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View Diary: The most important lesson I learned in the Navy...that many in Congress never learned. (Updated) (261 comments)

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  •  Indeed. (58+ / 0-)

    Before I was sent to Quantico for Security Guard school, I was a regular 0311 at Camp Lejuene. I'll never forget the Captain of our company. No matter what, he was always all up in our business from personal matters and just about anything else. All he cared about was us. That was it. So when he would take us on 20 mile marches for no reason that was obvious to us, we never complained. We trusted him and that was that.

    We certainly could use leadership like that in Washington.

    You bring up a good point about the lack of military service among this generation of politicians though. Especially on the GOP side. The generation of Democrats and Republicans that come up through the Depression and the War under FDR were made of completely different stuff than the guys we have today. You only need look at the laws they passed from Social Security to Medicare to Civil Rights to even Nixon's creation of the EPA to understand that. It is truly a sad sight when most Democrats in Washington today are to the right of Nixon.

    •  Thank you. (35+ / 0-)

      Taking care of your men was what we were trained and trained and trained to do--as was undoubtedly your Captain. But it wasn't a hard lesson to learn because it was just so natural and right. Maybe incoming Congress critters should have to spend a mini-boot camp with Marine officer instructors--I think that would really open up their eyes and their minds!

      Semper Fi and Anchors Aweigh

      "Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,
      And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
      Buys out the law"
      Hamlet, Act III (Claudius)

      by dewtx on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 08:54:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think I would donate great amounts (14+ / 0-)

        of money to see that happen.  :D

        Maybe incoming Congress critters should have to spend a mini-boot camp with Marine officer instructors

        But I'd add in a stint with enlisted-side drill instructors, as well.  Just to put a wee bit more fear of [insert your deity of choice] here.  ;)

        If you want to fight and die for my right to sit here and bitch, sleep with whomever you want.

        by talismanlangley on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 10:00:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But would that violate the cruel and unusual... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Angie in WA State, Lujane

          punishment clause of the Constitution? Just the thought of facing a genuine Marine DI puts the fear of god in me.  :-)

          "Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,
          And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
          Buys out the law"
          Hamlet, Act III (Claudius)

          by dewtx on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 11:09:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd been in the Marine Corps for over (6+ / 0-)

            five years and was working at a communications battalion, when I heard we were getting a new staff sergeant.  No big deal, normal paperwork, blah blah blah, right?

            Until I heard her voice carrying down the hall of the battlion building.  It was one of my former DIs.

            My FIRST thought was, "Oh shit it's Sergeant Carter oh shit", in a near panic.  Never mind that it was five years later, I was a sergeant myself, and she'd picked up another rank.  It was crazy.  XD

            So ... yeah, I might have to agree that it would violate the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause, no matter how much I'd like to see it, LOL.

            If you want to fight and die for my right to sit here and bitch, sleep with whomever you want.

            by talismanlangley on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 11:17:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Where do you think that the best DI's go to (0+ / 0-)

          kick butt? The academies and OCS schools.

          Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

          by Bluefin on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 04:48:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Months ago I began advocating around here and (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dewtx, Lujane, MinistryOfLove

        elsewhere that President Obama (and some staff) quietly take an abbreviated OCS course with either the Marines or Coast Guard (the toughest going) to remedy some obvious faults in their skillset.
        The proximate reason being the painful and complete lack of true leadership exhibited by his failing administration.
        I've since come to the conclusion that our only chance as a party and nation would be to have him primaried by someone with inherent leadership ability like Sen. Jim Webb (former USMC).
        We needed an FDR, we got a Clinton/Bush hybrid.
        I almost look for Obama to change party membership in the future (like some of our TX state reps). The Rescumlican rank and file would turn on a dime if their 'leaders' (McConnell, Boner, Rove, Limpballs, etc.,) told them to.

        Our nation can't stand another lost decade like we had under Lil W. Bush and the first two years of Obama (Hell, we've been falling behind since Reagan, three decades worth). Other nations are steadily gaining on us (and this is not good).

        Semper Fi and Semper Paratus!

        Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

        by Bluefin on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 04:46:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bluefin, I hate rec-ing your comment, but I (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dewtx, Lujane, Bluefin

          just have to. Except it's not OCS they need to go through its Basic. I was in high school when one of the biggest fuck ups in the class ahead of me went into the Marines. He came out a MARINE, sporting expert badges in pistol and rifle, clean, sober, tough. No more shoplifting, he called people "Sir", and when he was working for me again (theater lighting crew) he took my orders and did what I wanted, even though he was older than me.

          Yes, we need another FDR, and Parris Island sounds like the place to turn Obama and his staff into fighters. (Except Elizabeth Warren, she's doing fine.)

