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Letters to the editor: 'Good ol' boy' network persists

May. 6, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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I was shaking my head in disgust after reading the details behind the firing of the Stennis Strike Group commander [“IG report: Fired 1-star made racially insensitive comments,” April 22]. I can’t say that I was surprised, though.

That type of mentality is more common among Navy leadership, officer and enlisted alike, than people realize or care to acknowledge. Since Navy regulations prohibit discrimination, it’s all smiles and handshakes among top brass and minorities while in public. But behind closed doors and among friends, the true nature of individuals will reveal itself.

That’s where this poor excuse for a leader went awry; he thought he was among friends while spewing his garbage. Thankfully, someone had the courage to break from the “good ol’ boy” network and called him out on his BS.

I have 16 years of service and encountered people like [Rear Adm. Chuck Gaouette] at every command I’ve been assigned to. It starts off with wry comments and stereotypical beliefs of various ethnicities under the guise of lighthearted banter. Then it escalates to circulation of disparaging emails that consist of every manner of right-wing conservative nonsense you can think of. Derisive speech and ethnic slurs soon follow.

Reporting this behavior had mixed results. Some commands took swift and decisive action to put an end to the conduct, while others didn’t give it a second thought.

I saw many outstanding sailors lose faith in the system and leave the service due to these events. They simply did not want to be exposed to discriminatory language and actions, regardless of the investigative outcomes.

For all the talk that we, as a nation, have moved into a post-racial period with the election of President Obama, the reality is quite the opposite in many circles of the military.

ADC Ravinder Singh

San Jose, Calif.


Your recent article “Bases feel the pinch” [April 1] is very disturbing. Here again, sailors and their families will directly feel the cutbacks. All this will accomplish is deferred maintenance and a hit on recruitment.

How about cutting some of the wasteful programs, such as the money spent debating uniforms? Hasn’t enough money been wasted on which uniform is the best? Can’t someone make a command decision and say, “Enough is enough; this is what we will wear,” and possibly have the funds spent on uniform research be directed to the cutbacks?

Capt. Norman J. Haussmann (ret.)

Placentia, Calif.


Regarding anti-hazing proposals and the CPO 365 program outlined by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens [“MCPON weighs in,” March 25]: I agree with changes to hazing policy to make sure sailors are not harmed, but the CPO initiation tradition is being watered down.

The Navy is trying to be politically correct. I went through the initiation and didn’t see it as hazing; it is a right of passage from E-6 to khaki. No one has to go through the initiation, but [if you don’t], you are not a chief, just an E-7.

To say it violates the Navy hazing policy is an insult to CPOs.

The Navy has traditions no other branch has, like shellbacks [crossing the equator], and King Neptune should be kept. Our chiefs should be held accountable if wrongdoing happens, but to water it down or stop it is wrong.

BMC John Troupe

Stanwood, Mich.


It appears that there is more bad news for the men and women who served and are now serving in the armed forces of the U.S. — more cuts of benefits that were rightfully earned are coming, and any projected improvement of benefits that are due will never materialize [“Attack on pay and retirement,” April 22].

In contrast, entitlements and benefits for illegal immigrants remained untouched. What have these people done for our country to have such a privilege?

The existing immigration laws are not being enforced by the government due to the weight of the business lobby, whose clients profit tremendously in the form of much lower labor cost by employing these illegal immigrants.

Too bad for the men and women in uniform and those who are retired, there is no lobbyist who works for their interests.

DKC Jose Castillo (ret.)

Staten Island, N.Y.


As a former sailor and son of a career sailor, I find the camouflage uniform sailors wear now quite interesting.

Besides serving as a good point for the other services to ridicule and put down sailors (i.e., “Who the hell are you squids hiding from?” “Don’t blame the lookouts for not seeing you if you fall overboard when you become one with the sea.”), I fail to see the point.

Maybe this is the reason: Washington, not being controlled by those who desire a strong, battle-worthy Navy, has asked the top brass to come up with different tactics. So now, rather than fight, all the sailors and officers on a ship will swarm over the side, pressing themselves against the ship and using their sea camouflage to make the ship disappear so the enemy will sail away.

This will save money and will not embarrass the enemy by our Navy defeating them.

I realize my thinking makes me an “old salt,” but I’m sure if I put on a camouflage costume, no one will notice.

As for today’s personnel, they are just as qualified and battle-worthy as the officers and sailors of the U.S. Navy always have been. They’re the best in the world regardless of the uniform they wear.

Former YN1 Cliff Baggett

Huntington Beach, Calif.

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