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.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Are Officers Inherently Jerks?

A reader sends in the following:
I was an enlisted nuke MM and following my time in the canoe club, went to [respected university] for my BSME. I have completed all the course work for my Masters in Engineering and am just working on the research to complete it. So I have an education and am not stupid in any sense of the word.

Is there something in ROTC and/or the Academy that they teach officers about in treating enlisted sailors with disdain? I don’t get it. I happened to meet a gentleman at work the other day that was an officer on the Dallas (I was on the Philly). He was engaging and the minute I mentioned that I was an enlisted nuke, the whole conversation turned. Well actually it just ended – abruptly. Since then I have seen him and he has never said a word to me even in a professional sense. I am in a training class currently (two days) and he is sitting right behind me – not a word or even any acknowledgement of my existence.

This isn’t the first time I have run across this behavior, and actually find it quite common.
I've known quite a few officers who seemed to believe that they were inherently "better" than enlisted people; my stateroommate on the carrier on which I was stationed used to thrust his collar device out of mess attendants he thought weren't being sufficiently deferential. I didn't think it was something he'd been taught in an organized way; I figured he was just probably a jerk. Still, I've heard from many people who believe that that probably apocryphal quote about enlisted Sailors being "cunning and devious", allegedly contained in some early 20th century officer handbook, is still being actively taught by commissioning sources. Now, I only went through OCS, but I paid attention in class, and I'm almost positive they didn't teach us that there.

We've kind of discussed this before, but what do you think about this story? Are guys who are officers who are jerks to enlisted men just a-holes, or is there something about the Submarine (or military) culture that teaches them that they should be like that?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

MM1 in NROTC through STA-21 at the moment. I've actually tried to pay attention to how this happens, and I think that this attitude stems from two types of teachings that actually have a good intent. The first is that, presumably to encourage a sense of pride/professionalism/seriousness, the magnitude of responsibility of being an officer is harped on a lot (probably overstated, if we're churning out guys with shitty attitudes). The opposite would be equally bad, as having a bunch of lackadaisical o-gangers would be bad and also serve to cause disdain from the enlisted ranks.

I also think that a secondary cause is that, in the effort to prepare the aspiring Div-O for some of the crazy shit that they're going to see, the enlisted man in general gets portrayed as young and irresponsible. It would be foolish to paint the opposite picture as well, as I know that I was not an angel at 19 years old in NNPTC. Perhaps these anecdotal situations do a disservice in that they highlight the negative extremes, but that obviously isn't the intent.

Attributing to the notion is possibly a bit of an inferiority complex from the enlisted guys' perspective (not necessarily this one, cause it sounds like the former o-ganger is certainly just being a dick). I know I felt a bit jaded that guys fresh out of college were treated more like adults while us blueshirts couldn't get the benefit of the doubt for anything. Especially since we were told over and again about how smart we are when we in the pipeline. Everyone is a unique snowflake at NNPTC, and I think that a false sense of entitlement is developed in a number of sailors while there. Again, its not an intentional wrongdoing on the behalf of the staff, but they don't realize the effects that their words have on kids who don't have a backdrop with which to compare (same as the NROTC instructors with the future o-gangers). Its just that these instructional and motivational tools cause young kids to paint their own picture before they have any kind of experience, and in the case of the nuke program the two groups are in the navy for quite a while before they have any real interaction with each other.

Come to think of it, that might actually be worth its own point. Officers spend 4 years at college and a year in the pipeline with no real intermingling with the enlisted folk. They get their own floor at Power School and their own instructors at NPTU (Civ-Div). The prolonged physical separation will certainly cause a rift between the two.

Anyway...just my experience and thoughts on it. I know some officers who were dicks, some who were dicks only in my own mind, and some who were cool guys. I've tried to be as objective as I can, so I hope that I didn't upset anyone.

7/28/2011 3:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Mustang I have seen both sides and believe it is caused a few different ways.
1. They are taught out right by the instructors and senior officers who already have a skewed sense of entitlement.
2. They just flat out grew up as brats and the military doesn't correct it.
3. The enlisted troops charged with bringing them up to speed early in their careers give them every reason to not trust/respect them.....they eventually grow to senior officers and never forget how they were treated as JOs.
4. In some cases officer/enlisted troops unnecessarily feel a rift and perpetuate the situation with unjustified attitudes.
The bottom line is if someone is already an a**, officer or enlisted, it does not mean they all are.

7/28/2011 4:13 PM

Anonymous SparkyWT said...

As a former nuke MM who finished in the intel field; I met all types of officers. My class officer at OCS hated prior enlisted and even offered to help priors go back to "their dirtbag enlisted mess". When I was an officer instructor, I had an peers and students who felt that enlisted personnel were of a lesser, servant class. Most of them are gone but one is an instructor at Annapolis now and certainly perpetuating the stereotype.

Regardless of the commissioning source, A-holes are a-holes.

7/28/2011 5:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a-holes. We had a mix on my one and only boat. I will say the supreme a-hole had a real awakening when I finally convinced him that his less than civil treatment of the mess staff was literally resulting in him eating and drinking all sorts of nasty stuff.

I've been in CivLant for 20 years and run across the same types. Worked with one dillweed who didn't know shit about nuclear power, but thought that since he was a former O-ganger, he knew it all. Pretty funny to watch him try to tell people to do stuff when he wasn't in their "chain of command."

To be fair, I have worked alongside the guy who was squadron commander when I was on a boat in "his" sqauadron. He was just a regular guy, no attitude.

7/28/2011 5:14 PM

Anonymous SparkyWT said...

Just to be fair, I knew several CPOs who hated officers; especially prior enlisted ones. So in reality, A-holes are a-holes regardless.

7/28/2011 5:19 PM

Blogger SJV said...

I can't speak for what gets taught in OCS or the Academy, but I think in general there's an elitist attitude in some people that transcends the military.

7/28/2011 5:22 PM

Blogger Dale B said...

I was in aviation as an AQ for seven years on active duty (discharged in '76) and the reserves for four years while going to the University of Minnesota. I have a BSEE and have been working as an electrical engineer and program manager designing integrated circuits and industrial control systems for a bit over 30 years. In my work I occasionally work with former officers.

I have often encountered the same attitude from former naval officers as your reader experienced. I only met one former nuke officer and he was a great guy. All of the SWOs I encountered became jerks as soon as it became known that I was former enlisted. For pilots, about 70% became jerks. The 70% jerk pilots is about the same as I saw with the squadron officers when I was on active duty.

I've even seen this attitude with guys who were vendors. This really surprised me as I was thinking about spending a fair bit of money on their products and if they pissed me off they could (and one time did) loose the sale. Since I had to work with these people, I stopped revealing I was former navy enlisted until we had a well established working relationship. Even then, if my past came up, often the reaction was was sort of "Wow, you're not a total dickhead. Amazing." They didn't say that but I got the impression that that's what they were thinking.

Interestingly, I only saw this sort of thing with former Naval officers. I've never seen it with Marine Corps, Army, or Air Force officers. I have no idea why.

7/28/2011 5:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Piece of cake... Simply a JO using his limited social skills to keep his distance from his enlisted counterparts, less an "unduly familiar relationship" occur. Yeah, and then there are those jerks... Jerks are jerks.

Tom Desrosier
CDR-LDO, USN Retired

7/28/2011 5:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The enlisted have always been called MEN....That sums it up.

7/28/2011 6:19 PM

Blogger SJV said...

Lobotomy and castration do have side effects.... ;)

7/28/2011 6:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anon 5:14, you're right about the mess staff getting even.

I can tell you the very few a-holes O's that crossed paths with me learned real fast what their Corpsman was capable of and about 24hrs later, curing!

7/28/2011 6:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is actually pretty rare. But even 5% of these guys leaves a significant impression. I ran into one of these fine "gentlemen" just the other day. I work in a field infested with ex-nukes, officer and enlisted. Some of the ex-officers work for the ex-enlisted, and there seem to be a big load of mustangs (STA/ECP and LDO) in the mix. You would think there would be a lot of comradely, right?

For the most part there is. But the other day, I ran into a guy who shocked me with his attitude. Bad career move: talking negatively about ex-enlisted nukes when you (ex-officer) work for one.

