Archive for the ‘war’ Category

Image from Wikipedia

When the Black Plague hit Europe in 1350, it ravaged the area and killed millions of people, especially in the lower classes. But afterwards, the labor shortage caused a working class revival in the peasantry. Day laborers could demand more money for their goods and better working conditions. From the Medievalists:

After the ravages of the Black Death were finished in Europe, however, there were suddenly far fewer people to farm the lands. Egyptian scholar Ahmad Ibn Alī al-Maqrīzī, described what this looked like after the plague had passed through Egypt: “When the harvest time came, there remained only a very small number of ploughmen.” There were some who “attempted to hire workers, promising them half of the crop, but they could not find anyone to help them.” The same was true in Europe, and crops remained unharvested and great revenues were lost for the local landowners because they couldn’t get anyone to do the work.

Egyptian scholar Ahmad Ibn Alī al-Maqrīzī

Not surprisingly, some people didn’t like these uppity peasants not knowing their place.

Many and various attempts were made by local governments and officials to block this upward movement. An Ordinance from Castile in 1351 condemns those who “wander about idle and do not want to work” as well as those “demand such great prices and salaries and wages.” It orders all able to do so to work for a set, pre-plague price. Another from Sienna condemns those who “extort and receive great sums and salaries for the daily labor that they do every day” and sets a fixed price of six gold florins a year. …
The English poet John Gower lamented in his Mirour de l’Omme that labourers who were used to eating bread made of corn now were able to eat that made of wheat and that those who had previously drunk water were now enjoying luxuries like milk and cheese. He also complained about their new, fancier attire, and their choice to dress above their station. His attitude was common among some in the upper and middle classes who lamented the social improvements of the lives of peasants and the loss of the good-old-days before the plague when the world was “well-ordered,” and people knew their place (as Gower says).

The Medievalists

The similarities to today are interesting. While the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t kill nearly the same number of people (especially in the US), it did lead to a massive revolt in the working class. Now truck drivers for Walmart make $100K a year, and there are plenty of people wanting these modern day versions of “peasants” to remain in there place (typically by using mass illegal immigration and inflation to suppress wages). The hardest hit by far is the military, because it relies on a large number of cheap, easy to enlist, (mostly) men to fill its ranks. While it is somewhat of a stereotype (as analyzed in 2020), its not entirely false either.

Stuck between rising prices, a loss of patriotism, an increasingly smaller subset of the population it can recruit, the military is now in the same personnel crunch as 1370’s landlords. It even has its own versions of complaints against uppity peasants, which I call the “appeal to patriotism” and “suck it up,” and are best explained in an example.

A few years back, I sat on a panel discussing the manning problems related to a specific set of submarine Sailors. Because serving on submarines is voluntary, we didn’t have a lot of Sailors in one particular rating, and we had to put an OPHOLD on a Sailor. An OPHOLD basically means we canceled that Sailors orders to another duty station and kept them in their current job. It’s supposed to be a rare thing, so the fact that we had to do this to meet minimum manning was concerning.

On the panel I suggested that we authorize a special bonus for these Sailors of around $150 a month. While that doesn’t seem like a lot of money, I had seen bonuses of that size bump up volunteers before, and I figured we could easily raise it again in the future if needed. I had at least two civilians, both retired master chiefs, scoff at this notion. “These kids should be volunteering for submarine duty out of patriotism!” one said (yup, literally his words). Another lamented that kids these days couldn’t “take it” when it came to the hardships of submarine duty.

The senior most officer (a Captain) asked why we couldn’t just keep OPHOLDing Sailors. Frustrated, at this point I jumped in and said “Your OPHOLD means nothing if Sailors start saying they’ll commit suicide, which guarantees you can’t assign them to a submarine.” The room got pretty quiet, and eventually the Captain agreed we should pursue a bonus. Ultimately the bonus did help and got us out of the manning jam, although it took a while and put the Navy in a pretty risky position at the time.