          Religion: Treat it like your penis. Don't show it off in public, and don't shove it down your children's throats. (-9.00,-8.41)

          by MinistryOfLove on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 05:39:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Either would work, but since they already hold (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dewtx, Lujane, MinistryOfLove

            command positions the emphasis on 'leadership' training in OCS has the edge since they currently exhibit none (they get their asses kicked either way, or at least that's the way it used to be...  ;]  ).

            As an aside, those lessons don't always take.
            Off the top of my head, the two worst people I have ever dealt with (in civ life) were a former Army LT and a former enlisted Marine (many others have been just great). They were both total POS's, if their mouths were moving they were lying, no integrity whatsoever (I only mention them 'cause I'm still pissed at having to have dealt with/met them, one as a co-worker, the other a tenant).
            And there's always that paragon of integrity and leadership: Lt. George W. Bush (TXANG), ace defender of River Oaks.

            Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

            by Bluefin on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 06:43:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  abbreviated OCS course? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dewtx

            Its only 10 weeks for the whole show.  Though I suppose then spending 6 months at The Basic School wouldn't hurt. :o)

            •  10 weeks now!?! (0+ / 0-)

              When I went through OCS in 1971 it was 22 weeks. (I was in over the Christmas time period, so we had 2 extra days off that were tacked on at the end). I don't know how anyone could compress everything we learned in just 22 weeks into 10 weeks, we were busy with something ALL the time--unless someone can manage to produce a 48-hour day.

              "Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,
              And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
              Buys out the law"
              Hamlet, Act III (Claudius)

              by dewtx on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 02:24:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I hate it, only because it's a cliche (0+ / 0-)

                but i sincerely thank you for your service.

                I wish there was another way to say it without sounding like another Republican hypocrite who will cut your benefits and since Vietnam hasn't done a thing to the vets I used to bring sandwiches to on the streets. Not that I'm absolving the Democrats, but we haven't been as shamefully exploitative, I think.

                Religion: Treat it like your penis. Don't show it off in public, and don't shove it down your children's throats. (-9.00,-8.41)

                by MinistryOfLove on Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 08:21:02 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  dewix - the best boss I ever had (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane

        was at a Fortune 500 Company. He was a Stanford grad with a Harvard MBA. However, he had been a sergeant in the Marine Corps. He gave his team all the spotlight and took total responsibility for any problems and shortcomings. He definitely had learned the "take care of your people" motto. He has always been my role model. He was the most demanding boss I ever had, but I learned so much and everyone who ever worked for him loved the guy. Thanks for a great diary.  

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 07:11:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Lack of service is a problem. (14+ / 0-)

      But my 18-year-old daughter, who is studying politics, wouldn't dream of joining the military for the simple reason that she can't trust her government to take care of her. No matter how many benefits there might be, she knows better than to think that our politicians will treat our soldiers well.

      "We live now in hard times, not end times." Jon Stewart

      by tb92 on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 09:06:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The politicians may not take care of her, but... (17+ / 0-)

        The non-coms and junior officers certainly will. There are good reasons for many people to not join the military, it's certainly not for everyone. But worry about not being treated well while in service shouldn't be one of them--you'll be hard pressed to find a closer and more caring community than the military community.

        "Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,
        And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
        Buys out the law"
        Hamlet, Act III (Claudius)

        by dewtx on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 09:15:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We have no doubt of that. (14+ / 0-)

          My father was a Marine. My brother and SIL, in the Air Force. We have tremendous respect for the people who are actually in the military.

          But this country has been in Afghanistan for most of my daughter's life. She remembers how upset I was that our soldiers were being sent to Iraq based on lies and without proper equipment. We have friends who joined under Clinton, only to find themselves being asked to do things that they knew were wrong under Bush. And now they fight to get the mental health care they need to recover from it.

          The military does what the government tells them to do. No matter how much you want to take care of your people, you can't protect them from bad leadership at the highest levels.

          My kid has a strong conscience had a big mouth. The first time she was asked to do something that she knew was wrong, or damaging to this country, she would certainly be in trouble. It's best that she stay out. But she's studying hard in the hopes that she can be one of the people to insure that our military IS properly cared for in the future.

          "We live now in hard times, not end times." Jon Stewart

          by tb92 on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 09:28:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm almost done with David Halberstam's (13+ / 0-)

          book on the Korean War, The Longest Winter.  Some of the best generals and colonels thought, "Fuck MacArthur's orders, I'm not gonna have my men massacred."  They defied MacArthur (before he was sacked and replaced by Ridgway) and their units were the ones that eventually fought back Mao's army.

          While our soldiers were nearly shot by hoards of Chinese or nearly froze to death in Korea's frigid winters, MacArthur never spent a single night in Korea.

          Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

          by Ice Blue on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 09:46:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Dugout Doug was something else, wasn't he? n/t (4+ / 0-)

            I like lemurs -6.50, -4.82

            by roadbear on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 10:41:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  He was vain and a mama's boy and a camera hog (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dewtx, OHdog, Mr SeeMore, john keats, roadbear

              who would tolerate the presence of none but sycophants.  Woe to anyone who dared question him--their entire careers were destroyed.

              Wanna hear a MacArthur story?  I know a guy who served under him in WWII.  He told me that when MacArthur bugged out of Corregedor (along with the little missus and baby Junior), he just HAD to bring along the little wifey's piano instead of 4-6 nurses who he knowingly left to Japanese capture and the Bataan Death March.  This guy knew one of those nurses before her experience.  He said she was absolutely the sweetest, kindest person he had ever met.  He heard about her at the end of the war--she came back, but she was all fucked up in the head.  That alone was enough to make him hate MacArthur's guts, not that he didn't have a million other reasons.

              Contrast that with his only meeting with MacArthur's equivalent in the China-Burma-East India Theater, Vinegar Joe Stilwell: late in the war, he and a buddy were sitting along a road when a jeep passed by.  In the back of the jeep was a man who, except for his outdated garrison cap, looked just like any other ordinary grunt.  This guy's buddy jumped up and said, "That's Uncle Joe!"  He then raced after the jeep, flailing his arms everywhere and shouting, "Uncle Joe!  Uncle Joe!  It's me, Uncle Joe!"  The jeep stopped and backed up.  This guy told me he'd be damned if Gen. Joe Stilwell didn't remember his buddy from before the war when Stilwell was a LTC and his buddy was a lowly private.  Now that, he said, was a soldier's general.  (Stilwell was also an intellectual, fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and able to predict Mao's takeover of the corrupt Chiang's Nationalist China way back in the 1930s.  This was what put him on everyone in Washington's shit list.)

              Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

              by Ice Blue on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 02:30:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  A quote from General "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ice Blue, roadbear

                "The higher a monkey climbs, the more you can see of his behind."

                That's my kind of General. Now I wonder if he was talking about anyone in particular.

                "Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,
                And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
                Buys out the law"
                Hamlet, Act III (Claudius)

                by dewtx on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 03:36:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  I'm dubious about the MacArthur piano story (0+ / 0-)

                MacArthur was ordered out by President Roosevelt personally. He was evacuated with his wife and young son by PT Boat and then submarine.  I seriously doubt his wife packed a piano.

            •  My uncle had no use for MacArther (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ice Blue, roadbear

              After he saw him wade ashore for a photo op 2 weeks after the dock was installed at his location.  Not sure where that was but it was during WWII.

              Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.

              by J Edward on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 08:31:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  My Dad once sprayed McArthur with dirt. (3+ / 0-)

            My father was a medical corpsman in the Army Air Corps during WWII, stationed in New Guinea. McArthur came for a visit, the same time my father was driving an ambulance on his way to pick up casualties, speeding down a dirt road in the opposite dsirection.

             As McArthur like to sit up high in his jeep, my father got him good.

            "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

            by elwior on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 11:31:48 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Ice Blue, my dad is a retired Marine who served (0+ / 0-)

            in Korea with the 1st Marines as a 1st Sgt, and he revered MacArthur and still does (although his admiration is tempered with perspective now).  We had the "Old Soldiers Never Die" speech framed on our wall growing up!  US Army General Almond was the one they hated with a passion.   And Marine General O.P. Smith was their hero for pushing back at Almond on their behalf.  (that's all from memory, I hope I got the names right)  

            I will check with Dad and see if he's read Halberstam yet.  I personally share Halberstam's opinion of MacArthur in Korea, although he was brilliant in Japan.

            •  General Smith was one of the heros of Korea. (3+ / 0-)

              He was one of the guys who did his damnedest not to follow MacArthur's orders when he thought they would get his Marines pointlessly killed.   After the war either he or Chesty Puller said he was sure Smith would have been discharged for insubordination if he was Army rather than a Marine.

              Almond was a MacArthur staff puke.  He got his way with temper tantrums or by telling on you to his sugardaddy Doug.  In Korea he lived in a heated trailer, washed up with hot water, and ate three hot meals a day served on a starched white tablecloth.  Our Marine officers were appalled by that.  So was Matthew Ridgway so he put a stop to it.  Ridgway personally couldn't stand Almond and only kept him because at least he could count on Almond to attack when told, unlike most of the rest of the Army generals.