Of course, retired master chiefs in this industry are a PITA, too, sometimes. A buddy of mine (former surface E-6 RO) had two MMCMs working for him. He had to remind them, several times, that they were no longer in the Navy...

7/28/2011 6:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In NECP at an NROTC unit, I saw the way some of this happened - Mids who were kids of naval officers. Their dads had told them that enlisted were scum and they ate it up. The worst? A young scumbag whose dad was a carrier CO who will remain nameless. The scumbag in question ended up in the Marines, thank God.

7/28/2011 7:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There really is no need in a 21st century Western society to have anyone start at the O-1 level without any E-x experience. It ain't going to stop people from being assholes, but it will stop some and anyway it's the right thing to do.

7/28/2011 7:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course not all officers are jerks...there are just jerks everywhere.

To be fair, nucs, enlisted or officer, tend to have that same typ of elitist attitude. Also,it seems if a person has to lead off with his college resume to include degrees earned at the start of a conversation, then that person has issues.

The military caste system definately seems to be reaching the end of it's usefulness. Maybe it is time to restructure?

And for what it is worth, all sailors (military or civilian) worth their salt are "cunning and devious". You have to be to face the mighty ocean on any given day.

7/28/2011 7:34 PM

Blogger jr said...

I kind of feel that my ROTC experience taught me the opposite--we had some hot-running MECEP Staff Sergeants, and they were clearly the standard to try and live up to. Add to that a rock solid YNCS(AW) and SK1(SS) and the many guest instructors that told us to trust our chiefs, and I don't think I came through with any kind of attitude. I think it did mean that I was more blindsided the first (and second) times that I got screwed--a sailor who knows less than he thinks he does is just as dangerous to an Ensign as an Ensign is to his division.

But I think that submarines are better off than skimmers, etc, and Seals are MUCH better than us.

7/28/2011 7:38 PM

Anonymous 3383 said...

Assholes are found everywhere.

Sure, plenty of khakis are what we would hope to be at that level. But I think that kind of power trip behavior is tacitly allowed in the military (how often is someone corrected for that kind of shit?); out in "the real world" you will get varying levels of pushback depending on the behavior and relative level difference.

I had an exchange with a Fortune 500 company division leader (and CEO-in-waiting)(he was stressed, lost his cool on a conference call) where I did bring him up short- respectfully but firmly- and were fine afterward. Trying that with the arrogant relegated-to-message-writing-and-other-scutwork topsider Lt. Crump in '88 earned threats of mast, et cetera.

Bullying an MS? jeez.

7/28/2011 7:40 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

I don't think it's so much a question of officers becoming jerks as one of jerks becoming officers, as many have alluded to above. LDO SWO's, counterintuitive as it may seem, are some of the biggest jerks I've ever met.

7/28/2011 7:43 PM

Anonymous A COB Once... said...

That paranoid asshole shouldn't think all officers are assholes just because he found one who was. That's stereotyping, the same thing racists do. Maybe the officer just didn't like the guy, after all, it's not hard to see why he might. There were some COB's who were assholes (not anymore, of course). Doesn't mean they were all assholified at their COB boards. Wait... I could be wrong about that. Nevermind.

7/28/2011 8:16 PM

Anonymous Rick Mittendorf said...

As a former Dallas MM, I would be curious as to whom this officer was! I served from 1987 to 1990, and we went thru the Navy's first DMP. It was a very trying time for all of us, and I watched one engineer get booted for falsifying documents, and one LTJG get booted for failure to qualify. Mostly our officers were good people, and you will always have a couple of bad apples in the group. You can drop me a note at and I could enlighten you on said individuals. Once you get out of the Navy, most anemosity fades away. We had no problem mingling with officers at the last reunion in Groton, and most are old friends now!

7/28/2011 8:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a nuc MM2 going to college thru NESEP, the other NESEPs and I had to listen to the ROTC kiddies talking about how they were going to run their divisions, keep the slime enlisted guys in line, and so forth. At first it was funny, and then we got fed up and tried to have a discussion about what life was like in the real navy. Some of the ROTC kids listened, some didn't. What can you do? Some of us NESEPs turned out OK, and some became bigger jerks than Naval Academy clowns. Now that I'm retired, I do find it funny when some retired E9 or O6 tries to throw their stripes around. Jerks is jerks, no matter where they went to school or how many times they got promoted.

7/28/2011 8:39 PM

Anonymous T said...

I think one of the big drivers of this is that the people who LIKE or don't mind this dynamic tend to stay in, and those that don't... don't.

Further, I think a lot of enlisted guys don't really appreciate how badly JO's can get pressured to lean heavily on the enlisted guys. I have seen, more often than not, that JO's that are screamers/dicks/totalitarian tend to get the praise from above, while those that don't... don't. And lastly, I won't say that enlisted guys are "lazy" but I do know there are times when a division will ignore you, or screw you when the ENG/CO/XO asks you to do some stupid shit, and you're trying to get it done to get THEM off of your back. More often than not, (at least in my experience) the JO is getting screamed at.... for not screaming.

The Navy builds this environment itself... and it's dysfunctional. It was really weird to me to switch to CIVLANT where people just do their job (or at least try to), without having to resort to extreme measures or getting yelled at.

7/28/2011 8:39 PM

Blogger Eddie W said...

Rickover imbued it in to the nuclear navy, as he had a particular mistrust of enlisted men.

I'm a former nuke officer, and my $.02 is that collar devices are just like cell phones... they amplify the ignorant and empower the obnoxious.

7/28/2011 9:02 PM

Blogger ENS W.T. Door said...

I feel like this is a classic question of which came first: the chicken or the egg...

Are officers jerks because the Academy, OCS, or ROTC turned them into jerks, or were officers jerks before entering the Academy, OCS, or ROTC?

One pinch 'type A personality' and one pinch 'anal retentive nuke', and we've got ourselves a winning combination, fellas.

*Note: there are exceptions to this rather scientific process.


Asshole JO

7/28/2011 11:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man! It's depressing to read this thread )-:

The only place I saw anything close to these attitudes were some of the O-gang at school commands but even other O-gangers thought they were dick heads so I think that's exactly what they were.

On the boats I had one XO who was a dick head but I can't say that he looked down on enlisteds.

I will add that I had served under one XO for a short time and he gave all indications of being an asshole. I got jammed up a bit (too much alcohol involved) and he called me into his state room. He looked at me and I was ready for a deserved ass kicking - "Chief, don't ever do that shit again!" My reply was "You can count on that XO". He said "Dismissed" and that was the end of it. New found respect for the guy after that. BTW USNA grad he was.

Old chief from the dark ages

7/29/2011 12:06 AM

Anonymous BoomerCHOP said...

Give someone who is a burgeoning asshole some power and authority, and watch him bloom.

That's the long and short of it...being an officer doesn't turn you into an asshole, and if you have half a brain, getting a commission should make you appreciate blueshirts above and beyond a normal amount...after all, your success or failure is more often than not squarely in their capable hands. It would be foolish to betray their trust, especially knowing that.

I was raised in a dirt poor family that taught me no one is any better than anyone else. Joining the Navy just proved that lesson to me.

- OCS-trained CHOP

7/29/2011 12:56 AM

Blogger MT1(SS)WidgetHead said...

Most officers are not self serving assholes. At least that's been my experience in life so far. So don't treat the lot of the Wardroom that way...or else they will become defensive assholes who don't trust you and continuously question your every move.

When you get a brand new JO NUB, You need to make him feel welcome and train him. Don't talk down to him when reviewing the difference between active and passive sonar, or what design depth means compared to crush depth. Leave your questions open ended. Let him think for himself so he learns something. Encourage him to ask questions and not hesitate to have me repeat myself throughout a systems review or what ever we're discussing at present.

In other words, don't let him go into his own defensive shell, because then you'll never get anything else out of him. Train 'em right the first time, and there is a much lesser chance of our future leadership turning into defensive dickheads. Beside that...if you can't trust your enlisted guys, then who can you trust? You might command the boat, but who actually runs and maintains the boat?

