Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Whiny JO Resignation Letters

I've blogged about the NewNavy website before, but it continues to provide some humorous content. The author is apparently a deeply disturbed former submariner (I know I normally don't use that term, but I think it's appropriate in this case) who doesn't seem to have enjoyed his time in submarines, or in the psych ward before he got out. (He's doing much better now, though.)

I'm not sure if they're new, or if I missed them the first time, but he's got up a couple of incredibly whiny JO resignation letters that sound fairly legit. Some excerpts:

"A problem that is exacerbated by being stationed in Japan is how the Navy handles personal responsibility. We are in charge of warships and hundreds of lives, but we have to be told what we can and can't do on liberty. We are told where to go, what to wear, and when to be back. Due to the political sensitivity, I understand using the easy solution of creating more rules and restricting behavior. Since I can offer no better solution, I can't say that it is the wrong way to handle the situation; however, I don't enjoy being treated as a child and I will enjoy the greater freedom and personal accountability that goes along with adult life outside the Navy."

I'm sure the liberty rules aren't at all due to previous officers who had lots of freedom and ended up drunk, beaten, and robbed. From the 2nd letter:

"In both my collegiate education and in my own further study of management theory, the basic leadership principle that I have encountered time and time again is that people are motivated best by positive reinforcement. Contemporary psychology has shown in experiments that treating individuals with sincere praise and encouragement reinforces and develops desirable behavior at the actual expense of unwanted behavior. The Navy’s method of leadership, however, is fundamentally based upon negative reinforcement. At every turn, behavioral change is attempted through criticism and punishment.
"As a junior officer first starting to monitor maintenance practices on my submarine, I was instructed by my Department Head to omit positive comments since they “provided no value.” Upon completion of a period of casualty drills, the Chief of the Boat would debrief the crew on only the errors and mistakes they had made, explaining that improvement could only be made by calling attention to what had been done wrong. Even official evaluations – such as Operational Reactor Safeguard Examinations (ORSE) or Tactical Readiness Evaluations (TRE) – report their findings as a detailed list of deficiencies. In the absence of negative comments, a simple disclaimer is made: “No deficiencies noted.” Seldom is feedback provided highlighting what was done correctly or how to correct the deficiencies that were observed, and any such feedback is off the record."

I'll admit that this particular practice takes some getting used to; skimmers and airdales both emphasize good things when debriefing. Still, to make it one of the reasons you're getting out seems a little bit overboard.

Anyway, I'm sure these two guys will be happier outside of the Navy, and will find that civilian jobs are always fun and never frustrating... {/sarcasm}


Blogger CDR Salamander said...

...on the second one I was waiting for a "...and the entire tour, not once did the XO give me a big hug and tell me how much he cared about me....."

5/10/2006 3:46 AM

Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

Ahhh, I wish I had a copy of the resig. letter from one of my PNEO classmates. He got called out of one of our pre-tests to talk to the DevRon Commodore, and a few days later to Group @ ADM. Apparently, he decided to jump with both feet over the line, and was just patently offensive.

5/10/2006 3:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

those letters were fucking awesome. JO resignation letters are really an opportuniy to vent, since there's no way in hell the Navy is going to change. Might as well have fun with them.

5/11/2006 7:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't "deeply disturbed former submariner" redundant?


5/15/2006 7:28 AM

Anonymous Owen Meany said...

It's ironic that you commented on the "whiny" JOs. Being a retired Officer at 42 years old tells me that you either failed to screened for command and were forced out, or you valued your family life more than the Navy and chose to leave at 20. Either way, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and you were probably one of those Officers that they were complaining about. Re-read these letters, and try to listen to what they're saying (it's not all whining...).
Thank you for your service, but just because you disagree with someone's reasons for finding other employment doesn't make them a "whiner". You and other Officers dismissing them outright as whiners and losers contributes to the trememdous loss of talent that is crippling the service.


6/05/2006 7:07 PM

Anonymous ET2(SS) said...

I agree with the master chief at the bottom. What an obvious naval attitude towards people who don't want to do it. Some people don't like it, and that is their right. Stop judging people who seemed to have a better idea of how to write their opinions more professionally than you do. Every JO we have had to go onto shore duty was an idiot, every single one.

4/12/2008 3:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sir, are a turd. Whiny JO resignation letters should be retitled to "letters from JO's who didn't worship me"

Navy JO.

11/20/2008 3:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the author of one of those letters, I was quite surprised to find they were still being seen on the net. Since the letters are the number one Google result for ‘officer resignation letter navy’, it seems people are interested in what we had to say. I only realized the letters were still around after a JO from my old boat mentioned he read them.
I still believe the points I made were valid. Leadership in the sub force (during the time I was in) was broken. Despite your sarcasm, I do have a good civilian job, and I am really happy with it. The people I work for now inspire me to perform by creating a positive environment. I work hard because I like my job and like who I’m working for.

11/21/2008 3:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I am an Medical Service Corps officer and not a submariner, I think those letters are AWESOME!

