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Letters to the editor: Missing the point

May. 19, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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ERB'd SAILOR SPEAKS OUT

As a sailor who was cut through the enlisted retention board, it is difficult to express the extreme disgust I feel toward what I believe to have once been a proud and dignified service — a service that took pride in the fact they “took care of their own” and made a point to not break faith with those who chose the Navy as a career.

Through the course of my nearly 14-year career, I, along with my loved ones, sacrificed so much to answer our nation’s call serving in the Navy. But my career, along with those of nearly 3,000 shipmates and our families, was devastated by the overwhelming lack of leadership and moral courage demonstrated by those appointed to manage the Navy’s manpower and personnel needs.

The excuses that these “leaders” use to justify their mismanagement of the Navy’s manpower situation are wearing thin.

Every ERB sailor recognizes the Navy needs to maintain healthy career fields to keep advancement and re-enlistment opportunity up. But the mismanagement of those career fields by the Navy’s personnel establishment led to the rating and year-group overages. It was not the fault of the sailors, many of whom had just re-enlisted with the full blessing of the same leaders.

Last December, Navy Times reported that [Chief of Naval Personnel] Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk admitted the Navy had “overshot” the drawdown and taken the Navy to nearly 317,000 people, thousands lower than the congressionally authorized end strength of 322,700. The Navy, he said, learned it would not be facing deeper manpower cuts. This was just a month after the Navy finished telling those cut by the ERB they’d have to go home.

Where was the moral courage to call off the cuts and work to manage these overages through other, voluntary, means, such as early retirement and voluntary separation incentive?

But it didn’t end there. Just six months later, the Navy started offering sea duty incentive pay, extra money to fill manning shortfalls in the fleet, numbers that leaders stated were as high as 10,000. Many of the advertised ratings and paygrades had been those hit hard by the ERB just six months before.

Now, the Navy’s top officer, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert, says the Navy is hiring — and needs 3,000 new sailors immediately. Adding insult to that injury, a couple of weeks later comes the news that the Navy will increase end strength over the next four years, rising nearly 9,000 from 317,000 today to more than 326,000 by the end of fiscal 2018.

I hope that the few leaders who decided to hide their gross inability to lead and lack of moral courage to stop that process when they had the chance sleep well knowing that they are well taken care of, while the families they destroyed cannot be repaired.

AT1 Walter “Beau” Beasley | Jacksonville, Fla.

PLAN MISSES POINT

I was sad to see that yet again our Navy dreams up a plan that neither addresses the issue nor supports our shipmates’ quality of life [“The new deployment plan,” April 29].

I will not ask [leadership] the rhetorical question, “Why are you not screaming from the yardarms that we do not have enough ships?” as we all know the answer to that one.

Instead, we take the time to pay people to come up with the Enhanced Carrier Strike Group Presence Model. The article ends by saying the flight crews probably would think this [deployment schedule was a] good idea, but maybe not the maintenance crews. What about the families of crew members? What about missing birthdays, holidays and illness?

In a given 21-month period, the crew is gone for 14 months. And do you really believe world events will let you keep even this inane plan?

Get your heads out of the bilge water and tell Washington that we do not have enough ships to support your foreign policy. And while you are at it, get back the money we paid for this deployment “model.”

OSC (SW) James A. Mcpherson (ret.) | Fremont, Calif.

STOP MIMICKING MARINES

I can’t help but notice the subtle and not-so-subtle changes the Navy has undergone over the past 35 years to become the “pseudo Marines.”

When I enlisted, you stood at attention with hands open and thumbs along the pants crease. We now stand at attention as Marines do, with closed palms. The sailor’s hat was just that — a hat. When I was selected for chief, I built a “hat box.” It’s now called a “cover” (and has been for many years), just as the Marines call it.

Our uniform readily identified us as sailors. We now wear camouflage with the Navy emblem on the front similar to the Marines’ eagle, globe and anchor — to go with our eight-sided cover.

The new khaki working uniform for E-6 and below also closely resembles that of the Corps. The Marine Corps instituted the Crucible for its boot camp graduation, and the Navy soon followed with Battle Stations. I often hear, “Well, the Marines have a motto, so should we,” and, “If the Marines do it that way, why can’t we?”

Yes, the Marine Corps is certainly worthy of emulating. However, its mission and traditions are different from ours.

Folks, I hate to break it to you, but sailors are not Marines. If you wanted to be a trigger-puller and door-kicker you should have joined the Marine Corps. Perhaps we should make the transition complete and become a component under the Department of the Marine Corps.

AGC Robert Cola (ret.) | Nampa, Idaho

SEPARATE POLITICS, RACISM

How hypocritical of Aviation Machinist’s Mate Ravinder Singh to state that disparaging emails from right-wing conservatives lead to derisive speech and ethnic slurs [“Fired 1-star not unique,” Letters, May 6].

Racism is not a right-wing ideology anymore than it is a left-wing ideology. And if he really knew his history, he would know that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.

This kind of rhetoric doesn’t help his point and only causes a different kind of animosity of attempting to label conservatives as something they’re not.

Cmdr. Brian Mai | Newport, R.I.

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