If you wonder why I’m never surprised at the horrible conditions onboard the GEORGE WASHINGTON and why Sailors commit suicide, well, now you know. Retired senior enlisted and officers sitting in cushy desk jobs that feel their funding might get cut if they provide more morsels to our young Sailors doing the hard work are all too common in our force today. Sadly, this class of bureaucrat is so deeply entrenched I’m not sure the military will survive before they can be uprooted.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Don’t forget to read the previous two posts:

Part 1: Navy Community Outreach

Part 2: HYT+

To round out the last portion of NAVADMIN messages that tell us the Navy is in bad shape all around, let’s start with the Basic Needs Allowance. On initial reading, it doesn’t seem too bad. It basically says we’re going to pay Sailors that fall below 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines an additional amount of money:

2.  In line with reference (a), reference (b) established Department of Defense policy for BNA.  Reference (c) authorizes the Chief of Naval Personnel to implement BNA policy.  The BNA program provides a monthly allowance to Sailors whose gross household income (GHI) and household size place them below 130 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) for their permanent duty station (PDS) location.
BNA provides additional income to address the difference between GHI from the previous calendar year (CY) and 130 percent of the FPG for the current CY.  BNA is payable to eligible Sailors who voluntarily apply beginning on or 
after 23 December 2022.  These references, frequently asked questions, templates, and other BNA resources can be found here:  https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/References/Pay-Benefits/N130C/.

OK, so what IS the Federal Poverty Level? You can conveniently find them here:

Now, if you’re thinking “That looks like a really, really small amount of money…” you’d be right. A little bit of Excel magic brings us some insight:

So, what do we learn from this? Well, if you’re a married E1 and your spouse doesn’t work, you might meet the threshold. If you’re an E2 or E3, married with a baby at home, you’ll probably meet the threshold. If you’re anything else…probably not. For this chart, I’m only counting basic pay, which means that if you got some sort of bonus that would count towards your income, you’re probably above the cap.

Here’s the other catch too….you don’t sit at those junior ranks for very long. Sailors can promote relatively quickly to E-5, which by 4 years of service is making over 3,000 a month. So unless you have three kids by then, you’re not meeting these guidelines.

At best, this is helping super new, dirt poor Sailors, who are likely living on the ship, eating at the galley for free and are unlikely to be married. But for the vast majority, this does nothing. Maybe in a week when they release the new federal poverty guidelines I’ll be proven wrong, but I don’t see this making a big impact. And given that advancement is getting easier with everyone leaving, that makes it even less likely to be impactful to the average Sailor.

Speaking of more things not worth the paper they are written on…NAVADMIN 290/22. This NAVADMIN offers a Flag Letter of Commendation for each person you sign up for the Navy. Sounds like a good deal right?

4.  In order to incentivize Sailors to assist in this effort, CNRC has authorized a Flag Letter of Commendation (FLOC) (max of 2) for any Sailor who provides a referral that ultimately leads to a future Sailor contract.  These 
FLOCs are worth one point each towards advancement and can make all the difference when final multiple scores are calculated.

Except…one point doesn’t normally do that much. Answering one more question correctly on your advancement exam, which probably requires less time then it takes to recruit someone, would be worth more. FLOCs are nice gestures, but they are relatively meaningless in terms of actual impact compared to actual awards. Worse still, they offer zero incentives to officers, so the Navy hasn’t done anything to stem that tide.

Where does this leave us? Honestly, in no better shape. While the Navy plans on a community outreach blitz to bring up its image, its not addressing many of the systemic problems inside its ranks, whether its low pay, unaccountable leadership, or a lack of strategic direction. People are smart enough to see through the shiny veneer and gift wrap, so these measures aren’t going to bump up Navy numbers.

Long term, unless the Navy gets a grip on how far its fallen and why people don’t trust it anymore, its not going to persuade people to join.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Mac Jones can’t win.

Last week he was pilloried by Patriots greats on the air for not doing all he could to stop Las Vegas (had to stop myself from typing “Oakland”) from scoring on that last play that cost New England a game they should have won.

Now a week late he makes a desperate attempt to stop Germaine Pratt from scoring a touchdown on a recovered fumble that if not for the Dolphins falling apart might have ended their playoff hopes and he’s attacked for it and fined by the NFL.

It may or may not be fair but I think that Mac is in a no-win position. He can’t be Brady and will never be Brady.

At least the Redsox Went from the greatest hitter of all time (Williams), to an all time great HOF (Yaz) to a power hitting Hall of Famer (Rice) to a pretty good outfielder (Greenwell) over 25 years easing the blow. No such luck for spoiled Pats fans.