              Another thing about Matthew Ridgway--after our cease fire was declared in Korea, the French asked us to help them out in another small Asian nation.  The Air Force and Navy were itching to go.  Right when it looked like Ike was going to send some of our troops he got word of a certain paper that was circulating among Army officers in the Pentagon.  It turned out someone had already planned for every contingency in that small country, and he didn't like the results.  After Ike read a copy he said no to the French.  That's how Ridgway kept us out of Vietnam for almost a decade.

              Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

              by Ice Blue on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 03:53:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks so much for the history lesson! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ice Blue

                I will make sure Dad reads your post, and will dig out my copy of The Longest Winter and get started on it!

              •  MacArthur advised JFK, stay out of Vietnam (0+ / 0-)

                When President Kennedy was pressured by the Pentagon, Congress (really everybody in Washington) to escalate in Vietnam, he'd tell them,  "You'll have to convince General MacArthur before you can convince me".

                •  So did Lt. Gen. James Gavin. He was another (0+ / 0-)

                  highly decorated 82nd Airborne leader.  (Did you ever see the movie about Operation Market Garden, A Bridge Too Far?  He was played by Ryan O'Neil.)  He always knew it was a mistake to meddle in Vietnam.

                  I met him in the early '80s.  Politically, he was definitely a liberal.    

                  Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

                  by Ice Blue on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 09:55:45 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  A look at the suicide rates for men and women (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OHdog, khereva, Carol in San Antonio

          with recent military service suggests that you're romanticizing how safe it is for new recruits.  

          Bring Our JOBS and Troops Home NOW!

          by Marie on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 11:19:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think that is also a factor of the missions... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            zett, Ice Blue

            they're being asked to serve and perform. I still believe that the Sgt's and JO's in the Army, Marines, and Air Force are doing as good as job of taking care of their combat troops as those who came before. It's just that those who came before didn't face the insane onslaught for the number and length of combat tours as are being faced now. Sailors are in a somewhat different situation because of the nature of their service and where they typically serve, on ships--although some sailors even now are being given weapons and told to join their brothers in arms on the battlefield.

            But yes the suicide rates are awful.  I think withdrawing, or at least drawing down significant numbers of soldiers, in both Iraq and Afghanistan would help over time. But our combat warriors deserve, and certainly have earned, more help for their psychological wounds now in addition to their physical wounds. The U.S. needs to keep up its end of the bargain it makes with its soldiers.

            "Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,
            And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
            Buys out the law"
            Hamlet, Act III (Claudius)

            by dewtx on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 11:56:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  dewtx, great diary, however I think you're (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dewtx

              minimizing the challenges women in the military face today.  Women didn't serve on aircraft carriers 40 years ago.  It's a tough road for women, much harder than for men.   They are preyed upon and manipulated and sometimes sexually abused and attacked.  Sometimes raped, tortured, and murdered.  Sad, but true.

              •  40 years is indeed a long time. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Carol in San Antonio

                You're right about the great number of women facing difficult challenges in the military. Acceptance to change can never come soon enough. I have two grown daughters and although neither had an interest in the military, I would not have objected if they wanted to join (their mother might be another story however), but I would also tell them to be damn careful out there and to call home a lot. And those scumbags who mistreat, abuse, rape and murder female service members should spend a long long long time making big rocks into little ones.

                "Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,
                And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
                Buys out the law"
                Hamlet, Act III (Claudius)

                by dewtx on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 04:02:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Fresh meat (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zett, dewtx, Ice Blue, MinistryOfLove

        As a retired Naval officer and a woman, I wish I could reassure you and I wish I could agree with dewtx that the military would be a safe and nurturing environment for a young woman, but the truth is that she will be seen as fresh meat every time she shows up at a new duty station.  The boots are the most vulnerable ones, being young and wanting to fit in and win the approval of their shipmates and superiors in the chain of command.

        My last boss in the Navy, an O-5 Deck LDO, used to joke that when he was an enlisted recruiter, he saw it as his duty to the fleet to enlist the best looking girls he could.

        I knew Command Master Chiefs who sexually preyed on young girls, and this was well after Tail Hook.

        When I was at OCS in 1984, a visiting female Navy Captain (O-6) gave the female office candidates a talk about being a woman in the military.  And one thing she said stuck in my mind, about being a single woman and the question of who do you date when you're stationed overseas in a small town, and she said:  "You're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't."  That you're a slut if you do date, and you're a lesbian if you don't.  

        Women who are successful in the military get tough fast.  And if they survive being a boot, the Navy is a great career.  I retired at 46 and don't have to work anymore unless I want to, and I have fairly good health benefits.  No regrets!

    •  If you look, (3+ / 0-)

      most people with military experience aren't rich. And, from the stack of people in our government, they all appear to be rich.

      And, since a person stands Very little chance of getting into office now, it isn't going to change.

      She who hesitates, waits.

      by KatGirl on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 10:13:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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