Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An Open Letter to Navy Times

Dateline: Planet Grow-a-Pair

Relieving Capt. Honors of his, by all credible accounts, excellent command aboard the USS Enterprise is a travesty, and perhaps a sign of the rot within the upper echelons of military leadership, to cower before what seems to me to be a very clearly political stunt, perhaps intended to damage the Commander-in-Chief, but surely a decision that is unwise and unnecessary, punishing an outstanding officer for acts that in my estimation were directly related to his excellent performance as the XO of the USS Enterprise.

It is clear even from the biased selection of material from the videos being broadcast online and in the news media that the videos were intended (and succeeded) in sustaining morale in trying times under highly stressful conditions. Frankly, assuming the rumors of his being relieved of command are confirmed in the next few hours, this is nothing less than a shame and a blot on the capacity for judgment of all those who've allowed this to go forward and who have not contested the sloppy journalism and lack of sense displayed in telling (or "spinning") this story, preferring instead to go gutless, perhaps in an attempt to embarrass the current Administration's long overdue scuttling of the misguided and disastrous DADT policy.

Capt. Honors, the Navy and the American people deserve better.

Every day I'm reading stories of a suicide epidemic building in our nation's military. [Let's call it a Freudian slip that I first typed "media" and in fact sent this text hastily to Navy Times  including that gaffe.  Mea culpa.] It's frankly an embarrassment that someone whose videos may well have saved some sailors' lives by giving them a laugh when they may have otherwise sunk into fatal despair under a lesser XO, is now being treated to such a shameful kangaroo court, aided, perhaps, by the kind of politically savvy, but utterly useless officers who tend to dominate certain parts of the military, offiicers unfit to shine Captain Honors' boots.  You may not know you are one, but I guarantee those who've been under your command can recognize you.

If there is any justice left in this world, the public shaming of whoever was behind this hatchet job will come some day, and if senior officers were complicit, at the moment I'm thinking they ought to be charged with acts of sabotage, related to undercutting and subverting unit morale aboard the Enterprise, just as it was preparing to embark on its probably final tour of duty under Capt. Honors' able command, now to be, at best, under the command of someone competent but burdened with coping with the almost certain drop in morale that will be the inevitable consequence of this travesty, assuming it plays out in the usual way.

Acts like this impair the readiness of sailors and soldiers everywhere and whoever engineered this bit of political theater deserves a special place in Hell.

As a veteran I've remained silent for too long on this -- though I did resign from the Veteran's organizations that supported DADT when it was put in place and served as the basis for endless, pointless political games over sexual politics and personal traits irrelevant to military (or any other) service.

 I served with too many gay and lesbian service members whose competence, patriotism and sense of honor and duty were all that mattered as they did their missions with valor and professionalism. Making a political game out of any service member's sexual identity or, for that matter, any other personal quality irrelevant to their service and competence at the mission at hand is just a complete and utter waste of resources, serving only as a tool for the gutless political manipulators in the upper ranks that are and always will be a burden to unit cohesion and a corrosive factor in unit morale.

None of the GLBT soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines I knew during my own service would have found Capt. Honors' videos anything but amusing. The content itself is being misinterpreted, and willfully viewed without context or common sense. Grow a pair already.

With all due respect,

Sgt. Brett Underberg-Davis
US Army (1980-86)

Illegitimi non carborundum

Context people, context

And here's the supposedly "offensive" video: