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.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Submarine Department Head Retention Goal Met

Navy Times is reporting that PERS-42 met their submarine Department Head retention goals for FY09. Excerpts:
Annual goals call for the submarine service to retain roughly 110 department heads. The force came up short from fiscal 2004 through 2008, with the exception of fiscal 2006, when it exceeded goals by seven officers, according to Navy Personnel Command data. The silent service exceeded fiscal 2009 goals by two officers and has sustained this success eight months into this fiscal year, said NPC spokesman Mike McLellan.
The data shows the service retained 100 department heads, 11 short of goal, in fiscal 2008. Retention was boosted to 113 department heads, two more than the goal of 111 the next year. McLellan said the increase can be attributed “to the combination of a number of factors including leadership focus, an increase in nuclear officer continuation pay in [fiscal 2009] and the state of the economy.”
The article goes on to discuss the current size of the Bonus ($17.5K for 3 year contract without DH experience, $30K for serving or served DHs ). I for one fully support the Bonus. I realize some may disagree. Discuss away...

122 Comments:

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

From Friar's Fires...

...It's an old story, attributed to several different people. I've heard it supposedly happened to Winston Churchill, Groucho Marx and George Bernard Shaw.

The gentleman is seated next to an attractive and proper young lady and engages her in conversation. Suddenly he says, "Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?" Or, of course, pounds, if one attributes it to Churchill or Shaw. The lady blushes, but seeing the humor in the request, agrees. "Well, would you sleep with me for five dollars?"

"Certainly not!" she says, now offended. "Just what kind of woman do you think I am?"

"Madam, we've already established what you are. Now we're just haggling over the price."

5/28/2010 11:42 AM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

Two Churchill-attributed quotes in two consecutive posts (the other was my title of the previous post)! I like it. Personally, the Bonus didn't help me decide to stay in after the first contract I signed (since I was already halfway to retirement), but I sure liked the extra money. For some people, though, it is important. There's no problem I see with wanting to get paid more for doing your job, and I think that even with the Bonus (and SRB), submarine nukes are still underpaid.

5/28/2010 12:13 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Question: Do we screen DHs or is it the old system - 'can he fog a mirror?' - that accepts everyone?

5/28/2010 2:33 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DH's are screened but it is essentially a mirror test. JO's make DH as long as a previous CO does not specifically write "Not Recommended for DH" in their FITREP.

5/28/2010 3:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No bonus = no submarine department head manning. That's the truth, and pretty simple math. But to the Duck's and the prior anon's implied points, the Navy isn't keeping the best of the best. Nor should they, under the current management scheme.

Allocate the bonus by job, and watch things change...but I'm certainly not holding my breath: over decades, there's just been no leadership shown on this problem.

Having done the Weps job and the Eng job, and being more than a little bit comfortable with the Navigator's job, let me just say that it's flat-out ridiculous that a Weps gets paid the same as the ship's chief engineer.

IMHO, being a Weps/CSO is the most enjoyable job in the submarine force. It's only a slight exaggeration to say that I'd have paid to done the job, I liked it that much.

Being Eng, on the other hand, is a no-sleep, no-breaks, no-real-inport-time, no-leave-when-you-need-it ball buster. It's ground more than one good man into the dirt. And yet the Eng is paid the same as the Weps and Nav, and the monthly early LCDR money is something you'd find stashed in a cookie jar at home.

The sub officer system is fucked, plain and simple. And no one's even trying to fix it. It's humorous that PERS-42 sees its job as "mission accomplished" when all they've managed to do in meeting retention needs is take advantage of a depression-like economic environment. You could sleep through an objective like that and get the same result.

If the Navy wants to actually keep the good guys, consider paying them for the work being done. Or not...and maintain the status quo. As always. And as expected.

5/28/2010 3:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are several reasons that will cause a JO not to screen for DH - PRT failures, PNEO failures, Captain's Mast, DUI, etc, along with the lack of a CO's recommendation (although many of the above will of course result in a non-rec).

5/28/2010 3:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article's description of the bonuses isn't quite right. A JO has three bonus options after his JO tour- sign no contract for a 12.5k/yr bonus, sign a 3 year with no obligation for a DH tour for 17.5k/yr or sign a contract (3 to 7 years) obligating a DH tour for 30k/yr. So you don't have to be an actual serving DH to get the 30k/yr, you just have to sign a contract saying you're staying in for the DH tour.

5/28/2010 4:18 PM

 
Anonymous P-DH said...

As a prospective DH, I'll agree that the system is broke...but the fact that I signed my contract only makes me part of the problem, doesn't it?

If BUPERS is able to meet manning requirements, then the system can't be THAT broke. If no one formally identifies the problems and provides sensible recommendations, then why should the Navy fix the system?

I'll tell you guys another related system that's broke: the DH sea tour detailing. Let me take that back...I think that system is not well understood. There are some SOAC classes where none of the P-DH's get any of their first choices (homeport, platform, or billet) even though the desired job might actually be on the slate. Sometimes it seems as if it's ONLY about the needs-of-the-Navy.

Many of us are just happy that the DH tours are shorter (32 months)...and in some cases even shorter.

With regard to money, I'll tell you that I didn't stay in because of the money; but if the money wasn't there, I would have probably gotten out...hopefully that makes sense.

With regard to screening, again that process is not well understood by the majority, but the only JOs I know that didn't screen were specifically recommended not to screen by their CO. It's unfortunate, but if the submarine force is only able to retain the minimum required, then it's impossible to expect them to be selective. Does anyone really think that the "best-of-the-best" would stay in if the suggestions above (performance-based pay, selective advancement, etc.)? I think most officers get out 'cause they're tired of the day-to-day frustrations.

5/28/2010 5:20 PM

 
Anonymous 3383 said...

I like the 1745 anon's suggestion, but passage will be difficult.

Of course, I also think all services should pay more than currently for service at sea, under conditions that qualify for the CIB, and for any uniformed personnel not warming chairs stateside on 15-section duty their entire career.

5/28/2010 10:34 PM

 
Blogger Alexander said...

Not that I look to the surface force for good ideas, but does anyone have any comments on the merit of the two DH tour concept they execute? Might give sub types a bit more experience as DHs and reduce the strain on the ENG having to suffer in the job for so long. Just thinking out loud here....

5/29/2010 3:53 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

If the Eng job is such a bitch, why - in 6 decades of submarine nuclear power - hasn't it been restructured? You need not discover a new law of physics to do so - just follow the ways of business and other endeavors and recast the duties in a new way, a division of labor that doesn't put all the load on one mule.

Impossible! Oh horseshit. Navies did so many years ago - there were no executive officers in early men-of-war. Combat aircraft ditto: more load, more seats.

Tradition - we've always done it this way - is an atrocious reason. "We need one chicken neck to choke" - already have that; he's called the captain. That might mean an additional DH. Yup. We'd have to rewrite a bunch of procedures. Yup.

Just a thought.

5/29/2010 5:08 AM

 
Anonymous MentalJim said...

I hope those getting the $30k/yr bonus find that it was worth it. That's a lot of money. I was in a similar situation as Joel and made the decision to stay for 20 around my 12 year point, so the bonus pay was nice to have, but not a real factor for me. For the pain and suffering that one goes through is it enough? Depends on the person and the situation I guess. If there were all those years where the DH quotas were not met, how is it that DH tour length is shorter?

5/29/2010 8:33 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@P-DH:
The DH detailing process is as good as it can be given the number of limitations placed on the detailer on who can fill what job and the amount of bureaucracy it takes to get a slate approved. Add in the fact that every post-CO O-6 out there wants to put in a good word for his old JO to the detailer and you're bound to have a bunch of unhappy people. The reality is that every SOAC class has to be detailed as a whole and that can create some issues. Sure, you want to be the ENG on boat X out of Pearl and your buddy wants to be the WEPS on boat Y out of Bangor, but in reality, your buddy is better qualified to be the END on boat X so he ends up there and you end up as the WEPS on boat Y, its just the reality of the system. The sense of entitlement that guys have is just amazing to me, like they have done so much in their 6-8 years in the Navy that the Submarine Force owes them something on top of the 30k bonus and CONSUBPAY.

@Jim:
The tour length is shorter because we brought in more guys to bring the tour length down from 36-32 months. Missing the retention goal by 5-10 might add 1-2 months to the 32 month goal, but not appreciably increase it.

As far as the bonus goes, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a Submarine Officer who stayed in "just for the money." But at the same time, the vast majority wouldn't be here if the bonus wasn't there.

Just my 2 cents.

5/29/2010 9:15 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope those getting the $30k/yr bonus find that it was worth it. That's a lot of money. I was in a similar situation as Joel and made the decision to stay for 20 around my 12 year point, so the bonus pay was nice to have, but not a real factor for me. For the pain and suffering that one goes through is it enough? Depends on the person and the situation I guess. If there were all those years where the DH quotas were not met, how is it that DH tour length is shorter?

I was in the same situation at my 12 year point and I decided to go the other way. Even with the bonus and 20 YR retirement I'm breaking even financially. I stayed in the reserves and even though I don't get the reserve retirement pension/health care for another 10 years it will really just be icing on the cake. My personal retirement accounts, and my civilian employer pension far exceed the benefits of a 20 YR retirement (that includes healthcare).

So, if you're at or near the 12 year point then don't think you need to stay in the Navy. The retirement doesn't really break even in a practical sense with the civilian side until you get to the 29-30 year mark.

5/29/2010 9:41 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/29/2010 10:17 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"The retirement doesn't really break even in a practical sense with the civilian side until you get to the 29-30 year mark"

Not sure what you mean by 'with the civilian side' - civilian retirement is its own beast depending on where you are, 401.k choices, match or not, dedicated pension or not, and - most notably - pay level. Stock options make it even trickier.

But on military side, for a person in a constant paygrade (e.g., O-6 at 20-year point and doesn't make flag), retirement pay is actuarially neutral as to longevity. Do the math with a when-will-I-die calculation and you'll find that, as your retirement pay goes up 2.5% a year between 20 and 30 years, you get about 2.5% closer to dying each year also. So it's a wash - if you stay in, more pay over a shorter time and the net is the same.

The real decision tradeoff has two factors: is the civilian side more attractive; do you like what you're doing now? My advice when a detailer: if the pot's right for you now, stick around until you run out of attractive options ... and use the time to prepare for your second career.

Having been through that second career myself (and a third), I would note that the average military careerist is a babe in the woods in a civilian job, especially working with a big company. I've watched great submarine flags fail miserably in jobs well handled by retired E-9s. Here's the thing: business is just like the Navy ... except vastly more complex, challenging, unyielding, confusing, and of genuine bafflement to even the best shooters. Preparation? Read all of the Wall Street Journal every day, Bloomberg Businessweek every week, and start to fill your humility account to capacity. Network with working retirees. Stay loose and enjoy it when you get there.

5/29/2010 10:23 AM

 
Blogger kwicslvr said...

The retention bonus are nice and they do help but still are no equivalent to commercial nukes.

I myself got out after 12 years has an E-6 ELT. I really enjoyed the chemistry aspects of the job. Staying for retirement was not worth it compared to what I could make on the outside doing the same thing. Now I am a chemist at a commercial nuke, so I do half the job I did in the Navy. I work a little less than 170 days out of the year an bring home over twice as much than I did in the Navy. That doesn't include the 401k and traditional pension. This is essentially the same for the operators and HP's.

If the Navy truly wants to retain not only the Nuke officers but the enlisted they have to start paying them more comparable with the civilian side. Just doing a JO tour and getting out you can be making close to $130,000 a year at a commercial nuclear facility within a couple of years. Our current CEO is 48ish year old ex nuke JO. Our previous CEO was also a sub nuke officer.

5/29/2010 9:16 PM

 
Blogger T said...

Honestly, I think the Navy is probably pretty comparable to Civilian job pay for Ex-JO vs DH pay. I'm getting out shortly, and obviously most of my navy peers are getting out or have just gotten out as well. I don't know anybody who has a job making more money than they would if they had signed the contract. However, I don't think anybody is actually working as hard as a sea-going Department head either, so on an hourly rate, they're doing a lot better.

I'm still annoyed when I realize how badly the Navy rips you off as a ENS and JG on a submarine. I made well less than any of my non-navy friends working more hours until I made LT. Even now I'm roughly even. I feel even more sorry for the enlisted nukes...

5/29/2010 11:30 PM

 
Anonymous Kolohe said...

The only time the DH screening was sub-95% was for YG 01 and 02 where the recruiting command, helped by the recession of that time and 9/11, was pumping NUPOCS in left and right to 'make up' for years of underacessions in the late 90's.

So when it was time to 'pay the piper' in 2005 and 2006 with these fat year groups (which BTW had created close to 20 person wardrooms - which is its own issue for being able to draw from the experience well) the selection rate was down to 75% - or less than screening rate the 90's YG's had for O-4.

5/29/2010 11:54 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm still annoyed when I realize how badly the Navy rips you off as a ENS and JG on a submarine. I made well less than any of my non-navy friends working more hours until I made LT"

Boo hoo. You got college paid for, and/or a GI bill to boot. You also got to do something honorable by serving your country, something no one will ever take away from you. Sick of this woe is me mentality.

5/29/2010 11:56 PM

 
Blogger T said...

Actually... I didn't get my college paid for, so well, there's always that.

Anyway, I don't regret my time in the Navy. There's many benefits to the job, some tangible, some not so tangible. At the very least it's great training for things later in life (at least, I hope it is). At the end of the day, though, honor doesn't pay the bills, and if the Navy wants to retain top tier talent they're going to have to either pay for it, or make the job more rewarding/suck less.

Most JO's who get out have a bad experience as O-1's through O-2's, and they make up their minds to get out then. It doesn't matter how good shore duty is if some guy has been repeating FTN in his head because his CO/XO/ENG were dickheads/incompetent and ran him into the ground during his first ORSE.

I don't plan to stay in the submarine force, but I do want to see them fix their problems. I would gladly stay in if things were different.

5/30/2010 1:20 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus Joel, this has turned into a sniveling nook whine thread! OMFG!
If you don't like it, GET OUT. WE don't want you. We have an EDMC billet out here they were offering an extra 800 A MONTH incentive and? NO takers.
What a bunch of whining self serving biatches the Navy has turned into.

It's time to redesignate what FTN means......

Hagar

5/30/2010 1:56 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're smart about it and plan ahead, you will almost always make more money in the civilian world than you would in the sub force, and with better lifestyle to boot. On the other hand, if you take the path of least resistance and jump on the first defense contractor job that comes along, things won't be as rosy (and you probably deserve it for being so oblivious).

The Navy takes your early twenties away and spits you out 5-7 yrs later in a position to do much better than you would have otherwise done. I'm pretty sure it has always been that way.

And to those people who complain about being underpaid: given that manning is within 5% of where it needs to be, I'd say that you're being paid just about what you're worth. If you want that Civ Nuc Power job paying twice as much, go ahead and take it; just don't complain when you realize that doing shiftwork in the middle of nowhere as a single guy in his late twenties isn't the greatest thing in the world either...

5/30/2010 2:10 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently a Submarine Officer about to transfer to my XO tour. When I was on my JO shore duty I put in my resignation request and then later pulled it. Why did I pull it? I thought about being OOD on the bridge pulling into various ports, I thought about being in control on mission in the badlands doing things we can't talk about on this blog, and I thought of the times spent mentoring 18 year old patriotic Americans far from home for the first time. Money had nothing to do with my decision. My advice to the O1-O3's posting about money on this blog....If money is actually one of the things you are weighing in your decision to stay in or get out....you should get out, you're staying in for the wrong reasons. There is no honor lost in that decision. This job is not for everyone, you have done your time and served with pride....its just time to move on. For those that stay, the work is hard, the hours long, and the tangible rewards miniscule; but its still worth it!

5/30/2010 6:49 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

PXO: Well said. A former CNO called it "the fun and the zest of going to sea." Amen.

5/30/2010 7:24 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus Joel, this has turned into a sniveling nook whine thread! OMFG!
If you don't like it, GET OUT. WE don't want you. We have an EDMC billet out here they were offering an extra 800 A MONTH incentive and? NO takers.
What a bunch of whining self serving biatches the Navy has turned into.

It's time to redesignate what FTN means......

Hagar


Welcome to Econ 101. With four new nuclear plants currently under construction in China by a LARGE U.S. corporation (needing help), four more soon to be under construction in the U.S., a majority of the U.S. commercial nuclear fleet workforce approaching retirement age, a reduced throughput of Navy nukes compared to 20 years ago, and an increased op-tempo due to significantly fewer Navy assets, expect for it to be much more difficult to retain any nukes in the coming decade.

5/30/2010 8:29 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Money had nothing to do with my decision.

Don't doubt that other reasons were the "top five" in your mind, but at the same time I doubt your decision tree would have looked the same if LCDR pay had been $30k/year, or if you had known known that you could be pulling in 10x that today given some luck and hard work...

I thought about being OOD on the bridge pulling into various ports, I thought about being in control on mission in the badlands doing things we can't talk about on this blog

I did the same, and finally concluded that the Navy really didn't need me or anyone else for any particular person - it just needed bodies to turn the crank and take the watch. The caliber of people that enter the sub force are capable of a bit more than that. For many, the desire to have a tangible impact on the real world (bigger and better things) is the main drive to get out. Surfaced OOD and super secret missions are cool, but at the end of the day...they really don't accomplish a whole hell of a lot, and that's not ok for many JOs who consider turning a 5 yr experiment into their life's work.

5/30/2010 9:45 AM

 
Blogger T said...

Anon @ 945:

Well said. If this were the Cold War or World War II, and I felt like my efforts as a submariner were making a tangible difference to National security, I would have stayed in. Hell, I probably would have stayed in if they had said that we plan to use submarines to sink Somali Pirate Motherships. But playing make believe for TRE and ORSE is not particularly rewarding nor world changing.

Though, if what I've heard from guys at SOAC is true about how they have changed some of the doctrine stuff, I think we are actually headed in the right direction of trusting our OOD's and operators vice having cogs in the machines that merely are the mechanism to spit out orders that are pre-determined by books.

5/30/2010 10:50 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...expect for it to be much more difficult to retain any nukes in the coming decade."

Agreed for all the reasons you mention. And in this case, difficult means "expensive."

But that only speaks to the need, not the reality. I forsee very tough manning (peopling?) days ahead for officers in the submarine force due to a too slow ramp-up on the bonus.

With aviation in decline, and nuclear power ramping up, it'll be a one-sided knife fight to try and increase the nuclear bonus in time to head off undershooting manning needs.

The aviators will not sign off lightly on the nuke bonus going up when theirs is going down. Not that they have any final say-so, but they can and will make life difficult.

5/30/2010 1:57 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you say supply and demand?

We're undermanned in many rates. It's not only the NUCs, it's also MTs, FTs, both MMs, and STs...ETC. So of course the SRBs and the other incentives are going to go up. Our CREO for NUCs stands at 1 across the board. The rest of the technical rates are basically at 1, 1 and 2. So yeah, they're gonna throw us a bonus or two.

The Aviation side is overmanned in most cases, both commissioned and enlisted. So, why throw them a bonus or extended incentive pay if the manning is at peak levels? There is going to be a considerable amount of bitching and moaning because Aviation isn't getting the same perks that we are. I personally think it's going to be funny as hell when they start pointing and whining at us. I personally have nothing against Aviation, but alot of them both enlisted and commissioned are some of the biggest cry babies ever when they don't get their way.


To PXO 5/30/2010 6:49 AM,

I don't know who you are, but you're views of life and your ways of thinking are exactly what we need in an XO. Good luck to you Sir.

MT1(SS) WidgetHead

5/30/2010 3:00 PM

 
Blogger MM1/SS said...

I thought long and hard about putting in my package to be a Nuke Officer.

but after 10 yrs, it just isn't worth it. Life sucks enough as an enlisted. After 3 boats, I've seen enough poor bastard JO's get reamed to know it isn't worth it.

Big Navy hasn't put the pieces of the puzzle together. When you throw a $90,000 bonus at a first term Nuke...and they refuse...what does that tell you?

Now magnify that bullshit a JO sees on a daily basis and the "training" they get ontop of their daily duties.


I find it hard to believe that the Navy reached their retention goals for DH. My current and last boat each had the entire wardroom with a "Get the 'F' out of the Navy" mentality. Only guys who were pro-Navy were CO/XO/Chop.




Things are getting worse on an almost daily basis. It shows. And until big Navy removes the proverbial head from rear, it's only going to get worse.



12 yrs and out. I'm eligible for $100,000 right now in bonus. It just isn't worth it anymore.

5/31/2010 1:56 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the positive side: Operation Petticoat was on TV last night. If you haven't seen this classic of women on subs, you're missing...well, you know...the boat.

5/31/2010 8:15 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe this is Big Navy's secret weapon for increasing submarine retention...?

5/31/2010 8:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey all,

Fisrt off, love the Blog. I am currently on shore duty and this is were i get most of the breaking news in the Sub world.

As to the Subject as hand, I just recently screened for DH and the process seemed transparent. I at no time, did not think I would not screen. One thing i fond interseting is that I was told flatout that I would not screen for ENG, Which I guess is a blessing, but it did upset me a little. I felt that I excelled in the engineering divisions and would do well as a ENG but, since I had a non-engineering degree I was not good enough? I just found this to be ridiculous and hate being told I can't do something before I even get a chance. On a side note, I will enjoy being a WEPS or NAV (Hopefully, a WEPS).
Keep up the good work.

5/31/2010 10:45 AM

 
Anonymous Squidward said...

I don't think this is about money. Its about how people are treated. Money is a convenient excuse. The real story is that junior officers and enlisted are treated like crap. Sure, life is great for Chief Coffeecup and the Weps, but for the ensigns and MM3s, its a much worse situation. You've got a bunch of very well trained, very well qualified people with big money being thrown at them.

The answer, at some point, is to ask why do we have to keep throwing money? Why not better treatment? We eat our own young, and then try to buy our way out of it. Other "elite" military organizations don't have to do this - why do we?

