Recently in Navy Category

Warrior Writers Exhibit

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Last Wednesday, 09 September 2015, I was fortunate enough to be invited by the United States Naval Institute to the opening of the Warrior Writers exhibit at the US Naval Academy Museum. There was a very nice reception and I got to meet some interesting people, many I have only known through their writings, and others through their writings and FaceBook and Twitter. It was a great night.

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The exhibit was opened with some comments from the director of the museum, LCDR Claude Berube. LCDR Berube has written a novel called The Aden Effect and it is a very good read. His second book, Syren's Song, is due out in November and is available for pre-order now. Both of these books are published by the US Naval Institute. LCDR Berube's comments were followed by a few words from the CEO of the Institute, Vice Admiral Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.). Admiral Jim Stavridis, USN (Ret.) closed the opening remarks with his own words about the purpose of the exhibit. Admiral Staviridis is a prolific writer himself and one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend his latest book, The Accidental Admiral.

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As I talked to several people throughout the night, a common cause was evident among us all. The exhibit was not created to brag about all the Naval Institute has done; it was not created to attract new visitors, although I am sure it will; it was not created to simply fill empty space; no, the theme I heard repeatedly, and one I shared, was "if this encourages others to write, then it is well worth the effort and expense". The motto of the USNI is "Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write."

The exhibit itself highlights important writing and events of each decade since the founding of the USNI. To reinforce this, the Naval Academy Museum has initiated a series of fourteen weekly podcasts; each podcast will focus on a single decade. The podcast can be found at iTunes.

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One part of the exhibit that I particularly enjoyed was the display of some of the books published by the USNI. In the same display case were some of the pens on loan from Admiral Stavridis and a note saying how much he likes to write.

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All in all, it was a great night; I talked to some wonderful people, saw a great exhibit, met some virtual friends in person, and was inspired. I am already thinking about a possible article for the Naval Institute Proceedings.

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I ran across this video a while ago and couldn't find it when I wanted it. I just received it from the Commander of the New Orleans Commandery of the Naval Order of the United States. I post it here for your viewing and my easy reference.

The link to the YouTube video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcnH_kF1zXc

Dateline: Mississippi State University, 10 December 2010.

I was honored to have been asked to be the guest speaker at the 10 December 2010 Joint Army-Air Force Commissioning ceremony at Mississippi State. There were four cadets commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants in the US Air Force and one commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army. It was a pleasure to have been asked to speak and a joy to share some of the lessons I have learned with these new lieutenants who are beginning their careers.

After the ceremony I received some very nice complements on the talk and I was appreciative of them. I told several that what I told these new airmen and soldier were what I wished someone had told me when I was an Ensign. The text of my remarks is below.

CWID 2010 Closes

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Last week we completed Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) 2010. My last blog post on the US Joint Forces Command blog was posted here today. With luck, I'll pick up again next June for CWID 2011.

Joint is Part of Calition

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Yesterday I posted this on the U.S. Joint Force Command blog as part of their CWID 2010 blogging. A few more posts are planned.

Today was media day at CWID and I toured some media representatives and then was on a conference call with JFCOM and reporters discussing CWID and my observations. I was not alone--I had my friends from the National Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps with me as well. It is a privilege to work with such professionals.

Over the next week I will be blogging some on my experiences at the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) on the U.S. Joint Forces Command blog. The blog itself can be found at www.usjfcom.dodlive.mil and my first post, actually poste last Friday, can be found here.

Several others at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahdlgren will also be posting and there will also be posts from other sites.

U.S. Navy Readiness Flaws Exposed, by Philip Ewing, Defense News, 27 April 2009

Straight from the Top, by. Andrew Scutro, Navy Times, V. 58, N 33, 11 May 2009

There has been much in the news of late about the readiness of the U. S. Navy's fleet as well as the desire to have parts of INSURV inspection kept secret. I've never formally served on an INSURV team but I did tag along with them a few years back while doing an inspection as part of NAVSEA. What I saw truly impressed me.

Having INSURV find something deficient is not necessarily a bad thing. These Sailors are trained to find all kinds of things. I am confident they could find problems in a car as it rolls off the assembly line. In some cases they do find serious problems that need to be addressed. Many times they find things are simply not perfect. Given the ships they have inspected are operating I suspect their findings have been somewhat overblown.