Being in the Navy is like being involved in a domestic violence relationship. Someone else has full power and control over your life and the minute you attempt to exercise some control in your life you get "beaten down." The only difference is that, should you attempt to leave a domestic violence relationship, there are people there to encourage you and to help you finacially. The Navy would punish you even more.

I will be submitting my letter of resignation later this year after ten years of active military service. My last day cannot come fast enough. I just hope I have the stones to tell it like it is, like these other two JO's.

2/16/2009 10:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you to all those who stood up for the junior officer's resignation letter comments. I am a SWO drafting my own resignation letter and can testify that what he wrote about is also true in the surface community. I was also stationed in Japan and could not believe the restrictions placed upon sailors. Grown adults did not have the liberties that teenagers in the U.S. are afforded. It is common place for senior officers to dismiss junior officers' legitimate complaints as 'whiny', and in doing so cause an impediment to progress and change.

4/02/2009 10:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been enlisted 4 years. I am in a commissioning program right now. What I have seen so far about leadership at the O level... well lets just say, when I write my resignation letter in seven years. I'll have plenty of stuff (similar to those letters) to include.

5/27/2009 11:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with the master chief and the enlisted person above me. ive been enlisted one year and im actually starting to notice what the second letter talks about. Especially the part about how the navy lets people be lazy with no repercussions and the hard working are rewarded with more work.

10/14/2009 7:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading these letters. I got out after 10 years active service, having been up for Chief twice and with a steller service record. Everyone kept asking me "why would you get out after 10 years?" As far as they were concerned, I was halfway there.

These letters pretty much sum up the reason I chose to leave the Navy behind and embark on an adventure in the real world. I always knew the problems I witnessed with senior enlisted leadership were only symptomatic of problems further up the chain.

Honestly, why would anyone wish to continue climbing a broken ladder...much less waste their life in the vain pursuit of glory that will never come.

1/04/2010 12:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of those whiny JOs, I understand where they are coming from... I was a First-class who went through a commissioning program and was only introduced to submarines as an officer. While life is bad for the enlisted folks, it is really bad for us, since our "mentors" are generally people like you who automatically dismiss our problems since you supposedly ahd it worse and are just fine. Yes we will survive assholes like you, that doesn't mean it is the way to do business!

1/05/2010 6:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's simply a bully culture. The ride gets better or worse depending on the same attributes that carry you in the real world - level of education, the gift of gab, and your overall fitness. We all know it is a game of stump the chump and the fat officer(s), more often plural than not, are beaten up in a variety of ways. It's a simple game of looking good in a uniform and saying the right thing at the right time combined with some punctuality. It sucks. It's good enough for government work. I call it the DMV afloat, and I am planning on commuting my government service to another agency as I could afford the socialistic benefits without the nautical nonsense and family separation to sweeten the deal. The first JO already admits he's a fatass. Consider the source when people bemoan poor treatment. - LT

1/18/2010 7:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would really like to read more letters as I may be drafting mine very soon. I do think there are several valid points in those letters and sure some JO's do whine all the time. I am very good at my job and I do pull a lot weight on my boat, but I simply will not let my human nature allow me to stay with what I know and what is comfortable. I have life goals to accomplish and nothing will hold me back. I am very very annoyed when my COC dangles the 30K$ in my face as if I'll do anything for some extra bucks. I could be making 50K$ or $50 Million it makes no difference if you do not have time to spend it. People should be treated and awarded based on their merit not on contractual obligation.

1/23/2010 8:28 AM

Blogger El Tee said...

As a junior officer drafting my own resignation letter, I find the attitude towards legitimate suggestions for improvement on the part of some of my peers fairly disheartening. As RCA during an ORSE, my division consistently performed to the highest possible level during both casualty drills and maintenance evolutions. However, I was assessed as an ineffective monitor because I assigned too few deficiencies to my division. Why must we continually seek to find deficiencies that diminish a stellar performance by individuals who hold themselves to some of the highest standards in the U.S. Military? The inevitable answer is: "this is how we've done it since Rickover!" This complete unwillingness to change and improve is the heart of the reason that I am leaving the Navy. Even if I am "lucky" enough to screen for command, and have a boat of my own, I will still deal with squadron monitors and NR telling me how to run my ship. I know the private sector is far from the promised land, but the bottom line is: even if I deal with the same amount of obnoxious bureaucracy, at least I will be paid substantially more, and never have to spend sixty days at a time trapped underwater with a bunch of stinky dudes....

