Thursday, October 6, 2016

Tradition

Um, um, you might want to rephrase that... (Source)
Okay, I'm an old Air Force Master Sergeant, my service has only officially been around since 1947. Sure, sure, we had our origins in the Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1907 but we're definitely the junior service in the Armed Forces of these here United States.
The Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps (1907–1914) was the first heavier-than-air military aviation organization in history and the progenitor of the United States Air Force. A component of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, the Aeronautical Division procured the first powered military aircraft in 1909, created schools to train its aviators, and initiated a rating system for pilot qualifications. It organized and deployed the first permanent American aviation unit, the 1st Aero Squadron, in 1913. The Aeronautical Division trained 51 officers and 2 enlisted men as pilots, and incurred 13 fatalities in air crashes. During this period, the Aeronautical Division had 29 factory-built aircraft in its inventory, built a 30th from spare parts, and leased a civilian airplane for a short period in 1911. W
But as an amateur historian I understand, and appreciate, tradition. For the most part, but just because you've been doing something for a long, long time doesn't necessarily mean it's the best way to do something.


As that clip might tell you, some ancient traditions are based in religion, some were derived from some long ago event that nobody remembers anymore. But hey, tradition! Right?

Based on one old tradition, neither of my daughters would have the jobs they have in the Navy. The eldest a black shoe, er, professional Surface Warfare Officer. The youngest a brown shoe, ahem, that is, a Naval Flight Officer.

If you go back far enough, neither would have been allowed to join. Not all that far back, the jobs they could do in the Navy didn't include what they do now. Both have performed as well as, sometimes better then, most men.

But the opening photo may have given you a clue as to what this post is really about. Truth be told, this topic has been simmering on the back burner for a while now, my first reaction was "You have got to be sh1tting me!" Then the rage against the following fellow gradually grew.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (Source)
No, I don't care for the man. "Rainbow" Mabus, as I sometimes refer to him, as do others, has been misnaming ship and promulgating asinine things (like his diktat that cigarettes in all Navy facilities would cost the same as those on the local economy, you can puff away all day in Norfolk, but mortgage the house if you want to smoke in Little Rhody or California - okay it made me quit smoking as I couldn't afford the habit anymore - so I guess every cloud has its silver lining - but I digress) for quite some time now. Some of my sources in the Fleet say he ain't all that popular with them either.

So a buddy of mine asked me not too long ago why I hadn't written of the Navy deciding to dump 241 years of hoary and hallowed tradition by having sailors referred to by their rank, not their rating. Like they were mere soldiers, Marines, or airmen (airpersons?).

I told him that I had decided to wait until I had calmed down a bit.

I'm calm now, so here we are. But (you guessed it) I digress...

Some of you are no doubt wondering what I'm on about, what's a rank versus a rating? Well, as Fire Marshal Bill might say...



(Source)
These are two examples of insignia worn by Navy enlisted personnel to indicate three things, their rank, their rate, and their rating. Those symbols between the eagle and the chevrons denote the rate. That together with the chevrons denotes the rating. (According to a friend and reader who knows these things.) The rating on the left is a Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (Navy SEAL) and on the right is a Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class. The rates are Special Warfare Operator and Boatswain's Mate, the ranks are Petty Officer 1st Class and Petty Officer 2nd Class (left and right respectively). Traditionally they are referred to as Special Warfare Operator 1st Class and Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class. (In the latter case often called just "Boats.")

Under the "Rainbow's" latest scheme they will now be called Petty Officer 1st Class and Petty Officer 2nd Class. The referral to the rating is now verboten禁止の, not allowed, and bad form, dontcha know? (No more rates or ratings.)

Not all the troops are pleased with that. No, not at all. As you can read here.

Two of the money quotes from that article are...
An internet petition posted to whitehouse.gov on Thursday asking that the rating system be restored had garnered nearly 41,000 signatures by Sunday. 
“One only has to visit Navy social media pages to see the disgust and outrage of current and former personnel,” the petition reads. “One by one current leadership continues to erode the very things that set the Navy apart from the other services. Mr. President, I and the others signing this petition request you use your authority to restore to our Sailors what they have earned.”
and (the official line)...
The Navy believes the traditional ratings system unnecessarily constrained enlisted career paths and the Navy’s ability to make the most of talent in the workforce, Schofield said. The intent of the change is to maximize career flexibility and give sailors opportunities for training and certification that aligns with the civilian workforce.
Apparently civilians aren't smart enough to listen when a former sailor tells them what he or she did in the Navy and what his or her rate was. Okay, I get that. Many are not cognizant of the military to begin with and Navy ratings are rather arcane. Even I don't know all of them.

