Once you are past the tipping point, it is a quick ride to the bottom.

Expand full comment

Considering the policies leadership is embracing I’m truly surprised they get anyone to join beyond the fringe.

Expand full comment
Jan 17, 2023·edited Jan 17, 2023

The same incompetent "leadership" that can't manage shipbuilding or budgets, with the strategic vision of a third-grader.

Politicians in uniform, dressed up like doormen.

Expand full comment

As we are neither Congress nor Dictators we can only offer advice that is never acted on.

Adjust ends and ways to means, reduce fleet, fully man.

In army I would say reduce units and fully man.

Never mind Strategy, they won’t tell us what it is if they have one. They don’t trust us and we shouldn’t trust them.

If the Navy has Up or Out get rid of it that’s for a Sales Force. Compensate people with raises for staying, or as the Russians do bonus for challenging positions especially command.

Perhaps also stepping further back into the realm of fantasy we could ask what is it exactly the United States government means to do? It certainly isn’t uphold the Constitution. Perhaps if this question could be answered the people who agree would step forward.

To leave the realm of dreams and to return to earth: As far as the Kitchner saying we need to buy more people, this is a revealing statement of the thought processes at that level, and at last we have a possible realistic solution; exactly- buy people. We have great success with this approach- mercenaries aka Contractors- in the land forces. This is your answer.

This my dears is your only answer. The Navy then becomes a training and recruiting pool for Contractors to man your shortfalls and ah handle delicate matters involving the inevitable true nature of war. Believe or not they’re cheaper too (no housing, etc) and more efficient by an order of magnitude. They can be dismissed instantly if problems.

As our government has morphed into a Contracting Brokerage since Clinton reinvented government this will align you better with the actual government, our actual duties ($$$) as so constituted, and frankly our society at large.

I’m deadly serious, this is a deadly business. As there’s been no naval war since 1945 you haven’t had to adapt, here is the real answer. Reminder the man said himself buy more people.

Exactly so.

You already have a baseline with the merchant marine, which is more than the Army had.

Get with the program or perish.

And it will not be a good death.

Expand full comment

I’m describing 21st Century war 23 years in, I’m quite serious. Go to contract sailors.

Expand full comment

Erik Prince can tell you why that will never happen, and he has the scars of that experience. Others can explain why a mercenary military doesn't work.

Expand full comment

Erik Prinz's firm was replaced.

He was one of many.

Actually the entire Tahir Square farce was a contracting dispute and the replacement contractors told me so...

I am personally aware that our army doesn't work and the contractors get it done.

What doesn't work is our government and this is reflected in the military, which is why our government has become a contracting brokerage, this is also reflected in the use of contractors successfully for the last 2 decades or more.

I'm living in the real world, some are sailing the high seas of their minds...but no naval war since 1945. The dream is ending.

If you want to learn the hard way via defeat, proceed.

Expand full comment

Read Erik's book- "Civilian Warriors" and you will learn much. https://bit.ly/3XyoOQS

I was personally aware that the USAF worked and we did not have any contractors. Personal anecdotes are of minimal value.

Improving your knowledge base is a wonderful thing.

Expand full comment

Snide doesn’t outweigh experience. You are not Erik Prinz for having read his book.

Knowledge? I do not think this word means what you think it means...

The USAF may work without contractors but it is run as a Corporation, one that has not faced an peer enemy in our lifetimes.

Expand full comment

My comment was not meant as snide.

Expand full comment

There is no substitute for young patriots, and they are on a contract in a manner of speaking. Strip off political correctness. This experiment with making us look and think like general society is not working, partly because we suck at it. It is not us and can never work and reconcile with a chain of command methodology. It turns off the very people we want as well. Reverse course. Emphasize the positive. Downsize civilian pentagon and service staff that supports these failing and negative theories. Merit and performance at sea rule. and reinforce teamwork and respect regardless of race or creed.

Expand full comment

I believe I covered that in Dream World above.

While you're at it restore the Republic as well.

Now there's putting lipstick on a pig, and putting lipstick on a corpse.

You are recommending a new shade of lipstick for the corpse.

The Republic is dead. A mercenary government rules, no one should fight for them under the delusion of Patriotism. Only mercenaries should serve our government.

Patriotism at this point would be fighting for American soil, exclusively. Meanwhile War actually has become a racket, as has our government and no one should serve it under false pretenses any longer, swearing an Oath to a Constitution they overthrew with Biden. By the way the Contractors are treated with far more respect than the actual military. There's a reason - our managerial class respects money, it has contempt for chumps serving their country for patriotism. A prison convict is higher status to them.

Your Sea Lord Kitchner has said "We have to buy more people."

I think that statement says it all about leadership that needs to be said.

Yes, you do need to buy people. The right people.

Contractors, just like the rest of the government, just like the greatly improved VA, just like the ground forces who have decades of combat and experience now.

