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 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, 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?