Yeah, I know. Surprised me too.

Okay, I don't like the idea. I think the reasoning behind it is stupid, if not actually yet another criminal attempt to destroy the morale and traditions of our nation's Armed Forces. Will the Navy live on to fight another day?

You betcha.

Have we lost yet another piece of our history?

Absolutely.

January cannot come soon enough.

--------------

A couple of parting shots. First off, the buddy who asked me why I hadn't ranted written about this topic yet is a retired HMC, Chief Hospital Corpsman. Did his whole career with the Marines and when I called him Chief Petty Officer on Sunday, rather than "Doc," (which good corpsmen always get called), he just grinned and said, "I'm retired, I will always be an HMC. The new kids can play the new game by the new rules."

Secondly, I was going to go with a different title. I was going to use something a bit rude, allegedly said by Sir Winston Churchill, rather than Tradition. But imagine my chagrin and dismay to discover that Sir Winston actually never said this phrase, which I will now explain. (Up front, pardon my French, that is Language Alert! So if you are prone to getting your "knickers in a twist," veer off, run away, stop reading.)

Well, I warned you.


The traditions of the Royal Navy are Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. (The bold faced bit would have been the original title of this post had sanity, good taste, and fear of The Missus Herself not convinced me to go with Tradition.

Which this source had to say about that pithy phrase...
CHURCHILL'S description of the Royal Navy is included in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as having appeared in the book, Former Navy Person, by Sir Peter Gretton. The Oxford Dictionary suggests that Churchill's phrase should be compared with naval phrases dating from the 19th century - 'Rum, bum and bacca' and 'Ashore, it's wine, women and song, aboard it's rum, bum and concertina'. 
It looks as though here, as elsewhere, Churchill took an earlier quotation and improved upon it. In The Irrepressible Churchill, compiled by Kay Halle (Robson Books, 1985), Churchill is said to have used the phrase in 1913, when he was First Lord of the Admiralty. According to 'an ear-witness', he was having trouble with some of his admirals at a strategy meeting. One of them accused him of having impugned the traditions of the Royal Navy, provoking the reply: 'And what are they? They are rum, sodomy and the lash'.  
-----

However, this source had this to say about that...
According to a post on the website of the Churchill Centre and Museum in London, Churchill told his personal assistant Anthony Montague-Browne that he never uttered such words.

Montague-Browne confirmed this to Richard Langworth, one of the most respected Churchill biographers.

In his great book about Churchill quotations and misquotes, Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations, Langworth says that Montague-Browne personally told him that he had asked Churchill about the quote.

According to Montague-Browne, Churchill responded: “I never said it. I wish I had.”
That last sentence? Now that is pure Churchill.



54 comments:

  1. Sic 'em, Sarge . . .
    I feel the same way about the newest iteration of the U.S. Army Class A/B uniform.
    There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Army Green uniform that I wore.
    It was smart, comfortable, and easy to care for. (Don't even talk about all the attempts at the design of the camo combat uniform.)
    But . . . I'm retired now and, really, have no dog in this fight. Just venting my opinion.

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    1. Same here as to having a dog in the fight.

      Don't get me started on the changes to the uniforms over the years. The dress blues we had in 1975 looked military, in fact they were very similar in cut and style to the Army's Class A uniform (different color of course). They phased those out for this cheap looking polyester disaster of a uniform we have now.

      One of my captains came to work in Germany wearing that new uniform (which he thought looked spiffy) and was rather embarrassed when the Europeans started asking him what time the bus left for Düsseldorf. The new uniform looks like a poorly cut business suit.

      Delete
  2. When you view the contempt that this administration has for the military, this change is not surprising.

    I joined the Navy at the end of the Zumwalt era, he made many far reaching changes and I believe now as I did then that those changes were to make the Navy better. This is in sharp contrast to many of the arbitrary and capricious changes made by those in authority today. I deliberately did not use the word leadership, as many of those in positions of authority have show by example that they are most definitely not leaders.

    I remain, Chief Machinist Mate, USN/USNR, Retired.

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    1. Leadership? Most of those people in the administration can't spell the word, let alone know what it means.

      Carry on MMC.

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  3. I sympathize with the Navy personnel. 50+ years later I'm still pissed about having to wear that stupid little league baseball cap foisted off on the army.

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  4. Concur all needless to say. Another chapter in this "Administration's" concerted effort to destroy our military's ethos and culture.

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  5. My personal feeling about this is that there are a large number of people in DC who want to leave a legacy and they're doing it on the cheap instead of working for it.

