And Then There Were Ten

By lex, on April 28th, 2011

Still raining command pins:

The commander of a guided-missile destroyer has been relieved of command while the Navy investigates allegations of misconduct.

The San Diego-based Third Fleet says (the commanding officer) of the USS Momsen was relieved Wednesday due to what’s termed “loss of confidence in his ability to command.” He was reassigned to a San Diego post.

A fleet spokeswoman, Lt. j.g. Beth Teach, says she doesn’t have details about the allegations.

(He is) the second Navy officer removed from a command in less than a week.

In my CO/XO tour, I personally knew of exactly one peer to be relieved of command over 30-odd months, although it’s fair to say that it was always easier for a professional surface warfare officer to be relieved for cause than an aviator: Even if a pair of your jets clack into each other over the target, pilot error is generally preferred over command climate as a causal factor, just for one example. A squadron is a somewhat amorphous entity to get your head around – is it the physical plant, the jets on the line, the detachment in Fallon? While a ship is eminently tangible.

For SWOs the “don’t kiss” rule (don’t kiss a buoy, don’t kiss the ground) has been expanded from two offenses to three with “don’t kiss a shipmate,” while getting busted in a DUI has been a certain path to change of command with no band for at least 20 years.  Navy has also taken to relieving COs for cause for being screamers, which was something much more tolerated in my youth.  But even given the trivial expansion of potential offenses, we’re on a blistering pace.

Something has changed, and I don’t believe its intolerance for buffoonery from flag officers – the standards are pretty darn clear. Instead, it must be something in the culture. We’re either raising people to positions of leadership that they’re not qualified for, or people have come to believe that wearing that command pin makes them somehow eight feet tall and bulletproof. Or maybe some combination of the two.

I bet there’s some fascinating analysis circulating within the flag ranks, but as for me, I’m mystified.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Navy

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