The promise of better treatment if you get to the right DH billet or make chief is just not enough. Big Navy needs to look hard at real systemic changes that don't involve the current "cash for abuse".

How do you make these changes? Don't ask the master chief or O-6 mafias - they like the system, which they have successfully navigated. Ask the guys who got out after about 5 years, when they have perspective and some civlant experience.

5/31/2010 10:58 AM

 
Blogger T said...

Squidward:

Sadly, this will never change as long as the attitude of the "lifers" (for lack of a better word) is "Well, you don't like it, than we don't want you anyway". Because the sad truth is that you do want me, or if not me, someone else just like me who is getting out. You might not need the bodies this year, but in 2013 when the economy is going strong again, see how competitive the submarine force looks. I can already foresee the retention challenges of the future as more and more women are put on submarines. I'm not sure it will be possible to make anything close to your numbers without 1) paying a lot more money or 2) really fixing the treatment of JO's.

The attitude of the sum force is perfectly summed up in the PERS-42 stay navy briefs. Since they can't find a lot of good things to say about the job, they instead try to scare you into staying in.

We had our PER-42 meeting a few months ago and they were obviously trying to impress that we would not be able to easily find jobs or make anywhere near as much money in the outside world. My personal favorite was when they recommend that we stay in for DH tour to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill. When I informed them that, in fact, if you are an OCS accession, that you are already fully vested they try to say that I was wrong. It's telling that Army recruitment materials specifically call the Post 9/11 GI Bill as a benefit of achieving a commision through Army OCS and we try to deny its existence.

5/31/2010 11:42 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I am going to throw in my two cents here! My back ground while in was as a CCC for three subs & 2 shore commands. I did one recruiting tour from 99 to 02.

Because of the economy, retention and recruiting is at an all time high! For Genoffs, we were done recruiting for FY 10 in December 09. We are now recruiting for FY-11 and look for that to close really soon. We are still recruiting for NUPOCS and Nuke direct access. Interviews are max-ed out every interview. The only areas were are still recruiting for is Health Services.

I retired in late 2008. Lousy time to retire because the economy was going south fast. It still isn't that great. Alot of JOs I talked to were worried about the economy at the end of their military obligation, which is occurring now for some.

It is better to be a department head on a sub, regardless of how much it sucks than not be working and getting no pay check. I have a few other services JOs living in my area and they are sorry they go out. One is doing landscaping to make ends meet.

Of course recruiting command is patting themselves on their back talking about what a great job they are doing. NRC is doing the same. They have a false sense of accomplishment. Like said above, wait until the economy starts picking up and gets better. Finding people will be hard and retention will go down. It did int he 90s during the dotcom boom. Just remember what Big Al the Sailor's pal (COMSUBPAC) had to do to improve retention during his tours.

STSCS(SS/SW) USN RET

5/31/2010 5:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm...I don't know a single JO that didn't already have multiple job offers before they got out. No one should believe that their only choices are landscaping or a DH tour. There are plenty of opportunities for a sub JO (who doesn't have a DUI/felony/Drug abuse on their record).

5/31/2010 5:38 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got out a few years ago, LT, right before the economy tanked. Since then I've walked out on my $85k/yr job, went back to school for my masters, developed a drug & alcohol problem, and live paycheck to paycheck. I wake up in the middle of the night with the shakes and easily fall back asleep once I realize I'm in my own bed, with my wife next to me, and I don't have to spend the night at work twice a week or more. I still say you couldn't have payed me enough to stay.

5/31/2010 5:54 PM

 
Blogger T said...

If you get out as an ex-sub JO and all you can find is landscaping there's something drastically wrong with you. With your security clearances alone you should be able to walk into something better than that.

5/31/2010 6:22 PM

 
Anonymous mark/MM1(ss) said...

I doubt there are many sub JOs or enlisted nucs looking for civilian employment advice from a coner lifer, and apparent part-time skimmer...

5/31/2010 7:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "STSCS(SS/SW) USN RET" added the caveat to his landscaping comment that it was an "other services" JO that was pushing dirt and planting trees...not a nuke sub JO.

Little details like that matter.

I would imagine that ex Army grunts have more than their fair share of difficulties when it comes to finding work in this economic environment.

The fact that CC types and PERS-42 are selling fear - not 'good' reasons to stay in - tells you something: there's no pony in the submarine barn. Just dung.

5/31/2010 8:31 PM

 
Anonymous Squidward said...

Even with the bad economy, there are many jobs available for EOOW/EWS qualified guys. Its a bit tougher for the cones - sorry.

If you have any doubts, jump on Linkedin and start looking around.

The big problem is that its not enough just to fill billets - making minimum numbers means that the least qualified will end up leading, not the folks at the top of the pyramid. This leads to a cycle of frustrated junior folks who believe (correctly) that they are smarter/better than those further up the chain.

Its time to fundamentally rethink the approach.

5/31/2010 11:22 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see blog comments that are thought out (mostly) as opposed to the CNN posters...
Still in at 15 years (Joel actually sat my STA-21 board on the Carter) and I can echo some of the previous posts. Yes the JO day-to-day job sucked but working with/ mentoring the young guys, being surface OOD in and out of Pearl, and having the privlage of my father getting to see me take the boat to PD on a tiger cruise made up for most of the other crap.
JO retention is just, if not more, dependant on the CO/XO/ENG/COB team. While some wardrooms are lucky if 1/10 stay in, my last command was up around .500 to .600. The money helps, but if your command made your life suck chances are you're not staying in... And let's face it; for some, your command made your life miserable or didn't trust you because you sucked...
R. Stack

6/01/2010 10:15 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And let's face it; for some, your command made your life miserable or didn't trust you because you sucked..."

Yeah, that's it...you caught us. We got into the nuclear navy by way of high GPAs in brand-name universities, and a 4-star admiral interview in Washington D.C...and made in some cases millions of dollars once we got out...but we sucked.

Clue: so do you, sometimes, including some asinine statements that you've been known to make.

The good news: you'll get better.

The bad news: you're not there yet.

6/01/2010 11:41 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a recently signed DH, I can tell you that it wasn't about the money; it was all about the job. Sure there were points that sucked, but I couldn't imagine a job where I would have more fun, work with great people and do it because we truly enjoyed it. The challenges of being a submariner make it rewarding, the enlisted guys make it rewarding, the missions, etc etc.
The sour attitude is what kills us and we do it to ourseleves. When my classmates see me staying in and they attempt to degrade me by calling me a "lifer," what does that say about us? Why is it hurtful to them that we're staying in? We enjoy it, we want to keep enjoying it and so if you don't enjoy it then stop trying to S$@T in our cereal.
The way that we prevent our current group of JOs from being a bitter hateful bunch and the way that our enlisted guys don't become a bitter hateful bunch is only if the DHs/Chiefs lead them. Lets show them why we stayed in and why the job is fun. Sure the job is hardwork, but would you really want to do it if it was mindless, don't we all appreciate a challenge?
If you don't love your job and it doesn't excite you then get a new one. Being a submariner is a choice - why can't it be a Great one.

6/01/2010 12:50 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon at 12:50 PM, I look forward to seeing you on my boat in the near future. I can't, and won't, convince everyone on this blog what the right and wrong answers are. The truth is, the right answer is different for everyone. Some will stay in and some will go, the one group should not begrudge the other their choice. As I've said before, the job is not for everyone, but for those that enjoy it...there is nothing else like it.

And to anon at 11:41 AM, just because a kid got great grades and passed his NR interview does not mean he will cut it as a submarine officer. The crucible of experience burns bright and hot, not everyone can pass that test.

-PXO of a soon to be decided boat

6/01/2010 1:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And to anon at 11:41 AM, just because a kid got great grades and passed his NR interview does not mean he will cut it as a submarine officer. The crucible of experience burns bright and hot, not everyone can pass that test.

HA! True. But the most of JOs I know that are staying in are the ones that sucked. A couple are priors trying to stay in for 20 and a few loved their time on the boat because it was so easy for them. They didn't have to do shit because no one trusted them to do anything. Being a submarine officer is really easy if you don't have to make decisions and get zero responsibility. The fact that we had fat wardrooms let those guys get through with minimal effort. But the command still recommended them for DH...So, they signed on the line and took the dough. So, good luck with the DHs on your boat...they are just going to pawn off their job on the JOs in the wardroom just like they did during their JO tour. They will have little experience or knowledge of submarine operations...and they won't get better. Then what will you do? Jack and Shit...recommend them for XO and get them early orders off the boat (I've seen that several times). They will make LCDR and suck up a paycheck until they get someone killed, fuck an enlisted chick in the office, or retire after being relegated to an office somewhere.

Exactly 1 above average JO I know is staying in...and I don't begrudge him because he loves the job and does it very well. The rest that stayed in are afraid of getting a job where they can be fired for shitty performance or are just waiting for the 20 retirement year gravy train to start.

I don't begrudge anyone who is staying in for the right reasons. But I also know for a fact that for the most part the decision is not because they are competent and love the job (that is ~10% of those staying in). Some JOs sucked but it's easier to get away with sucking in the Navy than on the civilian side.

Good luck to all of the good guys who are staying in. You'll need since you'll be the 10% doing 90% of the work.

6/01/2010 1:49 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...just because a kid got great grades and passed his NR interview does not mean he will cut it as a submarine officer. The crucible of experience burns bright and hot, not everyone can pass that test.

Quite right. I should have added to my statement: "...and graduated at the top of their DH/XO/CO coursework...and received all the awards (MSM, NCM, NAM) along the way...and..."

In other words, "the Navy's" judgment of an officer's past experience - the crucible you lovingly refer to - is not the strong predictor of future performance anyone would like to superficially think it is.

If you'd like some examples, we can drop specific names of well-accomplished COs until the cows come home...but I don't think that's necessary. Let's just recall a few of the events:

* Ehime Maru
* USS San Francisco
* USS Hartford

My point is that what you're using for measurement of an officer's fitness is just as f'd up as any other. Ostensibly, all those CO's had the fitreps, the personal awards, etc., etc. that made them (your phrase) "cut it as a submarine officer."

We both hold submariners in high regard, I'm sure. The fact is that they have demonstrated strong performance abilities in one form or another in the past...but this only has an unpredictable and unmeasurable degree of correlation with the future.

So you'll have to forgive me if I snort when I hear anyone claim to hold the keys to understanding what makes for a great submarine officer...very clearly, no one, right up to the men with the stars, holds those keys.

Thus my rant at Mr. Stack for talking smack about clearly very good people who to his claim "sucked." As the just-prior anon points out, many of those who "suck" stay in because they're just not going anywhere else when they can be a hotel load in the Navy as well as anywhere else.

- 11:41 Anon

6/01/2010 1:55 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of final points, however obvious they may be:

Whatever it is that: (1) the Navy need and must do to keep the best guys in, and (2) establish a new mastery of correctly identifying the best future performers - haven't even been identified yet. If they had, the current problems wouldn't exist.

Those 'new, new things' are clearly outside of the box of the Navy's current thinking and behavior...and perhaps always have been.

That doesn't mean that the Navy is in an inescapable, Catch-22 situation. It does mean that tradition and "the way we've always done things" hold at least as many problems as they do answers.

