among many initiatives, this one caught my eye:
We will eliminate non-mission-critical travel for employees, and maximize the use of the conference calls and web-based trainings and meetings. We will reduce subscriptions to professional publications and newspapers to lower costs and avoid duplication.
Well, if this is going to work in America's smallest armed force, we're going to need better computers. How about computers with full video conference capabilities? How about greater bandwidth?

Of course, I find it amusing that in addition to eliminating all non-mission-critical travel -- and I would put a slew of training in there, and conferences, and meetings, and, well, you get the idea -- we're killing off professional publications. "Okay, you can't go to this event which is really professional development... and we're cutting off your professional journals, too... so your knowledge will be pretty much out-of-date in no time at all.

But, she is on to something... if we had full-up computer equipment that could handle it, we probably could cut out some travel... but, the question I ask is, "Would the savings in travel costs really off-set the additional expenditures necessary to get the program online... to include tens of thousands of new computers and increased bandwidth.

They call it ... Tips When Sailing

This brought me a chuckle:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Heroic nurse had served a decade in the fifth military service

Somehow, I missed this...

Cutline with the photograph:
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Petty Officer 3rd Class Oscar Rodriguez presents the national ensign to the father of Jerry Y. Avant, during memorial services at Richmond Memorial Park, Thursday, April 2, 2009. Avant, who served in the ... as an Aviation Electronics Technician for 10 years, sacrificed his life, protecting patients from a gunman Sunday, March 29, 2009, while working as a nurse at the Pinelake Health and Rehab Center in Carthage, N.C. (Official photo/Petty Officer 1st Class Kip Wadlow)
A true Guardian... and here's a case where I like the use of the term... I'm also impressed that the Service was involved in the funeral; he hadn't retired from the Service and he was fairly junior (all things considered) when he left.

Anyway, a true Guardian. May he have eternal fair winds and ever following seas...

Who do you trust

Over at An Unofficial Blog, and elsewhere, the question of credibility has been hashed over (and over). I saw an interesting bit today about the Google/Twitter situation, and thought it appropriate. From JR Raphael:
I know, I know: Bloggers are entitled to break news as much as traditional journalists these days. But when push comes to shove and the two trades collide, my faith still falls with the veteran reporter. It's not the title that determines my trustworthiness -- heck, All Things Digital is itself described as a blog -- it's the writer's track record when it comes to things like journalistic integrity, thoroughness of reporting, and careful evaluation of sources. Whether information's given on The New York Times or on Timmy's Totally Terrific Tech Blog, that's what I'm ultimately going to consider.
I think JR sums it up nicely; track record plays a big part in terms of credibility.

So in the blogosphere of America's Fifth Military Service, who do you put your trust and faith to?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Found out

Two watching one shooting
Originally uploaded by antonioVi
Well, I turned on the RSS feed a day or two ago and burned the feed at Feedburner, and I made one comment on my primary blog, Musings, with a link here, and I think I've been found out.

Someone -- with the following caught by StatCounter, U.S. Department Of Transportation ( -- visited, and two people have registered to receive the feed.

No longer a journal (not that it ever was)...

Great pic titled "Boot camp"

Boot camp
Originally uploaded by (Drake)
What an awesome pic, eh?

And, speaking of boot camp, have you seen this post on the boot camp blog, the post from Victor 180, the recruit company that marched in President Obama's inauguration? Cool... and somebody can write...

We will be, I believe, in good hands.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Deja vu all over again

I came across this article in the New York Times today -- Boats Too Costly to Keep Are Littering Coastlines -- and it reminded me of a case from years ago.
Boat owners are abandoning ship.

They often sandpaper over the names and file off the registry numbers, doing their best to render the boats, and themselves, untraceable. Then they casually ditch the vessels in the middle of busy harbors, beach them at low tide on the banks of creeks or occasionally scuttle them outright.

The bad economy is creating a flotilla of forsaken boats. While there is no national census of abandoned boats, officials in coastal states are worried the problem will only grow worse as unemployment and financial stress continue to rise.
David Streitfeld goes on to tell the story of Brian A. Lewis of Seattle who scuttled his boat by drilling a hole in the hull and then letting it sink in the middle of Puget Sound.

