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View Full Version : MCPON: Chief's Induction is NOT Tradition. New report debunks the myth



BURAWSKI
03-01-2015, 03:55 PM
In response to the March 9th, 2015 article in Navy Times “MCPON: Chief’s Induction is NOT Tradition” and the report calling the CPO Initiation a myth, I ask the MCPON: What is wrong with humility? The entire article demonizes the CPO Initiation, which I think is a distortion of reality and half truths. Master Chief Stevens is attempting to rewrite history by denying that any positive benefits were brought about with the CPO Initiation. By constantly bringing this subject up in the media, the message I get from Master Chief Stevens is that he has no respect for the CPO Community, since this is a subject that should be addressed and kept within the CPO Community. The decision to allow the CPO Initiation should be one that is decided not in public, but within the CPO Mess. What authority within the mess does any master chief petty officer have anymore? Not much since crucial decisions on CPO business are dysfunctional, and are not even decided with their input. You have to be wearing either a CMC or a Force CMC badge to even have a voice; a voice that does not have the interest of the Navy or the CPO Community in mind; and although not always the case, these positions have become primarily political, self-serving and just an extension of the wardroom. The rank and file CPO's are defacto hostages virtually cut out of the ability to have any meaningful input in determining the direction of the CPO Community. The article is correct in questioning whether there is anything wrong with change. My answer to that is nothing, if there is a valid reason for the change.

Despite what Master Chief Stevens says, there were many positive aspects from the CPO Initiation, and along with promoting camaraderie, did serve a legitimate purpose. The article implies that the whole concept was wrong and had to stop. I disagree with this in that the CPO Initiation did have a lot of value, fostering better teamwork and a sense of pride along with a feeling of accomplishment and esprit de corps. One of the concepts I learned during the initiation was written on a plaque, which stated in part, “You were subjected to humiliation to prove to you that humility is good, a great, a necessary attribute which cannot mar you - in fact, it strengthens you.” A vast majority of CPO’s did not consider this hazing or harassment. Also, I am sure that if a poll was conducted today within the CPO Community the majority would indicate that the CPO Initiation should continue. The problems that did occur with the initiation should (and could) have been corrected and kept within the mess, but unfortunately this did not happen, which is the fault of the CPO Community.

Certainly the TAILHOOK Scandal played a large role in the diminishing of not only the CPO Initiation, but all of the initiations, such as the Shellback Initiation. I will even go so far to say that had TAILHOOK not occurred, I believe that we would still have CPO Initiations.

Please don’t devalue the whole concept of the CPO Initiation saying it served no value whatsoever. Has it really improved the CPO Community by eliminating the CPO Initiation altogether? I don’t think so.


B. M. Burawski
YNC(SW)(AW), USN (ret.)

hustonj
03-02-2015, 01:50 PM
I'm not Navy, but my brother was. He made Chief. He talked with me about his initiation.

He was forced, through that process, to learn more about other ratings in the Navy. He was forced to learn more about the history of his own rating (including spending time with the widow of the only SeaBee MoH winner).

He said that there was some silliness, but he viewed it as exactly that: silliness.

He was adamant that the entire process was positive and that it helped him be better prepared to serve the Navy than he was prior to the initiation.

But, you know, that's just hearsay of one man's opinion, and so not worth the time it took to type, legally.

Rusty Jones
03-02-2015, 05:53 PM
Damn, he's obviously not good at playing the role of a CPO/SNCO. He made an unpopular decision. And instead of ignoring the negative feedback, or simply pretending to be stupid in order to keep anyone from trying to reason with him... he's DEFENDING his position!

How was he able to politic his way up to MCPON like that? I thought you had to master that art before you could even make E8!

TJMAC77SP
03-02-2015, 07:33 PM
And there is absolutely no such frapping thing as blood wings for jump qualified Marines. No sir, no such animal.

UncaRastus
03-03-2015, 12:03 AM
TJ,

And no kicked on blood stripes for getting to get to NCO rank either. Ever!

Rollyn01
03-03-2015, 02:42 PM
TJ,

And no kicked on blood stripes for getting to get to NCO rank either. Ever!

Hell, I was looking forward to getting my blood rank and that was when I was a PFC (E-3). Then again, that was when I was a Cav Scout, so being that we was all crazy as fuck anyway, it was kind of par for the course.

sandsjames
03-03-2015, 02:55 PM
I got my blood rank years ago. We'd been married a couple years. She kept bugging me so I gave in. Then, the door bell rang and I answered it. I noticed in the reflection from the window that I had red around my mouth. The salesman at the door looked at me quite strangely. I said, "Oh, that's just strawberry jelly." He said, "I understand how you got the strawberry jelly on your mouth...I'm just wondering how you got the peanut butter on your nose."