Your advice is for a government that does not exist. A time past, a Constitution that died because no one would kill for it, but the other side killed to keep their ill gotten gains. This isn't the Republic, it's Corporatist America.

Now if you want to preserve anything, sailors or the precious ships, do what the rest of the government has been doing for decades and hire contractors - or become contractors.

Preserve what you can while there's something left, and hope for clearer skies.

Expand full comment
Jan 17, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

Term limits would fix a lot. She is still the best government on earth and the hope of the world. Worth our best efforts.

Expand full comment

What is worth our best efforts?

What exactly do you see?

If you see Constitutional government you see a corpse.

As for the Hope of the World - the real world hopes to survive our descent into madness.

The real government hates it's own people madly, insanely, genocidally.

As the young people are deluged in Anti-American propaganda and are well aware of the hatred borne them and their kind WHY would they enlist?

Term limits for Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot might have fixed some things too....we'll never know.

Expand full comment
Jan 17, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

Term limits might fix a lot, but it will not happen until we have an Article V Convention of States. Congress will not voluntarily limit their power. Have a CoS, keep it simple- only Term Limits and a Balanced Budget. Maybe only Term Limits if that is what is needed to get 38 States to agree on a CoS Amendment.

Expand full comment

We were enlisting Filipinos directly from the Philippines for many decades to be Stewards serving the wardroom. Those guys were well vetted and they served honorably. Later they were permitted to serve in other ratings. I have 2 brothers-in-law with degrees from good colleges in the Philippines in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. Was able to get them to immigrate here. It took 10 years. Both arrived in California and immediately wanted to join the Navy but were refused because the recruiter said they had their quota of Filipinos. When they called me in desperation, I told them to go to a different recruiter and declare themselves Hispanic. After 400 years of Spanish rule, they had to have some Spanish heritage. Both were able to join the Navy. The elder boy served 4 years and got out as a BT3. Who can blame him? BT was one of the most thankless jobs in the Navy. The younger boy promoted to GSEC and retired a SWO qualified CWO4 at year 31. As an aside, another brother-in-law joined before I did and retired an MSC with 26 years.

Why not hire foreign nationals from the Third World who are smart, educated, can speak English and can pass a rigorous vetting process and enlist them for 6 or 8 years? Add the proviso that if they underperform, they get sent back home. They can earn their citizenship by serving. The salary we can pay them will attract many. Many have the values of our grandparents. Locally, I know of an East German who defected in his teens who joined the Navy as an Aviation Boatswain's Mate. He retired as an O-6 LDO. Plenty of talent out there.

Expand full comment

So why do they sign up for this again in 2023?

It seems gain? Gain of citizenship?

>No need, there's an app for that-CBPOne. Customs and Border Patrol app,

literally wave your phone as you fly in.

Taxpayers and NGOs already pay better than The Navy.


Why risk your life in a sinking fleet when you can do the I-94 immigration form online and wave your phone?

I respect Filipinos and have several Filipino comrades in arms.

I can't recommend the military to them now, except as 3d world harsh calculation:

In the 3d world, or in a Autocracy and repressive government and society such as America or Venezuela it's wise to be in uniform and have a official status and gun, crew, badge.

There's a reason if you like. The best hope for your family and yourself in permanent war at home and abroad is to be a soldier or policeman or both.

We'll look after each other, the rest we can't trust - and won't.

There you are - fixed it.

Expand full comment

You make good points. One of my son-in-laws was a former Seabee who served his last 8 years as a "homesteaded" Navy Recruiter in the Pacific Northwest. Before he retired, he was exclusively an Officer Recruiter in the Portland area. He had several promising young men with STEM degrees in the queue for the Navy Nuke Program but could not put them in because there were 2 unfilled quotas for minority women to be filled first. The men got tired of being put off and delayed and sought opportunities elsewhere.

I couldn't really recommend to any of my friend's sons or daughters to join the military now. I feel awful about that because the Navy was so good to me. So why would I recommend that some Third Worlder join? Because it was an act of desperation, may be disingenuous, too. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush...I suppose I was leaving no tern unstoned. Mea culpa and thank you for the feedback.

Expand full comment

Good luck to all.

The only reason I can cold bloodily recommend military service is we are in an authoritarian state that uses anarchy as one of its control mechanisms, if you live in such a country as America now its Venezuela on the bottom and cold war Eastern Europe on top, a man and his family is advantaged for having official status, especially as the wielder of violence (a task our managerial class disdains and avoids to their peril). You can also do some good, possibly by refraining from harm.

We might be able even to get a Republic and Constitution back, in some unknown and unimaginable fashion. 😉

Expand full comment

Why not hire foreign nationals from the Third World .....yes, because defending America is just another one of those jobs Americans won't do.