There was a time before Tom Brady when the Redsox ruled this town. Even in the days of Russell, Havlicek and Bird it was a baseball town. Tom Brady made the difference and while David Ortiz kept the flame alive Brady’s timeless success wrenched the city away from the bats and balls and delivered it to the pigskin.

Right now the Patriots are in the lowest point that they’ve been and if the Red Sox ownership was smart they would take this moment to invest heavily to grab back the hearts of the fans from the gridiron and back to the diamond.

The current strategy may be penny wise but it’s pound foolish. The Pats are giving the Sox a huge opening which a wise ownership should drive right through.

However I suspect they are not all that wise.


Just four years ago you didn’t have stories of people “dying suddenly” at young ages. Now it’s so common that if a week passes without such an event it’s a miracle.

The worst of it is that now we have more studies from every inhabited continent that show Ivermectin (.02 a pill) to be effective against COVID. as noted “100% of these have shown positive results.” at the same time the Twitter files have revealed a concerted effort to suppress information and/or opinions from medical experts contrary to the sanctioned positions of the Biden Administration.

These people and those who submitted to their will have a lot of bodies to answer for and they are very lucky that it is no longer considered fashionable for those who have had husbands ,wives, children and parents die from their despicable acts to take personal revenge. It it was, none of those bastards would last a week.


It has been less than twenty years since the Massachusetts Supreme Court by a 4-3 vote legalized gay marriage in the state and then governor Mitt Romney did all he could to keep it off the ballot in order to advance his presidential ambitions.

Now twenty years later we see the results as summarized in a single tweet

All this is by design, the next generation of Jeffrey Epstien’s and the next generation of Prince Andrews and the like who they will serve need to get their fodder from somewhere.

Incidentally I suspect there are more than a few Epsteins out there still serving the same customer base that Ms. Maxwell keeps in her head. Jeffrey just happens to be the one that was caught which makes him the exception.


Finally the single most significant story of the day is likely this one. The drone war in Ukraine and Russia:

In interviews in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, a range of intelligence, military and national security officials have described an expanding U.S. program that aims to choke off Iran’s ability to manufacture the drones, make it harder for the Russians to launch the unmanned “kamikaze” aircraft and — if all else fails — to provide the Ukrainians with the defenses necessary to shoot them out of the sky.

The shift to drones by both sides is a incredibly significant change to the war. The story continues

In fact, one of the Iranian companies named by Britain, France and Germany as a key manufacturer of one of the two types of drones being bought by the Russians, Qods Aviation, has appeared for years on the United Nations’ lists of suppliers to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. The company, which is owned by Iran’s military, has expanded its line of drones despite waves of sanctions.

The administration’s scramble to deal with the Iranian-supplied drones comes at a significant moment in the war, just as Ukraine is using its own drones to strike deep into Russia, including an attack this week on a base housing some of the country’s strategic bombers.

The widespread use of drones in warfare and the Islamic state of Iran’s ability to produce “Kamikaze” drones should be of great worry to us as that is likely going to be the next tool of international terrorism and it goes without saying the next phase of warfare in general. After all consider the cost of maintaining a single destroyer vs the cost of a drone that can be programed to hit a specific geographical location.

If that doesn’t put a shudder in your spine nothing will.


First, Merry Christmas everyone! I’m writing this early in the morning while the family is sleeping on vacation. I hope all you wonderful readers are enjoying some much needed time off with your families!

I was going to write something fun and positive, but you know, the Navy had to go and release a whole bunch of juicy NAVADMINs that just show how desperate it truly is to retain talent, and in a few cases, how it very much is not acknowledging the reasons it is losing that talent. Remember in my previous posts how I said we’ll see a lowering of standards to bring people in, more monetary incentives to stay and eventually a total relaxing of rules on getting out, followed by forcing people to stay? Well, we’re probably almost at the forcing part. I have one aviator friend that had his retirement denied because the Coast Guard (not the Navy, but facing the same issues as the Navy) simply couldn’t afford to let him go. Thankfully he’s approved now for 2023, but he learned the definition of “orders” real fast. He won’t be the last.

