We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France


Weekend Wanderings: Late April 2012
22 April 2012, 11:30
Filed under: Navy, Weekend Wanderings | Tags: , , ,

This spring day, I think it’s time to share some irreverence. We survived April Fool’s, but it’s still April, right?

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Optimism is a force multiplier

In reading the Washington Post this morning, I came across a story of a group of Naval Academy midshipmen who spent their spring break following in the footsteps of “Stonewall” Jackson. Dr. Joe Thomas, a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel, teaches leadership at the Academy and led the group on the hike last month. Near dusk on Day 3 of the hike, having covered 55 miles already, Thomas reminded the midshipmen of one of the great truths of leadership, “Optimism is a force multiplier.”

In the Shenandoah Valley, just northwest of Swift Run Gap where they’d hiked that day, lay the battlefields of Cross Keys and Port Republic. In both battles, aggressive optimists defeated larger forces. Looking at General Jackson’s career, you can see many instances in which his aggressiveness, optimism and force of personality determined the outcome of the battle. Jackson was no giddy cheerleader brandishing slogans, but a supremely eccentric and socially awkward man who had an incredible talent and great confidence. Despite having been branded “Tom Fool” as a professor at VMI, at First Manassas, he earned his nickname for standing like a stone wall and allowing others to rally on the Virginians.

L’optimisme est un multiplicateur de force

En lisant Washington Post ce matin, j’ai trouvé une histoire d’un groupe de officiers aspirants d’Académie Navale qui ont dépensé leur coupure de ressort suivant dans les marchepieds de « Stonewall » Jackson. Dr. Joe Thomas, un lieutenant-colonel Marin retiré, enseigne les qualifications de leader à l’académie et a mené le groupe sur la hausse le mois dernier. Près du crépuscule le Jour 3 de la hausse, ayant déjà couvert 55 milles, Thomas a rappelé les midshipmans une des grandes vérités de la conduite, « Optimisme est un multiplicateur de force. »

Dans la vallée de Shenandoah, juste le nord-ouest de la Course Rapide Passage où elles avaient augmenté ce jour, étendent les champs de bataille des Clefs en Travers et de la Port République. Dans les deux batailles, les opportunistes agressifs ont défait des forces plus grand. Regardant la carrière du Général Jackson, vous pouvez voir beaucoup d’exemples dans lesquels son agressivité, optimisme et force de personnalité ont déterminé les résultats de la bataille. Jackson n’était aucun slogan brandissant de majorette étourdie, mais suprêmement un excentrique et un homme socialement maladroit qui ont eu un talent incroyable et une grande confiance. En dépit de l’marquage à chaud « imbécile de Tom » comme un professeur à École militaire de la Virginie, chez le premier Manassas, il a valu son surnom pour se tenir comme un mur en pierre et permettre à d’autres de se rassembler sur les Virginians.



Naval Institute Annual Meeting
11 April 2012, 15:49
Filed under: Books, Navy | Tags: ,

Today, I spent the day in Crystal City, attending the 138th Annual Meeting of the US Naval Institute. I had joined the Institute a few years ago, after getting Gators of Neptune as a Christmas present. I’ve joined a few other organizations to help increase my knowledge, get exposure to veterans and, perhaps, an audience for this blog and future writings. I belong to the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division due to the Operation Dragoon and Colmar Pocket seminars that I help out with, and I belong to the Marine Corps Association & Foundation due to my interest in their history. I expect I will continue to add to this list as time passes.

The meeting was terrific. VADM Daley started the meeting by reading the Mission and Vision statements of the Institute aloud. This was music to my ears, as last year there was a tremendous alarm when the Board had decided to reword the mission to identify the Institute as an advocate for sea power (I read about it first on CDR Salamander’s blog.) The mission has returned to proper focus after much pressure from the membership:

To providing an independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak and write in order to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to national defense.

I think the experience of the past year has done a great deal to improve the Institute. The uprising of the membership may have served as a reminder of exactly what it is that the Institute is – a membership organization. The strength of the Institute is its members, as VADM Daley pointed out in his comments. He noted how the staff has been energized by the feedback from the membership and that communication is central to the completion of the Mission.

One of the key goals of this association of naval minds (officer AND enlisted) is to expand the active duty membership. It was noted that USNI is basically invisible to the junior officers and enlisted personnel of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. That needs to change. With the recent update of the website (launched last Friday) and with plans to roll out an app with the next 2 to 2-1/2 months, they’re making strides to reach them. The Admiral also noted that members could sponsor undergraduate gift memberships ($20 for students, about 5000 students in NROTC, USNA and USCGA) to expand exposure to new officers. So, if anyone has about $100,000 and wants all those undergrads to become members, bring it on!

In the discussion about the prime value that the Institute provides, RADM “T.C.” Cropper cited “Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal”, which he uses every day to train his leaders how to fight. Of course, there was a little chuckle at this moment, because that particular book is not published by the Naval Institute Press, though it does exemplify the type of books the Press publishes and, as another member in attendance noted, the Institute “owns the bibliography” having published so many books on naval history in the past.

Admiral Daley noted that he expects a rich harvest of leadership lessons from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from junior officers who fought those wars and the Naval Institute Press stands ready to publish those works. A common theme of the day was that the Institute is a dynamic entity that is dependent upon an engaged membership. Having met a few of the younger authors at the Awards Dinner (CDR Matthew Harper, who wrote “Chinese Missiles and the Walmart Factor” and CDR In H. Ha, who wrote “Away All… Hovercraft!“), I know that they’re already engaging some bright young minds. I have great expectations going forward.

I would encourage everyone to go check out the Institute, read some articles, buy some books (eBooks even!) and consider joining. You’ll find a serious-minded dedicated community standing ready to share knowledge and welcome new ideas.

For another report on the meeting, check out the Steel Jawed Scribe’s blog.



LCI man, Don Kemsley, oral interview

Canadian sailor Don Kemsley’s journal is must-read material and on the 6th, Sandy included a special treat – an oral interview her father gave. After dropping off British troops at Gold Beach, Kemsley’s LCI (Landing Craft, Infantry) brought American troops across the Channel. He mentions my favorite fishing village in Normandy, Port-en-Bessin, which is just east of Omaha Beach. I don’t think Don had a chance to buy Calvados from the market on a Sunday morning, but he and many other veterans made it possible for us to do so. Thanks, Don!



Weekend Wanderings Super Bowl XLV
6 February 2011, 11:30
Filed under: 506th, Marines, Navy, Veterans, Weekend Wanderings | Tags:

Super Bowl Sunday is a uniquely American experience, parties that start mid-afternoon on a Sunday and last until the game ends. Loads of food, a good amount to drink and a game on in the background. Oh, I almost forgot the commercials! The commercials are usually the best part.

  • Every year, folks go out and commemorate the Battle of the Bulge with a reenactment at Fort Indiantown Gap. Friends of mine were there and passed along a link to a good article about the event. Hat tip to Brim.
  • Craig made a good post to commemorate Operation Flintlock on its 67th anniversary. Operation Flintlock is a textbook example of “joint” operations built by experience – a prime example of Lessons Learned.


Weekend Wanderings New Years 2011
2 January 2011, 11:30
Filed under: Homefront, Leadership, Marines, Navy, Weekend Wanderings | Tags: , , ,

My lament about a lack of posts on Christmas at war was pre-mature. I just hadn’t wandered far enough to see them!




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