- 11:41 Anon

6/01/2010 2:25 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the selection process for department head is far from perfect but I have really not seen a bunch of boats having 4 crappy department heads (yes the chop does count). Usually you have one stud, one middle of the road guy, the new guy and the weak horse. It happens, not everyone gets all of the tools they need to be a successful department head during the JO tour. Our boats are getting older spending more time in the shipyard and it takes some creative leadership to overcome these challenges. The command leadership team (CO/XO/COB) need to know the strengths and weaknesses of each department and align themselves to cover the gaps. The weak guys need to be leaned on to make them better, if they listen that makes them better than average, if they don't you need to crush them because they "Suck". The good guys are leaned on to cover the gaps, leaders need to know where their gaps are and use the strengths to cover it. As Stack's XO he earned the right to say some of the other guys sucked, he is a stud and destined to be a CO and "gets it". (sea trials OOD despite qualifying in the shipyard......enough said).


I submitted my letter of resignation and pulled it at the end of my JO tour. I quite frankly was always the "fix it up guy" (Stack can relate) and it was often tough and always rewarding. But in the end I enjoy my job, leading, training and inspiring sailors so that my ship is the always ready to go forward and deliver warheads on foreheads. I want guys on the CONN where I can sleep and know that they will do the right thing, even if that is call me out there to help them out. Finally, the submarine force needs leaders that can pull the trigger on the weak horses, especially at the DH level. I wish I had a wardroom full of guys like Stack but then again it would make it hard to pick out the best guy. Our wardroom as a whole was a strong and cohesive group that I would gladly go into combat with. One final note, it was 100% retention to shore duty from the time I stepped onboard and I have no regrets about it.

M. Ansley CDR, USN

6/01/2010 2:48 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There will definitely be room for more "pulling the trigger" on weak department heads after the sub force shrinks by 30% over the next 15-20 years.

The sub force needs to find a real mission, and stop taking all the useless 3-knots-to-nowhere missions that provide warm fuzzies to theater commanders while adding zero value. I can't really think of what that mission might be, but I'm pretty sure the current one isn't it. Maybe make 10 more Jimmy Carters?

Sub life is always going to suck - the question is whether there's a point to it all. There wasn't any real point to it that I could see, and that's why I got out.

6/01/2010 8:32 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sub life is always going to suck..."

Clearly, you haven't seen Operation Petticoat yet.

Change is the one constant in life.

6/01/2010 8:41 PM

 
Blogger T said...

I think part of the problem is that collectively, we dismiss people as "They suck". I've been on both sides of the coin. I was both the shitty JO and the JO that they were begging to take his old job back for the inspection. Now, I'm the first to admit that being the shitty JO was a large part self-inflicted because I did not like the way I was treated. It was probably the single biggest lesson in my life about learning what battles to fight. That said I'm getting out specifically because of that treatment from my first 10 or 12 months on the boat and similar treatment to other JO's.

Nobody shows up to the boat wanting to do a bad job. Everybody is eager to learn and do the best job they can do. It's worth remembering that being a submariner is a skillset that's probably not directly comparable to hardly anything else in the world. I can't for the life of me think of any single thing I've experienced that's similar to standing OOD or EOOW. As such, people are going to pick it up at different rates. It doesn't always come quickly to even really smart motivated guys.

The pattern I've seen over and over again, is that a guy comes and is "getting it" slightly slower than his peers. Suddenly he gets special attention from DH's, XO, CO. They continue to beat him down, often unfairly, and he becomes more and more demoralized as everybody else breathes a sigh of relief that the Eye of Mordor is on somebody else. Suddenly, their attention shifts to somebody else's more urgent fuck up, and the old bad guy is now considered "fixed" even though he never really got any better, he's just no longer being beaten on a daily basis and is allowed the space to flourish and develop on his own. The only thing "beating on a guy that sucks" accomplishes is ensures that he will not stay in, no matter what.

6/02/2010 12:02 AM

 
Blogger Oz said...

CDR Ansley-

No disrespect intended here, but the retention stat perhaps isn't as significant as you may think. In my three years as a JO we only had one guy get out from his sea tour - and he had serious problems with the boat (mock hit list and all). Most of the people determined to leave will wait until shore for three reasons:
1) Getting out from sea extends you by several months, at least.
2) You have more time to plan your transition from shore duty, whatever the job is.
3) It's post-JO shore duty. Who wouldn't want to go?

6/02/2010 4:50 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the retention stat perhaps isn't as significant as you may think

Exactly. Here's the JO's choice:

1. Extend on the boat several months and deal with duty/deployment while trying to convince command to approve leave for job hunt. Also, your bound to get shat upon since "he's not staying in anyway".

2. Go to shore duty. Do a relatively easy job where you are incredibly overpaid and perform the job hunt in a much more conducive environment.

So, that stat doesn't hold a lot of weight.

It's just like having a high retention but 90% of your re-enlistments were negotiated for orders to another command. Yes, the guy was retained in the Navy but only because he wanted out of his current situation.

6/02/2010 6:09 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think part of the problem is that collectively, we dismiss people as "They suck"

Good point. When the command piles on to one guy it turns into a self fulfilling prophecy. Once someone gets labeled "that guy" - they eventually give up since they are in a no win situation.

The fuck ups usually conduct business the same way the rest of the JOs do but the CO/XO/DH are not paying as much attention to the other JOs.

I remember watching a fellow JO getting his ass hammered by the CO and thinking - "The CO just complemented me for doing the exact same thing in a very similar situation 2 days ago". "Did I fuck up and the CO wasn't paying attention or is this JO getting hammered for no reason at all?"

I was approached by the JO (who had been on the boat longer) and he wanted to know how he could improve. I told him to act like he was pissed when the CO was around...that CO must have thought Pissed off = Gives a shit + Competent -- I don't know. BTW, all 3 of my CO's and 2 of my XO's were like this. So, it wasn't just a fluke...it was a trend.

My JO tour was fine and I did well. We did some super cool missions. I really liked working with the guys and I was prior enlisted so I was more than half way to retirement.

But I'm getting out because the job really isn't fun and I didn't want to become an angry person like many of the senior officers I served under. I'm not getting out because I sucked.

I filled out the paperwork to commit to a DH tour and got it approved by my command but shredded it before it was sent to PERS-42. When I thought about doing a DH tour I would get a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. But I would get excited when I thought about doing something (anything) else. So, I submitted my resignation.

I'm sure the civilian side won't be rainbows and lollipops and I might regret the decision later since I won't have a pension when I'm 38.

But I think my chances of being a bitter/angry person dropped by 30% or more.

6/02/2010 6:49 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my classmates see me staying in and they attempt to degrade me by calling me a "lifer," what does that say about us? Why is it hurtful to them that we're staying in? We enjoy it, we want to keep enjoying it and so if you don't enjoy it then stop trying to S$@T in our cereal

It's just like when guys getting out are called quitters. It's just friendly ribbing - not actual degradation. I won't shit in your cereal since you will probably be stuck with cream of wheat for several months at a time in near future -- LIFER!

By the way, you can say Shit on the internet.

6/02/2010 7:31 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I still say you couldn't have payed me enough to stay"

My price is exactly $50,000/year nuke bonus for DH tour. $30,000/year for a 3 year extension.

Offer any less than that and I'm out bitches.

6/02/2010 7:39 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Perhaps the worst aspect of nuke bonuses lies in their ability to produce whining, backbiting, and inane dollar trade-offs in things of non-monetary value. Read the string above: not a whole lot in it for submariners to be proud of. The sense of mission and ship and crew is missing. Instead: "What's in it for me?" Instead: a lot of guesswork (mostly wrong) about the nature of life and work on the other side of the fence and bitching about life on the Navy side.

To the lot of you I offer the same choice vis a vis service as officers as Faulkner's main character gave his family in The Bear: "Thems that's going get in the goddam wagon. Thems that ain't get out of the goddam way."

If you don't want to serve any longer, get out. If you do choose the Navy life, act like a blue-suiter and show some leadership.

6/02/2010 7:57 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several comments to follow up on:

A. "Usually you have one stud, one middle of the road guy, the new guy and the weak horse."

And having that expectation - rather than insisting that they're all top-notch guys - is two things: (1) common submarine culture, and (2) flat out wrong. People will rise or sink to the expectations others project on them. Actually try modifying your expectations and treatment of people, and see what happens. Let them know that you expect top-shelf performance, because that's what they're each fully capable of.

B. But I would get excited when I thought about doing something (anything) else. So, I submitted my resignation.

Take it for what it's worth, but coupled with everything else this JO says and my 'spidey sense' is that this is exactly the kind of JO the submarine force actually wants/needs to retain, but almost certainly will not...and purely for cultural ("angry, bitter") reasons.

C. "My price is exactly $50,000/year nuke bonus for DH tour. $30,000/year for a 3 year extension."

Don't hurt yourself slapping at the knee with laughter, because those numbers are smack on the money when it comes to comparable compensation/bonus on the outside for people of nuclear submarine officer caliber. Don't think so? Then you clearly don't know what you're talking about.

- 11:41 Anon

6/02/2010 8:13 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RD: You use language very similar to "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs" when it comes to compensation. My recollection is that we fought a decades-long Cold War over that sort of centralized-planning, anti-freedom mindset.

Like it or not (apparently...not), you live in a culture that embraces capitalism and reward of the individual as motivating forces for collective success. That being the case, the naval service is in direct competition for like-abilities with the commercial world. You gets what you pays for.

Also, and I hope skimmers are reading this, by and large the submarine officer community is several notches above the surface fleet's officer talent. That costs money, unless you want to go back to the centralized planning thing, which results in nimrods of dubious abilities - other than being screamers extraordinaire - from assuming leadership positions.

Anger and bitterness are no way to lead the Navy forward. Neither is patent unfairness in compensation.

You can have it your way, and the defacto fact of the matter is that 'you' are, but you will have bitter, angry men running the show for the long haul. Where does that go?

- 11:41 Anon

6/02/2010 9:32 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ 731 Anon -
It seems you had a horrible tour, which has apparently made you bitter. Its unfortunate that my comments set you off, and that guys from your boat call you a quitter. I'll echo the same sentiment as last time, if the force is right for you stay, if its not you're only hurting yourself and others if you attempt to stay in. Good luck to you in your future endeavors.

By the way this blog is better served for a discussion between adults.

-1250 Anon

6/02/2010 9:38 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:41 Anon
Sounds like we've crossed paths. Guess you skimmed over the "for some" part. I never said I had it figured out but I stand by the statement. Part of the reason I applied for STA was because I knew I could do the job better than some and hope to do the job as well as others. So thanks, I will keep trying to "get better."
Stack

6/02/2010 9:40 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of quick comments,
1) 11:41 ANON Not all guys show up to the boat knowing how to be a DH and lots of them take some work. You need to know who the weak horse is so you can work with him on being better. If you assume that the guy walking onto the boat is a TOP-NOTCH DH your setting yourself up for failure. I expect and have gotten TOP-NOTCH performance out of almost everyone I have worked with, even if they started as a weak horse. A Weak Horse doesn't stay a weak horse (usually). Seeing one of these weak horses blossom into full up JOs/DHs is the most rewarding part of the job.
2) At OZ, it is in the Geneive Conventions don't worry about it. I totatlly agree that WR retention to JO Shore duty is not a good metric, I was fixing Stack's data. I am most proud of the guy who was definitely getting out after his SEA DUTY(beaten down), given a chance (leaned on), decided to go on to shore duty and now is going to be a DH and any boat would be lucky to have him. He was categorized as a "Weak horse" and never given a second chance, I believe in growth/second chances. I am also disappointed when one of my JOs get out but I would never call them quiters and would even right a letter of recommendation if they needed it.
3) I like to "Embrace the SUCK", identify issues and correct them. If someone had an issue they were told how we (CO/XO) thought they should fix it. If you turn a blind eye you will never get any better. Stack can also tell you several times when things went okay for him (nothing broke, in area...) but we ended up talking about his decision making process (too close for comfort....). Not to beat him down but make him better.
4) I don't think I beat down any of my JOs/DH, I used the term "leaned-on" deliberately. I didn't take it easy on them because they had issues, we used trainers to make all of the watch officers make hard decisions and yes sometimes we had an issue in the trainer, but we would then talk about it and do it again until they got it right, you cannot reset the ship.

5) You don't have to run around being pissed off all the time to be effective as a CO/XO. If you guys had that experience I am truly sorry for you, some guys are brought up that way, I was not. I think my sailors can back me up and say we had a good time, even though there was a lot of "Suck" in there.

6)I absolutely agree that all 1120s are all TOP-NOTCH guys and will succeed in almost every endeavor. The point of my previous post is that the CO/XO/COB can compensate for a DH that isn't necessarily ready to be one when he shows up. (JO+ 1 day guy, trust me there are a lot of these out there.) Sometimes you have to help out longer, so be it, that is my job. Most of these guys will develop into good DHs, but not everyone has all the tools/abilities to be a good leader of a submarine. That to me is where we really need and do cut the numbers. Is the process perfect? No some guys still slip through the cracks. Heck I could even be one of the guys that slipped through.

Rubber Ducky sums it up with "If you do choose the Navy life, act like a blue-suiter and show some leadership." I personally have been ready to terminate shore duty (my wife on the other hand...) and get back out there, but I guess I'm kind of a dig it...

CDR A.

6/02/2010 9:47 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Stack: We've led similar lives, but not crossed paths. I was a junior JO who'd never seen an S6G operate past hotel loads when we went to sea for the very first time and I was the maneuvering watch EOOW. Later, Weps on the same boat. Later still, Eng on an SSN. Had all the awards and the top-tier school perf. And then my soul threw up at how I was living my life. Have been plenty successful in the after-life.

You're doing fine, but need to watch the ego and name-calling. Those guys you out-performed may have sucked at some point, but trust you me in the fact that you're fully capable of the same under the right circumstances. Think Ehime Maru. Scott Waddle was no slouch...just an idiot for a moment...at the wrong moment in time.

Expect the best from your people because they're fully capable of it. Tell 'em otherwise in thought or action, and you're the guy who 'sucks.'

Personally, I think you're fully capable of great success.

Best of Luck.

- 11:41 Anon

6/02/2010 9:53 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1250 Anon said "By the way this blog is better served for a discussion between adults"

Forgot to put the sarcasm tag at the end. The remark was meant to convey friendly banter between someone staying in and someone getting out. Sorry that you took it the wrong way.

Chill out, it's just the internet.

7:31 Anon

6/02/2010 10:09 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

RD: You use language very similar to "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs" when it comes to compensation."

Actually no. I've said elsewhere (http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/05/14/time_to_stop_the_military_welfare_train) that benefits should be monetized and the cash equivalents put into paychecks. The 'to each according to their needs' comes in when folks (not me) say that the bennies for married pukes are there because - well - they're married. Best estimates are that the compensation delta favoring married over single is in excess of $20K/yr. I'd end that and go to a purely cash-based compensation system that ignored need and paid for performance. And I'd be willing to test the received wisdom that nukes will only serve if you bribe them - I'd end nuke bonuses and look to better overall military pay to keep military service competitive.

As to 'from each according to their abilities,' hell yes. The Navy never has enough good people and I always thought it best to work the shit out of the good ones.

6/02/2010 10:14 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Thems that's going get in the goddam wagon. Thems that ain't get out of the goddam way."

Just where do you think the wagon is going is such a goddamn hurry? Such quotes and bravado may apply to WWII boats or Cold War Subs but they aren't really applicable to the modern submarine warfare environment. Sure it's tough but we aren't Seals/Marines/Rangers/or Delta. Were operators working in air conditioned comfort for the most part. Sure there are risks but for the most part they are equipment/operator error related. Not a whole lot of external threats out there right now (or the past 20 years).

If you don't want to serve any longer, get out. If you do choose the Navy life, act like a blue-suiter and show some leadership

Being able to scream the party line the loudest does not a leader make. A leader recognizes the weaknesses in himself and those under his command and tries to make constructive change. A lot of the voices you are degrading have a valid point to make. You don't like that point...fine. But it's reality. It's also a lot more widespread that you might like to believe. It's not because the current force is full of soft, whining, officers...it's because there are some problems that are not being addressed.

Leadership is not screaming the anthem and waiving the colors. The party line ain't always right and sometime good leaders know when to push back or speak their mind.

CDR A sounds like a pretty good guy to work for and Rack was lucky to serve with him. Mr. Rack...The next time you look at a guy who "sucks" you should probably think - "There, but for the grace of God go I". Good leadership is vital to success and your luck in the leadership lottery had a lot to do with yours. Learn from CDR A's example and you will do fine but remember - you had a lot of help getting to where you are now.

6/02/2010 10:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...And I'd be willing to test the received wisdom that nukes will only serve if you bribe them - I'd end nuke bonuses and look to better overall military pay to keep military service competitive."

I'd actually love to see that idea put into play. Who knows, maybe with skimmers running the show these days it could actually happen.

The stampede would be a magnificent thing to behold. I do love a good show.

Knowing that you're not an ex-nuke, RD, you're clearly only poking at an old windmill. My guess is that neither one of us will see our Navy dreams unfold, so, hell, have at it...at least until you need glasses.

- 11:41 Anon

6/02/2010 10:26 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having attended a recent PERS-42 brief, they are not taking too much credit for meeting this goal.

It's the economy, stupid or it's the stupid economy. Take your pick. It is factors bigger than the submarine force that drive this and every other previous retention cycle.

6/02/2010 12:19 PM

 
Blogger Oz said...

@CDR A-

Roger that, sir. I certainly wasn't trying to say anything either way about your situation (I don't even know you or your boat); just trying to provide some perspective.

6/02/2010 1:20 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The stampede would be a magnificent thing to behold

True, that.

6/02/2010 1:23 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a JO, I reported to my boat like all the others: ready to do my best. Somewhere on the line, I must've stepped on my dick because I never "got it". I never even knew what I did, I just became "that douchebag". No one ever told me, "this is what you did wrong, here's what you should've done" - it was always just shit. Like, it poured on me from the overheads. Never invited to a non-wardroom related function, never had my offers of post-work recreation accepted. I went to the rack every night trying to think of some way I could cover up suicide so my family could get the SGLI. We all know what happens when you wear your heart on your sleeve. I stomached it as much as I could but eventually I just couldn't take it anymore. And the shit kept pouring. Eventually, I learned to just (as ordered repeatedly) "shut the fuck up" in the wardroom - this became easier as I stopped eating, days at a time. The ship made it clear they didn't want me around them but I couldn't go fifth floor because then I'd still be bagging them with one less watchstander. In the CO's stateroom, I was a "good watchstander" who "showed a strong command presence" - outside, I was the douchebag. All I ever wanted was to be better but everyone else wanted a punching bag to shit on.

So, yes, you couldn't have payed me enough to stay in.

6/02/2010 7:50 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn!

6/02/2010 7:55 PM

 
Blogger T said...

And... that's the story I've seen over and over again. If the Navy wants to fix retention, stop fucking around with the bonus and fix that guy aboves situation, lessen the administrative burden, and find a way to make submarining fun, rewarding, or at least moderately enjoyable. Because as long as JO's and blue shirts are treated like second class slave labor, they will never fix retention to the point that they have actual selectivity for department head.

Unfortunately, fixing retention IS possible, the Navy is just unwilling to take the hard steps necessary to reform the culture into something that normal human beings want to take part in.

On another note, RD: I've read some of your ideas about changes to the military compensation system and I think you're way out in left field. No disrepect, but my best guess estimate is that you retired sometime in the late seventies, and the Navy, as well as the sailors in it have changed significantly in the last 30 years. Oftentimes those who are flags now have a strong disconnect with those actually serving on ships, their motivations, problems, and desires. You've been retired so long that for all intents and purposes you served in an entirely different Navy.

While I do agree that there is unfairness in the pay system some of which should be addressed, I don't think you can just monetize every benefit, flatten the pay scale across all rates, and raise it across the board some nominal value and expect retention to do anything but plummet. Nobody trusts the Navy to do this kind of calculation in an equitable way. We all know that if the DOD undertook this cost saving measure, the result would be a net decrease in your overall pay + benefits package. There is also a host of logistical problems eliminating base services would cause.

In my honest opinion, it sounds like sour grapes from somebody who didn't get the opportunity to enter the nuclear training pipeline and has been bitter about the pay differential ever since for doing essentially the same job.

6/02/2010 9:16 PM

 
Blogger T said...

And by the way, I honestly mean no offense. A lot of your opinions are well thought out, and at least lead to interesting discussions... but sometimes I get the feeling that you're deliberately trolling the comments section with inflammatory ideas.

6/02/2010 9:51 PM

 
Anonymous mark/MM1(ss) said...

Sounds like a pretty damn astute read, T - though I would observe that, in my opinion, you're being overly deferential towards a dude that argues military vets demanding the benefits they signed on for are morally equivalent to your garden variety welfare mommas.

6/02/2010 10:29 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

t: Wrong on all counts.

Left service in '93 and have stayed connected in various ways since. Living la dolce vita and bitter only about the Bush Administration.

I watched the submarine force when the bonuses came in. They did help retention, but they also produced over time a bunch of whiners making narrow financial calculations about what is fundamentally a profession. If the tradeoff is no bonus or acting like these twits, I'll go short on pay thank you. The money involved is trivial - the decline in the character of officers serving is not.

Considerations of the bonus system are always made by individuals raised in the system and beneficiaries of it. In the real world, that's called conflict of interest.

And my argument to monetize benefits is not an effort to balance pay - though there's still the unanswered question on why married servicemembers are paid substantially more than singles doing the precise same job - but rather to get our military back to mission and away from fretting about how well it runs its own welfare system> In addition, ending military benefits where the same can be easily purchased on the civilian side would produce the huge advantage of bringing the military culture smack-dab into the midst of the society it serves.

It's tough to be elitist and on welfare at the same time, but there you are sailor.

6/03/2010 4:34 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having enjoyed most of these posts I figured I might as well add my own perspective.