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    1. Yup, cosmetics, not substance.

      Of course, they're destroying the substance as well. Witness LCS and the F-35.

      Delete
  6. A solution in search of a problem, in this Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician's estimation.

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  7. I'm one of those "outraged Navy veterans" and old-timers who are aghast at the change. It was bad enough when they gave into the feminists' demands and removed "man" from ratings like "Personnelman" (PN), which became "Personnel Specialist" (PS). But to remove the identifier from the uniform for no good reason? It's demoralizing.

    Fortunately, I'm long gone from Uncle Sam's Yacht Club, so I remain a PN2, and they can't change that. They can keep the political crap.

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    1. And that's exactly what it is, political crap. Strip away the "Newspeak" and that's what's left, political crap.

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  8. As the man said: cheer up, things could be worse. So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse.

    Paul L. Quandt

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  9. By the way, do y'all get up before the crack of dawn to write your posts, or is 0400 hrs when some automatic thingy posts them?

    Paul

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    1. I don't know about Tuna, but I get up at 0100 to make the slave driver Sarge's deadline! Sometimes I even skip that sleeping thing if I've got a hot one upcoming. And the wages! Can't even buy a can of Chicken Soup! It's an outrage I say, an outrage!

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    2. The 0400 is an automagic thing. What's more, that's 0400 Sandy Eggo time. While I am on the East Coast (Juvat is in Texas, Tuna is in Sandy Eggo), when I created the blog, the time zone defaulted to Pacific Time, it was a few days before I noticed that. When I did notice it I decided to leave it at Sandy Eggo time. For Lex.

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    3. I will believe that, Juvat, when I start getting up early to post or, Heaven forbid, go without sleep.
      But, then I've pretty much always been something like a sceptic since the recruiter told me I could be any rating I wanted.

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    4. Juvat, back on your head.

      Coffee break's over.

      ;-)

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    5. Skip, rating, you actually said rating. Dontcha know that's forbidden?

      Delete
    6. I had one... it's in my record... and they won't get it back.
      to paraphrase (or not), as much as I gripe, they'll only get it back by prying it from my cold, dead hands.

      Delete
    7. Gee OAFS, now I don't know what to believe, what you wrote is what I thought the answer would be. But would juvat lie to me? I can not, not believe that.

      Paul

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    8. Juvat doesn't lie, he merely misrepresents my benevolent and caring attitude towards him and Tuna.

      But one thing is certain, Juvat and Tuna are severely underpaid for their quality posts.

      :)

      Delete
    9. I prefer to abide by my Father's time tested advice. "Juvat, never let the truth interfere with a good story!" "Yes, Sir!"

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    10. My thanks to both of you for humoring my small jest.

      Paul

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  10. A Navy Captain in my office is not happy about it, but understands. He gave me a rationale for it, in that some sailors, say a SH2 (Ship's Serviceman) probably will never have the opportunity to stand out or promote to Master Chief - there's just not a need for them at that rank. Some commands, heavy in some ratings, with maybe a single Yeoman (YN) or Logistics Specialist (LS) don't offer a way to stand out for those singles. However, dumping the ratings is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And those sailors DO have an opportunity to stand out, by becoming PRT coordinators, Career Counselors, DAPA and other extra-curricular duties. I was a Naval Flight Officer, but I only spent 2000 hours in flight. The rest of my 20 years? LOTS of other duties. This decision is BS and so is the explanation- "The Navy believes the traditional ratings system unnecessarily constrained enlisted career paths and the Navy’s ability to make the most of talent in the workforce, Schofield said. The intent of the change is to maximize career flexibility and give sailors opportunities for training and certification that aligns with the civilian workforce." Smokescreen for the gender-neutralization and social experimentation that is forced on us.

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    1. In the Air Force there were certain specialties where it was tough to make rank. Solution? Cross-train to a different specialty or be content with one's lot in life.

      Next thing you know they'll be telling us that LCS is a viable concept. But only if you call it a frigate. Or something.

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    2. Reminds me of my first Navy duty station, Tachikawa AFB. I was drinking buddies with an AF Senior Airman,(if I'm remembering correctly). He was in a Housing Specialist field and according to him his chances of promoting to E-5 in the next 8 years was practically nil.

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    3. Housing specialist? Wow, how much training does one need to tell someone that there is no base housing available?

      Just kidding. In the States all of the housing people were civilians, may have had one or two military around, but yeah, I don't see that as a booming career field.

      Delete
    4. And should it have been?