However, as the CNO points out, we need to look at how maintenance dollars are being spent, or are not being spent. Maintenance is always a tough sell. New products--ships, cars, buildings, or houses--are always more attractive when they are new, not when they are maintained. Ask and development officer on any university campus how hard it is to sell maintenance to donors. They all want their names on a new building, not on new plumbing.

The issue of keeping parts of INSURV reports classified is a no brainer. Those arguing to keep them all public are simply misinformed or ignorant of the very real threat that exists. I can only assume they would argue for homeowners to make public their security inspection reports public indicating that the window alarm on the window on the back of the house next to the kitchen is not working.

CWID Keynote

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Heard a great talk given today by Major General Kevin Kennedy, Director, Joint Capability Development Directorate (J-8), HQ Joint Forces Command at the CWID Final Planning Conference. I've heard some good talks and some okay talks, but this was one of the better talks as it relates to CWID. I was hoping to have General Mattis though. Maybe next year.

One of the issues to be resolved in a coalition fight is data communication. How can pertinent data be formatted, transmitted, remain secure, and be trusted is key to more efficient and effective fighting in the future. He related this as being similar to Zip codes. Zip codes were created to make the sorting of mail more efficient. When more refinement was needed the Post Office came up with Zip+4. A similar thing needs to be done for data so that warfighters on the ground can use equipment that will communicate coalition force's equipment, perhaps directly. Doing so would reduce the time required and the possibility of introducing errors.

U.S. Navy Must Innovate

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"Report: U.S. Navy Must Innovate", by Philip Ewing. Defense News. February 23, 2009, p. 32

There are some interesting facts in this article.

The US has almost as many warships as Russia and China together.
The US fleet is as large as the next 13 navies when measured by displacement.
It takes adding the naval airpower of the next nine navies to equal the naval airpower of the US.
The US Navy carries as much firepower on its 75 cruisers and destroyers as the next 20 largest navies carry on their combined 367 ships.

Work does call for building more hospital ships to increase the soft power of the US and that does indeed seem to be a good idea.

What concerns me is the call for innovation but Work's discussion does not include the DDG 1000 or the CGX. Sure, these ships have been costing a little more than initially planned but they are innovative. I maintain it is hard to innovate on the cheap.

Harry Potter and His Tattoo

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A Sermon Delivered to
Trinity Presbyterian Church PC(USA)

Starkville, MS

07 July 2002


I have a few confessions to make. My favorite snack is Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, my favorite sport is Quidditch, I would love nothing better than to ride a Nimbus 2000 broom and be the seeker on the Quidditch team. I've been sorted by the sorting hat into the House of Gryffindor and wish I could trade my email for Owl Mail. I think Hermione Granger is as cute as a button and she even reminds me a little of one of my fifth grade girlfriends. I am, I have to admit, a Harry Potter fan.

I attended the 2008 Air Force Ball in Columbus tonight with my wife. I was there actually representing the Greater Starkville Development Partnership Military Affairs Committee but Navy uniforms were authorized so I added a touch in joint service. It was held celebrating the 61st birthday of the Air Force and the 66th anniversary of Columbus Air Force Base. We had a good time, with good food, with good people. Harding Catering handled the food and I have never had Bridget serve anything I didn’t like.

The guest speaker tonight was Major General Michael Gould, Director of Operations and Plans, US Transportation Command. He did a really good job with is talk. Like most, not all, but most, flag and general officers he was able to give a talk that was on topic, had the right amount of humor and serious content, and was of an appropriate length. Sounds like it is easy to do until you try it yourself and realize how difficult it can be. Of course the central theme was the excellence of the Air Force and the pride in CAFB and among those serve. But the greater theme was family and keeping them first. He made some excellent points but, unfortunately, it is difficult to do, especially in today’s world with today’s OPTEMPO. On the other hand, by doing what we do, we allow others to have that family time.

My wife and I actually danced to two songs. Doesn’t sound like much but for someone who does not dance (me) it was a lot of dancing. I really did enjoy the night. Happy Birthday Air Force!

"Read, Think, Write, and Publish' by Admiral Jim Stavridis, U.S. Navy, US Naval Institute Proceedings, August 2008, pp.16-19.

In the August 2008 issue of Proceedings, Admiral Jim Stavridis, USN, Commander of US Southern Command makes a compelling case for military officers, actually military members, to air their ideas. In his article entitled “Read, Think, Write, and Publish”, he quotes Benjamin Franklin as saying “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” and then Admiral Stavridis adds, “Do both!” The John Adams motto “Read, Think, Write” has long since been adopted by the Naval Institute, and is also my personal motto, and now Admiral Stavridis asks that we all adopt it but take it a step further and publish. [John Adams actually said “Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”]

Such a request is not without its risks, however. Putting ideas out in the open can be a dangerous thing at many levels, especially at the personal level. Reciting the widely-accepted mantra of the day, or merely restating the obvious is usually not risky. But then again, it accomplishes very little. The best writings, in my opinion, are those that get people to think. Even if in the end the opinion expressed is not widely accepted or the idea is relegated to the trash can, the act of getting the thought started is worth the effort. Of course the audience must be willing to listen and willing to have an open debate and that, unfortunately, is not always the case. When an unpopular opinion is expressed publicly, whether is right or wrong, does not matter, it can carry a high personal price. This is something I recently learned the hard way.

My former church had been going through rough times. The internal issues, which are too numerous to list here, but which were, in my opinion, not being addressed. The Session was, again in my opinion, too concerned about not hurting feelings or not offending someone than they were in doing the work they were supposed to be doing. Now I must be clear here that this is not a condemnation of any individual member on the Session or in the church—the problem was one of the organization as an entity. There were strong members of Session but the Session as a whole was unwilling to look at the problems. Membership growth had stalled, if not declined; weekly attendance was falling; the number of people removing their names from elder ballot was rising; and the minister was being blamed for all of this. Sermons were, according to those dissatisfied, “too intellectual”, “too long”, “not exciting”, and a host of other things.

The church, over my objection and against my vote, removed the minister and then pronounced the problem was solved and we needed only a healing period. I was ready to leave then, like many of my friends did, but I stayed in hopes of being able to get things back on-track. However, what followed were group discussions and surveys which resulted in little and ignored those of us who were not into group therapy. Further, those like me were being told that we needed to get with the plan. But I had a finger on the pulse of the church membership and I knew that roughly a third of the church members attended so sporadically that they were clueless as to what was happening. Another third was happy because they “got their way”. The final third was still hurt, not happy with the things were going, but were either sticking it out to try to make things better (like me) or were sticking around because they did not feel comfortable going to another church.

Recognizing this I chose to write an article for the church newsletter. I had written them in the past and they often would stimulate some thinking. The article was entitled “A Message to Garcia” and referred to the story by Elbert Hubbard which recounted the struggles of Rowan to deliver a message to General Garcia in the Spanish-American War. I pointed out that there were those of us who were still not healed and that problems remained the church. I acknowledged that there were also Rowans’ within the church who were trying to deliver the message that all was not well. Interestingly, I also pointed out that the motto of our church was “Open hearts, open minds”, in hopes that the message would be heard.

What I found was that the church seemingly no longer had an open mind. The reactions to my article ranged from “I was wrong, everything was fine”, to “who is Garcia?” There were also those who came up to me and thanked me for saying what needed to be said. Rather than stimulate debate it raised defenses of those who wanted to pronounce the church healed. Further, it was stated that if I had concerns I should take them to the Session and not publish such articles. There was even brief discussion of having Session or a committee review articles before being published. Call it what you will but in my book the church with open minds was seriously discussing censorship.

The price I paid was coming to the conclusion that it was time to leave. I hated to leave; I had really hoped that things would turn around and get better. I joined another congregation in town and have been very happy ever since. They put God first in the church and their membership is growing. My old church has seen little to no growth and even fewer members are leaving their names on the ballot for elder elections. They now have a new minister and I truly pray things get better. However, before I left, the interim minister resigned. I have this hope because there is a need for such a church and because I still have friends who attend there. There are also some friends who attend there, share many of my thoughts and concerns but, for whatever reasons, are not comfortable joining another church.

I still agree with Admiral Stavridis and John Adams, but I am now keenly aware that reading and writing do not necessarily result in thinking, and there may well be a high personal cost associated with the publishing.

Generation Entitlement

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The Navy and the Generation of Entitlement, by LCDRSteven L. Rogers, USN, Naval Reserve Association News, August 2008, p. 14.

This commentary struck a chord with me. The article mentioned that we have the baby boomers, the Gen-X and Gen-Y crowd, and even the Millennials, but the author described a new generation he calls Generation Entitlement. This is the generation that my generation messed up by trying to make sure they did not do without. It seemed like a good idea at the time but now I think we, and they, would have been better served by experiencing a little more adversity in their lives.