Reminded me of a case run in Manistee in the early part of the SAR season in 1989. One one of the first days after they'd dropped the boat in the water, there was a Mayday call half a dozen miles south of the breakwater. As the UTB bounced along under dark skies, the radar revealed a boat which was about six miles south and heading south matching the UTB's speed. The crew arrived near the reported position and found a man, in an immersion suit, waiting to be rescued.

While the folks in Seattle are environmental nuts, the good folk of Michigan are supporters of the law. Had the boat sunk a mere half a mile off shore, it would have been resting in waters too deep to effect a salvage. As it was, the boat was in fairly shallow water. When she was pulled from the bottom, investigators discovered that all the electronics had been removed from the boat... along with anything else of value.

You'd think people would figure out the need to scuttle boats in really deep water...

Meantime, I'm wondering about the moron who went in the water to wait for rescue by the crew of Station Manistee.

It'll make you want to join

Spotlight on Leadership: See the posts, live the dream

I've started a series of posts over at an unofficial blog. You can catch the posts up, up to now, here. Stop on by.

Monday, March 30, 2009

This feels good...

You might know that I sold an unofficial blog... for a cup of coffee. Today, SIGNO 3 asked me, "Why?"

I think I replied that it was too much of a headache.

And, yet, that's not the complete truth because the complete truth is more complicated than a simple explanation; life can't be summed up in a word or two, and neither can a decision to sell out.

One reason the site's been a headache is the pseudonymous and anonymous crowd which hovers around to make comments. While hiding behind dark shadows. Without committing to stand by their own words, without standing up to be counted. When I allowed other permanent contributors, I started to give up the site, to sent it out on its own into the world. And I just didn't feel like dealing with the pseudonymous commenters. Here, I'll be the only blogger, and I'll deal with commenters with a ruthless severity not seen since the Russo-Japanese conflict of the last century (okay, I'm stretching in any number of ways here, but you get the idea). This is my game, my rules.

Second, to create something of worth, at least in the blogosphere, it's necessary to produce posts -- thus words -- every day. When there was nothing new posted, I felt like I was letting the readers down. You, dear reader here at another unofficial blog, will have no promise, be it stated or not. No, my promise here on this blog is simple: I promise nothing. I may post frequently or infrequently; this might even be the very last post. No promises. Expect nothing.

Admirals; they tell me I'm wrong...

Back in January, I pondered a bit and and then challenged the flag corps. I laid down the gauntlet, perhaps. Well, today the challenge was accepted.

Following a meeting today with SIGNO 3, wherein we discussed blogging in an official capacity, he asked me to stick around to chat.

I felt a keel hauling coming on, but, as usual, it was neither something so picturesque or important. No, he'd read my comment, and wanted to assure me that he knew of no targeting, whether official or unofficial.

That's good to know, but I'd pretty much already figured out what the pseudonymous source was talking about, because I've spoken to folks from 092 and I've seen the watch list.

Short answer: Yes, the agency is watching me. They're watching the entire blogosphere, and the rest of the Internet to boot, maintaining situational awareness. It's not for evil, and I think I've got almost an inside handle on this one.

You can get a clue about the future of this watch list program here and here. This isn't paranoia on anyone's part; this is merely maintaining a full situational awareness.

Perhaps they'll even find this blog. I've gone and turned the feeds on, along with the ping; these changes will make it a little easier to find.

Now, about that other situation, the one about the mysterious billet move...

Monday, February 9, 2009


No, not this one... this is ANOTHER UNOFFICIAL BLOG; I'm talking about AN UNOFFICIAL BLOG...

There's a post on top over there about a case of a member who has a domestic violence restraining order against him, and the post is certainly stirring things up.  One of the comments got me thinking: the commenter suggested that the service could implement a procedure where before going through the semi-annual range qualification, each member must sign a document stating they are not under a DVP order.  And that got me thinking: unit commanders can do that today.  Why wait for some direction to come out of the Puzzle Palace?  Unit commanding officers can implement that within their span of control today; sector commanders can do it; district commanders can do it; the area commanders can do it.  Why wait?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A reorganization by any other name is still seen as a reorganization

So, we have this little reorg going.  Sure, we're calling it something else, and, sure, it's more than a reorg, but this spring for many members and employees, it's a reorg.

