USS McCain collides with merchantman, 10 sailors missing


#41

Well, I’m not totally serious about the draft, though I do think there are a lot of benefits to a sort of national service that includes, but is not limited to, military service. But yes, zero tolerance is a good goal. The key is, as always, leadership. The men and women in the service by and large reflect our society, for good or ill. We count on the leaders in the services–civilian as well as uniformed–to set the example.

When the folks at the top are clearly undermining the laws of the land, and really, undermining the core values of the military, or what they should be, it becomes very hard to enforce anything. My beef is not with the folks in the ranks, or even most of the officers, but with a command structure that has over the years embraced the “volunteer” part of the post-draft military but not necessarily the “professional” part of it, beyond interpreting “professional” to mean “make as much for myself as I can and screw everything else.”


#42

Your point, in general, is valid, of course. But how do you define “the mission?” To me, “the mission” is to defend the United States of America, which includes its values and laws, as well as to follow the orders and directives of the civilian leadership.I don’t think you can reduce “the mission” to purely operational or tactical actions; that runs the risk of turning the military into something extremely at odds with everything the United States has ever stood for. Of course, this depends on the echelon. At the field level, your companies and battalions in the field, the officers and enlisted ranks should be focused on the fairly narrow task at hand. But that’s not what we’re talking about, really, unless you truly believe it’s impossible to train people to do their technical/tactical job and do it within the law.


#43

The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.


#44

I see what you did there.


#45

CJ, I’ve read your comments but I have to disagree. Even 20 years ago when I served, training for diversity and fair treatment was a big deal. Remember Tailhook? Imagine serving through the after effects. I also served on a ship with about 15 percent female staff. Diversity training was a bigger deal in some respects then, as it was still a bit of a big deal having coed ship staff. (Side note, the story of the USS Acadia aka the Love Boat would make a good documentary.)

So at any rate, major training ensued after tailhook, but the follow on was thus: diversity training when reporting to a new command as part of indoctrination, flowed by quarterly training, with sign-offs. Quarterly.

PLENTY of time for ships watch training, DC training, fire fighting training, GQ drills, Ops drills, fleet drills, etc. Navy life IS training.

A busy sailor is a bitchy sailor. A bitchy sailor is a happy sailor. - my Division Officer

EDIT: Be wary of whats going to happen here. Pentagon push for more money because, “we just can’t do everything asked by current administration.” And if you ask me, that’s a cop out of epic proportions, similar to our military budget.


#46

I was in for post-Tailhook as well. We actually stood down and spent a full day of sexual harassment training while underway on a submarine. No women around for 1000 miles or more. We still managed to fit that in and do annual refreshers along with safety training, drills and professional training. I just don’t buy the “too much training” argument.

I’m guilty of saying this more than once.


#47

Indeed. And the forces can’t be combat-ready if their personnel can’t trust each other and rely on each other. They can’t “win” wars unless they can fight and still retain and maintain the values they are fighting for.

My point is merely that there are multiple levels of mission, from the tactical to the national level, and they all sort of next together. It takes great skill and leadership to make sure that the tactical level training and preparation meshes well with the overall context and mission of the services and the nation. I have no doubt that there are and have been issues with poorly thought out mandates, priorities, and implementation of policies, but these are endemic to any military force, and have been forever. The solution is better leadership not ditching everything not directly related to blowing stuff up, as that really is not the purpose of the nation’s military, even though that may well be the task and purpose of the tactical elements in the field.

Pretty much every effort to align the military with the society it defends has been difficult, from integrating southerners and northerners after the Civil War (read some of the weird stuff about the Spanish American War and the efforts they made to bring “Johnny Reb” and “Billy Yank” together in specific ships and divisions), to racial integration, to gender integration, and beyond. Some of these efforts continue. Miraculously, we still seem to be able to kick ass and take names–go figure.


#48

As was I, by the end.

For what it’s worth I read a write up on reddit from a more recent ex-sailor from seventh fleet who served on a destroyer. It sounds like they were/are short staffed. Long watch times and lots of on-off, similar to 5hr on, 10hr off, repeating, during some long stretches. For those that don’t get what I’m saying, that’s just watch duty, not counting normal work.


#49

Zumwalt would be in for a refit so it wouldn’t have happened :)


#50

Showing my age here, but I’m pre-Tailhook. I was already out when that mess went down, though I was supporting the Hornet program as a contractor. Saw a few good officers brought down by the aftermath. Anyways…

We had plenty of training when I was in, hell I was the training LPO in my last command. Most of it was focused on aviation maintenance. We had plenty of females in that command. We would have 2-3 hours of mandatory training by work enter each week. Plus other stuff, I was a Red Cross CPR and First Aid instructor back then and ended up qualing something like 70% of the command. That was pretty relevant stuff, and in fact one of the guys I trained later saved someone on base (and we both ended up in the base newspaper, lol). Anyhow sexual harassment training was part of the mix back then, on an annual basis. No other diversity training that I can recall. Is it a factor today? Dunno, but the dark humor among the military I work with runs along the line of “yeah, but I bet all the watchstanders were current on their (insert non military training here)”. So it seems like a thing for them.

Heard word that some sort of steering casualty may have been involved, so I guess it’s best to let the investigation play out.


#51

Post-Tailhook was more of the same, stepped up to quarterly where I was at, probably due to a coed command.

As for diversity, I’m assuming LGBT is incorporated into similar training, versus one all it’s own. I have no clue how commands handle that now, nor how infractions are handled. So I think we’re all in the same boat, pun intended. It could have changed greatly since we were in, but I’m not sure how it would cover too much time per week as part of recurring training.

The reddit comments were a depressing mix of recent post-Navy folks discussing just how bad morale is.


#52

A friend of mine who was a squid says that there is no way that this should have happened. In his day a watch was one of the most important things that any man would do. The simplest infraction was grounds for dismissal. Smoking on watch. Sleeping. Even turning away from your watch vector. Someone catches you, bang, in deep shit.


#53

And we need a new Commander of the 7th Fleet.


#54

It really sounds like a culture problem in 7th Fleet. Granted, they’re essentially tasked with patrolling the world’s largest ocean, an area that also includes 50% of its population, but all 4 incidences so far this year have happened to 7th Fleet ships.


#55

This is a big deal. There are only five active ship fleets and this is the largest, by far. It’s also essentially saying that the Navy leads think these stem from command issues, and are addressing this where the buck stops. It’s not every day you see a four star Admiral get the boot.


#56

This is typical any time a bureaucracy fails.


#57

Absolutely. Hell, it’s almost a given any time we have a military failure, be it equipment, personnel, leadership, or strategy related. We throw money at the problem. Aaaaand now our military budget is insane. To be fair, it’s not just the military that does it.


#58

Just heard a report that the McCain reported a loss of steering for three minutes before the crash.


#59

Yeah, it’s too early to declare why this incident happened (that’s why they investigate, duh!) but an equipment failure won’t absolve the people on the spot of blame, probably. It just makes everything even more complicated to figure out.


#60

Dumb question, but “steering” sounds like they didn’t lose helm control completely. Why not stop? Was that not feasible where they were at?