Editor’s note: Navy Times is introducing a periodic humor column by one of your active-duty shipmates. The writer is an active-duty sailor who writes under the pseudonym Jack Quarterman who also writes a Navy humor blog at Sea Stories and Other Lies. He is not employed by Navy Times and the views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Military Times or its editorial staff.
Languishing in the supply office hoping to place an order, I can’t help but wonder why my chief hates me so much.
Nothing in Navy life is quite as bad as trying to figure out how to get supplies out of a logistic specialist. It’s like panhandling, except far less likely to succeed and far more humiliating. Just try it. If you are really lucky the LSs will send you away with a solid “No, we are never going to order this for you, so just give up now,” then you can go on with your life. This only happens in dreams. In real life you have to figure out how to acquire the needed supplies.
A sailor navigating the naval supply system is like a 3-year-old assembling a 1,000 piece puzzle of the night sky with 50 pieces swapped out from a different puzzle. Actually, it’s worse since eventually the child will just give up but you, as the division RPPO (i.e. the poor soul who in charge of ordering supplies), do not have that option.
At this point, you will be tempted (and you would by no means be the first one to give into this temptation) to just go to the store and buy whatever it is you need. There are Navy ships in commission supplied primarily from the wallets of the sailors serving on them.
This problem is not the fault of the Navy’s logistic specialists, who are fantastic people when you meet them out of their office (and I’m not just saying this because I am a little scared of them). The problem is that due to massive funding cuts over the years, the Navy is pretty much broke. Unless you are SEAL Team Six, you won’t receive supplies before the Earth crashes into the Sun.
Since the Navy is in a bit of a financial crunch, we have to think outside the box. And I think I have the solution.
Have you ever watched a NASCAR race? It’s kind of like a sport, but instead of athletes engaging in athletics, drivers sit in cars for five hours and crash into each other at high speed, just like Los Angeles commuters. Every week, they demolish their cars in fantastic wrecks and the next week they have brand new cars again!
How do they afford this? NASCAR has corporate sponsors. A lot of them, in fact. Literally everything in one of those races is an advertisement.
This is what the Navy needs. Think about it. Can you imagine, ships painted red with the Coca Cola logo on the side or blue ships endorsed by Miller Lite? The Marines could get in on it, too, with their tanks, armored vehicles, trucks or whatever they have, sponsored by large corporations.
Just think of the funding. Do you think Coca Cola wants the ship with their logo to have rust on it? You would just call up Coke and ask for some red paint and it would be there. The best ships in the fleet would get better sponsors, too ― third year with the Battle E and now you’re getting better funding and a better paid crew.
Now I know what you are thinking: how could this actually benefit the companies sponsoring us? Who would see these advertisements? The enemy? Sure, I bet they’d love a Coke, but since we’re killing them, when would they get a chance to make a purchase? That’s a fair point. They’d have to televise operations a bit more. Just imagine the war coverage:
“Well, Bill, the invasion is going pretty slow here, the Bud Light ship just launched a couple of the Good Year LCACs, but I’m just not seeing the commitment.”
“Wait a second, Earl … It looks like the Dunkin Donuts ship and Taco Bell ship just launched a couple dozen Snickers Tomahawk Missiles. Snickers, ‘when you’re not going anywhere for a while.’ And, Earl, I don’t think those guys they’re shooting at will be going anywhere for a while either.”
“Heck no, Bill. I’d hate to be on the receiving end of that attack. Those Snickers Tomahawks are carrying…”
“Whoa there, Earl, that’s classified information. Let’s just say that they’re really powerful. Let’s go to Joe Mitchell with our pilot house coverage on the number 77 Lowes ship. Thanks for tuning in; this war is brought to you by Red Bull. Red Bull gives you wings.”
Wouldn’t that be great? I bet we could even bring Task Force Uniform in on it, too. Instead of spending five years designing a ridiculous-looking uniform that melts to your body, we could have a ridiculous-looking fireproof jumpsuit provided by your ship’s sponsors and adorned with their logos.
I haven’t even got to the physical fitness benefits, yet: if we approached it like a sport, we could even count a deployment as command PT. Congress should look into this.
I realize that I have been a little hard on the supply program, and particularly the logistic specialists in this column. So I’d like to say that if I have offended anyone, then, from the bottom of my heart, they can write their own column.
I have some other great ideas that I would love to share but I have to run. We get underway tomorrow and the hardware store closes in an hour.
Jack Quarterman is an active-duty sailor who writes a humor blog at SeaStoriesandOtherLies.org.