UncaRastus
03-03-2015, 02:55 PM
Tacking on ranks? Heaven forbid!

Rainmaker
03-04-2015, 01:42 PM
I got my blood rank years ago. We'd been married a couple years. She kept bugging me so I gave in. Then, the door bell rang and I answered it. I noticed in the reflection from the window that I had red around my mouth. The salesman at the door looked at me quite strangely. I said, "Oh, that's just strawberry jelly." He said, "I understand how you got the strawberry jelly on your mouth...I'm just wondering how you got the peanut butter on your nose."

Every good sailor sails the red sea....

Stalwart
03-04-2015, 03:11 PM
I think the article does do a good job in explaining how the CPO initiation and community as a whole has changed since inception, I think the headline was particularly bad and achieved the (likely intended) goal of upsetting quite a few people by stating that the initiation was not tradition (50 or 60 years of doing something does seem to make it traditional.)

That said, the overall issue is if initiation - then called induction now called CPO 365 is good, bad or indifferent. I would say based on my observation that there are good things that came out of it: pride, esprit de corps and usually the selectees were in better shape than before. Initiation / induction provided much needed leadership training to (in my opinion) too many Sailors who had not had a chance yet to develop leadership skills of their own.

There were some negative things that resulted from it usually has a result of poor leadership & communication by the Chiefs. When the common wisdom is that from mid-July to Mid-Sept you will not get much productivity from the Chief’s Mess there is a problem. I have been at 5 commands and 4 of them had Chief’s Messes and it was the same at each one, at 3 it was even briefed by the CMC to not expect the Chiefs to be present at too much because of ‘the season.’ 2 months out of 12 is roughly 17% of the year that the backbone of command leadership is gone … with the void being filled by those not selected. A question I once asked of a CMC was "if I can get my Department to function for 2 months absent of CPO presence, why do I need them at all?" No answer.

When I was assigned to a DDG, once ‘the season’ started to interfere with the ship’s schedule a quick reevaluation of priorities was done and induction events were only held between reveille (0500) and Chief’s and Officers Call (0630), during lunch hours or after working hours … the mess was also authorized 90 minutes of time in the afternoon M, W & F much like any other training. What was being done for / by induction was important but it had gotten to the point that the CO, XO and CMC had to come up with a compromise.

Also, in reading about how initiation/induction has changed and adding in my observations of it for 12 years (sometimes observing events – a couple CMC’s have invited me since I was a GySgt in the past life) it seems that some of the events or themes are self-licking ice cream cones. I understand the significance of the charge book, but that is relatively new. I get the quote from BURAWSKI on humility … but will say that humiliating someone outside of a specific training event (SERE etc. – which is NOT about humility) is not necessary – I have yet to see any 30+ year old adults learn true humility in 2 months. Some of the events I have seen bordered on silly frat-house style antics that while not hazing … were not professional. On the other hand, some of the events are well planned and executed. I admire the pride that the Chiefs take in being Chiefs, I think it is too bad we do not teach all Sailors regardless of rank to be proud of being Sailors.

As far as the necessity of Initiation / induction, I view it as necessary – in part because as I said earlier: as a whole the Navy does a bad job of training Sailors to be leaders. Yes, the Marine way of leadership development is different and works well for the Marine Corps, and I like it. Providing responsibility in increasing steps once a Marine is an NCO in the long run meant that once a Marine was promoted to SSgt he hit the ground running at a faster pace than what I have observed from CPO’s once frocked – just my observation. The Marine Corps does have resident PME for SNCO’s … but this is done after promotion to SSgt (Career Course) and GySgt (Advanced Course) … many SNCO’s don’t attend for some time (ever) … you don’t need to ‘be made ready’ to be a SNCO … you are not selected if you are not ready.

I think Tailhook had less impact on initiation than changes in the availability of instant / widespread reporting of incidents and how a relatively local incident can now spread nationally very quickly. I disagree that incidents of misconduct, abuse, hazing etc. should be handled by or within the Mess. The Commanding Officer not the Command Master Chief is ultimately responsible and legally accountable for all that takes place within his command; including things that he is not but should have been aware of -- deviating from that is a severe deviation from Naval Regulations. That does not mean that I think everything should be handled openly; there should be a calculated examination of what is open and what it not. Too much behind a closed door and lack of visibility for consequences fosters the perception that there is a lack of accountability.

Of the two questions: Is the CPO Community better for the changes? Is the Navy better for the changes? The jury is honestly still out on both. The number of reliefs for cause remain consistent (any are too many but …) … and if the perception that it is getting harder to be a leader in the Navy today is correct it would seem the changes are doing good or the number of reliefs would be on the rise. Of those two questions though, what is best for the Navy takes priority over what is best for the CPO’s (& over what is best for the Wardroom etc.)

Rusty Jones
03-04-2015, 05:57 PM
As far as the necessity of Initiation / induction, I view it as necessary – in part because as I said earlier: as a whole the Navy does a bad job of training Sailors to be leaders. Yes, the Marine way of leadership development is different and works well for the Marine Corps, and I like it. Providing responsibility in increasing steps once a Marine is an NCO in the long run meant that once a Marine was promoted to SSgt he hit the ground running at a faster pace than what I have observed from CPO’s once frocked – just my observation. The Marine Corps does have resident PME for SNCO’s … but this is done after promotion to SSgt (Career Course) and GySgt (Advanced Course) … many SNCO’s don’t attend for some time (ever) … you don’t need to ‘be made ready’ to be a SNCO … you are not selected if you are not ready.

Unfortunately, what you're talking about is never going to change. The one man who could have fixed that - because he was a former "green side" Corpsman, who has seen Marine Corps leadership up close and person throughout his career - was MCPON Campa. He had the experience to implement the change. But he didn't. Ironically, he was the biggest "Chief's Chief" of them all.

Seriously, the CPO Mess needs to be left alone. The focus needs to be on developing, empowering, and delegating more authority to - and treating with greater respect - E4 through E6 personnel. Because, now being Air Force and on the outside looking in... the Navy is the worst place to be if you're in paygrade E5 or E6. There are so many privileges and so much authority and respect that's reserved strictly for the CPO community, that it undermines the authority of anyone who's not a Chief. This doesn't seem to be the case in the Air Force.

Will the Navy fix that? I doubt it. The CPO community wouldn't like that very much.

Stalwart
03-04-2015, 06:16 PM
Unfortunately, what you're talking about is never going to change. The one man who could have fixed that - because he was a former "green side" Corpsman, who has seen Marine Corps leadership up close and person throughout his career - was MCPON Campa. He had the experience to implement the change. But he didn't. Ironically, he was the biggest "Chief's Chief" of them all.

Seriously, the CPO Mess needs to be left alone. The focus needs to be on developing, empowering, and delegating more authority to - and treating with greater respect - E4 through E6 personnel. Because, now being Air Force and on the outside looking in... the Navy is the worst place to be if you're in paygrade E5 or E6. There are so many privileges and so much authority and respect that's reserved strictly for the CPO community, that it undermines the authority of anyone who's not a Chief. This doesn't seem to be the case in the Air Force.

Will the Navy fix that? I doubt it. The CPO community wouldn't like that very much.

And for the most part I do agree.

BURAWSKI
03-04-2015, 06:25 PM
Stalwart,

From my perspective it seems that only the problems with CPO Initation were publicized, without fulling weighing the benefits. Also, I agree that the CO and not the CMC is ultimately responsible and legally accountable. Obviously the CO is required to be informed of issues needing to be corrected, or anything clearly illegal or which are violations of the UCMJ and Naval Regulations. I also would expect that these issues would be what the CMC would bring to the CO in these cases. But the entire command, and for that matter, the entire Navy should not be given minute details of every type of problem concerning things that should be handled within the mess. That is not happening. Also, it doesn't help when the MCPON encourages the publicizing of matters that may best be handled within the CPO Community. The entire Navy does not need to keep hearing about these problems. Instead of talking to reporters, I think the MCPON should be dealing more with the CPO Community to encourage resolution of these types of issues.

Stalwart
03-04-2015, 06:44 PM
Stalwart,

From my perspective it seems that only the problems with CPO Initation were publicized, without fulling weighing the benefits. Also, I agree that the CO and not the CMC is ultimately responsible and legally accountable. Obviously the CO is required to be informed of issues needing to be corrected, or anything clearly illegal or which are violations of the UCMJ and Naval Regulations. I also would expect that these issues would be what the CMC would bring to the CO in these cases. But the entire command, and for that matter, the entire Navy should not be given minute details of every type of problem concerning things that should be handled within the mess. That is not happening. Also, it doesn't help when the MCPON encourages the publicizing of matters that may best be handled within the CPO Community. The entire Navy does not need to keep hearing about these problems. Instead of talking to reporters, I think the MCPON should be dealing more with the CPO Community to encourage resolution of these types of issues.

And it may in part be perspective. I hear & see a lot of the good about initiation / induction; problem is that does not sell newspapers. So while what you are going to see in Navy Times is the negative; the base paper, the command newsletter or interaction with active duty folks get a more positive reflection of the Mess.

