Saturday, January 7, 2012

Navy Bureaucracy...and how it works (or doesn't) for you!

"The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy." -Unknown
(I saw it first while playing the game Civilization IV)

So if you're reading this, you probably fall into one of two categories:
1. You previously followed Navy Officer Career Advice on Facebook
2. You happened to do a Google search and stumbled upon this blog

If you're in the first group, you already know what to expect. If you're in the second, let me explain.

This little venture started in the summer of 2011 when my brother graduated from school and got his commission into the Navy. Since he was going to be stashed at the school for a bit, I recommended he work on some distance learning through Joint Knowledge Online. I told him to pass it on to his fellow Ensigns, since it would be a good use of their time during the day.

I got a disgusted email from him the next day. Apparently his XO thought it would be a better use of the government's money to have all the Ensigns paint. Mind you, the walls they were painting were in a university building, which has it's own maintenance money, AND it had been painted each year for the previous 4 years. So, instead of getting knowledge and preparing for his upcoming job, he moved a paint brush up and down, Karate Kid style.

I then suggested he take House Hunting TAD, so he could find a place in San Diego. Not surprisingly, his command tried to screw him on that too (luckily we fixed it). It struck me that if my brother, who has someone to help him through the nightmare of Navy bureaucracy, was faring this poorly, then anyone who is just coming in with no help is probably getting totally screwed over.

That's just not right. So I started the Navy Officer Career Advice Facebook page to post links and advice on how to best use your time as a junior officer and where you could find instructions. It was pretty successful, but soon I realized I wanted to write more than Facebook would allow. Hence the blog.

I also decided that "Navy Officer Career Advice" was a bit preachy. I mean, who wants unsolicited advice? We get that all the time, and most people are sick of it. Since I am more focused on making the bureaucracy work for you, I decided to take a more light-hearted approach.

My goal is to try and guide you through the paperwork that seems to get in the way of getting things done. Although it is not the sexy cool reason any of us joined the Navy, not understanding paperwork and instructions typically leads to you getting blocked from success. Knowing the rules won't cover up for crummy performance, but it will allow you and your sailors to get proper credit for what you've done. And hey, who doesn't like pinning medals onto well deserving sailors?

I'm also big on distance education, so you'll see a lot of that posted here as well. I feel the Navy is terrible about wasting people's time, especially junior officers. There is so much to do during the workday that you should not see people fertilizing farms on Facebook for hours at a time on a government computer. Especially now with budget and personnel cuts, if you want to stay in the Navy, you need to make yourself as competitive as possible.

As 2012 has just started, I'm hoping to build up a good base of articles by the time the next round of officers graduate from college in April-June. If you have an admin success story or a suggestion on what dark crevice of Navy instructions to shed light on next, please email it to me (