For demographic purposes: former SSBN JO currently on shore duty and intending to get out. (I am posting as anonymous so my fitreps don't get sabotaged.)

For me the decision comes down to family life. My daughter was born by emergency c-section the day before the boat was supposed to get underway. The boat gave me my two weeks off and I met them in Hawaii and finished the rest of the patrol. Leaving behind my wife, who was still recovering from major surgery, and my two week old daughter was about the hardest thing I have ever done. A few months later we went through the whole cycle again. By the time my daughter was a year old I had been at sea almost half her life.

I know there are plenty of people who are able to balance their family life and their navy life but I don’t want to. No amount of money will make up for all the milestones in her life I missed or would continue to miss in the future. Deployments are only getting longer. How many holidays, birthdays, and graduations are missed when a six month patrol becomes seven or eight because no one is there to relieve you from your essential mission? Submarine hulls are going well but submarine missions are rising leaving those on the pointy end to continue to suck it up.

I have been on shore duty long enough that I actually miss the boat. I miss the camaraderie of the wardroom and the story telling time with my watch section. I miss driving the ship. How many other people in their mid-twenties are left in charge of a multibillion dollar strategic asset? But at the end of the day it comes down to family.

To those of you going back for your DH tour, good luck. The money isn’t enough but I hope you enjoy spending it anyway.

Two Last Words:

If you stayed in because of “the economy” you’re an idiot. What do you think the unemployment rate of recent ex-submarine JO’s actually is? I have no hard numbers but would be shocked if it was more than 1%. (Caveat here – those who got out and went into banking or real estate chose their own fates).

And no post would be complete without a special thanks to those in DC who have taken away our cigarettes and replaced them with women and out of the closet homosexuals (I don’t care if you are a fag as long as you do your job, I just don’t want to watch you and your boyfriend make out at the ships Christmas party). Why build enough submarines for people to actually have a decent family life when you can pay lazy/incompetent people to sit around on their ass and do nothing.

6/03/2010 6:06 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And no post would be complete without a special thanks to those in DC who have taken away our cigarettes and replaced them with women and out of the closet homosexuals (I don’t care if you are a fag as long as you do your job, I just don’t want to watch you and your boyfriend make out at the ships Christmas party). Why build enough submarines for people to actually have a decent family life when you can pay lazy/incompetent people to sit around on their ass and do nothing.

I suspect that the sub force will be dealing w/ much more of this type reaction to the short sighted decisions of the Perfumed Princes & Ass Clown Obama, because as the same poster alluded to - very well paying jobs are there for those who are qualified and willing to move - & if you're EWS/EOOW w/ or w/out a degree, you fit the profile.

6/03/2010 6:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I know there are plenty of people who are able to balance their family life and their navy life..."

Me-thinks you're speaking of the hypothetical 'plenty of people.'

I met a few of those people...very few...in my many years of service. It's not plenty, and it's not pretty, when it comes to the quality of family life in the Navy.

You're of course very right in pointing out that no amount of money could compensate for those missed milestones. When I got out, it was for the family life I didn't even have yet.

Not throwing stones, just honesty, but we all know - all B.S. aside - what lies in store family-wise for those who stay in.

All I can say is, "God bless."

6/03/2010 6:58 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one ever told me, "this is what you did wrong, here's what you should've done"

That is common to my experience. It's almost like my peers/superiors didn't know the right answer, didn't want to teach the right answer, or just didn't care.

Oh, I did get the advice - "Do Better".

That helped out A LOT.

6/03/2010 8:43 AM

 
Anonymous Squidward said...

{If the Navy wants to fix retention, stop fucking around with the bonus and fix that guy aboves situation, lessen the administrative burden, and find a way to make submarining fun, rewarding, or at least moderately enjoyable. Because as long as JO's and blue shirts are treated like second class slave labor, they will never fix retention to the point that they have actual selectivity for department head.}

Yes, that's it exactly. Treat people like humans. I know and work with many former nucs on the outside, all former JOs and blueshirts. The guys who "couldn't hack it" according to some who have posted on this thread. Strangely, they have all been incredibly successful in civilian life - these are not slackers or troublemakers.

They got out, not because they couldn't hack it, but because they didn't want to. The problem? They are the best guys. Ability to absorb abuse is a poor criteria for advancement.

6/03/2010 1:32 PM

 
Blogger T said...

RD: You've certainly had an interesting career it seems.

I have two parts.

1) Ending the military welfare system is a noble goal, but the most expensive parts are there to keep up readiness. I definitely think we should not reward people specifically for being married, and fully support just evening out the pay across the board regardless of family status.

I think some of the minor base services can probably be dismantled with little ill effect, however, the most expensive thing, medical, is destined to exist indefinitely. I can see an argument to charge more for your premiums, but I can't see a situation where we can just get rid of it. Sure, you CAN get health insurance from somewhere else, but there's too many special things that are done medically that are not part of normal physicals. Where can you go out in town in kings bay to "hug the pig"? Who would keep the records? Does your civilian dental know what "class 3 dental" is? Would you retain people just to interpret the medical records from the civilian doctors? What happens when Seaman Jones is class 3 dental, and can't afford the co-pay to go get a root canal? How do you make a guy go get that done? You can do that with base medical and dental facilities, but you can't necessarily do it if everybody is required to find their own medical care.

Further, a lot of military medical personnel do deploy and serve as overseas medical care during conflict. Clearly, we would need to keep well-trained medical staff for that eventuality alone.

2) I get your reasoning for saying the bonus sucks, I just think it's a very unrealistic, idealistic view of the Navy as it currently exists. I can foresee a situation where the bonus could go away, but the Navy has to replace it with "something". If I were to fix retention this is what "I" would recommend.
- Better training on the importance of the mission
- Lessen the useless administration burden (#1 complaint among JO's)
- Send people to real, no shit, continuing leadership training. For profit companies spend big bucks on this stuff, yet we just assume it's all taken care of via mentorship. That's horeshit, oak leafs don't make you a leader, they just give you an excuse to be bossy.
- Find some way to fix camaraderie. I realize the Navy has "changed" since Tailhook, and we're probably not going to be doing Mexican Rodeos and getting wasted at the Horse and Cow, but the Navy is currently the worst kind of no-fun buzzkill. Spending 6 months at sea with people you care about is bearable, spending 6 months at sea with "co-workers" sucks ass. I honestly have no idea how to fix this in a PC fashion, but the above leadership classes are probably a good start.
- Start putting senior leadership up there with the balls to be straight shooters and put their ass on the line for the guys out to sea. Flag officers have become nothing better than politicians in uniform. They talk a big game about Navy Core Values, but at the end of the day abuse the same in an attempt to justify their personal agenda.
- Start trusting your people. Being treated like a baby is not empowering or enjoyable. It seems we've gotten to the point where you can't do anything without an officer standing over somebody's shoulder to "monitor". Why are JO's the man in charge for multi-level fires? A college degree and 4 days in Basic Firefighting school don't necessarily make someone a better firefighter than a Chief who has more total sea time, and has been to Advanced fire fighting school once a year for the past 10 years. I always hated being man in charge because I didn't know what the fuck I was doing. Why? Because no one ever taught me, they just said "go do it".

6/03/2010 8:59 PM

 
Blogger T said...

This is why I laugh my ass off at the women on subs thing. I know with 100% certainty that the submarine community is completely incapable of coming up with an equitable, novel solution that keeps women in at a rate similar to retention for guys. I feel bad in a way, but will shake my head and snicker when the trainwreck happens in 7-10 years and they're scrambling to kick the bonus up quick enough.

6/03/2010 8:59 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

t: Military medical and dental for serving members is a readiness issue and no one is arguing to end it. For dependents? That's a company-town thing, a welfare perk, and could easily be monetized. TriCare takes a big step in that direction.

Bonus yes-or-no is divorced from the shipboard issues you raise. While not commenting here on your specific points, I will say that the most disturbing topic in this whole thread is current lack of submarine mission. I've sensed this other places and have made the theoretical argument elsewhere that continuing to operate the boats as though the Cold War never ended is an expensive folly.

There's an old rule, based in economics and effectiveness, that you should never use a submarine to do tasks that can be done properly with other platforms or in other ways. When you have a capability in search of a mission, you've got too much capability and that's harmful to taxpayers and sailors alike.

6/04/2010 5:13 AM

 
Blogger T said...

Agreed re: lack of submarine mission. I think there's a high probability that the submarine force ends up getting downsized as the government comes to grips with trying to fix the deficit. This could temporarily fix the retention issue.

In some cases, SSBN's for example, the mission is actually important, the submarine community just does a terrible job of putting it into context for the people serving aboard the ship. Thus, it starts to seem like you only exist as a mobile TRE and ORSE platform. I'm not even so sure that DH/XO/CO fully understand the strategic mission in any context. They more know "This is what I will see on TRE/COMCONEX/REFTRA"

6/04/2010 6:32 AM

 
Anonymous No Rose-Colored Glasses said...

"...I will say that the most disturbing topic in this whole thread is current lack of submarine mission.

So in an employment market that puts the Navy's interests in retaining nuclear-trained naval officers directly against those of commercial nuclear power...you find the current submarine mission "most disturbing"...?

The nation is running a deficit of $5B per DAY right now. One or two Virginia class per year is a drop in the bucket, and to anyone with vision of the kind of era we're entering, a vital investment.

The Navy will forever be at the epicenter of U.S. military strategy due to geo-politics (ref: "The Next 100 Years" by Dr. George Friedman). And the nuclear submarine will be at the epicenter of the Navy's defense in a time of truly global war.

6/04/2010 6:55 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"One or two Virginia class per year is a drop in the bucket, and to anyone with vision of the kind of era we're entering, a vital investment."

To do what?

A fleet-in-being, sure. Enough boats in development, production, and operation to retain the industrial base and keep the training and culture alive, sure. Enough capacity to build a bigger fleet faster than a future adversary could build a bigger threat, sure. But what particular mission are we conducting now that says a dollar should go to new boats rather than other Navy, defense, or national needs ... or stay in the taxpayers pocket?

The Cold War was an existential threat that set a high force-size requirement for both types of submarines. Now? We need a few Tridents always, a few SSNs for reasons above, but not an all-we-can-get force designed to meet some guy's 100-year threat. As an old friend put it, 'talk's cheap - it takes money to buy whiskey.'

6/04/2010 7:15 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Another log on the fire...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/04/us/politics/04pentagon.html?hpw

6/04/2010 8:19 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a little sick of the 'no one trained me to do it arguement' but 'I want a big bonus'. You can't have it both ways. Firefighting man in charge isn't that damn compllicated. There is a great tech manual that is an easy read. So if you want the I'm so important that you need to pay me a big bonus, then you have to live up to your end of that big paycheck and show some initiative and figure it out. I'm sure you have been to many training sessions (EOOW/EWS, Officer training, School of the Boat, GMT, etc) that you probably bitched that were boring, you could have got engaged an learned a thing or two. Instead, the I'm pissed off being here attitude came out, and it was a waste of time for you.
Being a Division Officer can be a big damn deal, unfortunately many are happy to give away the opportunity to lead and to enjoy the job under the guise of no one taught me. Sometimes you just have to run with it. I will guarantee if you just dive in and get involved and ask questions and demand proof and looking things up for yourself, you will learn alot and get good job satisifaction.

Also remember that being a good leader doesn't always equate to how much can I reduce the work load and skate by on and get my guys (and gals) out of here as early as possible. Your job is to ensure they have the right tools to do their job, a good work environment, follow time tested safety rules, and get them out at the end of a reasonable work day. They will be happier and you will be happier and satisified that you accomplished something.

In another thread they talk about the great job is screening XOSS and working three hours a day. They can't be satisified with their job, if they were a real patroit they would already have a package in recommending that billet either be given more responsibility or eliminated as a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Dare to be involved and live rather than just survive. You work hours won't change and you will be happier.

6/04/2010 9:47 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RD makes me wonder what boat you were on if you think that SSNs don't have a mission. Or if you were on one your CO did a crappy job of describing the importance. 2 VAs a year maintains the force at the current level. The SECDEF obviously is misinformed because the COCOMS are always looking for MORE SSNs and generally pissed when they have a gap.
CDR A

6/04/2010 9:51 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm a little sick of the 'no one trained me to do it arguement' (sic)..."

My accounting shows that all of one person (who is getting out) made that lame argument. If this is the basis of your rant against higher/adequate compensation for the thousands of other top-shelf, nuclear-trained officers, you're not on thin ice...you've already fallen through.

This "Gulf Oil" deal is going to be the catalyst for even greater acceleration in commercial nuclear power. Watch and see.

Once this hits Floridas coasts (West, South and East) you're not going to hear the end of this for years to come. The repercussions will not be helpful when it comes to retaining nuclear-trained personnel.

6/04/2010 9:55 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@CDR A: The Duck is a former enlisted diesel boater, who was later commissioned and went StratWeps (non-nuclear propulsion-trained).

He was CO of a boomer. And, BTW, is a flaming political partisan - which is not a fertile field for rational, clear-minded thinking, whatever one's extremism-of-choice is.

6/04/2010 9:59 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

CDR A: Yeah, really sucks when SecDef is out of the loop on defense requirements. Thanks for clearing that up.

There's a big difference between mission and mission-creep. The former is where you've really got something to do that's so important as to justify the cost. The latter is what every platform indulges in to make the artificial case for its existence and expansion. And CINCs - they call for every scrap of military hardware they can identify. They don't pay for it, so why not. So tell us about these vital missions and how they differ from busywork.

Never commanded a boomer.

Registered Democrat. In the realm of tinfoil hats and teabags, that seems pretty radical. In the United States it's the more popular political party in terms of members and election results. Get out more.

6/04/2010 12:08 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Registered Democrat. In the realm of tinfoil hats and teabags, that seems pretty radical. In the United States it's the more popular political party in terms of members and election results. Get out more

Sweet...popular=better...right?

That is the worst way to make an argument for your case. "My side is more popular so it must be right". Most Americans are functional illiterates...so, good choice taking their side.

6/04/2010 2:46 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Sore losers are still losers...

6/04/2010 3:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10,000 flies on a dead cow can't be wrong, can they...?

6/04/2010 3:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RD
Part of the reason the job Sucks is because of all of the requirements we have to meet (e.g. inspections, battle group preps, SCC OPS, MIDN OPS...). Quite frankly we have too many boats in maintenance at a given time and struggle to get out of the barn on time. So having fewer subs compresses already tight schedules and when things break (and they often do) we have to jump through our grommets to meet our commitments, stuff we have to do. (How else is a CSG going to prep for ASW????) Now the submarine leadership is pushing back on this and asking to reduce what we are required to support. But we are still required by the JCS (the guys that work directly for the SECDEF) to meet our forward numbers. We can reduce the number of boats but unless we reduce what we do (and it is important) the job will only suck more, more op temp, more broken stuff = more risk.

There's a reason we are called the Silent Service and you know (or should know) that I cannot and will not discuss what we do on a blog. Submarines bring a lot of unique capabilities to bear (Stealth, endurance.....) Bottom line is that we aren't necessarily #1 when it comes to number of submarines in the inventory. I'm afraid if you want more details send in a visit request and meet me at work, but again I doubt your cleared.

I don't see what political affiliation has to do with any of this, I guess your assuming, that since I am a CDR that I am a registered Republican, which I am not. I, like most Americans, am a moderate independent. I voted for President Obama because I read his book, which if he would have stuck to his ideals, would have been refreshing for a politician. I didn't vote for McCain due to a poor choice of running mate. Not because she is she was female, I didn't like her experience or a lot of her ideals. I don't regret my decision but I doubt I will vote the same way again. I don't like the "Buck doesn't stop here" mentality that has been expressed. We'll have to see about those election results.

We could stick our heads in the sand and pretend that there are people out there that don't want to hurt us, tie our boats up to the pier, let them rust and hope for the best. But I hope the US continues to send guys like me forward to keep guys like you happily posting on blogs. I choose to go into harms way.
CDR A

6/04/2010 3:29 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

CDR A: it was anon @ 9:59 AM who brought up politics. I responded to him.

Complaints - legitimate to be sure - about the admin load have been around for decades. But it strikes me that in this day of technology and easy connectivity in port that much of the load could be offloaded to software and the focus kept on mission. Pogo nailed it when he said 'we have met the enemy and they is us' - I suspect many of the admin requirements are created by fellow submariners. (And BTW, the best book ever on Pogo - "The Pogopedia" - was written by submariners.)

There's a second approach too, When Jerry Holland was ComSubRon One, he told both his staff and his boats that they would submit no routine reports to anyone about anything unless he agreed they could.

As to threats, yes. But if I had a marginal dollar to put against potential threats, I'd put it into Special Forces, not attack submarines.

And I've been in harm's way.

6/04/2010 4:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sore losers are still losers...

Actually, I am a Democrat that voted for Obama...so, I'm not a sore loser.

I'm just pointing out the fact that you are using the popularity of a political party among a population of functional illiterates to prop up your point of view. My vote was based on logical deliberation and consideration. Most Americans (of those who voted) cast their ballot based on emotion, racial prejudice (either way), or the popularity of the candidate. Many also used the opinions of singers, comedians, and TV personalities to determine their vote.

So, you've chosen your company well.

Bravo Zulu, shipmate.

6/04/2010 4:48 PM

 
Blogger T said...

ANON @ 9:47 AM

"I'm a little sick of the 'no one trained me to do it arguement' but 'I want a big bonus'. You can't have it both ways. Firefighting man in charge isn't that damn compllicated. There is a great tech manual that is an easy read. So if you want the I'm so important that you need to pay me a big bonus, then you have to live up to your end of that big paycheck and show some initiative and figure it out."

I'm relatively certain you did not read my post at all, as that isn't even close to the argument I made. My point is this, our training could be better, in many cases the mechanism to improve training already exists (in this case Advanced fire fighting school), and the insistence that an officer is always the right person to be in charge of everything, no matter how junior they are is asinine. I've read the 555 manual front to back probably twice, and referenced it for information several other times. If you truly think that book learning is a full replacement for practical hands on guided experience, perhaps we should just do away with Prototype and send guys straight to the boat from Nuke School. Let me know how their first EOOW U/I goes, after all, they've read the RPM right?

90% of boat training is pure and utter crap. Everybody with half a brain knows this. If it's any good, then clearly the solution to education reform is to find a 7 year old powerpoint written by somebody else who retired from teaching several years ago for every subject we teach in school, and simply read the bullet points. Ensure the last slide says "Questions?". I think I will add that to the America Speaking Out website...

And for that matter, exactly what issue do you have with sending JO's to advanced firefighting school? Is it a bad idea? Why? Is there time really better spent blazingupdating training plans and the monitored evolution database? Is a JO with less than a year experience a BETTER choice for man in charge than an MMC who has been going to these trainers for their whole life?

Just because we do things one way now doesn't mean it's the best way, or even a good way. It's time to think out of the box if you want to fix retention.

Or you can just keep raising the bonus.

6/04/2010 10:51 PM

 
Anonymous SubIconoclast said...

I'm concerned to read so many comments effectively saying, "if you don't like it, leave - we don't want you anyway."

Anyone else notice that they screened 25 XOSS this year (up from 15 in previous years)? For some reason we've decided that 15 'spares' per year isn't enough. I wonder what other changes will be made to PERS42's COSAL in the near future?

Lucky for us the economy sucks right now, or we'd be scratching even harder against the bottom of the barrel. The pool of people with both talent and desire to do what we do isn't particularly deep. Cavalier treatment only works when you've got plenty of alternates ready to go. Folks not in the fight anymore who keep telling guys who are to "shut up or leave," aren't helping. (I've always used a shore duty rule of thumb that the useful half-life of operational experience is about 6 months - something to keep in mind if you haven't been member of ship's force in well over a decade!)

I don't particularly care for the bonus myself, because it's become a crutch to mask institutionalized abusive leadership. I look at the guys running the show, and I only see a few examples with decent 'people skills.' I can't help but think that the Sub Force failed either to selectively promote or to systematically develop LEADERS over the past 20 years, and we're paying the price today. Continuing to use the bonus as a band-aid diminishes any impetus to fix the underlying problem.

Certainly there are many individually great people and leaders serving today... but since they're not the overwhelming majority (as ought to be), I can't help but think those guys are only here by accident. I've served under many officers who took an interest in mentoring me and my peers, developing our leadership capabilities - but only ONE of those was on a boat at the time. CDR A benefited from that same CO and sounds like he's been fortunate to serve under similar leaders since then (and I remember well CDR A's impressive personal character, personality, and leadership qualities).

My experience has been a bit different: that was the only wardroom I've known where the officers always helped each other and the CO maintained a standard where every leader on board valued every person in the crew. Other COs have been careerists, more concerned about not risking their reputations outside the command than with developing people serving within the command.

From speaking with my peers, dysfunctional wardrooms are at least as common as high-performing ones. This is in no way because the COs and XOs (and ISICs and deputies) aren't working their tails off. It's because these folks often have no idea how their subconsciously dismissive and condescending personalities negatively affect their subordinates' performance. One has only to read the tone in some of RD's comments (good ideas harshly stated, as though the people he's addressing are of little value to him) to find the 'senior submariner' approach I'm describing. We are too tolerant of arrogance based on previous personal performance and not nearly demanding enough of a commitment to nurture and develop talent for the future.

I think one factor in this is an imbalance between the time we invest studying the care and feeding of equipment, compared to the care and feeding of personnel. The resulting evidence is embarrassingly low retention and a long-term decline in the strength of our institutional culture.

Before anyone tells me I should leave the Force for being the sort of guy who expresses critical and original thought (especially thoughts critical of our processes): sorry dudes, but I'm who you've got. I was trained as an enlisted operator to always do what's right and to always speak up when I see something wrong, so that's what I'm going to continue to do. That often takes seniors out of their comfort zones... generally a good thing for any organization.

