Navy Times website just announced two more commanding officer firings. Here's the totals for last year and this year (so far!).
CO XO Senior Enlisted
2012 24 5 13
2011 22 5 12
Some readers have criticized ComNavOps for being too harsh in judging Navy leadership. I unabashedly admit to being highly critical of the leadership and I've documented the reasons. In fact, my belief that the Navy and the country are being ill served by Navy (and civilian - but that's largely outside the scope of this blog) leadership was one of the main motivations for starting this blog.
The Navy has fired 46 commanding officers in less than two years. Something's wrong. Something's very wrong. It's painfully evident that our selection process for CO and above is broken. Well, at least the rest of the commanding officers, the majority to be sure, are good, honest, decent leaders of the highest moral character, right? I doubt it. They just haven't been caught yet or their failings are insufficient to actually get them fired.
I assume you're all familiar with the "tip of the iceberg" principle? For those who may not be, the concept is that what you can see represents only a small fraction (usually cited as 10%) of the total, hence the analogy to the tip of the iceberg where the vast majority of the iceberg is hidden beneath the water relative to what's visible. For instance, in industrial safety matters, visible and documented safety violations are assumed to represent only 10% of the total safety violations that are actually occurring.
Likewise, I assume that for every CO whose behavior is egregious and visible enough to warrant firing, many others are guilty of the same behavior but have not been caught. Does this unfairly paint all leaders with the same broad brush? Certainly, and that's unfortunate but the evidence suggests a systematic and endemic failure of the selection process which strongly suggests many other flawed leaders are currently serving.
Consider the recent posting about Adm. Harvey's mea culpa. That's a perfect example of a leader who lacked the fortitude to stand up for what was right while serving and only spoke up as he was retiring. That's a flawed leader. While he didn't do anything that qualified as a firing offense, he also didn't serve the Navy or the country well.
Remember that flawed leadership isn't just about firing offenses. It's also about the lack of courage to take a stand in the face of bad decisions and flawed policy. It's the weakness of character that allows a leader to go along with a program he knows is wrong because he wants to protect his career. That's why minimal manning programs occurred which anybody could see would be disasters. It's why LPDs were accepted by the Navy with thousands of hours of uncompleted work. It's why the LCS continues to move forward despite being an abject failure. And so on ...
So, what's going on? Are all these leaders suddenly becoming drunks or sex offenders or thieves or whatever after they become leaders? Of course not! Their behaviors were there before promotion and remained after promotion. Why isn't our selection/screening process finding this? -because we're not looking at the right criteria, obviously. Now, I can't begin to suggest what the right criteria are. Navy leadership will have to do that. Unfortunately, that's like asking the fox to guard the chicken coop. Flawed leadership is unlikely to come up with better selection criteria. We can only hope that the good leaders (and there must be some) will stand up and loudly and publicly insist on meaningful changes. Come on Navy leadership, stand up and demand change! Save my Navy!