      We spent so much treasure to make sure the military promotes everyone equally that the combat capability has suffered enormously. The Air Force has had a personnel officer as the Superintendent of the Academy for cripe's sake. "Forget that 'Fly and Fight' crap, folks, let's make sure our performance reports are in Arial 15 Font, that's the REAL mission of the Air Force." Pun intended on that last one.

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    5. Not that there's anything wrong with being a Personnel Officer, oh beloved Wife of Mine!

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    6. Juvat and Arial 15. Yes indeed, the shoe clerks have taken over.

      Delete
    7. Mrs. Juvat, please forgive your husband's first shot at the personnel officers out there. He has made clear time and time again that not all personnel officers are bad.

      He's also let slip from time to time that you are not a shoe clerk. Remember, fighter pilot is an attitude.

      Delete
  11. BTW - what's with the way that AM1 is wearing his lid?

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    1. What? There's an AM1 in that picture?

      (The young lady distracted me. Ah, now I see him. Yeah, what's up with that cover?)

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    2. There's not an AMC around to do some GMT with him.

      Delete
  12. Ah, okay, so I am an Air Force brat, so my opinion means diddly, but I always thought that the old Navy use of ratings to address the personnel was both a job description and a safety factor. I mean, when there are 4 petty officers on different positions, how do you tell who's who and who does what, who goes where, and who controls whom? And the ratings were like, something proud to be of, right?

    Kinda like the verbal version of all the, to civilians, silly hats that were worn on sailing ships that denoted each wearer's work/battle station and responsibility? You wouldn't want to take sailing directions from a master gunner or vice-versa.

    Gee, maybe there are reasons for the way things were.

    Like in the USAAF during WWII, everyone on a plane had to be at least an NCO due to the treatment of lesser enlisted prisoners, Luftwaffe enprisoned NCOs and Officers, lesser ranks to the Army. Doesn't make sense to civilians until put in context, and that the rules are there for a reason.

    I hope that January brings a complete reset for all services, bringing them back to being fighting forces, rather than social forces, and restoring the traditions (and uniforms) that made them the best in the world.

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    1. As the progeny of an airman your opinion is most valued here.

      Your last sentence proves that.

      Delete
  13. On the terms Rank, Rate and Rating.

    You kind a got the definitions wrong.


    USN enlisted only have two. Rate and Rating.

    You have it as...

    Rank: Level in the Military
    Ex: Petty Officer 2nd Class

    Rate: Job in the Military
    Ex: Boatswain's Mate

    Rating: Combination of Rank and Rate
    Ex: Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class

    This is incorrect.

    USN does not use the term "Rank" for Enlisted personnel. Instead the term is Rate. Rate IS rank.

    So...

    Rank: not used

    Rate: You level in the military (not job)
    Ex: Petty Officer 2nd Class

    Rating: Job in military (not comb. of rank and job)
    Ex: Boatswain's Mate

    Rate/Rating confusion is common bexause of the similarity of words. Even those in The Navy get them backwards sometimes and refer to them incorrectly, just as they often say things like "The USS Halsey" when its incoreect to use "the" before the name. Or refer to "Aegis Class Destroyer" when Aegis is not a Class of ship.




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    1. Dam! Just when I thought I was figuring it out. Don't harsh my mellow, man!

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  14. I'm curious...I wonder if they made the change to prevent "Dear Leader" from accidentally saying Corpseman again. Now I wonder if they'll send me a new Honorable Discharge certificate with "A101 (E-5, AW)". Stupid...

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    1. I think the TRUE motivatiin behind it has nothing to do with freeing job potential of sailors as claimed.

      The teue motivation behind it was the difficulty they had in removing "man" from certain rating titles.

      While Fire Controlman or Damage Controlman could concievably become Fire Control Person, or Damage Control Person...

      It would be much harder with other titles such as Hospital Corpsman or Yeoman. (Yeo-Person?)

      It was all about Politically correct inclusivenesa and gender neutrality.

      Delete
    2. Chris - "Dear Leader" - heh. So true.

      Delete
  15. The administration and kongrass are in broad agreement that every aspect of our nation is icky-yucky and needs to be tamed by a robust and vigorous nomenklatura. They are in broad agreement on this because most of the people who live and vote in this nation are in broad agreement with the approach. They have a right to other people's stuff and it's the nomenklatura's job to decide how to divide and apportion (after taking their rightfully larger cut, of course). This naval change is just part of the process. So while it's satisfying to throw rocks at the incharges, it's really just a waste of rocks.

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    1. That's really the bottom line isn't it, too few people care anymore.

      It's sad.

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)