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Monday, March 31, 2014

Old Days and Familiar Fights: Admiral Zumwalt: Z- Gram-57

One of the topics we discussed during our discussion Episode 221: Officer Retention with VADM Bill Moran and CDR Guy Snodgrass had to do with certain "quality of life" issues - a familiar path down which the U.S. Navy has trod before.

One of the points made by CDR Snodgrass in his study "Keep a Weather Eye on the Horizon: A Navy Officer Retention Study" as to do with the administrative overhead
facing fleet units and the effort to slim those down:
6. Refocus Efforts to Remove Administrative Distractions for Commands

Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, wrote in a May 21, 2013 memo to Admiral John Richardson, “I have been made aware, from the chain of command and from direct feedback from the fleet, that we are spending too much time performing administrative tasks, or perhaps completing duplicative or competing requirements … which keep all of us from being effective — that prevent us from keeping ‘warfighting first’.” This memo instructed Admiral Richardson to stand up a task force dedicated to the reduction of administrative distractions so sailors and commands could place greater emphasis on warfighting. The effort was then handed to Rear Admiral Herman Shelanski, who later stated “our goal is to give back to our warfighters, and includes everyone from the CO to the deckplate leaders, more time to focus on the things they need to do.”
Funny, some of that reminded me of the famous Z-Grams from the early 1970s, including Admiral Zumwalt: Z- Gram-57 (emphasis added):
Z-gram # 57 (Elimination of Demeaning or Abrasive Regulations), 10 November 1970

FROM: CNO {Z-57}
TO: NAVOP
UNCLAS //NO1100//
102157Z NOV 70

DEMEANING OR ABRASIVE REGULATIONS, ELIMINATION OF

1. THOSE DEMEANING OR ABRASIVE REGULATIONS GENERALLY REFERRED TO IN THE FLEET AS "MICKEY MOUSE" OR "CHICKEN" REGS HAVE, IN MY JUDGMENT DONE ALMOST AS MUCH TO CAUSE DISSATISFACTION AMONG OUR PERSONNEL AS HAVE EXTENDED FAMILY SEPARATION AND LOW PAY SCALES.
FOR THIS REASON, SHORTLY AFTER TAKING COMMAND I REQUESTED A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF CURRENT NAVAL POLICIES AND REGULATIONS. I DESIRE TO ELIMINATE MANY OF THE MOST ABRASIVE POLICIES, STANDARDIZE OTHERS WHICH ARE INCONSISTENTLY ENFORCED, AND PROVIDE SOME GENERAL GUIDANCE WHICH REFLECTS MY CONVICTION THAT IF WE ARE TO PLACE THE IMPORTANCE AND RESPONSIBILITY OF "THE PERSON" IN PROPER PERSPECTIVE IN THE MORE EFFICIENT NAVY WE ARE SEEKING, THE WORTH AND PERSONAL DIGNITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MUST BE FORCEFULLY REAFFIRMED. THE POLICY CHANGES BELOW ARE EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY AND WILL BE AMPLIFIED BY MORE DETAILED IMPLEMENTING DIRECTIVES TO BE ISSUED SEPARATELY.


A. IT APPEARS THAT MY PREDECESSOR'S GUIDANCE IN MAY ON THE SUBJECT OF HAIRCUTS, BEARDS AND SIDEBURNS IS INSUFFICIENTLY UNDERSTOOD AND, FOR THIS REASON, I WANT TO RESTATE WHAT I BELIEVED TO BE EXPLICIT: IN THE CASE OF HAIRCUTS, SIDEBURNS, AND CONTEMPORARY CLOTHING STYLES, MY VIEW IS THAT WE MUST LEARN TO ADAPT TO CHANGING FASHIONS. I WILL NOT COUNTENANCE THE RIGHTS OR PRIVILEGES OF ANY OFFICERS OR ENLISTED MEN BEING ABROGATED IN ANY WAY BECAUSE THEY CHOOSE TO GROW SIDEBURNS OR NEATLY TRIMMED BEARDS OR MOUSTACHES OR BECAUSE PREFERENCES IN NEAT CLOTHING STYLES ARE AT VARIANCE WITH THE TASTE OF THEIR SENIORS NOR WILL I COUNTENANCE ANY PERSONNEL BEING IN ANY WAY PENALIZED DURING THE TIME THEY ARE GROWING BEARDS, MOUSTACHES, OR SIDEBURNS

B. I VIEW THE PROHIBITION AGAINST THE WEARING OF CLEAN, NEAT WORKING UNIFORMS OR DUNGAREES TO AND FROM WORK AS UNWARRANTED AND I NOW DIRECT THAT IT BE SUSPENDED FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF ALL CONCERNED.