LCDR Rogers points out that “[t]hese individuals question all authority, care little about tradition, and refuse to embrace a work ethic which requires ‘earning your way’.” He also states they are arrogant, self-serving, and impatient. He says they do not belong in the Navy and I would add they do not belong anywhere.

Before I run the risk of generalizing about an entire generation, let me be the first to add that within this generation are a large number of exceptions. These are the people who are hard-working, dedicated, and believe in sacrifice. They look at what has been given them not as an entitlement but rather as a gift to be used to better themselves and society. They really are out there and I have had the privilege of meeting them.

However, I have also had more than my fair share of meeting the self-serving Gen E’ers. Over the last few days I have been dealing with more than fair share of them. They have been asked to sit out of school for various periods of time because of poor academic performance and have been petitioning for readmission. Far too many have had parents and distant relative intervene on their behalf. I have heard all kinds of excuses as to how they got in trouble and how not they really will work hard to do better. Some really have identified their difficulties and taken action to correct the problems. Others simply want a bye because they feel entitled.

I also have the privilege and honor of dealing with many other students who have shown remarkable maturity and insight. They have recognized problems that they have and are working to correct those problems. They are the students I like. They realize why they are in school and know that their success depends on them. Even though some of them have found themselves in trouble I have never spoken to their parents about those difficulties. I do know that their parents care, and care deeply, but they are letting their children handle the problems while they provide emotional support. These students will be successful. They are going places and I am proud to be a part of their journey. The others are destined for either failure or a big wake-up call in the future.

As for me, I much prefer those who do not feel they are entitled.

Travels

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I arrived at the Navy Strike Cell this morning and completed all of checks to ensure we had closed out our part of CWID. Once that was done we said our goodbyes and most everyone left. I remained for the hotwash which was actually pretty good. Seems most all of the sites had the same complaints/problems I had and I think things will be better next year.

I did receive some good news though. The results of the NAVSEA detailing board were released and I was selected for command of a unit in Houston. The billet is scheduled to be deleted after a year but that should free me up to have another command tour should the good Lord and the folks at NAVSEA see fit to give me that privilege again.

Once that was over, I took a drive down to Richmond to catch my plane. I had a little time on my hands so I thought I run by Circuit city. That is when I learned that TomTom maps are not always 100% accurate. I selected Points of Interest near me, picked the Circuit City and then navigated my way over. Only thing is there was no Circuit City. In fact, it didn’t look there had been one there in the recent past. So on to the airport.

Checking in was easy—I had already checked in on-line but needed to print boarding passes given I didn’t have a printer with me. I slipped a Pepsi in my computer bag on the way out of the BOQ room and meant to drink it on the way to Richmond but I forgot about it. Well, what I forgot TSA remembered. They pulled it out of my bag and tossed it in the trash. I felt so much safer knowing they were on the job and I was flying on a plane with one less dangerous Pepsi Cola in the plane. I wonder; would they have done that if it had been a Coke instead?

Navy Com #3

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Today I was given another Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for the work I did in support of CWID. It is nice to be recognized

Visit with the Admiral

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Today Rear Admiral Browne came to visit CWID 2008 in Dahlgren. He took the tour of the entire exercise and then spent some time in the Navy cell. We secured a conference room and converted it into a make-shift Wardroom for lunch. We broke into two shifts so that the watch stations could be manned and had lunch with the Admiral. It was a nice visit and nice conversation. Perhaps the most important thing is not what we discussed but the fact that he took the time to come down for the visit and see us. Leadership—it is all about leadership.

CWID 2008 MPC Day 1

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The CWID Mid-Planning Conference (MPC) began to day. There is a lot of work for us to do to get ready for the exercise in June, but it is fun.

The guest speaker today was Major General Koen A. Gijsbers, Royal Netherlands Army. He spoke about interoperability between nations and pointed out that single nation warfare was essentially a thing of the past. I must say that I agree with him. We have all become too interconnected and the communications technology has brought so much news, so quickly, that it does seem unlikely any major power will go to war alone.

Given the audience he was speaking to, interoperability was a key point. As he stated: We do not do a very good job of communicating between services within a nation; in fact we do not always do a good job of communicating between branches within a single service, so how can we communicate and operate better between nations? This is indeed the purpose of CWID.

General Gijsbers mention one general officer who had 7 computers (and many phones as well) on his desk because they were all attached to different networks and different domains. Although technology would allow them to be interconnected, policies and standard operating procedures would not allow it. He correctly stated that we must not only work the technology side of interoperability; we must also work the policy side. In fact, I wonder if the policy will not prove to be the most difficult piece of the puzzle.

I received my Naval Order of the United States membership today. I have wanted to join this organization for a while and found someone to take my application and submit it for membership. I wish my grandfather had been a member given he was also a Navy guy.

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USS Constitution

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By an amazing coincidence, I have to have the same birthday as the U S Navy, albeit the US Navy is a couple of years older. A while back I purchased a US Navy Jack from the US Navy Memorial in Washington, DC and it came with a certificate indicating it had been flown over the US Navy Memorial. Well I have always had a thing for the USS Constitution so I sent this very Jack to the USS Constitution and asked that it be flown over “Old Ironsides”. It was I got the certificate (and Jack) returned the other day.

Pretty good birthday present in my opinion. So, wondering what ot get the person who has everything? Give this a try.

CNO USES AN iPOD

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I just downloaded the CNOs podcast from www.navy.mil. The article mentions, as does the CNO, that he uses an iPod. CNO says he loves to read but has little time to do so. Guess what he says is on his iPod? Books. Would be neat to know what the titles are.

HOME FROM THE CONFERENCE

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I actually arrived on-time with all of my luggage today from the COs conference in DC. Delta did come through. I did have some trouble sleeping last night so I finally got up and went to see if the taxi was waiting. There actually was a taxi so he took me to the airport where I had to wait for everything to open. I was second in line for the self-check-in kiosk, got to the TSA checkpoint and had to wait for them to open. Then I ended up being third in line for the medallion level queue.

It couldn’t get any better than this, I thought. Then it occurred to me to look at boarding pass again. Seat 2A. I was automatically upgraded to First Class. Admittedly it was too early in the morning for a beer, and I was not in the mood for a Bloody Mary, so I settled for a cup of coffee and the extra seat room. I pulled out the Bose QS3s, plugged in my 80 Gb video iPod, and pulled out a magazine. I actually enjoyed a flight for a change. I made the connection in Atlanta, ASA actually took off on schedule without a “maintenance” delay (will miracles never cease!?) and I got home in time to meet the fam for lunch at Mi Hacienda, our favorite Mexican restaurant and standard Sunday lunch eating place.

NAVY 24 -- ARMY 16

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Dateline: Home Study

Or perhaps it should be Navy-Army

I had some thing s going on so I couldn’t watch all of the game but I caught parts here and there. This is always my favorite game of the year; I like it better than even the MSU-University of Mississippi game. Why? Several reasons.

One, the teams realize that this is a game and when the year ends they will be teammates in America’s military. Two, each team has discipline. Sure, they lose their tempers every now and then, but then compare that to other football games. Third, regardless of whether one, both, or neither team is any good, they always play hard. And finally, at the end of the game, both teams sign their alma maters, first in front the losing team’s students, and then in front of the wining team’s students. Now that, my friends, is sportsmanship.

I think that, with a little effort, the MUS team could do the same at the University of Mississippi game, but many of the UM fans I’ve met would not be able to. The UM fans are so bad I have sworn off ever attending another sporting event at their school. By the way, the best fans I met were from Auburn. They seem to be good winners and good losers—although lately they have not had much practice at losing.

Navy 24 – Army 16!

GRADUATION PICTURES

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Dateline: Home Study

I blogged my graduation from the US Naval War College back in June but did not have the pictures at the time. Well, I got the pictures but then never posted them so, here they are.

First I received my diploma from former Deputy of State Richard Armitage.

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Then, after receiving my diploma, my wife catches me just as I am about to step off the stage.

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The really nice thing about this was that part of the ceremony was formal and part was informal. When we went across the stage, the President encouraged family to come down front and take pictures and greet the graduates. Being a military organization the families were all respectful of the others and went down front just as their graduate was about to cross, and the nreturned to their seats as soon their gradaute came off the stage. It really made the day special (wish my daughter could have been there with me) and I wish we could do the same thing at MSU graduations. But of course there is one big difference...I did mention this was a military function didn't I.


Dateline: Fairfield Inn Airport, Greensboro, NC

I drove up yesterday for drill. I had planned to leave early but got tied up at work for a little while. Then I went back home to pick up the last few things I needed and say my goodbues and my wife was talking to my sister-inlaw on the phone. Well, it is always a pleasure to talk to her so I took about another half hour talking to her. Finally got away just in time to hit Atlanta rush hour traffic.

The trips are usually not too bad; I get a chance to catch up on the news and listen to some of the talk shows. Sirius is great for that and beats the heck out of the AM radio late-night talk radio I used to listen to coming back from Naval War College classes in Millington, TN. But last night was too much. All anyone was talking about was that freak Michael Jackson! I pray for a quick verdict so we can get rid of this stuff and get back to the real world vice the world of never-land.

Tonight I spent a little time in Banres and Noble. Not as much as usual but a little time nonetheless. I picked up a copy of The World is Flat by Friedman based mainly on this entry by Tom Barnett. Not sure what I'll think of it but I'll reall it anyway.

Drill was interesting today; tomorrow should be as well. There is always a lot of work to do in such a short amount of time, no matter how much you prepare beforehand. I'll hit the road tomorrow afternoon and get ready to start a new week at work.

GOODMEETING, NEW WORK

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Dateline: Home Study

Arrived home earlier this afternoon after a productive meeting in Annapolis. It looks like I'll be making two trips to Italy this summer for a total of about three weeks to dod some planning and then to do some work. It should be fun but there is a lot to be done. All the unit COs also had some good interaction and exchange.

Last night's sleep was fitful. Some very loud thunderstorms came rolling in during the night and woke me several times. I was also worried about alarms working properly becasue of the time change. I usually rely on my cell phone's alarm clock but was not sure if the time would change automatically in the service area i was in. It does at home but you never know when you're somewhere else. To be safe I left a wake up call thinking someone at the front desk would be able to change the clocks. Fortunately my cell phone did change time and woke me on time for the wake up call came one hour late.

My trip to BWI airport was fairly quick, not much traffic. I turned in the rental car and rode the bus to the terminal. I was hoping it would not be too crowded and it was a little busier than I anticiapted, but not too bad. Secuirity took a little time but not nearly as much as I first thought after seeing the line. If we are going to speed things up though, TSA has got to work out the shoe problem--it takes too long to put them on once you get through.

Delta left a little early from BWI and ASA actually left Atlanta on time (a rarity indeed) which meant I got in on time. I was able to fire up the lawn mower for the first time this year and it worked. I then cut the grass, uh, the weeds, before it even got dark. Hopefully the weeds will now die and the grass will grow. I also tried to do a little lawn repair where Mississippi Valley Gas dug a hole, broke drain tiles, and then put the dirt back in the hole. Funny, if I dig a hole and break one of their lines I'm in big trouble but they can break my drain line and it is my problem.

All in all, a productive weekend, a productive day, and hopefully a restful night.

ANNAPOLIS MEETING

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Dateline: Residence Inn, Annapolis, MD

I worked this morning in the office for a little while and took care of some things but much more is piled up. Spent most of the morning on the phone talking to people about school and scholarships. I did get teh paperwork signed off on for classes this summer and next fall. Will do some dissertation hours this summer then two classes in the fall which should be fun. I've been told by a classmate that one of the classes will be fun and should be too tough given my background so that'll be nice.

Left Starkville wih dark clouds rolling in. I knew the flight would be cancelled but we took off early, flew fast, and even landed early. The climb to altitude was one of the best rides I've had yet--lots of bumps and jumps. Weather in Atlanta was nicer so we took off on time and arrived at BWI early. I picked up the car that was arrancged by the Navy at Thrifty (I never seem to rent from the same place twice in a row) and drove to the hotel in Annapolis.

Tomorrow we'll have meetings and a VTC, then perhaps some networking tomorrow evening and head home Sunday morning. A quick trip but I think we will get a lot accomplished.

Watching the news about the Pope now. He has certainly made an impact on the world which makes it silly when people email news shows with questions like "I'm not Catholic but do you think the Pope spoke for all Christians or just the Catholics?" Makes you wonder what planet this person grew up on. Does President Bush speak for the entire United States or just the Republicans? People are truly amazing!

Still nothing on fixing my DSL so it is looking like cable early next week. My ISP asked if they could have until Monday and I agreed. The thing is that it is not their problem, the problem is hardware which belongs to BellSouth and since I do not have them as my ISP they are not too inclined to help much. I really hate to change because I've been with this ISP for somthing like 8 or 9 years but, if I can't get what I need then it is time to change. Four weeks is a little long to deal with this problem and I am more frustrated than ever.

I read Just War Against Terror by Jean Elshtain for a report that was due last Thursday and am now going through the book again. I found it to be very interesting that an academic belives in the war (at least did when she wrote the book). She makes some interesting points that I find refreshing and I really liked the part about how academics seem to think they can only be against something. I also to read another book by her for the class and that should be good as well.

Now, its off to bed. I'll leave the computer on playing the new tunes I picked up in the Airport, Ultra Chilled 05 by the ellusive "various artists" and The Cosmic Game by Thievery Corporation. So far it sounds like nice chillin' music.

Weather-wise it was carppy day today. It is supposed to be the first day of spring but it was rainy and nasty. The good news is that I finished my paper for the my remaining elective class for the Naval War College degree and got it submitted. I only the grade change form to process now and all will be well. Then I can order the transcript and hopefully everything will be ready to go for a June graduation. It will be pretty cool having a degree from the Naval War College. How many people can say that?

The FITREP from my last CO came in Satuday night. He worked it up, took what I submitted and made it even better. Now, I had to get it to Millington for the Selection Board which convense tomorrow. Of course the reason for all of these trips is the damn terrorists. All mail is screeened whch means it is delayed by about two days once it is received on base. This means FedEx overnight takes three days to get where you want it. FedEx gets it there on time but then the Navy has to process it.

I have the letters in lieu of missing report already submitted, and that might be good enough for the board, but to be perferectly honest, this FITREP, from an active duty Captain, is just too good not to have the Board see it. So, I made another trip to NSA Millington today to get this report delivered. Same nice, friendly, helpful people there who took care of me. It was yet another reminder of why I do what I do--the people.

The truth is I am probably worrying a little too much about this Board meeting. It looks like the selection rate will be fairly good and I've done a lot of things in the Navy. I'm in my fourth command tour, I've completed JPME Phase I and II, I have not ticked off too many people, so even without this effort, I might be okay. But then again, everyone else is just as good too. I don't kid myself, no matter how good I think I am at something, there is always someone out there who is better and a whole bunch of people who are just as good. And it is the attention to these types of things that I think is important.

Now, it is all in the hands of the capable Selection Board. I now enter the long period of wait and see becasue the results will not be released until June. And if selected I probalby will not actually be promoted until the next June or July as a result of being fairly junior in zone.

After discovering that my usual official photo lab at NAS Meridian was no longer making Officer Photos I obtained an appointment at NSA Millington, TN. (I still like the way that base switched from and NAS to a NSA.) Given the selection board is meeting in the same place things worlked out fairly nicely. I made the appointment to have my picture made, completed the submissions sheet, and wrote a letter to President of the Selection Board last night.

This morning I got up, way too early, and drove to Millington. The closer I got, the darker the skies grew so that by the time I was in the parking lot it had started to rain. I managed to get inside and stay relatively dry and had my photo taken. I put it on the proper form and then went to give it to the selection board people. They directed me to the right place where I submitted my package and I memtioned that I was missing a FITREP. They told who to see about taking care of that.

I went to PERS-311, as directed, only to find the person I was told to see was not there. The response I got was noce to hear, and something I hear too little of on campus--just becasue he is not here does not mean everything stops, what canI do for you. I got hooked up with the right person who checked my record and confirmed what I thought, I was missing two FITREPS, one from my detaching senior that I'm trying to get, and one that covers the period from the time he detached until the end of the reporting period. My new CO plans to take care of that period with the next periodic FITREP, which he can do, but it does not look good to the Board.

The suggestion was that I submit a letter in lieu of missing report and was given the format. The guy then asked how long i was to be in town and when he found out how far I had come he said "wait a minute". He then went and talked to someone else and the next thing I knew I was sitting in front of a computer writing the needed letters. When I finished, he checked them, suggested a few changes, and said he would take a copy to be put in my official record and send a copy to the Board. Now that is what I call service.

Today I received word that the NSA Millington site has been approved for awarding the MA in National Security and Strategic Studies degree. That is the site where I completed my classes so I am included in the program. The email I received said my record was going before the College next week and the coordinator said he saw no problems with the process.

Now this means that I have to finish one of my elective classes I took about 2 or 3 years ago and received an incomplete in. It was a readings class and I still wanted to do more readings so I kept putting off writing the final paper. This means my spring break has been reprogrammed somewhat, not that I was really getting a lot of time off anyway. Now, I'll be writting a paper.

VADM John Cotton Lunch Speaker

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Dateline: Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA

The speaker at lunch today for the workshop was Vice Admiral John G. Cotton whom I have heard via VTC several times. He was much better live, not that he’s bad via VTC. I found him to be very frank, forthcoming, entertaining, and motivating. Of course the things he said went over well with the audience he had; it might have received a different response elsewhere but who cares. He was great.

I also got to talk to my mentor a little while. Living in different parts of the country makes it a little difficult but we keep in touch via email.

Unfortunately I learned some disturbing news. The Commander Line selection board meets on 15 March, not 30 March, as I had thought. Of course I could have checked but it was one things that I knew I knew so why check what you know, right? Well, check what you know you know if it is really important. The only problem is that I need a new photograph for the record and I’m missing a Fitness Report. I had checked on things so it isn’t like I was completely unprepared, I just thought I had more time to prepare than I now have.

My biggest problem is a missing fitness report from my last commanding officer. When he detached I sent the report but, because of his deployment schedule and the connectivity problems we had, it never was received. I checked on it but he had detached. I explored several options but finally was told I have to track him down.

NEW Glasses

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Dateline: Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA

I left home early this morning to go to DC for the Naval Engineering Workshop (NEW) and flew Delta. I really do not like flying ASA Airline, they are so unreliable, but at times it beats driving somewhere else. Anyway, while traversing through the Hartsfield International Airport I made a stop by the head. I was doing a particularly good job of washing my hands because I had ruin across for too many people with runny noses when my bags started slipping. I decided to loop my laptop over my head for safety and in the process the laptop and my glasses started heading for the floor. I opted to save the laptop but the result was a chip in my glasses. For a while I have fly vision.

Once I got to DC I checked around the hotel but could find no one who could help me out. So I fired up the laptop, tracked down a LensCrafters at Pentagon Centre and made a phone call. A short Metro ride and an hour and a half later I had a new pair of specs. I also owe my daughter a great deal of gratitude as well. I’ve had a new prescription for a while but had not found anyone around home that I trusted to fill it. I was not happy with the fitting for the last pair of progressive lenses I got locally and was holding off for someone else. My daughter found my prescription and faxed it to me at the hotel and LensCrafters helped me out of a tight. These lenses are also better than the last as far as the alignment goes. If only we had a LensCrafters nearby.

A few years ago when I needed glasses in Starkville, I was told to go see an Ophthalmologist in town who also dispensed glasses. I was told they were the best when it came to fitting me with the kind of lenses I wanted. My ophthalmologist is in another town but since I see him so seldom and have seen him for so long, I see no reason to find someone else. Anyway, when I went to get my prescription filled with the ophthalmologist in Starkville I was told he couldn’t fill it because of an agreement he had cut with the hospital. It turns out the optometrist in town got upset that a real doctor was coming in and going to sell glasses. So the deal the hospital worked out was that the doctor could sell glasses to his patients but could not fill other prescriptions. He could have given me an exam and filled the prescription with no problem but I would have been out more money for a needless exam.

That is when I really started to question the competence of our hospital and the motives of the optometrists in town. The hospital should have stood up and fought for the ophthalmologist but I know about how spineless they are. The optometrists were just shamelessly protecting their business interest. I guess the free market applies unless you are an optometrist, so I have avoided them here as much as I can ever since.

Policy Board

Dateline NAS Jacksonville

The Naval Reserve Readiness Command Southeast Policy Board convened today with seventeen items to consider. It was a productive meeting and actually went much faster than I thought. I also knew many of the people on the board which getting a little scary on one hand and comfortable on the other. It is scary in that I still think of myself as being fairly new to the program (yes, I know, 14 years is not new but I said I still think of myself as new) and comforting in that I am finding friends everywhere I turn.

We split into three groups and looked at a few items per group then reconvened to discuss as a board. It was interesting to learn what some of the concerns are out there and to be in a position to be able to do something about it. Many, if not most, of the items will be returned to the originator because policies already exist to handle the problem but the originators were unaware of them. As we discussed the issues, I found a wide disparity between how the various Reserve Centers enforce and interpret policy. You would think that if it is black and white then we would all be doing the same thing. Of course the truth is that even if it is in black and white there is still plenty of room for variations in interpretation. In many cases having that flexibility to interpret policy is a good thing.

Tomorrow we sum up our findings and wrap things up. I worked on summarizing the findings from our group tonight at the BOQ so we should be ready for editing in the morning. Then it is home to get ready for classes to begin next week.

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