Big Navy has accepted that 2023 is going to suck, bigly, and is pulling out all the stops to bring in enlisted talent. This week we got not one, or two, or even three NAVADMINs, but FOUR NAVADMINs related to retention in some way.

NAVADMIN 287/22 – NAVY COMMUNITY OUTREACH PLAN

NAVADMIN 288/22 – HIGH YEAR TENURE PLUS PILOT

NAVADMIN 289/22 – BASIC NEEDS ALLOWANCE

NAVADMIN 290/22 – EVERY SAILOR IS A RECRUITER

I’m going to break this into multiple posts, so we’re only focused on 287/22 for this post. Since none of these address officer retention, we’ll stay focused on our enlisted Sailors.

As background, for any organization, people come and go for a variety of reasons, but the ease of recruiting talent boils down to a few key things:

  1. Do you pay well?
  2. Do people believe in your mission?
  3. Do people believe in your leadership?

If you get those three things right, for the most part, you can compete for talent. The Navy doesn’t do any of these very well at this moment. Enlisted pay and benefits were always low, made worse by changes to the Basic Housing Allowance and retirement made years ago. While the Navy has a really important mission, it did a terrible job emphasizing this during the Iraq/Afghanistan years, and thus it absorbed part of the blame when we pulled out surrendered to the Taliban. In terms of leadership, well, it tends to be focused on making annual uniform changes rather than producing ships, submarines and aircraft on-time and on-budget that can fight our nations wars. Heck, it took Elon Musk to bring down the cost of satellite launches such that we have even a small chance of regaining our space dominance. It’s too bad he’s not in ship building, because we desperately need someone with his business expertise in that particular area.

With that in mind, let’s look at the long NAVADMIN about Community Outreach. I’m not kidding about long, its wordy even for me. It starts off with the normal fluffy garbage that all these messages tend to use, but then in section three it gets pretty blunt, pretty fast:

  1. Data
    a. Today, 26 percent of Americans consider the Navy as the most important service to our country’s national security, trailing only the Air Force’s 27 percent. This is a 14 percent increase since 2009 and a 1 percent increase from 2021.
    b. While the Navy continues to be viewed very favorably by the public, each of the services have experienced at least a 10 percent decrease in favorability during the past six years. In 2016, 82 percent of the country viewed the Navy favorably. Today, that number is 70 percent.
    c. In 2011, 57 percent of Americans said they would recommend joining the Navy. Today, 43 percent say they would.
    d. Three quarters of U.S. adults under 25 say they are not interested at all in joining any branch of the military.
    e. The percentage of Americans between the ages of 16 and 21 who say they will either definitely or probably join the military has fallen to 9 percent. The lowest point since 2007.

I mean, dang. That’s like the beginning to the movie Up! level of smack-you-in-the-face. To which I say “Damn right!” You have to start by acknowledging the problem you have.

Unfortunately, we get it wrong almost immediately in section five:

  1. Objectives
    a. Ensure 50 percent of all in-person community outreach engagements focus on 13-29 year-olds and 50 percent of all engagements within this age group focus on 13-29 year-old women.
    b. Increase the number of women under 30 who view the Navy favorably from 46 percent to 49 percent.
    c. Increase the number of African Americans who view the Navy as most important to national security from 17 percent to 24 percent.
    d. Increase the number of Hispanic Americans who view the Navy as the most important to national security from 24 percent to 28 percent.
    e. Increase the number of Americans over 25 who recommend joining the Navy from 43 percent to 48 percent.
    f. Increase the number of Americans under 25 who are considering joining the Navy from 12 percent to 15 percent.

Quotas anyone? Listing women and minorities right at the top isn’t a good look. You could have hidden that away, or at least said something like “We are America’s Navy, and we will increase all American’s trust in our Navy. We will also work particularly closely with some communities, such as African Americans, that have a markedly lower trust in our Navy than the average population.”

Sheesh, maybe I should sit on these HR boards…wait, never mind.

The rest of the NAVADMIN lists a TON of programs, and I can’t do it justice with a summary, so I’ll list them here with a grade for effectiveness.