2/08/2010 6:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can validate most or all of the comments in the resignation levels as valid. I was on a submarine where the junior officers that worked hard were rotated out of order, or to explain, the JO's that worked harder had tours of 36-40 months while the inept ones had their tours shorted to as little as 28 months. For the enlisted, yes an officer's sea tour is shorted, but so are the shore tours in between. The ratio if you take the time to compare the two is very similiar however, depending on rating, warfare, etc. Of the department heads, xo, co's I had, one of 10 I found to be an effective leader. Most of them were prior enlisted and only concerned about making it to 20 years and then getting out. My CO and XO periodically took an interest in training, but nothing positive amounted to it, due to the fact that they would wake up those oncoming regardless of time of day resulting in zombies on watch. The weaker personnel were always given less to do and easier divisions. I was identified as a turnaround man and given the jobs of CRA, and later QAO both areas previously identified as problem. As CRA my XO basically told my LELT he could figure out how to make chemistry what it was supposed to be or else it was his career, and other things of that nature took place. While the U.S. Navy does not need people and are admittedly overmanned, I ask would you rather have all the morons that you didn't make work stay in or the superstars you pummeled because the current leadership techniques promote the first option. On my both, the only jo's that stayed in were the prior enlisted guys and even one of them got out at 11 years after his jo tour. For the people who say JO's are whiny, thats generally because you are unable to effectively articulate and defend most of your decisions. When I asked my last CO a question, he asked why was I entitled to answers from him, despite his and my XO's open door policy. I felt such a sense of failure in my leadership, that they were not able to answer the difficult questions.

While yes, I agree with the mentality of ship, shipmate, self, one should not necessarily have to come at the expense of another.

You are right the navy is not going to change, but they are also not going to get the best people despite all of the PTS and officer screening programs they have in place. They will simply retain the physically fit, morons that are content to just stay in. FYI, I score high, pass all my PFA's, have a high technical rating, was ranked 1 on my boat and will be getting out to work in the private sector shortly.

By the way, yes i have worked in the private sector and they reward hard work. Its not perfect, but significantly better than the system the submarine community has in place on some boats.

11/05/2010 9:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an incredible site! It is really interesting to see the diverse view points. I arrived here because I have never looked into submitting my letter… until recently… and was interested in a format. A lot of entertaining stuff for sure. Just to clarify, one of the contributors had noted that an officer with over 20 years must have not screened for command or was being forced out… not the case here (screened and still going strong). Chastising another post is ridiculous without knowing all the facts or understanding truly why that person thought that way, rather similar to stereotyping it is a weak argument. Sometimes our paths simply diverge, really is that simple. Point is, the Navy isn’t for everyone and it is NOT a perfect society; if you can survive within its frame conditions, GREAT. All JOs are not perfect and some are in fact whiny (smart and make good points but still whiny). All senior officers aren’t poster children for competency, simple fact, and hours put into work is NOT directly proportional to quality of work. If you signed up for easy, you shouldn’t have signed up. Oddly enough, as a team (and if you approach it with that holistic attitude) we make it work. Each of us is basically a problem solver working through a crazy Sudoku to make things fit so that we get our missions accomplished. I personally am going to approach the letter in a thankful manner and Big Navy doesn’t have anything to hold over me. Considering that I started this gig 24 years ago as an MM, I have received a lot from my experiences and grown as an individual from both the good and the bad. This whole experience can be summed up in a rugby experience… you go into the game knowing its gonna hurt and when presented with a defensive line that is intent on punishing you, sometimes you win sometimes you lose. Are you going to whine in the end because you did get hurt or are you going to be happy that you got the chance to play? Attitude is everything… good luck to you all.

10/05/2011 2:17 PM

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12/07/2011 3:15 AM

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12/07/2011 3:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at the comment with the DTG of272347ZMAY09. I am now a JO in the surface community. My original comment still stands.

2/07/2012 11:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

whiny JO's or jealous second career government contractor? I had a pretty detailed resignation letter. There are broken systems of leadership, and there are great leaders who make a difference. I had both. I'll be a doctor, M.D. in a short period of time, along with 2 other JOs from my wardroom who submitted similar resignation letters. Gotta say, i've never been happier doing a job where you can really make a difference. If you don't have a critical eye and expect better from your peers and leaders, then you are just doing the Navy a disservice. Acceptance is the same as apathy, and not holding our leaders accountable for their misguided actions is just condoning their childish behavior. Yes, there are O-6s who act like bratty teenagers, because they kept getting promoted and rewarded for those actions. Its basic psychology, and ineffective leadership management from within the Navy infrastructure. Most of my friends who got out have amazing careers, great happy lives, making obscene amounts of money, and living in great areas. Not one of them has had to stay at work until 2000 for a critique on how the ship ran out of ketchup during an underway (true story).

4/11/2013 9:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The points made in the letter are valid. Positive reinforcement is really the primary method for effecting improvement. As the RCA on my boat, I observed my new Chief turn the division around by using positive reinforcement. He inherited what was considered the worst division on the boat, and turned it into the best, bar none. RC Division received an SBA on the previous ORSE, but on the next one, we received an AA. He directly attributed the changes to positive reinforcement and the fact that people aren't motivated by fear of screwing up, but rather because they don't want to let their division down.

Some people complain that the "kinder, gentler" Navy is leading to a bunch of soft whiny people who can't get the job done. However, people need to realize the difference between lowering standards for people who can't cut it versus using a different style of leadership and motivational technique in order to effectively accomplish a job.

7/31/2013 6:07 AM


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