When A LT(j.g.) Gets A "Good Idea"
Navy Times has an article about a proposal on the USNI Blog from LT(j.g.) Zack Howitt to recognize the skimmers doing Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) missions. Excerpt from the initial blog post:
Of all the missions the Surface Navy does, Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) might be the least sexy. It involves sitting in a small box in the middle of the ocean for weeks, usually far away from land or even any commercial shipping traffic. Ships on station need to be in a specific engineering and combat systems configuration at all times so they can track or engage a target at a moments notice. This means there aren’t many opportunities for training, ship handling, gun shoots, swim calls, and other evolutions. Sometimes, a poor middle-of-the-ocean satellite uplink makes the internet unusable, and “River City” could be set (meaning the internet is turned off completely) for bandwidth constraints or upholding Operational Security (OPSEC) due to mission sensitivities. Depending on the ship’s heading and location, TV-DTS (the Navy’s satellite TV connection) could go down as well...And here's some reaction from the Navy Times article:
...What is needed is a real way to recognize BMD service to the fleet, starting with the most junior Sailor. In fact, we need to do more than recognize it; we need to make it prestigious among the Surface Warfare community. One platform with a comparable mission is the Strategic Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBNs). Besides the fact that SSBN patrols are much more predictable in terms of deployment schedule, their missions are similar. Like BMD ships, they go on patrol for several weeks at a time, in a small box, at a secret location in the ocean, waiting for an order to shoot a missile that most likely will not come. However, because the Navy have taken basic steps to appreciate them in their past, the importance of their deterrence mission, as an integral part of the nuclear triad, is without question. SSBN Sailors are awarded a special uniform device, called the SSBN Deterrent Patrol Insignia (more popularly known as the “Boomer Pin”). This device is the only of its kind in the Navy and can be worn even in addition to their submarine warfare devices on all their uniforms...
...I believe BMD is worthy of having its own special uniform device like the Boomer Pin, but creating a new BMD Service Ribbon is more realistic since it would probably require less red tape to be implemented. Similar to the eligibilities of other service ribbons, one award of the BMD Service Ribbon could be given to all personnel who are on station for 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days over the span of one deployment or every one year if forward-deployed...
A BMD badge, critics contend, smacks of being merely an award for good attendance.So what do you think of the young officer's idea? While we can chortle and guffaw at the poor skimmer crew that occasionally loses internet connectivity when we think of the "FamilyGram" concept, is there a chance he's on to something, and that this is the sort of "out-of-the-box" thinking that's need to fight and win wars in the 21st century? Feel free to
“There are lots of long, boring, or constrained patrols out there that don’t get a service ribbon,” one active-duty USNI reader commented on the blog post. “If we used ‘painful but important’ morale-ribbon logic, we might justify a ribbon for everything from INSURV to painting.”