Fleet Weeks – A
Navy Weeks – B+
Media Production Visits – C-
Sailor recognition – B
Naval Aviation Outreach – A
Continental Port Visits – A
Executive Engagement – F
Namesake Visits – A
Navy Band Tours – B
Social Media – B-
Entertainment – A
NCAs – C

Fleet Weeks and Aviation Outreach is a solid A. Naval aviation does a great job making it look cool, and there are enough pilots of every color and gender that it has a pretty broad appeal no matter what. This is bolstered by good ties with the entertainment industry, so more Netflix and History Channel shows on Naval Aviation is just going to help recruitment efforts.

It’s good to see Continental Port visits on there, and we need to do MORE of these. Fleet Week is nice, but it is simply too big for most cities to handle. Destroyers, frigates and even landing craft can pull into smaller ports, and should be doing that on a near constant basis. Not only does it promote spending more time underway practicing basic seamanship, but the small towns tend to come out in droves to support Sailors. The best receptions I ever get are from small towns that normally don’t see Sailors in uniform, and I think the Navy should budget more time for these on a permanent basis.

The namesake visits are long overdue. We name vessels after states, cities, Naval heroes and corrupt politicians, but it seems only the last one ever makes the news. I’d be all about naming vessels, especially the new frigates, after cities with higher-than-normal Navy Sailors. Often times the namesake visits happen but are very underreported, so advertising them better would be nice.

The choice of cities for Navy Week is…interesting? Using Wikipedia to see gross demographic data, some of the choices are obvious. Others, like Tri-Cities, TN (which I didn’t know was a thing until now, sorry Tennessee!) don’t make much sense. Maybe the under-25 population is higher there? That would explain Lincoln, NE, a traditional college town. More importantly, why not Detroit, MI, or other cities the rust belt? I’m guessing some of it may relate to availability, since if the city doesn’t let you come in, you’re just going to look elsewhere.

Overall White/Black/Hispanic percentages

Miami, FL: 11/16/72
Tucson, AZ: 43/5/42
Shreveport, LA: 35/55/4
Tri-Cities, TN: 96/2/1
Wilmington, NC: 71/18/8
St. Louis, MO: 43/43/5
Oklahoma City, OK: 49/14/21
Milwaukee, WI: 32/38/20
Billings, MT: 90/1/1
Lincoln, NE: 85/4/7
Cleveland, OH: 32/47/13
Salt Lake City, UT: 63/3/21
Salem, OR: 79/1/20
Philadelphia, PA: 34/38/15
Indianapolis, IN: 50/27/13

Same goes for Navy Band tours. Canada? Puerto Rico? At least we had some band performances at Navy Weeks. I’ve already written about Navy’s Social Media, and I stand by my assessment that its not bad, but not great.

Navy recognition has been very, very underused, and often the only calls are “quota based.” I saw one recently asking specifically for stories about female Naval officer achievements. Uhm…OK? At a previous command, I regularly sent my Sailors awards (with their permission) to their hometown news program. That actually motivated many Sailors to stay in, since many small towns held them up on a big pedestal when they visited during the holidays. It’s good to see it expanded, but I don’t see command’s doing much with it.

Media production visits and NCAs gets a solid C from me. I’ve never heard of NCAs before, and reading more about it makes it sound like a lobbying agency. That’s fine, but its not going to inspire young people to think highly of the Navy. Same goes with more boring media about the “importance of the Ohio replacement program.” No young person is inspire by the “Ohio replacement program.” It’s lammmme. Call it the “Punch Putin into the Stone Age” submarine. Again, this is more lobbying, and more appropriate for a different NAVADMIN.

Executive engagement gets a solid F. Our Navy Executives have done a dismal job at…everything. They can’t build ships or submarines on time or on schedule. That can’t get Congress to build more shipyards. They can’t hold their own accountable when they violate the UCMJ. They make excuses for why the Navy has abysmal infrastructure that literally kills Sailors. To top it off, they then typically roll into jobs to work on the same programs they mismanaged in the first place.

Nobody is inspired by these people. The best thing they could do is simply retire and stay out of the way of more capable people. Authorizing more flag officer travel isn’t going to solve our community outreach issues.

I’d give this NAVADMIN a solid “B+”. It’s got some really good ideas, and it finally spells out in clear language many of the issues the Navy has. But it then delves into quotas and lobbying that won’t do anything, and I worry that the Navy will focus on authorizing more flag travel instead of authorizing more small port visits. Execution is key, so we’ll see how it plays out this coming year.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.