7/29/2011 1:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Put 4 22-30 year olds in a space that is 8ft by 8ft and tell one of them that if there is a problem it is his fault. Now put 6 more people outside that space and tell the same guy that even though he cant see them, if they screw up it is his fault. It will turn a person into an a-hole real fast, even if they dont want to be... Blame Rickover

7/29/2011 4:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bunch of whiney NUKES. Lets be honest. Enlisted NUKES on the boats think they are better than everyone else as well. Sounds like Karma has caught up to this one. It's not all officers, but I would say Nuclear Officers have a high rate of the A-hole disease.

7/29/2011 5:18 AM

Anonymous t said...

I think it's weird there's so much hate for nuke officers.... Have you ever served with a SWO or Skittle Shirt?

Those dudes are way more dismissive of enlisted guys, IMO. Actually, I think submarines are the best operational units in the Navy for enlisted-officer relationships. If you want to be an officer that only talks to and hangs out with officers, you're going to get tired of those same people pretty quick, which forces you to be at least kind of nice to some of them.

This thread makes me realize how fortunate I am to be away from subs! Thanks!

7/29/2011 5:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bunch of whiney NUKES. Lets be honest. Enlisted NUKES on the boats think they are better than everyone else as well. Sounds like Karma has caught up to this one. It's not all officers, but I would say Nuclear Officers have a high rate of the A-hole disease.

Pretty broad brush there. Maybe you have an inferiority complex?

7/29/2011 5:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love all the comments. I spent 9 years as enlisted on subs and turned down ECP to finish college on my own followed by a Clinton early discharge. I always wanted to be enlisted and may have become an officer if times were different. After I re-qualed on the 7XX I had a meeting with the XO in the wardroom along with 6 other blueshirts where he gave us his infamous 'Gold dolphins and tin fish' speech. 30 minutes could be summed up as 'Officers run the show and if we have a real crisis and gold dolphins show up, defer to them and get out of the way because they are better.' It was the only time in my career that I saw something in the open like that.
Outside of that, I am going to go with the 'jerks will be jerks' observation. I've occasionally experienced the phenomena described in the initial post and I laugh at it. I think it's a reflection of the person and not the institution. I'm a senior executive for a fortune 1,000 company and a lot of the people under me are former military officers, some are still in reserves. They all return to me the respect that I give to them.
I will extend a couple of personal observations from my time as a non-nuc enlisted in the sub force. I found that most enlisted nucs, especially on the boat were snobs who thought they were better than 'coners.' Maybe the submitter could make a second post and describe where that came from. I found that a large number of chiefs hated officers and anyone that wanted to be an officer. Personally, I had a CMC (shore duty) who openly tried to keep me from going to college and after that failed he attempted to shoot down my OCS application. He was able to have me blackballed by all the Chiefs in the command. What I took away from my experience is that I wanted to get as far away from the military as possible in my civilian life. I refused to work for any government, DOD or defense contractor so that I wouldn't have to deal with people's pre-conceived perceptions of rank-class-hierarchy. I wanted to be be in a world where as much as possible I could move ahead based on my skill and effort and I found that in a place where given rank doesn't exist, there are still lots of jerks though.

7/29/2011 6:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think back to how enlisted treat cadets on summer cruises. I had some great experiences with some great enlisted personnel who taught me lessons I'm still using as a CDR. I also ran into a number of people, SN-CPOs, who where hostely just jerks and thought it was fine to denigrate me openly and sometimes quite viciously. In addition to just openly calling cadets idiots, before they knew anything about me, the constant "go get some shoreline", "I need some propwash" BS just got tiring (you're so clever guys, almost got me that time!). So does the Academy teach officers to be jerks to enlisted people? If you count summer programs and the enlisted interaction that some cadets have as part of the Academy experience, then yes, the enlisted force can teach cadets to be jerks to enlisted people. Does the formal Academy cirriculum teach officers to be jerks? Absolutely not. Although I absolutely despised almost every minute of my time at the Academy, I can assure you that the idea that you must respect your enlisted force and ensure their success is drilled into prospective officers constantly. If you want to help solve the problem of jerk officers at its root, then consider taking a cadet under your wing next time you have the chance rather than ranting on a bulletin board.

7/29/2011 6:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well,it's quite obvious to me as a former EM. I didn't need college. They do,ergo, they must be superior to those who don't need to have college.Sad to say, that attitude exists in the civilian world too. Me, I'd rather have my life experiences than a sheepskin. Too many Officers have proven that college doesn't always make you smart,just arrogant.
From a former E-5

7/29/2011 6:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{Rickover imbued it in to the nuclear navy, as he had a particular mistrust of enlisted men.}

I don't think there is any proof of that. In fact, the opposite - there is a well documented incident of Rickover setting up lunch between Idaho enlisted prototype staff and a congressman. The staff guys were in civvies (which Rickover preferred for all ranks) and the idea was to fool the congressmen that the enlisted guys were university graduate physicists, then do a "big reveal" to show the superiority of Rickover's educational methods. (this was in the book on INEL history, which had a Rickover chapter and was not always laudatory to the KOG)

Rickover's issues with enlisted were that he felt the US educational system, outside of Universities, sucked. However, that aside, he did stuff like take enlisted guys out of uniform and into NR, commissioned them at the drop of a hat (i.e. pass the E7 exam), and sent them to boss around his officers as NRRO reps. He also started NESEP/NECP (now STA21) to commission more enlisted guys. I'd say he was extremely forward thinking for a USNA officer of his generation. His personal background (Polish Jew) may have made his more suspicious of artificial class boundaries.

7/29/2011 7:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as nukes vs cones...

Maybe this is better for another thread, but there is a real difference, or at least there was when the pipeline was a filter, not a pump (i.e. War on Attrition). When your overall attrition from boot to NPTU graduation > 60% (as it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s), and you make it through, you get a sense that perhaps you have accomplished something.

There is a real intellectual difference, and I'm sorry if that offends anyone. That doesn't make enlisted nukes better people, or more decent, or harder workers. Smart workers can sometimes be problematic: Once someone has been through the enlisted nuke pipeline, there is the very large possibility of buyers remorse - most enlisted nukes were smart but unmotivated students before the Navy. After nuke school, they are smart and motivated, but have to sweat 4 years at sea before they can go to college or whatever. That training makes them good operators, but also shows them their potential, which can make them unhappy - they feel wasted doing stuff like field day. Yes, I know, waaah. But its a real phenomenon.

7/29/2011 7:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a JO on the Dallas at some point in the past decade, so I'd be curious to see who these folks were as well.

My biased opinion is that I do think it's the minority of officers that behave that way, since most of the officers in the wardroom, regardless of technical competence, made an effort to make sure they weren't real douchebags to the crew.

I also didn't see that attitude too much...but a lot of times a JO won't tell another JO how to run his division or watch team unless it's fairly evident that their "leadership" style is a problem. There were a couple times I tried to enlighten a fellow JO as to the perception of their language, attitude, or behavior.

In my shore tour job, I had a fair amount of sub JOs pass through my sights in their training pipeline, and I tried to use several anecdotes of exactly what NOT to do as a junior officer/NUB Ensign/new EOOW/etc...and then after they all laugh at the ridiculous ways some officers treat the guys who do the real work, I promptly let them know that despite laughing at it, some of THEM will be the very problem I'm describing.

Who knows how to fix it? But I do think it's still the minority of crappy officers/people that tend to have the behavior that's most memorable.

7/29/2011 8:35 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

"He also started NESEP..."

The KOG did not start NESEP. That was a guy in the Bureau, Dr. Johnson, who invented (and got funded) the Navy Enlisted Advanced School Program (NEASP) at Purdue in '56 and University of Washington in '57. In '57 was started the Navy Enlisted Scientific Education Program (NESEP) at a bunch of other schools. Neither of these programs was intended to be commissioning sources at the start, though most grads did get a commission.

Purpose of NEASP was to produce systems analysts. NESEP broadened the scope to most other science and engineering. In '60 NEASP accession was ended and all inputs went into NESEP from '61 on.

In '62, everyone in both the programs had to sign a paper saying they would accept a commission if offered, with statement that it would be offered (several refused, fearing a commission in the reserves might be what they got, and went back to the felt as chiefs).

Rickover was cool to NESEPs and NEASPs, partly because they were generally older than his normal officer accessions. He did relent for guys like Dave Schultz and Denny Oltraver (God rest his soul) and for others as time went on and the crop got younger (NEASPs and early NESEPs could enter the program up to age 30 for awhile, the cut lowered to 25 later).

Can't speak directly to Rickover's influence on NECP, but I seem to remember that came in at about the time he retired or even after. The Integration program - the original seaman-to-admiral program - never had college in it and I'm not aware of anyone who became a nuke officer through Integration.

7/29/2011 8:43 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

I'm one of those weird prior-enlisted guys. I actually recommended my brother in-law for the NUPOC program. Seemed like the best bet to make tons of cash in college without having a job, all the while heading to sea into a guaranteed supervisory job. He can come out of the Navy in 5 years with basically the equivalent of masters in Nuclear Engineering (or so I'm told), qualified to take his PE, and with at least 3 years of supervisory experience.

With all that said, it is hard being the enlisted guy. Those same officers who went through my OPWACHEM class (that I was teaching) were eligible to walk right into GS13 jobs at NRC as a regional inspector, or at a power plant as at least an RO (after school), while I was relegated to jobs in with "Technician" in the title. The post-Navy salary differences are staggering, especially when you consider those same officers will always have a leg up on the enlisted folks.

Maybe the best solution is to turn NNPTC/NPS/NPTU into a 3.5 year program. Get it accredited by the Dept of Education, and hand out a BS to everyone who completes the program. Then, make everyone some level of a CWO. Get A-gangers, or strikers (yes, open up the program to strikers or other re-enlistees to get into) back in the engineroom to do the cleaning, and keep nuclear power plant operators actually operating nuclear power plants. Then the division between the O-1 and the CWO-1 are minimized, relagated to those with an engineering specialty (CWO) and those with an operational specialty (O).

I'm sure the loss of pro-pay for nukes to move from E-4/E-5 to CWO-1, E-6 to CWO-2, E-7 to CWO-3, and so on, would be worth it in the money department.

7/29/2011 9:50 AM

Anonymous Cupojoe said...

I remember getting the "we're all cunning and devious, huh sir? deal when I was an Ensign. I used to laugh and be all complementary to the enlisted.

By the time I left the boat, I had taken the blame (and screaming from the CO) for enough bad tagouts, broken equipment and the overall ass clown antics of 18-year-olds that I wouldn't trust most of them as far as I could spit.

That was always the lesson I learned. No matter how much you train and brief the evolutions, the guys might still hose you.

"Nothing is foolproof when the stupid people are that resourceful."

7/29/2011 11:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a two way street. Back in the dark ages I reported to an SS 3 weeks after graduation (NROTC) with zero sub training while waiting for the Nov. nuc school class. I was assigned electrical officer and the chief electrician took me under his wing. I relied heavily on him for the four months that I was aboard.(thank you Shorty Winans where ever you are). I learned a lot about how chiefs and officers worked together and the importance of relying on your senior enlisted that stood me in good stead for the my Navy and civ careers. The relationship between a division officer on his first boat and his leading chief goes a long way to set the attitude that the officer has toward enlisted men.

7/29/2011 11:35 AM

Blogger montigrande said...

I have been retired for over 5 years now and work with former and retired military from the Navy, Army and Marine Corps. I find that the greatest difference between the services is that services stress that “any Marine is a Marine first” and that “all soldiers are soldiers.” This is contrary to “the officers and men of (insert ship name).” This was actually brought to my attention by a former enlisted nuke, who, was picked up for BOOST, graduated from the USNA and went into the Marine Corps. For what it’s worth, if “Officers run the Navy and Chief’s make the Navy run,” it’s no wonder that some sailors feel superior to others, and that is not just the nukes. I also would like to say that the playing field evens out in the commercial Nuclear world, but I can’t because it doesn’t; however, the difference that I find out here is that it’s “every man for himself.”

7/29/2011 1:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the time I left the boat, I had taken the blame (and screaming from the CO) for enough bad tagouts, broken equipment and the overall ass clown antics of 18-year-olds that I wouldn't trust most of them as far as I could spit.

Poor supervision, right there. You probably deserved every screaming session. In general, each division can be broken up into people who are motivated and know what their doing, motivated but don't really know (or are prone to mistakes), and unmotivated 'tards. First group can run themselves, the second group needs close supervision in the form of surprise PMS spot checks, close review of tagouts, etc... Third group is a little harder and depends on the individual person.

People will make mistakes, but if so many are being made that you are getting yelled at a lot, I'd say that's indications of ineffective leadership more than anything else.

The jerks (like the author of the above quote sounds like) are probably those

7/29/2011 1:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one who works in Navy Officer Recruiting,( onec as a recuriter and now as a civilian) I can tell you the assholeness for some start well before they come into the Navy.

I have had applicants who come in here and demand things or expect someone else to fill their application out. Don't even tell them they did something wrong on a form or they get all bent out of shape!

If they don't get their way, they want to talk to someone higher up or go to another recruiter hoping to get a different outcome.

The know they are smart and have a higher intelligence that a lot of those they went to school with, therefore they think they are better and have that narcissistic attitude. Once they get that rank, now they think they are even more superior.


7/29/2011 1:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon:Poor supervision, right there. You probably deserved every screaming session. In general, each division can be broken up into people who are motivated and know what their doing, motivated but don't really know (or are prone to mistakes), and unmotivated 'tards

You went Full tard? You can never go full tard.

7/29/2011 2:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Poor supervision, right there...."

So enlisted should get credit for the good things but when they fuck up simple things like tagouts it's the officer's fault. If you're wondering where your cake went, it's in your stomach.

7/29/2011 3:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dickheadery is as dickheadery does.

Coming from a top college into nuclear power/submarine via NROTC, my midwestern roots sort of naturally had me act/behave towards the enlisted as peers. Just my default mode.

But I can't tell you how many enlisted guys I ran into who were all but picking fights to prove what I already knew to be the case, which is that many of the nukes were solid people...regardless of color of uniform.

My own first division (E Div) LPO once took it upon himself to lecture me -- I swear out of the clear blue -- as to how "any of these guys could be where you're at."

That being a hugely over-reaching statement (what percentage of freshmen make it to graduation at major universities? how many of them interviewed with Rickover? how many of those didn't make the cut? etc.), that kind of default "reverse elitism" is probably what finally got under my skin on this subject.

Picking a fight where there isn't one to begin with is probably a sign that someone -- deep down -- truly does question their own abilities, work ethic, integrity and IQ.

This is precisely what made me start to wonder about 'them' as well...although in cases of blue shirt tongue-swapping chewed up cookies (or bugs...or...) and/or grabbing each others' nutsacks...was a bit of a tip off as well.

A shitbag is a shitbag, and pretend 'coolness' is just that.

7/29/2011 3:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was always the lesson I learned. No matter how much you train and brief the evolutions, the guys might still hose you.

They also might save your ass from doing something stupid, unless of course you knew it all - which it sounds as if you did.

7/29/2011 3:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also would like to say that the playing field evens out in the commercial Nuclear world, but I can’t because it doesn’t; however, the difference that I find out here is that it’s “every man for himself.

I would dispute that claim, As six and out enlisted, I've seen no distinction in hiring or promotability. BTW, I paid off my 2011 Social Security taxes about six weeks ago. This former enlisted swine isn't doing too shabby.

7/29/2011 3:25 PM

Blogger Mac Baird said...

It was a long time ago (1978) that I attended SOBC as a Silver Dolphin mustang Ensign fresh out of OCS and the WEPS course at Dam Neck. I observed the same elitist behavior at SOBC from my ROTC and Academy classmates. However, upon reporting aboard USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628) in overhaul, my CO assigned me three divisions (Sonar, Missile & 1st LT) while they were only assigned one each.

7/29/2011 3:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a recently retired ETC(SS) and now work for the VA. We have alot of X-officers and enlisteds, and I can tell you that your military rank does not mean squat. We have CPOs who are secretaries, officers who are administrative officers, and first classes in charge of engineering. It depends on how you apply yourself. I remember meeting several jerk officers, and several jerk enlisteds. A jerk trancends rank. My regional boss is a X-FTB1(SS), and all of us, officer and enlisted think he is outstanding.

7/29/2011 4:28 PM

Anonymous Steeljaw Scribe said...

"The relationship between a division officer on his first boat and his leading chief goes a long way to set the attitude that the officer has toward enlisted men."
Thank you ATC Watson.
Flying with some quality AT1's who taught me the way the E-2C's systems really worked added to it - Thank you AT1 Chamberlain. And starting off with a GM1 on a Knox-class DE/FF ensuring we got as full an experience as one can get in 6 weeks - good/bad/indifferent as an NROTC MIDN 3/c all set the stage. (and getting to see a side of Naples I wouldn't see again until on SP was a bonus). Hopefully the account was paid in full later as DH and CO - and even then I had some great Chiefs and PO's to work with.
w/r, SJS

7/29/2011 7:14 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Interesting viewpoints, none of which really answer the original question.

The answer is "No", but enlisted (or former enlisted) nukes might be the last to ever realize it. Why?

1. regularly commissioned naval officers are generally reliable gentlemen (even regularly commissioned submariner officers).

2. prior enlisted submariners have generally proven to their peers that they (although somewhat honorable) do NOT regularly uphold the naval standards of gentlemanly conduct.

Hey, argue with the above all you like. Although it is true, it may not be the crowning reason for the perceived jerkhood.

3. Officers (particularly submariners) were privy to classified ops intelligence normally not shared with enlisted below E-7. In fact, some of the intelligence is still classified.
Discretion could dictate avoiding discussions sea story commentary with persons who have obviously not been privy to smae INCLUDING most nukes below E-7.

The easiest way for a few officers to avoid necessary, but awkward silence is to avoid discussion.

Want an example? Sorry, still can't do that.

7/29/2011 8:18 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I am an Annapolis grad, served as a JO on two boats. Never did I hear from an instructor any kind of disrespectful words or implication on enlisted. Same thing in the pipeline. Same thing on the boat. I am sure it happens, but it didn't in my earshot. Actually, on the contrary - I was admonished to trust my chief, and help my sailors. On both my cruises, I saw how the enlisted were smart people (for the most part, same as on the O side) that had just chosen a different path than I did. When I got to the boat, I saw that many enlisted had college time and ran out of money, or had simply chose to enlist.

When I got to my first boat, my TMC told me, "Just wanted to tell you, LT, that I don't hate officers anymore." "Good news chief, thanks."

In any case, I developed respectful relationships with the enlisted on my boats, and keep in touch with several, 18 years after leaving active duty.

My opinion - the guys that play the jerky way with enlisted have an overinflated sense of ego and are bullies at heart, and believe the Nav gives them the right to bully.

Even now, when I am hiring and find out a candidate talks down to an admin staff or junior employee - they are not welcome on my team.

Ted Peck
USNA '88

7/29/2011 8:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been a couple of times at Prototype I have had to remind jerk Officers to be nice to the civilians… they will always be at the site, you’re trying to move on.

7/29/2011 9:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally think there are WAY more dickhead e-7/8/9's out there than officers. Lots of CPOs hate the guys that work for them. That doesn't mean there aren't good ones, or that they outmber the good ones, but it's the fricken truth.

Oh and vigilis, you really have some crazy opinions.

7/29/2011 10:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

With 21 years in, my experience was that assholes were assholes, both enlisted and officers. And the terrible tendency was, as pointed out several times, to reward screamers, thinking that they were actually accomplishing something by screaming. They were- they were leaving a mess behind for us non-screamers to clean up after. Nothing like actually getting a bunch of pissed off people to work together afer being screamed at.

With 17 years now in civlant since retiring, the one big difference I've noted is that individual accountability is higher in Civlant. Profit and loss statements, sales per hour, total sales, all these metrics can be and are measured. And they can't be radioed or falsified, at least not for long. If you don't make a profit for the company, you're not around for long.

One of the subs I reported to as a Chief had 7 years worth of records showing that PM's A-1,2,3,4,and 5 had been performed on the two EMBT blow valves. Each annual was for a valve from a different manufacturer and the four not used should be crossed out. I did that. Upset the engineer when I did it. First thing he said to me was, "I did my PM check on that last month." Um, sorry.

7 years- that would be at least 3 squadron PM inspections, and multiple A Gang LCPO's. I was shitcanned. Apparently I didn't know my job. The PM accomplishment rate under my leadership was a lot lower than before. PM records can be falsified for a long time without being caught. As can most other bureaucratic paperwork.

I have noticed that retired officers, particularly airdales, are not real good at customer service jobs.

7/29/2011 11:18 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

From the author of the E-mail in the original post:

"WRT cones vs nukes. I never thought I was superior to the cones – we both had different jobs to do and did them. You could see where some could think that as the nub nukes on the Philly didn’t crank (at least until late in the ‘80s). Also our cleaning spaces were aft where there were no heads. A lot of cones resented that and a lot of nukes made light of it. Both cones and nukes had their pros and cons. The ER was usually 3 section in port while the cones were always 4 section. We got a little extra pay but were on the boat at midnight before an underway as opposed to running on 30 minutes before the lines went over. We had to stay after we pulled in for hours until shore power was on or even had to stay steaming in a liberty port.

"We all worked hard - ain’t no slack in a fast attack. I have cones that are good friends to this day.

"Certainly there were better officers than others. Some didn’t give a rat’s azz about us, others showed some concern for the enlisted guys but not overly. I had one division officer who jacked one of the ELTs up against the secondary sample sink and punch him. A jerk yes, and he paid for it with his commission. We saved the bacon of officers on multiple occasions – lets see…. One JO thought he would play a joke on the ERUL watch and messed with the evaporator and messed with steam basket drains (officers touching valves). He almost overpressured the steam basket while we within spitting distance of someplace we shouldn’t have been. During initial crit in the yards with NR swarming all over the NIs port and stbd weren’t matching and all the officers were scratching their heads. The ERS calmly went back and checked [main steam cross-connect valve], yup, it was shut. We very slowly opened it and amazing the NIs came right back together once the pressure equalized.

"Did I screw things up on occasion –certainly but I never tried to blame it on someone else or make the O – diver take the blame. Were there pranks played on midshipman and new JOs - certainly. Harmless teasing about sonar actually being whales swimming next to the reactor compartment because it was warm and requests for buckets of steam. No O gangers were hurt in the making of this sea story. Hazings in the ER? Yup, however never to an officer – with the EM ranks only.

"As for naming names – won’t do that. The gentleman at work indicated that he was on the Dallas in the early 90’s, 1991-1993 I think. Initials are BV. If that helps so be it.

"There were certainly jerk enlisted guys and officers too. Probably falls within the statistical probability of being a jerk or not being one – blue shirt or khaki. I will say the ROTC officers were generally nicer than the USNA JOs. I would say that if someone thinks that they are superior to another simply due to their gaining a college degree, I would likely question their other biases too. To hold onto that educational/rank bias into the business world is ridiculous."

7/30/2011 5:02 AM

Anonymous shorejo said...

Quite the tabloid title Joel.

How about this for your next (much anticipated post)?

"Gays and women on submarines: Will the reactors explode?!?"

7/30/2011 6:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I musr have been in a different Nuc Navy (SSNs in the 80's). I got out after ten so I could watch my kids grow up (at the time E7 sea/shore was 5/2 if I remember right). What I remember in general is that the finest, most motivated folks I have ever met (10 nav 25 civ nuc) were the enlisted and officers I served with on SSNs. We had butt heads on both sides of the wardroom door. As a senior EM it was my job to help those kids (officer type) fresh out of sub school and the nuc pipeline and well aware that they are gods gift to the undersea service, to learn to work with the worst underachievers the human race has ever produced (Nuc ETs). My experience was that we brought the best out in each other. maybe I was just lucky (from reading this I must have been) but my experience was completely different from what I read here. The only time i really ever ran into the A***** was in a brief stint at squadron in the Rshop where most of the officers were LDOs and mustangs there I met a careers worth, guys who left went to colege and came back as officers were some of the best but NESEPs and LDOs were the worst. I do not know why but in almost twenty years of doing interviews for engineering and maintenance positions in the civ nuc world I have only hired one of outof litteraly dozens, they all seemed equiped with an attitude that their stuff does not smell. Even with their crummy attitudes those guys almost always reall knew their stuff, I just won't have them in my shop.

7/30/2011 6:37 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

@Shorejo: I'm thinking about "A Plague Of Locusts O'er The Land?"

7/30/2011 8:27 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

It's the person, not the collar device, which makes the asshole. I've seen them in blue and khaki. Actually, the worst one was a Warrant on the tender when I was doing radcon, although a couple of JO's came pretty close, and one of my LPO's was quite the prize as well.

I took great pleasure in giving them (within reason) a little tweak now and then, but made DAMNED sure first that my shit was in order before proceeding.

7/30/2011 10:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{2. prior enlisted submariners have generally proven to their peers that they (although somewhat honorable) do NOT regularly uphold the naval standards of gentlemanly conduct.}

Wow. I guess we just found one jerk officer, now didnt we?

7/30/2011 11:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get an education. If you want to sit at the table, you've got to earn your place.

7/30/2011 12:43 PM

Blogger reddog said...

The system was designed for a society that no longer exists. The only reason it still exists is that officers, who run the armed forces get really good perks. Why ruin a good thing?

In the mean time, the Navy is full of jerk officers. There are some good ones but not enough to justify the system.

7/30/2011 2:53 PM

Blogger DDM said...

Anon @ 1243: "Get an education. If you want to sit at the table, you've got to earn your place."

And there you have it. The reason some people think officers are inherently jerks. If you think you got your education at college, then you probably thought you had nothing to learn from us lowly enlisted.

A smart man I know, refers to this mentality as "Book smart, but public dumb."

7/30/2011 3:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel, Sorry to hear that you had eat your lunch all by yourself. I am absolutely sure that any conversation you had with another O quickly dissolved into a pissing contest about who had the brighter yet more decorative career.

7/30/2011 4:57 PM

Anonymous 610ET said...

I think reddog makes an excellent point when he says that the system was designed for a society that no longer exists.

The Navy’s caste system seems unnecessarily feudal in these times with the caliber (mostly) of enlisted sailors today compared to 300 years ago.

Course it’s a great deal for the Navy officer corps and I doubt you will see many of them clamoring for change.

7/30/2011 5:31 PM

Anonymous Centipede said...

"The relationship between a division officer on his first boat and his leading chief goes a long way to set the attitude that the officer has toward enlisted men."
Thank you ATC Watson.

And thank you EMC(SS) Murray - I know you hated having to look out for your DIV-O (and his white sox) in addition to the whole division, but you helped to make me a better officer (I think - time will continue to tell).

7/30/2011 8:14 PM

Anonymous 610ET said...

I went back and read the link to Lex’s old post and there was the answer to the question right there in one sentence and I quote “How very different their own experience of the Navy was because of our differing stations in life”.

“Differing stations in life”? Really? I can see different jobs based on education and training but stations in life? I mean he really believes this as he attempts an apology for his own bad behavior years ago.

Do any of you guys really think that highly trained and motivated enlisted submarine technicians are not up to your “station’ in life?

If you do then you know all there is to know about officer-enlisted relationship problems.

7/30/2011 9:39 PM

Blogger MT1(SS)WidgetHead said...

610ET has a good question towards the end.

Now this is how it's supposed to work when you get a new DIV-O or even a new DH for that matter..."Sir, you make us look good and we'll make YOU look good in public all throughout your tour." and/Or "Sir we'll make absolutely certain you receive a NAM or a JSAM and possibly a 2nd silver bar on your caller toward the end of your tour when it's time to pull shore duty and start on a graduate degree. Just get us what we need (and want) and when we need it, and you'll have only a minimal amount of problems in life regarding your division. Yes, COMSURFLANT or PAC does hear feedback from some of us lowly enlisted on occasion.

Need help in cutting through channels to make it all happen Sir? Send for your LPO and/or contact the goat locker and we'll show you how to proceed. Nowadays, some decent weight on the watchbill is the most important.

What's that Sir, you're having a difficulty with one of the JR enlisted in our division?...Well why else does an LPO and a LCPO exist in life? Tell us so we can deal with the problem effectively. Communication is another biggy when we're trying to make it all happen and keep the peace in life.

Just remember Gents, your enlisted personnel whom you control in life, can make you or break you. So help us to make life work out for you in a positive fashion so we can be happy as well.

Do the Enlisted guys tend to be a devious and cunning lot on a regular basis?...Damn right we are, life is more fun & interesting that way.

If you show up with a horseshit attitude right off the bat, then you won't last long. Just remember it's all about trust and teamwork in every detail.

7/31/2011 2:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm actually surprised at how little the DIVO is involved in the running of a division on a day-to-day basis. While the LCPO/LPO are back getting the day's work done, the DIVO is often tasked with attending a bunch of mandatory meetings, training both forward and aft, and random administration projects the CoC tasks. There are days where it's 1500 before a DIVO gets to interact with the division. I had to fight for time to get to watch (ie, supervise) MM's pull apart a heat exchanger or TM's handle know, the shit that actually allows you to become the system expert the CoC thinks you ought to be.

The way I thought it was going to work when I was in training was that the LCPO will show you the ropes for the first couple of months and you each have a role in running the division, rather than the LCPO being involved in all the divisional responsibilities and the DIVO just being an admin monkey.

Perhaps this is one of the many contributors to the perceived rift between E and O.

7/31/2011 3:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you don't like endless training?

Clearly, the correct answer is Officer training in the wardroom every day at 1800! You are responsible for everything that division does, even if you are not allowed the time to be involved with it!

Dude, just plan on getting out now. It honestly is better on the other side.

7/31/2011 9:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes, COMSURFLANT or PAC does hear feedback from some of us lowly enlisted on occasion."

MT1, you have been talking to the wrong people! Dude we are on submarines and we talk to COMSUBPAC or COMSUBFOR.

That's why MT's belong in MCC and not out playing with the big boys.

7/31/2011 9:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"MT1, you have been talking to the wrong people! Dude we are on submarines and we talk to COMSUBPAC or COMSUBFOR."

"We" have? Stuff the phone against your inflated head and call COMSUBPAC for "Us". Oh. can't remember the number. You got noting and you are a nobody moron!

7/31/2011 2:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Anon 7/31/2011 2:16 PM.
It sounds like your a little bitter about life in general with that outburst.

The guy made a simple typing mistake. Who really gives a shit anyway?

7/31/2011 2:45 PM

Anonymous 610ET said...

"Do any of you guys really think that highly trained and motivated enlisted submarine technicians are not up to your “station’ in life"?

Kind of disappointing that NOT ONE O-1 and above has responded to this simple question.

Look in the mirror gentlemen and reflect on what you see.

7/31/2011 3:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

610ET <---- MORON...

Comment doesn't rate a response.

7/31/2011 6:18 PM

Anonymous 610ET said...

OK, so that's a yes to the jerk question unless of course anon is actually an eigth grade girl.

7/31/2011 9:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

610ET: Congrats, you the reddog might link up at bowling alley and snort a few more...that is after you get done sniffing each other's ass.

7/31/2011 10:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Mustang, I have seen jerks on both sides. Must say that as an officer, I have not had a conversation with a fellow officer about the ability to "make or break" an enlisted member. Surely have more opportunity than you think there MT1. Maybe that type of thinking has kept so many TEDs at their own self appointed station in life.

8/01/2011 2:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it when Joel writes a post just to stir it up.E-dudes - engage your brains for a second and think how a real life seaman to admiral career track would look. You'd either have 70 yr old rear admirals or guys with 12 months of experience in about 40 different billets. Separate management and labor tracks are not unique to the military for a good reason - they are different careers with different skill requirements!

Smart slackers are still slackers - enlisted leadership who pat their guys on the back for not aiming high are doing favors for no one. In the real world, lazy smart guys and hardworking idiots end up shining shoes for the guys who do it all!

8/01/2011 3:05 AM

Anonymous T said...


I'll bite.

There is nothing inherently inferior about enlisted sailors. Nukes, particularly, are every bit as smart (in most cases) as the Officers on a boat, I can say the same for at least a few guys in just about every rate.

The problem is that the Navy doesn't really expect much of enlisted guys, so they don't really get as much out of them as they could. The incentives are just all wrong. Your average enlisted guy is focused on doing whatever it is that he needs to do to go home, and that's it. It's not his fault, per se, as that's how the Navy is set up to motivate: "Do your work -> Go Home". As a result, you have a bunch of people that don't really give a fuck until something breaks big time.

Now, I think that Navy Leadership (esp. in submarine force) causes this by making "Daddy (Any O)" stand over the shoulder of an enlisted guy every time he turns a wrench. On the whole, Officers don't give enlisted guys room to grow and fail on their own. When compared to my civilian job, it's obvious the people working for me in my civilian job, I regularly give them the opportunity to push their boundaries into something new, and am encouraged to do so. In contrast, in the USN, occasionally there is a guy so shit-hot they let him... qualify DOOW or Duty Chief as a E-5, but he is the exception rather than the rule. Instead, as a JO, I'm encouraged to stand over a senior mechanic's shoulder while he packs a valve and act like I understand what he's doing better than he does. IMO, that's really the chief's job, and I'm not sure why we have Officer's do that, other than to perpetuate the zero defect mentality.

In my mind, the Chiefs run the divisions, the officers run the mission, coordinate between departments, and double check the admin. But in reality, it doesn't work like that. Instead, JO's are expected to have their fingers in everything and are accountable for everything, which undercuts the chiefs and the blue shirts, and spreads the O's to thin, which creates opportunity for Hartford, Alaska, etc.

Ultimately, enlisted guys under deliver compared to their potential because the O's (in a big Navy sense) expect them to under deliver.

8/01/2011 6:31 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

@Anonymous 7/30 1657: I had no idea what your comment meant ("I'm sorry you had to eat your lunch all by yourself") unless it was some weird reference to "Already Gone" by The Eagles. Then I realized that you hadn't read the first sentence of the post about a reader sending in the comment, which I helpfully set apart in blockquotes but that you obviously didn't pick up on. To make it clear even to you -- the related story is not from me, but from a reader. His name isn't Joel.

8/01/2011 7:50 AM

Anonymous notononeofthefatboats said...

I was onboard for about 14 or 15 months before the enlisted found out I was an academy officer. They asked me why I wasn't a jerk to everyone? I just told them I was raised to treat people right (southern thing). More than half the people I went to school with were jerks, because they had some sense of entitlement from how they were raised. Whether they were in or out of the military they would have been that way...certain things, though I hate to do it I blame their parents for. My kids know to be respectful and know that they are not entitled to anything, and need to treat people like they would their own family.

I absolutely loved my guys (watchteam/enlisted), and was attached to my chief at the hip because I knew what was good for me. I took care of them, and they took care of me. That being said, the non-nuc chiefs hated officers, and the feeling was mutual. They talked down to the JO's which the command supported, so they in effect established that climate. Meanwhile aft of the watertight door, it was more of a teamwork, work late environment.

I had two things as a divo I lived by: Never say in my experience. and when Chief says "he Sir, watch this S***" I run very fast away.

8/01/2011 11:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting to read mostly derogatory comments about Mustangs, certainly we should have some perspective about both sides. I personally got tired of working for people dumber than me, so I worked hard, attended classes at night and got my degree, eventually getting a commission. Still working for plenty of people still dumber than me, just a much smaller demographic...

8/01/2011 3:30 PM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Ok, I'll bite also...

I do have a positive prejudice for other (former) ELT's. Generally, the skill set is useful in my industry, where being the CRA isn't.

And we all have a shared sense of pride in getting screwed so often.

If all the RC/RE/RM-div types thought they had it bad, I'll just remind everyone that there is no drill (ok, maybe there's a crazy sonar drill run 1 time during TRE that I can't remember) on a submarine that does not involve ELT's.

Find one. I challenge you.

Up-and-atom for every drill I tell you!

8/02/2011 9:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, I think that Navy Leadership (esp. in submarine force) causes this by making "Daddy (Any O)" stand over the shoulder of an enlisted guy every time he turns a wrench. On the whole, Officers don't give enlisted guys room to grow and fail on their own.

Wow, things must've changed a lot since I got out in 1990. I can count on mybe two fingers the times that I had an O-ganger so much as even observing my work as an EM. EIther they trusted us, or were smart enough to realize that if they were there, they'd merely slow progress.

8/02/2011 9:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my mind, the Chiefs run the divisions, the officers run the mission, coordinate between departments, and double check the admin. But in reality, it doesn't work like that. Instead, JO's are expected to have their fingers in everything and are accountable for everything, which undercuts the chiefs and the blue shirts, and spreads the O's to thin, which creates opportunity for Hartford, Alaska, etc.

Well said!

8/02/2011 9:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The chiefs should be running the divisions, freeing up the JOs to LEARN - especially shiphandling skills. For that to happen, JOs need to be let off the hook for issues with their divisions and the LCPO/LPOs need to be given the authority and held accountable.

A JO getting yelled at because someone packed a valve wrong is beyond stupid. Real officer accountability (outside of watchstanding) should start at the DH level. Want to solve the O-gang jerk problem? This would help with much of it.

{Separate management and labor tracks are not unique to the military for a good reason - they are different careers with different skill requirements!}

The 19th century called - they would like your attitude back. There are lots of prior enlisted officers running around the sub and surface nuke communities with no issues. Sure, they are less likely to stay in to become flag officers, but THAT'S NOT THE POINT OF THE NAVY. Its not a game you win by putting on stars, even though almost everyone has forgotten that.

8/02/2011 10:55 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Find one. I challenge you.
Forward: Hot run.
Aft: Loss of (insert secondary system here). ELT's not required. I'd get more specific but don't want to run into the NNPI wall.

8/03/2011 9:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the current JO rotation like for the nuke JO's? Does this contribute to the "jerk" factor by moving the JO around so often that he (and soon she) never gets their feet under them before they got bounced to the new division?

My experience was anything but unique - in a 42 month JO tour I did my first 6 months as the CRA, one memorable Patrol as the CRA/DCA for a Refit that included a Dry Docking, the next 29 months as just the DCA and completed my last 4 months a the E-Div JO. I spent so much time as the DCA onboard my sub that I actually had guys come to the boat and leave the boat at A-gangers who only had me as their sole Div-O. But I had an outstanding A Gang Chief who ran the division and allowed me to focus on other duties (qualifying and later as the permanent QAO...).

Were there jerks in the wardroom? Absolutely. Were there jerks in the Chief's quarters and in the Enlisted mess? Absolutely. But I can tell you that there is a similar level of jerks out in the "real" world as well. There are also the good guys that hopefully make it worth it all.

But beating up the JO's and whipsawing them around during their initial tour as they struggle to learn all that they have to learn certainly contributes to the "jerk" factor. The good commands figure out how to alleviate this pressure cooker without turning folks into jerks....the bad commands let it happen and assume it is always this way.

The same can be said out in the civilian world.


8/03/2011 7:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{Wow, things must've changed a lot since I got out in 1990. I can count on mybe two fingers the times that I had an O-ganger so much as even observing my work as an EM. EIther they trusted us, or were smart enough to realize that if they were there, they'd merely slow progress}

Yes. The word is that this has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years or so. Chiefs with less responsibility and authority, officers (especially JOs) being made responsible for everything under the sun, including foolish stuff. This is a bad thing for the Navy and our combat ability.

8/04/2011 8:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got my start in the Navy as an ELT and ended in the Army. Army officers seemed to have a lot less attitude, and were more like football coaches. In Army OCS, the lessen I'll never forget (from an E-8) was, "When you're a 2LT and in charge of a platoon, before you open your mouth, never forget that your addressing 40 young men with automatic rifles."

8/04/2011 5:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dissappointed you posted this Joel. We all had a job to do and each arrived in the Navy by a different path. That's it, everything else is just imagined.

8/05/2011 1:13 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Imagined, anon? Everyone and everything in the wardroom and goat locker is sweetness and light? No assholes on the mess decks?

And Joel has a habit of flipping over the rocks and exposing some stuff to the sunlight that the higher ups are either ignorant to or want ignored. For that I'm grateful. Wish we had this kind of discussion 20-25 years ago.

8/05/2011 5:44 AM

Blogger DDM said...

"And thank you EMC(SS) Murray - I know you hated having to look out for your DIV-O (and his white sox) in addition to the whole division, but you helped to make me a better officer (I think - time will continue to tell)."

You're welcome. The fact that you realize you're not finished learning makes you a great officer!
Honestly, I think our CO had a much bigger impact on your career. You would be wise, when making an important decision, to ask yourself, "What would Captain Perry do?" I'm humbled that you would even post such a thing.

8/06/2011 7:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, the officer that I respected the most was an LDO on the Vinson. Despite having spent nearly 7 years in subs, I ended up on the Vinson following locking horns with an O-6 Airedale on shore duty, but I digress (He was a prime, grade A JERK). We were in the Persian Gulf getting ready to manuever for an UNREP. Lt Henry Thaxton had the deck and a JO had the conn. Prior to relieving the watch, Mr. Thaxton saw me as QMOW, came over got a briefing on all the nav hazards, the only officer to do so, then asked if we were going to have a fine watch, then gave me a cappocino from the Wardroom. He is a man that mustanged his way from a CPO, to WO and finally LDO. He is Navy and nothing but Navy, demanded respect and all the ceremony that an officer is entitled to. Yet, I never had a problem with that because the Navy is a hierarchal, military organization and I recognized that principle. So I got along famously with him. All the other watchstanders couldn't stand the sight of him. To return, the conning officer lost the bubble on conning that hundred thousand ton monstrosity to be astern the USNS Pecos at 2000 yards. Mr. Thaxton, saw the JO lose it and announced that he had the deck and the conn. And then began to use seaman's eye snapping out helm orders to the helm and lee helm, jockeying the ship and the four shafts, never heeling the ship more than 2 degrees. The helmsman couldn't keep up and one of my guys on watch is Master Helm qualified and I said to him to jump on the helm. He said no because he didn't want to go through the formal relief process with the OOD and I said don't worry about, I will take the heat. So my guy gets on the helm and Mr. Thaxton heard a different voice repeat a helm order, looks behind him, then looks at me and I nodded and motioned I did the switch. He never changed expression and concentrated at the task at hand. Meanwhile, the CO was in his chair watching the event with something like awe on his face. Once I saw how he was manuevering, I brought the radar repeater up on my side of the bridge. We swung in behind the Pecos neat as you please and the CO hollered "Range" and I looked at my repeater and responded "2000 yards, sir". The CO said "Way to go Henry". To get a compliment from the CO was rare. He was a cast iron asshole. Later Mr. Thaxton came over to the chart table and thanked me for putting my man on the helm. And then told my guy he did an awesome job on the helm and shook his hand. It was the most outstanding display of seamanship and ship driving I saw in my entire ten years in the Navy and I was priviledged to have stood watch with LT. Henry Thaxton.

8/06/2011 3:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was the first military officer of any kind in my family. I had lots of family who served as enlisted for many years - including my father and grandfather. So when I heard a fellow officer talk about enlisted people in a negative light for usually no other reason than they were enlisted, that kind of pissed me off. I usually found it was the ring-knockers who led the parade on that stuff.

I had enlisted bail me out and throw me under the bus. I think everyone does, and I'm sure every enlisted could say the same about their officers. Part of it is the learning process. In retrospect I don't think I was quite prepared for the amount of leadership required for me on the boat. But I can never say I am of a different station than an enlisted man. If it came down to it you wouldn't care what rank a fellow submariner was if he saved your life.

8/10/2011 10:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Former Nuke, now a Cone and a Chief. You are who taught you. Bad leaders with personal issues with a specific group teach their agenda. It's bigotry that is taught by specific people to those that work for them. Discount the individuals that perpetuate the idiocy. They have no power. I let each and every one of them know where to go and how to get there nicely but in a way that lets them know to sit on it and rotate. It is not a systemic problem within the Navy, it's throughout the world. Get a tampon and move on.

8/13/2011 5:57 PM

Anonymous MM1/SS said...

send a boat to sea with just officers and it wont come back send a boat to sea with just blue shirts and it will come back minus the weapons load out. Everyone has a job and some people think that part of there job is to be an ass. I had officers that were cool as hell even a skipper that was cool as hell "Kenny Walker". its just people being people.

8/17/2011 5:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many officers wish they have the job training and talent to do what enlisted men do, but they don't. So the only way many of these Officers feel better about themselves is by using their rank as self-esteem. It's not different than racist people. The ones who are most racist are usually insecure about themselves. I find most competent officers are cool and the really dumb ones have to impose rank. I noticed that they treat contractors differently too if you had prior enlisted or officer experience. I also think officers live a paradoxal life. They are taught to uphold integrity to lead, yet they are rewarded higher pay for doing less work and taking credit of the hard work of the people below them. I'm sure they get used to living like this, but I would not want to live this way.

8/17/2011 5:36 PM

Blogger Brad said...

The U.S. Navy is one of the last remaining openly class-based organizational structures around. The language tells the tale - officer/enlisted, wardroom/mess, gentlemen/the sailors and rated men, etc.

Even in this modern day with paths for enlisted to climb into the officer ranks the fact remains that it always has been - historically - and still is class based. As such it puts fuel in the tanks of the few true asshole officers and disaffected Sailors alike. The symptoms shouldn't suprise any of us with the sense to smell the problem.

But, what's the better way?

- retired COB

8/29/2011 1:03 PM

Anonymous online poker forum said...

No stupid must not be punished. They must be taught...!!!

9/21/2011 1:09 AM

Anonymous chanel said...

Agreed with the proceeding comment.

9/21/2011 1:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What bothers me is how we talk about the enlisted men as officers.

I constantly hear "Timmy", or "some 19 year old kid....who is too tired...doesn't really care".

How about we treat the enlisted as men and women. How about we stop this paternalism. The Navy tells them where they can go on shore, what they can wear, who they can marry, etc...

I do not care what a man does as long as he does his job right. If he does not, I will come down hard on him or her. I will not think "oh, 19 year old kid...".

I will never call an enlisted man "Timmy", not even as a joke.

Treat them like men, not boys, not hooligans, not kids...but men.

Expect quality, but stay out of their life.

Unfortunately, today's Navy is so intrusive. I wish we did not care if our sailor's got drunk, got into a fight, whatever... We treat them like kids.

6/26/2012 2:49 AM

Anonymous site said...

So, I do not really believe it will have effect.

7/20/2012 4:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a retired chief petter officer and as a YN have had the experience of close encounters with officers both junior and senior. I went through the ranks basically having a distain for all officers in general, however I ended up serving with two superlative CO's and serving under with with two senior officers (Navy and Air Force) that I consider best friends today.

One of the best examples of JO's I encountered was a LT in an aviation squadron (some of the worse examples of officers came from the aviation community where they were taught to treat enlisted men with contempt). I was checking him in when he pointed at me and said, "you don't know who you are talking too (I was an E6 at that time). Well I said to myself, you won't be getting along well here and that was how his career went (one tour of duty and every chance the enlisted had he failed in his responsibilities).

The ones that stand out in my mind were the ones that knew they still had something to learn, that did not treat the enlisted as dirt (you can still be an officer and be respected without disrespecting people). The CO's and the senior officers I know had one thing in common, they learned how to be leaders and how to work with people. Don't misunderstand me, when they gave orders, you obeyed them, however they also stood up for their men and helped them to exceed.

I've since retired from active duty, however I know the difference between officers and civilian managers. The active duty or retired officer or senior enlisted is still a leader and if he or she is worthy, instills teamwork and knows his or her men or women.

There are some great leaders and mentors out there, unfortunately there are some really bad JO's (they all have to learn, some don't) and some very very awful senior officers that never learned.

I was asked once if I wanted to try out as a LDO (I have nothing against LDO's), however I declined stating that I was happy as an enlisted and didn't want the "political" pressure that comes from joining the officer corps.

I hope that helps. There are good and bad and believe it or not, there are some real "gems" out there. Thank god, because I wouldn't want to go to war with some idiot that considers him or herself "gods gift to the Navy.

12/12/2012 8:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a fellow Mustang, I have to whole-heartedly agree with this. Great officers spring from all commissioning sources... as do lackluster officers. However, [& yes I may be (am) biased] the brunt of thsee officers whom have received their commission as a graduation gift & not struggled through as most Mustangs have do tend to be dicks.

12/12/2012 11:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am doing some research for a difficult communications class. I have a manager who was a career submarine officer. This guy can be way over the top. Does a military leader need to be abusive or choose to be abusive? How do you think the stereotypical military leader would fare in a civilian business environment as a leader using a military style of leadership? Is this behavior actually taught or promoted?

2/11/2014 3:51 AM


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