I don't see a lot of minutia from the Mess in print, online etc. but we have to know that when someone files a complaint, an ambulance is called, an OPREP 3 sent then if we are not to some degree open about what is going on then the perception of less than impartial treatment invades the command climate. If a CPO suddenly disappears from a command, folks will talk. When a CPO is gathered up by shore patrol then people talk. If the issue happens without witnesses it may be easier but people just have this (not so funny habit) of talking and once word gets out you won't get it contained ... Especially in the age of social media ... Which creates a lot of problems. I have seen more CPO & officer NJPs than I would have cared for but almost all that I have seen were required attendance for the Mess & Wardroom ... In one a frocked SCPO was unfrocked on the missile deck in front of the collected Mess and Wardroom; the crew wasn't there but the khaki was. But, since we had a few days before returning to port and since the Chief's transgression took place in front of a wide swath of the command people knew what had happened.

Both the Mess and the Wardroom are proud instituions; they should be; they are not perfect nor should we fool ourselves that they are. I would offer that part of the problem of the pseudo-pedestal we have placed some institutions on is that there is nowhere to go but down when something goes wrong ... And nowadays there is no way to keep things behind the door.

BURAWSKI
03-16-2015, 10:44 PM
"Chiefs’ season changes

The Navy’s top chief has made clear there will be no turning back on his controversial policy ending chiefs’ induction, which over the years was too often defined by ever-escalating offensiveness and immaturity, not the serious training regimen that was intended.

Make no mistake: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens is doing the right thing.

As a new Navy report reveals, these ad-hoc initiation practices brought with them traditions that made for a tough chiefs’ season. Begun as a way to challenge new chiefs, these rituals sometimes devolved into lewd hazing parties that threatened to shut down chief training.

For Stevens, it correctly comes down to sailors treating each other with “dignity and respect” — a phrase he uses frequently when addressing the societal challenges facing today’s Navy. Sure, some of these traditions were cherished in their time. But many have become out of step with a chief’s mess that today includes more women, is rightly expected to not glamorize alcohol use, and on whom the Navy relies for knowledge, guiding junior sailors and fostering a respectful workplace.

The bottom line is this: Stevens’ influence is getting results. Since ordering the removal of booze from interactions involving chief candidates, a long overdue move, chiefs’ season abuse cases have declined and misconduct by chief petty officers has dropped by half. That translates to a more influential and trusted chiefs’ mess — and the MCPON and his predecessors deserve credit for getting a difficult problem under control.

Stevens says he’s not judging how things were done in the past. Rather, “it’s all about progress.” And today, according to many chiefs who were initiated, those who emerge from his new CPO-365 program are every bit equal to their forebears.

More importantly, they are graduating ready to confront the unique demands placed upon the Navy’s contemporary enlisted force."



Navy Times, let me offer you a different perspective on your saga of negative news articles dealing with this subject. In response to the Navy Time’s editorial on Chief’s season changes, I should have included in my initial response that the issue is less about initiation, and more about how the CPO Mess is trusted. The MCPON states that he is not judging how things were done in the past. Unfortunately, that is exactly what he is doing. Overall, the CPO Initiation was not defined by an ever-escalating offensiveness and immaturity, but every mistake was publicized as such because of mistakes and misconduct made by a minority, and which resulted in a message given to the CPO Community that they could not be trusted to resolve their own issues.

The point I meant to make is that the problems with CPO Initiation were being corrected, despite the mistakes that a minority made. If the CPO Community cannot be trusted to resolve problems with CPO Initiation, then it stands to reason that they cannot be trusted to resolve larger issues. He is not the Lone Ranger and has a duty to work within the CPO Community to resolve issues, rather than standing on the outside discussing these issues with reporters and condemning the CPO Mess.

Why is MCPON Stevens so adamant that the CPO Community is unable to resolve this issue by ending CPO Initiation altogether? And after reading a number of articles in Navy Times on this subject, why does he feel a need to continually give these interviews that only publicize all of the negative aspects, which really place the entire CPO Community in a distinctly negative light, and a needlessly difficult position? Personally, I think he's given the community enough bad press already. Most of his comments with regard to the CPO Mess revolve around very public criticisms (criticisms which should be reserved for within the CPO ranks) with very little positive remarks. Does he even seek out or take advice from the many CPO's within the community who are able to offer a varied amount of experiences? Or does he just operate unilaterly, simply seeking approval from his boss?

I find it both ironic and ludicrous that by his actions, he has not only undermined, but also denied the CPO Community the dignity and respect it deserves.




B. M. BURAWSKI
Chief Yeoman, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Salty Old Dog
05-08-2015, 01:33 PM
Did anyone check to see if the MCPON was a Shellback? Methinks that, given the chance, he probably opted to remain a lowly pollywog, since he disagreed with the initiation required to upgrade his status. :rolleyes: