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Letters to the Editor

Mar. 19, 2013 - 11:09AM   |  
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More ball-cap backers

I am in favor of the wearing of command ball caps with the Navy working uniform [“Sailors to brass: Bring back ball caps,” Feb. 25].

When the NWU was first implemented, our commanding officer would allow us to wear our command ball caps with the uniform, so long as we didn’t wear the ball cap outside of the command. It was at command discretion, but a lot of our sailors would forget they were not at their command and would get caught wearing them at the exchange, commissary, gas station, etc.

I think it should be allowed in the near future.

FC1 (SW) Rodney E. Thomas

Portsmouth, Va.

I have one question that pertains to the typical reply from top brass when talking about the ball caps: “A formal proposal must come from the fleet.”

Where do I start the process, and what are you looking for? A formal point paper? A request chit? An online petition?

I am in my 12th year of service to my Navy and I do miss my ball cap. I see younger sailors who don’t really know about the tradition of the ball cap.

I still recall that morning after Battle Stations at boot camp when my recruit cover was traded in for a Navy cover, and my whole division was proud and happy.

AG1 (IDW/SW) Daniel Uribe

Virginia Beach, Va.

I am a retired Navy captain; my active service was during the Korean War. I believe in bringing back the ball cap — it is a useful and colorful cap that works for shipboard and ashore.

I also believe wash khakis should be brought back. Again, a useful uniform.

Reserve Capt. John P. Hickey (ret.)

Naples, Fla.

I served proudly in the Navy from 1971 to 1982. The Navy has had a long tradition of uniforms, and I believe it needs to go back to the old working uniforms — dungarees or working whites and blues. Ball caps represented a sailor’s command, and they made him proud to show off that command (be it a ship, squadron or duty station).

As for other uniforms, only officers and chiefs should wear khakis. They earned the right to wear them. In plain language, just go back to the old-style uniforms: It would save the government money in the long run and save sailors from changing from one style to another.

Former AZ2 Steven J. Baucom

Havelock, N.C.

Frustration in the ranks

In the letters section of the March 4 Navy Times, Lt. j.g. William “Gilly” Halling wrote about the Navy’s “culture of fitness,” as well as many other areas of concern [“Fitness ‘culture’ a joke”].

What concerns me, and should concern our Navy leadership, is the underlying frustration that is in that letter. There are clearly some truths in that letter, which we may or may not care to admit, but, more importantly, this officer represents our possible future Navy manpower.

We have been very lucky in the last two to three years that the poor economy has led to a plethora of new recruits — both officer and enlisted. However, I attribute this phenomenon to the lack of job opportunities for our youth in the civilian marketplace rather than a new attraction to military service.

Leadership may perceive these plentiful recruits as beneficial, but when the economy improves, folks like [Halling] will vote with their feet when the civilian marketplace calls.

Some would argue that we can “bonus” ourselves out of that kind of situation, but in my experience a bonus is no substitute for a young person dedicated to the Navy for greater purposes. We need to start thinking over the longer term now and be wary of the consequences of our short-term reactions to a “manpower bubble” — we have seen what a bubble can do when it bursts.

So, let this letter (and others) be a warning that we do not ignore. Let’s reward and retain the top performers and not make decisions based on artificial standards that can change with manpower requirements.

Capt. Michael R. Merino

Orange, Calif.

I retired more than 40 years ago, so maybe my perspective is a little outdated. Every time I get my copy of Navy Times, I ask myself what has happened to my Navy. I agree with the views of Lt. j.g. Halling. I am not sure that he has made a good career move.

There are those who take offense when someone tells it like it is. I always felt the Navy was like our country, made up of states, cities and towns, each having its own needs. What works well for Norfolk, Va., would be way out of line for small-town Iowa. The same goes for our Navy: What works on a submarine does not necessarily work on an aircraft carrier or a destroyer.

My Navy has changed. The tasks we are asked to perform have changed. To me, the question is, “What has happened to good old common sense?”

AT1 Curtiss C. Bohall (ret.)

Clarkdale, Ariz.

Outrageous tuition cuts

I’m outraged, and you should be, too. The Marines, quickly followed by the Army, the Air Force and the Coast Guard, have used the steep budget cuts required by the sequester as a poor excuse to cut one of the most prized and important benefits earned in exchange for service in uniform — tuition assistance. I imagine the Navy will fall in line next.

Cutting tuition assistance directly affects service members’ education — what military leaders cite and have used repeatedly for a generation as one of the most important benefits in recruiting, readiness, promotion, retention and ultimately even transition to the civilian job market. Surely there are other military expenditures that should be cut first.

Tuition assistance is a benefit promised by recruiters. Now that the troops are coming home after 12 years of war and multiple deployments and are in a position to take advantage of this promised benefit, it is taken away from them.

In the words of former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, “You can’t renegotiate the front end once the back end is done.” The troops have lived up to their end of the deal. The services must now live up to their end.

We will not let them get away with this without a fight. You should be saying not only “No,” but “Hell no!”

Marine Lt. Gen. Jack Klimp (ret.)

President, National Association for Uniformed Services

Springfield, Va.

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