6/05/2010 8:16 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"One has only to read the tone in some of RD's comments (good ideas harshly stated, as though the people he's addressing are of little value to him)"

To set the record straight on people values, for my last 12 months in command our retention rate was 96% (I took over a yard boat with a 4% rate in its previous year) - received the COMSUBPAC Silver Anchor (never give the gold to a pigboat). The one guy who got out went on to start his own highly successful business and remains a dear friend to this day. 4 of my officers went on to a total of 7 commands, not bad in the diesel force of the early '80s. We received 10 other unit awards at the Group and Navy-wide level.

My wife once said 'You have to say things to blow the doors off people's minds." Please contrast between contrary ideas and sharp rejoinders (I plead guilty to both). The former, stated objectively, are nonetheless often taken as attacks on vaca sagradas, the sacred cows of received wisdom in the nuke navy. The latter are what you're gonna get when you poke a warrior.

As to the value I assign those now serving, I can't raise that higher than what these individuals assign themselves. Disdain for females, distrust of leadership, the trade of money for professionalism, and the high propensity to whine about nearly everything are elements of low self-esteem - I don't bring these to the party; some of you do.

The great thing is that amongst the usual dreck of undisciplined blogging and the shameful opinions of some who post here there is a splendid thread of professionalism and high mindedness that is the mark of the submarine force, whatever its flaws and diverse opinions. I have great respect for the traditional values of the submarine force I joined many years ago, those I learned from mentors who had combat dolphins; I've tried to carry these forward since and see many others who comment here doing the same.

Amongst these values is good engineering, something that kept crew alive in the old boats and which protects boat, the general public, and the future of submarines in nukes. But the often unchallenged notion that good engineering equates to good submarining is bothersome. The great ones I served with - three big Ks: Kaufman, Kniss, and Kelso - they could do it all, fore and aft, boil water well and also drive their boats to extraordinary mission success. These are the right priorities: do everything well.

Sorry I can't please you all. My first wife doesn't like me either.

6/05/2010 8:52 AM

 
Blogger T said...

RD:

Back to the topic of dependent medical care briefly. I do agree that we probably do not NEED to cover family members for free at military medical facilities, however, I'm not so sure that you'd clearly save money kicking everybody off of TRICARE either. To stay competitive, the military has to offer SOME kind of health care to the families that's competitive with what is out there "in the real world". The figures that I remember seeing (unfortunately I can't remember where) is $2100/year per person average spending per person covered under TRICARE. From what I know of Civilian Health Care, that's significantly less than what most companies are paying for insurance in the open market. Unless your suggestion is that we divert everybody to the Health Insurance Exchange in 2014. I don't think that's going to be a popular idea.

Obviously, there's no set costs per appointment for somebody whose seen at base medical until they are referred off-base. I'm uncertain how much manning is increased specifically to accomodate the medical needs of families vice service members. Obviously it is some, as we do not have any active duty members seeing pediatricians :-)

If I had to take a guess, the retirees % family are the expensive end of the Medical Care stick, as all of TRICARE operates under the VA, correct?

6/05/2010 9:37 AM

 
Anonymous SubIconoclast said...

For what it's worth, I usually learn from RD's input and appreciate his perspective. I'll go as far as to say that I agree with the substance of what he has to say more often than not. I just picked that commenting style out as an example of submariners frequently using abrasion to get a point across.

That's a technique I think we use too much. We probably get used to doing it so often at the times it's necessary that it becomes a habit even in situations where less-adversarial language could achieve the same effect. Being a submariner shouldn't mean constantly feeling like you're at war with your shipmates and 'phin brothers. I've seen good and bad boats and I can definitely correlate positive interpersonal dynamics with good teamwork, and good teamwork with superlative performance.

There are plenty of other abrasive comments here to choose from as examples, but most are signed "anonymous." RD's just stand out as easy to reference because he posts often while also providing an identity to stand behind what he has to say. In fact many of the "anonymous" comments are less respectful of anyone who says something they disagree with... it's just awkward to cite anonymous posters by timestamp.

Fundamentally I agree that naval service is a calling that money can't fully purchase, so simply raising the bonus in response to retention problems is a wrong answer to a problem we must do a better job of solving.

I differ only slightly in my view of a better way for doing business: SOME incentive pay to reduce financial disincentive to serve might still be appropriate as PART of a larger long-term strategy for retaining the people we want. Paying a submarine O4 the same as a garrisoned, stateside Air Force satellite operator the same compensation makes no sense, because one job clearly demands more in terms of capability and commitment than the other. The free market will ensure that the seagoing guy smart enough to lead people and out-think human adversaries while also operating complex systems in a harsh environment would be tempted by much more attractive civilian job offers than the chair-warming, 40-hour-a-week guy who 'only' operates complex systems in a harsh environment (from the comfort of a nice personal environment). Making a guy choose between his personal calling and providing a better life for his family means only a fraction of the guys (biased toward those more likely to put work before family) will choose to stay. Removing that disincentive provides a larger pool of applicants striving for the next level, allowing for better selectivity and therefore higher standards on aspects other than how little compensation they require.

Ultimately, however, personal commitment to serve must always provide the core of the stay-or-go decision. Someone who is in it mainly for the money is less likely to demonstrate commitment when it counts.

6/05/2010 10:39 AM

 
Anonymous SubIconoclast said...

"there is a splendid thread of professionalism and high mindedness that is the mark of the submarine force, whatever its flaws and diverse opinions."

And this deserves to be quoted/repeated. Exactly the reason I read this blog more than any other.

I always appreciate the fact that the folks posting here truly care.

6/05/2010 10:43 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sore losers are still losers...

Me wonders if you'll still be spewing that shit in November? In case you weren't aware, the Democrats WILL be handed their ass in the general election.

We just booted a one term RINO congressman in a crowded primary field without even requiring a runoff. He was elected as a Democrat and voted for Pelosi as Speaker, but saw the Oilbama handwriting on the wall that November was going to unleash a bloodbath on Democrat partisan hacks. He was replaced with a Tea Party approved true-blue conservative.

Say goodnight Ducky, the fat lady is onstage.

6/05/2010 5:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That fuckin' fat lady better be fully prepared and well able to automatically drop to her knees and deep throat some serious hard cock, because it ain't over just yet Gents. We'll see what happens next.

6/05/2010 6:08 PM

 
Blogger T said...

I'm in the I wouldn't be so sure that the Tea Party candidates won't end up being a liability in the general election. If you notice, the democratic party seems to be cheering on the tea party candidates in the primaries.

It seems there's a lot of people that think they'd rather run against Rand Paul and friends than "The Establishment" candidate.

6/05/2010 6:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assholes with political opinions...how precious. You idiots probably vote too.

You idiots taking sides should spend more time covering your own ass. All that time wasted getting involved in politics will come back to bite you in the end. You could have been using that time to take care of your own lives and preparing for the worst.

Right now your just hoping for the best. Good luck.

6/06/2010 4:07 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You idiots taking sides should spend more time covering your own ass. All that time wasted getting involved in politics will come back to bite you in the end. You could have been using that time to take care of your own lives and preparing for the worst.

I guess I'm you're worst nightmare: My ass is covered, as in my family and I are prepared for anything short of a TLAM-N direct strike, and we take the time to participate in our government. Peace out . . .

6/06/2010 9:41 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we take the time to participate in our government.

You participate if you hold/run for office.

I'm pretty sure your definition of participation is discussing the latest SNL satire over a glass merlot at the local wine bar.

Voting does not count as participation. Neither does getting caught up in the personality cult of a political candidate.

6/07/2010 7:11 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voting does not count as participation. Neither does getting caught up in the personality cult of a political candidate.

I guess my contributing money to a campaign, volunteering for candidates I support, etc. also does not count.

Lemme guess? You don't do anything but bitch because the system is broken, right? Good - means my vote is more valuable. At any rate, FOAD!

6/07/2010 7:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At any rate, FOAD.

Yes, very astute observation on your part. Thanks for your contribution.

I guess my contributing money to a campaign, volunteering for candidates I support, etc. also does not count

Well, not in the sense that you think it does. It counts as a hobby. You like playing the game...great...good for you...have fun in the sandbox. But you're not really changing anything. You're just a glorified cheerleader. Once your quarterback gets into the end zone, he rarely does as he promised.

Lemme guess? You don't do anything but bitch because the system is broken, right?

Exactly, if you by "bitch" you mean...held local political office, tutor children with learning disabilities, and other volunteer work in my free time.

I don't cheer for a team - I try to help the people that I can and it's not a game. It probably doesn't mean much in the long run/big picture but hopefully it helps someone.

Politics is a game. Red Vs. Blue, us Vs. Them, etc, etc. The system isn't broken...it's just filled with stupid, petty, and vain people playing stupid, petty, and selfish games.

Good - means my vote is more valuable

No. It's still just worth 1 vote. Statistically, meaningless.

Sorry, I mean...Yes, you are a special snowflake full of wonderful and meaningful thoughts. Very precious, very special. You are very important and always correct.

I'm guessing you are 22-26 years old. Your generation really loves themselves.

6/07/2010 9:53 AM

 
Anonymous Can I get a... said...

". The system isn't broken...it's just filled with stupid, petty, and vain people playing stupid, petty, and selfish games."

Amen, brother...!!!

6/07/2010 11:10 AM

 
Anonymous Hell Yeah! said...

"The system isn't broken...it's just filled with stupid, petty, and vain people playing stupid, petty, and selfish games."

6/07/2010 4:58 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing you are 22-26 years old. Your generation really loves themselves.

Actually, dumbass, I'm 43, married and have three kids who are home-schooled so as not to be indoctrinated with the mindless bullshit promulgated by publik skools.

Good for you for holding local office, but I'm not willing to give up my six figure income that allows my wife to stay home and raise and nurture our children. This will be a generation that will change the nation for the better - unlike those hippie bastard self-absorbed baby boomers.

Sorry, I mean...Yes, you are a special snowflake full of wonderful and meaningful thoughts. Very precious, very special. You are very important and always correct.

Not much I can say to that, except, well, you sound an awful lot like Jack Handy. Regardless, you are an ass, but probably inherited that trait from your mother.

6/07/2010 5:19 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are an ass

Maybe.

Actually, dumbass

Which one is it?

probably inherited that trait from your mother

My mother is a saint. Leave her out of this.

I'm not willing to give up my six figure income that allows my wife to stay home and raise and nurture our children

Neither was I. It's possible to do both. Local government is usually a part time thing.

Actually, dumbass, I'm 43, married and have three kids who are home-schooled so as not to be indoctrinated with the mindless bullshit promulgated by publik skools.

Great, that's the best investment you can make. I once knew a science teacher (my age) that couldn't explain why the statue of liberty is green. She was wondering why the Gov't wasted so much money painting it. I said "They don't paint it, it's copper." She said "Then why doesn't it look like a penny?" I said, "Oxidation". She said "What's oxidation". I said, "Corrosion?" She said, "What's corrosion?" I said, "Rust." She said, "That's brown too, I saw it on a car." I walked away.

you sound an awful lot like Jack Handy

Thanks...I'm glad you think my thoughts are deep.

6/07/2010 7:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Know what? You're all douchebags. Turning a perfectly good FTN BS session into partisan political crap: Troll food.

6/08/2010 8:28 AM

 
Anonymous muebles en huelva said...

So, I don't really believe it may have success.

10/24/2011 12:54 PM

 

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