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Old School Perspective – Navy Videos

I know I am considered old school but I have just got to comment about the recent incident about the Navy. There is no way I can condone the organizational culture and behavior of the leader Capt. Owen Honors regarding the videos that have surfaced. The videos are a violation of not just EEO laws but general military conduct. The use of government equipment is just the beginning of my complaint. I have been discussing the these issues for over two decades (i.e. Tail Hook and the Navel Academy). When leadership deviates from the laws and ethics it sends a message that it is OK for the troops to do so. What a sad comentary on the Navy and leadership. What do you think?

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Jonathan Rubin

I’d love to hear from the DoD or other enlisted people about what they think. People talk about the “pressure valve” release that helps the troops on long deployments. That doesn’t seem like a legit excuse to me. However, none of the servicemen on the ship seem to be complaining publicly, so maybe we weren’t the intended audience… BTW, the worst thing about the video is that IT’S NOT FUNNY…. AT ALL!

Denise Petet

Humor is horribly subjective. Some love Two and a Half Men and i find it a tedious half hour that I only watch under duress.

That said, I understand their need to cut loose and have fun. I can see the positive effect a project like that might have on the morale of a crew on a long and tedious cruise, pretty much cut off from the rest of the world. And everyone in the video seemed to be a willing participant…but just because you CAN do something, SHOULD you?

They can still cut loose and have fun and goof off without crossing that line into vulgarity. Come on, on a ship of 1000ish crew (?) NOONE thought ‘dude, it’d be bad if this got out’. No one told this captain ‘umm, yeah, that’s just not right’ (especially his superiors, while I could buy the ‘intimidation/fear’ excuse on subordinants in speaking out, that doesn’t apply to his ranking officers)

You can have fun and do something goofy and still not be inappropriate.

Heck, in this day and age of social media, think of the wonderful PR a world wide video contest could bring presuming those videos were in good taste. They could have a youtube sensation and do wonders for the Navy’s image if they showed their personnel doing their jobs and still having some creativity and talent.

Also, I don’t condone the video in the slightest, but given that it’s a couple of years old, you gotta wonder why it’s taken this long to come to light.

Peter Sperry

Scribes in ancient Babylonia understood it was foolish to carve anything in clay tablets that could get them in trouble if read aloud in the public square; but we continue to have diplomats recording their unvarnished assesment of colleagues for distribution by Wikileaks and military personel videotaping their locker room jokes to be played later on the local news. Tell me again why we consider the foriegn service and military officers to be “the best and the brightest”? Any newbie sailor with 6 months of service would have had the good sense to turn off the camera.

Dianne Floyd Sutton

Thanks folks for your comments. Yes, the question is raised “why didn’t upper managment take so long do something before it became public.” Another question, “is vulgarity and ridicule the only way you can let off steam?” What does this say about the culture of the organization? What can you as new leaders do differently?

Just thoughts

Denise Petet

There’s a lot of complex issues here. First, the military’s a boys’ club. And likely always will be. In any organization like that, built around power and authority, you will have those that abuse it. You will have those that threaten or bully, intimidate or buy into the ‘fear = respect’ fallacy.

Are all the military bullies? no. Of course not. There are a lot of decent and hard working individuals there. but – as with any organization – there are bullies. There are those that rise to their level of incompetance through friendships and earn authority often by simply surviving (as in put in enough time in grade and time in service and unless you totally frak up, you will get on a list for promotion, at least up to a certain rank).

I’m not saying this captain did this. Far from it. From what little i’ve heard, he had a fairly good career to this point. But, as a whole and generally speaking, ANY organization based on force or automatic promotions or the such is vulnerable to the survivor and ‘last man standing’ not alayas being the good one. So you get people being promoted to their level of incompetance, and then use their power and authority to stay there.

You have managers that mount campaigns to get rid of the ‘troublemakers’ in their ranks – when ‘troublemaker’ is often code for ‘they question me, no one is allowed to question me’. And they are allowed to get away with it. Either they’re really good at manipulating things and getting their way, or they have bosses that are just as intimidated of them.

Then you toss in a little arrgance as in the diplomats and the wikileaks stuff and you have people that literally believe that they are above the laws and rules they want the rest of us to follow. Your cliched hollywood actor buying his or her way out of a DUI arrest is much the same. Mel Gibson’s rants are another example. Michael Jackson another. If you have enough money or power, you can literally do anything you want.

And ‘power’ is a relative term. It’s a common military cliche, do something your jerk off CO doesn’t like and he’ll get your reassigned to Antarctica….and it’s a cliche for a reason.

Why did Michael Jackson’s staff never call him on his questionable actions? They wanted to keep their easy job, and the way to keep it was to keep him happy, even if keeping him happy meant doing bad things. People in a military setting want to keep their posting they learn to keep their mouths shut about questionable stuff. The military doesn’t tolerate those questioning orders unless you got a danged good reason to question.

And there’s a lot of apathy. There can be bad situations in a work place, but quite often, unless it’ll open them to legal action, upper management of an agency just turns a blind eye and ignores it…hoping to pass it off to another.

I can only presume, in this case, apathy is what allowed it to continue. None of his ranking officers wanted to say anything, so they just pretended they didnt’ see it, or maybe handed it back to him with a ‘you dang well better hope this never gets out’ and let it be.

When upper management puts the blinders on, middle management often takes advantage, and lower level employees often are faced with the question ‘is this bad enough to whistle blow? or do i just ignore it and walk away’….and the latter is often what you have to do to keep your job.

Because, quite often, unless what that person is doing is against the law – as in sexual harassment, theft, etc – the complaint won’t go anywhere. Not unless you raise a big enough stink that public pressure forced upper mgmt to take action.