C. TO STANDARDIZE CURRENT PRACTICES, WORKING UNIFORMS, DUNGAREES, AND FLIGHT SUITS ARE AUTHORIZED IN ALL NAVAL COMMISSARIES. EXCHANGES, SNACK BARS, DISPENSARIES, DISBURSING OFFICES, AND OTHER SERVICE TYPE FACILITIES, AND NO ONE WILL BE DENIED ENTRANCE FOR BEING IN THE "IMPROPER" UNIFORM, ASSUMING THOSE WORN ARE CLEAN, NEAT, AND IN GOOD CONDITION. BASE COMMANDERS WILL REVIEW SIMILAR RESTRICTIONS APPLICABLE TO DEPENDENTS AND ADOPT REGULATIONS CONSISTENT WITH CURRENT FASHIONS.


D. THE REQUIREMENT FOR OFFICERS AND MEN TO SHIFT INTO THE UNIFORM OF THE DAY FOR THE EVENING MEAL WILL BE DISCONTINUED, EXCEPT FOR CEREMONIAL OR OTHER SPECIAL OCCASIONS OR BY DECISION OF THE GROUP OF PERSONNEL INVOLVED.

E. AT LEAST ONE ROOM OF EVERY NAVAL OFFICER, CPO, AND ENLISTED CLUB SHALL PERMIT THE WEARING OF INFORMAL AND CASUAL CLOTHES {SPORT SHIRT} AND NAS CLUBS SHALL SIMILARLY PERMIT FLIGHT SUITS IN AT LEAST ONE ROOM OF EACH CLUB.

F. WHERE OPTIONAL UNIFORMS ARE SPECIFIED BY THE AREA COMMANDER, THIS WILL MEAN OPTIONAL TO THE INDIVIDUAL AND NOT TO THE LOCAL COMMANDS, EXCEPT FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS, SUCH AS INSPECTIONS, WHERE UNIFORMITY IS REQUIRED.

G. WHEN VISITING FLEET UNITS, I NOT ONLY DO NOT WISH TO SEE FRESH, PAINT APPLIED STRICTLY BECAUSE OF MY VISIT BUT CONSIDER THAT RUSTED SURFACES HASTILY PAINTED OVER ARE A REFLECTION OF POOR COMMAND DISCRETION. THIS TYPE OF PREPARATION FOR ANY SENIOR OFFICER VISIT SHALL BE PROHIBITED.

H. THE REQUIREMENTS TO CERTIFY THE POSSESSION OF SUFFICIENT FUNDS OR TO ACKNOWLEDGE GEOGRAPHICAL LIMITATIONS FOR LEAVE {EXCEPT FROM VIETNAM WHERE SPECIAL REGULATIONS APPLY} OR LIBERTY PURPOSES, TO PRODUCE PERSONAL PROPERTY PASSES, OR TO SHOW CERTIFIED PERMISSION TO BE AWAY FROM DUTY STATION {WALKING CHITS} PRESUPPOSES A GENERALIZED IRRESPONSIBILITY WHICH I DO NOT ACCEPT, AND THESE REQUIREMENTS WILL BE ELIMINATED.

I. IN VIEW OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS FOR OPERATING MOTORCYCLES, SAFETY REGULATIONS MUST BE STRICTLY ENFORCED; HOWEVER, MOTORCYCLES SHOULD BE PERMITTED ENTRY AND ACCESS TO ALL NAVAL FACILITIES UNDER THE SAME CONDITIONS AS FOR AUTOMOBILES, AND CONVENIENT MOTORCYCLE PARKING AREAS WILL BE PROVIDED. FURTHERMORE, SO LONG AS THE HEAD GEAR MEETS SAFETY STANDARDS, NO MOTORCYCLE OPERATOR SHOULD IN ANY WAY BE PENALIZED OR DENIED ENTRY BECAUSE OF THE COLOR OF HIS HEAD GEAR.

