Monday, June 11, 2012


This month we’re treated to another guest blog, addressing a naval subject.  The Rant is from “Sanford Hughes,” a defense analyst who wishes to remain employed until he reaches retirement age.  Here's his assessment of the State of the Navy in 2012.

Bad news for squids and jarheads (our beloved sailors and Marines).  The Navy Department has figured a way to cut back on the  expense of running a Navy and all those desert wastelands they call Marine bases.

Basically, stop all drinking, smoking and eating rich foods, test everyone all the time and eventually, there won't be anyone left to collect pay and pension benefits.

Of course they didn't say that exactly. What they did say is, the Navy will implement fleet-wide breathalyzer tests for sailors and Marines, crack down on smoking and drinking, and phase in many other major personnel policy changes, such as giving females three years off to birth babies instead of standing duty they signed up for.  The broad collection of new policies has been dubbed "21st Century Sailor and Marine," and reflected many "longstanding issues or goals" for the department by social engineers now seemingly in charge of the U.S. military.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert, and Marine Corps Commandant General Jim Amos unveiled the coming disaster but it isn't clear if the White House forced them into it or they went along willingly.

Juan Garcia (a civilian), Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, said that "21st Century" has five "pillars" - readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion and "continuum of service."

The Navy Department's basic goal is to get the most possible good out of every servicemember and keep them in the force for as long as possible before they come to their senses or just head for Canada.  Officials said they hope anti-drinking, anti-smoking and physical fitness campaigns will make troops healthier, reduce accidents such as drunk driving, and result in fewer missed work days over a sailor or Marine's career.

Contrast this with the British Navy which not only allows smoking but still issues a cupful of grog every day.  (Not to mention the French Navy which serves wine—according to exchange officers, not limited to dinner.)


The highest profile new policy will be the fleetwide use of breathalyzers, which until now have only been tried sporadically in various parts of the Navy. Within the coming year, Garcia said, virtually all ships and many Marine units will begin fielding breathalyzers and a novel approach for using them.  "What we're stressing is this is not a punitive tool, not a legal tool, but instead it's an inspection and prevention tool," said Garcia, who's obviously never been in the Navy, "leading chiefs to prevent career-ending or service-ending incidents." Of course, just the opposite will be true.

For example, all sailors coming aboard a ship for a duty shift after liberty will be screened with the breathalyzer, and the whole crew will be subject to random inspections. In addition to being deeply unpopular with sailors, the Navy's past breathalyzer experiments also have drawn skepticism from its own leaders: former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa once observed that a breathalyzer on the brow could cause as many problems as it solved.  A sailor or Marine who shows up for duty with a blood alcohol level above .08 will be sent to Medical; his leaders and shipmates will be notified, and his case will rest in the hands of his commanding officer and noted in his record. That should do a lot for reenlistment figures.


Tobacco and the synthetic marijuana-like drug known as "spice" are also on the hit list. The Navy Department will stop discounting tobacco products at exchanges and begin new rounds of tests to catch spice smokers.  Recent congressional action also means that, for the first time in decades, Navy warships may not go to sea with tobacco in
their ships' stores. Navy officials want to duplicate what they say has been the success of the submarine force, which outlawed smoking at the beginning of 2011.

 So much for having an after dinner cigar in the goat locker (chief's quarters).


The policy also will offer women new options to take time away from service to have children, then return to duty to pick up their careers. Women will be able to move into the inactive ready reserve for as long as three years, receive a stipend for not working, keep commissary and other benefits, and use one permanent change of station to relocate.

They'll incur a "two for one" obligation - meaning a woman who took the maximum three years off would owe the Navy or Marine  Corps six additional years. Let's see how long that lasts.


Worse, for chief petty officers and gunnery sergeants, the Navy and Marines will also step up a "year-round culture of fitness" to lean on servicemembers to keep fit. With all these sailors and Marines in better shape, drinking less and not smoking, the Navy Department wants to keep them in service for as long as possible, or, at least, until their enlistment is up.

Of course, it may be impossible to get anyone to re-up since the men are unable to smoke or drink. And as all the women will be off having babies, who's going to run the ships, planes and shore bases in about four years?

Hopefully, by that time, all the social experimenters in Washington, D.C. and in the Pentagon will have been replaced by realists who understand military enlisted men and what it takes to be a warrior.

But probably not. Meanwhile, please don't let China, North Korea, or Iran hear about this.