Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ombudsman Registry to protect data

The Ombudsman Registry will now be CAC-enabled to protect Ombudsman information, although you'll be able to get some contact information before going to a command.

Navy Message:

The Ombudsman Registry Website:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hawaii COLA to drop significantly

Apparently it got cheaper to live in Hawaii (how, I'm not really sure).


Oahu: 132->124
Maui: 142->134
Kauai: 140->132

To determine the approximate COLA decrease per pay period:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Beer brewing leadership lessons

Not all fizzy yellow beer sucks. Kona Longboard, for example, is a great lager to enjoy on hot summer days in Hawaii.
What I've found in my years of brewing beer is that it's a lot like Navy leadership.  Maybe that is the reason the Naval Academy's fight song is so strongly associated with drinking, or that so many Naval traditions have roots in alcohol.  If given the money I would train every new Ensign how to brew beer.  BigNavy(tm)'s attempts to puritanically eradicate drinking from our force actually cause us to miss a grand opportunity to impart real leadership lessons.

According to the Castlemaine XXXX museum, beer brewing is what brought early people together and created civilization. I'd drink to that.
When you first start brewing you tend to make a lot of mistakes.  My first beer was a brown ale.  The lady at HomeBrewUSA (a wonderful brewing store located in Virginia Beach) told me that it was fairly hard to mess up a brown ale.  I definitely pushed the ale's resilience to the limit.  I managed to boil over my hops by mistake and struggled to cool the wort to the proper temperature.  I even put the batch in the secondary fermenter vice the primary one, which caused it to overrun the bubbler and spew fermenting wort into my closet.  It was a mess, and yet in the end the beer came out drinkable and I walked away having learned a lot.

Ironically, at the same time this was happening I was a division officer on a submarine.  I had a division of 10 Sailors with a Chief.  I had to learn to manage maintenance, division collaterals, underway preps and EVALs.  I made lots of mistakes as a junior officer.  Luckily, my Chief and Department Head bailed me out so that the division didn't suffer.  In the end, I learned a lot and became a better leader for it.

A brown ale designed for the working man and associated with industry, just like my first division. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
When my boat pulled into Australia, I got the chance to visit the XXXX Brewing Company (and no, it's not X-rated, that's the actual name).  XXXX (pronounced "Four-X") had massive boilers, computer controlled ingredient injection and an automated bottling plant.  Meanwhile, at home I had a 7 gallon plastic bucket, a 5 gallon glass carboy, some plastic instruments and a hand operated bottle capper.  Both XXXX and I made great beer...XXXX just made more of it than I did.

Good leadership tools are basic and work on both small and large scales.  When I took over a 170 Sailor Training Department, I found out leave chits for my Sailors were taking weeks to get approved.  I did the same thing a former boss did to solve problems: walked around to confirm the problem, integrated a solution into the battle rhythm and enforce the rules.  I printed the leave approval tracker from NSIPS every week, and after counseling one person that had let four chits sit for 72 hours with no action, the leave chit issue went away.  That increased morale and helped refocus Sailors on the mission and away from worrying about whether they would get a chance to take time off.

I'd work for this guy, wouldn't you?
The beer making process hasn't changed much over 5,000 years.  Yeast ferments barley and other ingredients into alcohol.  Combined with hops and aged over time, the end product is tasty beer.  While you can certainly just combine it all into one pot and let the magic works, understanding the steps and providing attention at certain steps result in a better beer.  For example, using a separate primary and secondary fermenter (the 7 gallon bucket and 5 gallon carboy) allow you to strain off particulates and add secondary flavors.

In much the same way, the organization you lead will operate with or without you.  Your goal as a leader is to insert yourself at the right moment to make things better.  Your time is valuable.  Pick the right time and the right place and you get a better product.  Choosing to not be present is just like putting it all the ingredients into one carboy and praying for a miracle.  People need your leadership and they need you to be present, not just a figurehead in a nice office.

Much incredible beer has come from these simple vessels...
Most people start drinking beer in college, and they typically drink fizzy low-quality light beer.  Light beer was an invention of Prohibition repeal and World War 2.  Prohibition ensured that only a few large breweries survived.  These breweries subsequently purchased smaller start ups once prohibition was repealed and ultimately squelched craft brewing until fairly recently.  World War 2 raised the demand for lighter beers because they were cheap and could be more easily consumed by working women.

And yet, once you've had good beer, you don't typically go back.  In the same sense, once a junior officer has had a good leader and seen how leadership is supposed to work, he or she can't accept poor leadership.  I introduced many of my friends to ales, IPAs, stouts and porters.  They cannot drink cheap light beer now without feeling like something is missing.  The same is true for leaders.  Once we've worked for an awesome boss, we find it hard to accept poor or mediocre performance.

I also find that most people don't appreciate the amount of work that goes into one bottle of beer.  It takes a lot of time, talent and expertise to make one bottle of beer.  Most people, after consuming one bottle, don't sit back and say "I just used up five hours of labor and it tasted great!"  Similarly, the GMT briefer that didn't bother preparing and wasted everyone's time with crappy training probably didn't think about the man hours wasted.

In the end, there are multiple types of beers, each of which has a time and a place to be consumed.  No one beer fits all occasions, just like no one leadership style works for all situations.  It takes patience and skill to make a good bottle of beer, but it is worth it in the end, in the same way you enjoy looking back at the great division, department or command you helped build.

Even if you never brew, please take the time to appreciate the beer you drink, the leaders you work for and the people that work for you.

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.  The author reminds you to drink responsibly with other great leaders and a designated driver.

Monday, May 4, 2015

How Darth Vader's Leadership Can Solve The Navy's Bureaucracy Problems

Let's face it, The Empire Strikes Back is an awesome movie.  It might be the best movie of all times.  The underdog hero of the original Star Wars: A New Hope starts off getting decisively routed at Hoth (someone must have forgotten that 'Hope' isn't a strategy!).  Han gets captured and frozen in carbonite, Leia barely escapes and Luke joins the Wounded Warriors.  The Empire shows us how COIN operations are supposed to be executed.

In this movie Darth Vader solves all the biggest bureaucratic problems that face our Navy today.  In fact, we should all strive to be more like this Dark Lord of the Sith.  After reviewing constant Galactic Internet content about why his Imperial Officers were leaving service early to go be nerf herders or moisture farmers, Darth Vader made it fun to be in the Imperial Navy again.  Despite his unnatural inclinations towards the Dark Side of the Force, Darth Vader leaves us with valuable lessons on how to properly solve problems facing today's Navy.

He doesn't tolerate mediocrity.  Admiral Ozzel nearly ignored his own ISR-gathering probe droids.  Vader and Piet luckily catch this and are able to locate the Rebel center of gravity on Hoth and launch a full on attack.  Vader shows understanding and lets Ozzel live while probably making a note to give him a 3.0 FITREP in the upcoming O-7 FITREP cycle.

Admiral Ozzel was probably an aviator whose flying job was replaced by droids. His lack of faith in ISR is disturbing...
Then Ozzel blows off yet another order from Vader and nearly throws the entire attack.  Vader puts an end to Ozzel with his own version of a 1.0 SP FITREP by choking him to death via VTC.  Too severe?  How many Imperial Stormtroopers died in the bellies of the AT-ATs that could have been saved if the Rebels were caught without their shields up?  We find Vader's actions ruthless, yet we all complain that there are too many Sailors that are on the ROAD program riding out 3.0 EVALs and FITREPs every year until retirement.  Unless you're a CO, short of a DUI, sexual assault or running a ship aground, it seems impossible to get fired in today's Navy.

This is why Darth Vader insisted on a VTC connection with all his vessels. N6 needs to stop whining.
Not only does Vader not tolerate mediocrity, he actively promotes initiative and sets high expectations.  Want a spot promotion?  Vader's your man.  Captain Piett jumps four paygrades to O-7.  It obviously doesn't set the Empire back one bit.  If anything, now-Admiral Piett has more drive to crush the Rebel scum and pushes his forces accordingly.  Admiral Zumwalt downgraded multiple billets in order to capture that fervent spirit, with great success.

Asteroid field? Simply target practice to raise the Galactic Gunnery pillar in DRRS-N. Unlike the US Navy, the Imperial Navy doesn't need a memo to conduct gunnery at all opportunities.
Not only can Darth Vader reinvigorate his battle staff, but he is an active member of all important operational planning teams (OPTs).  Luckily for the Empire, Darth Vader had insisted on a backup plan to the bombardment of Hoth.  His OPT correctly identified the base shield as the Rebel's center of gravity.  Although the ground assault didn't catch Rebel leadership, it did deny the Rebellion an operating base.

Phase 3 (Dominate the Enemy) was complete when this guy entered the fray. 
After figuring out that his conventional forces couldn't catch Rebel leadership, he charged his OPT to redo Annex C4 (Special Operations) of the Galactic Empire's OPLAN 662.  The OPT came up with three well-made COAs, and Darth Vader chose the "Hire Bounty Hunters" COA.  He executed it immediately from the deck of his flagship.

The OPT didn't decide Bounty Hunter makeup...that was a personal touch of the commander
Sure, some Imperial Officers had doubts.  "We don't need their scum" they said.  But Vader knew his people.  He knew that the Imperial Navy could easily crush the Rebellion in an open fight.  But the Rebels hid in the shadows and lived to fight again.  The Rebels knew they could outlive Darth Vader and the Emperor to eventually fight on their own terms.  So Darth Vader used an unconventional solution to an unconventional problem.  It worked brilliantly: not only was Han Solo captured, but Luke was lured in too and nearly destroyed.  Had the OPT recommended more than just a single complement of TIE Fighters be hidden at Bespin, the Millenium Falcon might never have escaped.

Join me Luke on my personal staff! I'll talk to the detailer personally!
Darth Vader's leadership raised the hopes and morale of the Imperial Navy after the disastrous loss of the Death Star.  Retention went through the roof.  Everyone wants to hunt Rebel scum when your leadership rewards initiative.  Although the Empire was eventually defeated, it lost due to a lack of strong leadership in Galactic-weaponry acquisition and critical infrastructure protection, not due to any fault of the Imperial Navy.  Had the Emperor simply let the Navy attack the Rebel Fleet at Endor (as the original Annex C3 called for), perhaps peace and security could have finally been restored to the galaxy.  At least in the end, Darth Vader's leadership lessons were preserved into a series of movies to educate young Naval Officers in how to better their Navy's future.

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, U.S. Government, Galactic Empire or the Emperor.  All pictures courtesy of Disney.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Data Dilemma Game Winner!

Granted, the real winner is the Department of the Navy for getting a lot of great ideas on paper. I'm happy to have made a few contributions though.  You can read about it here, but in short:

- Player with second highest award points
- Player with longest card chain using the card "If I break your connection to the cloud, do you lose the battle because you can't think on your own?"
- Player with most Counter Cards
- Player with most videos

I'll get interviewed to put forward ideas on how to make the "Automating Assessment and Authorization" idea work.

If you haven't already, please consider participating in a MMOWGLI game. The latest game is Professional Core Competencies. I'm sitting it out since I'm still sorting out my own career issues, but if you have a vested interest in that (and trust me, you probably do), please go here and create an account.