J. OVERNIGHT LIBERTY WILL NOT BE TREATED AS A PRIVILEGE FOR WHICH A SPECIAL REQUEST CHIT MUST BE SUBMITTED, BUT RATHER AS THE NORMAL FORM OF LIBERTY FOR OUR RESPONSIBLE SAILORS. EXCEPTIONS TO THIS POLICY WOULD BE MADE ONLY FOR EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES SUCH AS GOVERNMENT IMPOSED CURFEW OR EXTREMELY UNSATISFACTORY ENVIRONMENT, AND THEN ONLY UPON DETERMINATION OF THE SENIOR OFFICER PRESENT.

K. THE REQUIREMENT FOR LINE HANDLERS, REFUELING PARTIES, TOPSIDE WATCH STANDERS IN INCLEMENT WEATHER, BOAT CREWS IN HEAVY WEATHER, AND OTHERS WHO ARE ENGAGED IN WORK WHICH WOULD UNDULY SOIL OR DAMAGE SUCH UNIFORMS, TO PERFORM THE JOBS IN WHITES OR BLUES IS UNREASONABLE AND IS TO BE DISCONTINUED, EXCEPT FOR MOST UNUSUAL CEREMONIAL OCCASIONS.

L. THE OCCASIONAL PRACTICE OF REFUSING TO FORWARD A REQUEST FROM AN INDIVIDUAL TO HIGHER AUTHORITY WILL BE DISCONTINUED. IF PERSONNEL IN THE CHAIN HAVE GOOD REASON FOR NOT RECOMMENDING APPROVAL OF A REQUEST, THEY SHOULD, OF COURSE, SO STATE, BUT THEY MUST FORWARD IT EXPEDITIOUSLY ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.

M. I. AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT A MORE LENIENT ATTITUDE TOWARD IRRESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR BE ADOPTED, BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT WE CANNOT PERMIT GENERAL POLICIES TO BE DICTATED BY THE NEED, WHICH I SUPPORT, TO CONSTRAIN THOSE FEW INDIVIDUALS WHO DO NOT RESPOND TO THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE EXPRESSED IN MORE FLEXIBLE AND LESS RESTRICTIVE REGULATIONS.

E. R. ZUMWALT, JR., ADMIRAL, U.S NAVY,
CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS.

See CDR "Bus" Snodgrass's 14th point:
14. Reinstitute Uniform Wear Diversity for Commands

Unit esprit de corps is an incredibly powerful tool that can aid the retention of our best, brightest, and most talented. As one commanding officer put it best, “Everyone likes to be a part of a winning team.” Unfortunately, senior leaders lost credibility by making a change that had no discernible effect other than to make cosmetic changes to highly valued uniform components. As one officer put it, “Why make a change to something that is trivial to many, but held very dearly by those it affects most?”

Senior leaders should reconsider relaxing regulations concerning uniform wear, such as the reinstatement of command ball caps for surface warfare commands and the use of colored t- shirts and shoulder patches on flight suits for naval aviation – to include their wear off base. A February 18, 2014 message from Vice Adm David Buss, Commander Naval Air Forces, allows the wear of additional shoulder patches off base and colored t-shirts on base. This is a welcome change that many junior officers have fought to restore over the course of several years. Since the Navy Uniform Board is internal to the Navy, and is chaired by Vice Adm William Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel, the opportunity exists to push this to it’s logical conclusion: Allowing the wear of colored t-shirts off base. This will remove the necessity for a majority of officers to change shirts once they arrive at, and depart from, the squadron.

This is just one specific example among the many available to each warfare community. While broad in nature, this recommendation should not be perceived as decreasing professionalism or relaxing uniform standards. Rather, it is intended to provide commanding officers greater latitude in building a command climate based on excellence and individuality – both traditional hallmarks of successful Navy units.
You want a simple way to send some power back to commanding officers and to their subordinates throughout the fleet? Just go back to allowing them the flexibility to establish and enforce uniform policies in accord with Z-Gram 57 and Bus's 14 (also VADM Buss's msg referenced therein), especially for those who occupy space at the pointy end of the spear and not cubicles in big buildings. How about allowing SWO/SWE coveralls at Exchanges, Medical Facilities? Working sailors should not have to change clothes to go on the beach during working hours or to and from home. If a clean flight suit is permitted in such circumstances, why not a clean set of coveralls?

In short, ship and other afloat commanding officers should be given the power to allow sea-going sailors to wear when ashore such uniform items as ship ball caps and patches that will identify them as proud members of the sea service afloat units and teams. (For current standard, see fn7, Chapter 3 Navy Uniform Regs).

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:08 PM

    Well said, and I only have a one word response to offer:

    "Amen"

    ReplyDelete