As a civilian employee of this great service (and no sarcasm is meant there), I received word last week that, well, I can't yet to told what my role in the reorganized organization is.  I didn't take to too kindly to that.

Below is a redacted copy of what I think about that. I've removed some of the overtly identifying information, but otherwise, it's what I blasted out the union.
Dear Ms. Jones,

I understand that you were involved in the command notifications yesterday. I wanted to alert you to my situation and ask that you take appropriate action in your role as the union representative.

My division chief did call me yesterday. But, he called to tell me that I wasn't being notified of my billet moves. He did tell me that billets that will be attached to district will be notified at a later date and that no one is losing a job or is being moved out of the local area. I note that he called me in order to provide what information he could, and, as I understand it, that his superiors had actually originally directed him not to provide me with any information at all.

As I read between the lines, then, my billet is slated to move to district. I see that as a substantial change in my work conditions, a change which I am not satisfied with.

Since December 1996, I have been employed as a civilian employee with the service as an organizational performance consultant (nee quality performance consultant). From 1996 through the summer of 2001, my billet was assigned to the support command in Norfolk. That summer, the billet was administratively moved to the Portsmouth command, but my desk and role remained in Norfolk. In my role as performance consultant for support command, my work spanned the entire US east of the Rockies, working with the support staff and other units across the Area and, often outside the Area. My span and impact was service wide; the projects I worked on were often high-level initiatives. I was a member of, either directly or virtually, of the command staff at the support command, assigned to the deputy's staff.

This past summer, with a new division chief at the operational command division to which I was administratively assigned, I was directed to move my desk from the support command in Norfolk to the division offices in Portsmouth. With this move, my work refocused away from supporting the support command, but remained on initiatives with a service wide focus.

While organizational performance consultants assigned to districts generally do the same sort of work, they are also generally restricted from working on service wide projects, being directed to focus on district units within the district. Most organizational performance consultants assigned to districts are restricted in working with non-district units, thus reducing the span of their work. A district organizational performance consultant has a much different set of work conditions, a set of work conditions which are generally much more limiting in nature.

As a member of both the bargaining unit and the union's local, I request that you engage management on my behalf. At this time, I am unwilling to accept a move to the district staff as it is a substantial change in my work conditions. Indeed, moving me with my colleagues to the executive director of the new organization would actually be a move which is more in keeping with both my span of work since I was hired with the service and my organizational placement until last summer.

Management may argue that this move is made in order to staff the district to the same levels as the other districts (except one west coast district, which at this time also does not have two organizational performance consultants). I note that this argument is specious in that it ignores a huge swath of the service -- the current support command and future massive support community -- which has NO organizational performance consultants providing support.

If you have any questions about my situation, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I have with this email provided courtesy copies to my direct supervisor, my second line supervisor, and representatives of the performance excellence program at headquarters.

I look forward to hearing from you as you work this issue along with what I would think are a multitude of issues arising from the service's reorganization efforts.
I'd note that until about four months ago, I was not a member of the union and joining wasn't even on my radar. That changed around November...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If you build it, will they come?

Who knows?

This is a little experiment.  I'm going to start this blog, and yet not tell anyone about it for a while. Just post.  I don't think I'm going to do anything to promote it; perhaps I'll add an RSS feed, or maybe I'll cut off the RSS altogether.  My thinking is that this blog will be a little edgier, push the boundaries even further, than An Unofficial Blog. I have some things I want to say that I don't want to say over at An Unofficial Blog or over at my Musings, and yet they are about... well, you know... I can't actually write it, because I want to see if I can keep this out of the aggregaters and alerts.

Anyway, consider it an experiment in blogging under the radar.

If you swing by here please comment below; I'd love to hear how you stumbled upon here and if you are a regular reader of one of my other blogs.