Thursday, June 16, 2011

ADM Greenert Nominated for CNO

Secretary of Defense Gates has announced Admiral Jonathan Greenert will be the next Chief of Naval Operations. If we ignore ADM Greenert's total failure at Fleet Forces Command, this is good news. I'm not opposed to ADM Greenert, but I will not back down from criticism of this choice and he was by no definition the best candidate available.

I kind of feel bad that ADM Harvey has had to go the JAGMAN route, the Balisle Report route, and basically turn the ship around 180 degrees to clean up the dumpster fire left by ADM Greenert at Fleet Forces Command just to get passed over for CNO in favor of the guy who ignored the dumpster fire, but that really is a sign of the times in OPNAV.

Keep in mind, ADM Greenert was the guy who classified INSURVs and is part of the crowd that sends folks up to the Senate to tell them everything is great and all lessons learned have been applied, only to announce the next day the same shit is happening on the very same issues discussed.

This is an appointment that means more of the same from the Navy. ADM Greenert is a terrible communicator, so if you are hoping the new CNO is going to be a strong advocate for the Navy, I would suggest he has the passion, just not the skill to be effective.

I look forward to reading all the articles that discuss ADM Greenert, because I believe there will ultimately only be two compliments. He was a submariner, and at one time he was stationed in the Pacific. In other words, he was picked because he did a job in a certain location, not because he did the job in any context. That isn't really fair though, because as a submariner he probably did some pretty secret crazy stuff throughout his career nobody can talk about.

It is a good thing they took his podcasts offline though, because I got an email last year that lined up statements made in those podcasts with the Balisle Report, and those podcasts only serve to reveal the Admiral appears to have had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on while he served at Fleet Forces Command. They aren't like ADM Willard's podcasts, which I always found entertaining and interesting.

As has been highlighted many times, the Navy doesn't have accountability standards for the job performance for their flag officers, as job performance in the Navy is applied critically bottom up, not top down. With ADM Greenert the Navy has a shining example by which it can be proven, and has already been in a court martial (for a midgrade officer who was blamed for a clear flag officer fuckup, of course), that job performance of Flag officers doesn't matter. Do a terrible job as a 4 star with plenty of official public evidence to cite in hand, no problem - here is a promotion! The Navy must believe the Senate will simply ignore any criticism. After seeing Leon Panetta's nomination hearing, that's probably a safe bet.

Being a total failure at Fleet Forces Command does not mean ADM Greenert will be a bad CNO though, indeed ADM Mullen was a terrible CNO able to get only 12 ships built in three years, and yet he turned out to be a really solid CJCS during 2 wars. ADM Roughead has never been thought of by many to be a good CNO, but I think he was pretty darn good and can cite evidence and statistics to back that claim. That the Navy named ADM Greenert CNO suggests the Senate has already rubber stamped him through confirmation. That last fact alone will quiet most criticism, but not all of it.

Almost all of you have a professional interest in not speaking the cold hard truth about the ugly side of US naval affairs or Navy leaders. I don't have that problem, so I will say what needs to be said for those who cannot say it themselves.

No, I'm not worried about being blacklisted by the Navy for criticizing ADM Greenert, because as I have been told, after I wrote those USNI articles back in November about flag officer leadership and accountability, ADM Greenert ordered the Navy Information Office to blacklist me. It is why you haven't seen anything I have written in CLIPS since November 2010, including a couple of LCS articles I got high praise for by thousands of folks, including several Flag officers, after writing. It was also very serious pressure applied by ADM Greenert to USNI that led to me needing to apologize back then, and I did apologize - to USNI - for having to put up with an offended Flag officer who got offended for being called out for job performance.

My experience when being critical of the new CNO has been he is the thin skinned, easily offended type who lashes out when he disagrees and is apparently never wrong. Before you brief the next CNO, seek advice from someone who has done it first, there are some finer details you should be aware of. The last speech ADM Greenert gave that is on video was the one he gave at SNA. It's fine, but compare that video to the ones of his peers he was selected ahead of, and you might find yourself asking why ADM Greenert was picked as CNO.

I know I am.

The upside is there are some fantastic Navy leaders in the pipeline, and the odds are good Greenert represents the last of this transformation generation.

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