Expand full comment

A hot button issue to be sure. Looks like we agree. Where practicable, I buy American and admit to a benign MAGA xenophobia myself, sans hat. But when a hungry pig is rooting for truffles, sometimes he needs to leave the forest. I cited three of my brothers-in-law as Third Worlders who had successful naval careers. Am sure there is a huge talent pool of good men out there to be mined. Would not advocate recruiting from the day laborers standing in front of Home Depot at 0700. But if it does come to that I hope the recruiter doesn't hire after a long Cinco de Mayo weekend. I think that in the end if we have recruited carefully we may end up with "better" Americans than the ones who would not or could not step up to the plate for their country. "Better" how? "Better" like all the people we know and served with.

Expand full comment

They would if they knew what they were defending, we 🇺🇸 don’t, so perhaps just better position to look out for each other.

Expand full comment

The best long term thing for Heritage Americans would be the failure of the US Empire, and a weakening of its military helps with that. The Federal - Imperial - government is not worth serving, and since the US is increasingly a broke, overweight third world country under the age of thirty it’s likely they won’t be able to get the numbers and quality they want regardless.

Expand full comment
Jan 17, 2023·edited Jan 17, 2023

The Navy really fucked themselves with the purely political mid-term stunt of draining the DEP pool. In addition to starting '23 in a hole, it completely blows up the training pipeline, so those extra warm bodies are liability, not an asset. Further, since they can't get into a school, and will spend outsized time either picking up cigarette butts at Great Mistakes, or mess cranking aboard a ship, they're going to be far more disillusioned than the average Seaman Timmy. And they're going to go home and tell everyone they know that the Navy is a clusterfuck, and under no circumstances should they trust Petty Officer Jones or any other Navy recruiter.

It somewhat boggles the mind that the Navy simultaneously can't keep ships in the Incredible Shrinking 300+ Ship Navy, and can't even come close to properly manning the dwindling resources they currently have.

Sooner or later, someone is going to realize that the answer will simply have to include fewer six or nine month deployments simply to fulfill a COCOM's desire for a bigger part of the pie. I get that there are important benefits of having sizable forces deployed, but is it worth it if the cost is simply grinding the fleet to a nub, in terms of both ships and people?

I'd like to hear the navalists discuss this, particularly someone well equipped to support the argument that it is OK to occasionally say 'NO.'

Expand full comment

CDR Salamander; with regards to the case you make yourself;

Image, Leadership, Reputation:

(I refer you to your own lists, especially leadership):

There’s putting lipstick on a pig, then there’s putting lipstick on a corpse. You ask what shade should be chosen for the latter.

Expand full comment

Sir, US has 3rd largest population in the world, after China and India, and by far the largest in the developed world. If we cant get 170,000 https://civicinfluencers.org/4000000-americans-turn-18-in-2021-thats-voting-power/ from the 4-million turning 18 every year, say 1 of 23, then may I suggest we reduce the armed forces to - say 800,000 vs the about 1,400,000 currently in the military, and teach the rest of the cohort to knit or something useful.

Expand full comment

Excellent explanation of the primary Navy personnel challenges. I agree with ADM Harvey that this is the tip of the iceberg, although his comment about buying more people is way off base. The general causes are applicable to the other Services. I've never had less respect or trust in senior military or civilian officials. I have not read and heard so many people recommending that kids, particularly their kids or relatives, not join the Military, and this from military or military affiliated people. The military had major problems in the late 60's and early 70's but there were other issues back then.

Expand full comment

It seems clear to me that the only solution left to us is to start impressing British citizens. If I remember my history correctly, they did it to us and we ended up going to war over it (among other things like our desire for the annexation of some Canadian territory) and doing pretty poorly. Now, however, the shoe is very much on the other foot...

Expand full comment

I seriously wonder if the mistake too far these idiots finally make will be conscription. 🙏

Oh I ❤️🇺🇸 but we have to look at facts.

Its not as if they’re not screaming in our face.

Expand full comment

A similar thought occurred to me as I read Cmdr Salamander's excellent essay.

*IF WE WANT TO AVOID CONSCRIPTION* -- and I believe we do -- we are going to need to do a lot more than what we're doing to match recruitment to our military's personnel needs.

Expand full comment

I pray for conscription. Amen.

I pray for the means to finally have an end, an end they must face at last,

and so the means now takes the ways.

The end is we get our country back.

Expand full comment

Leadership? Lloyd Austin has destroyed US military readiness at all levers with ‘woke’ culture and the vax mandates. Who wants to deal with this insanity? Better to stay in mom’s basement & play video game war simulations.

Expand full comment

Ask what our readiness to sail is regardless of manning. It makes a dire picture worse.

Expand full comment

I ❤️🇺🇸 but it has no fight in it.

It can’t be defended, we can’t turn our backs on the rest.

As for salvaging and preserving the Navy; buy more people, as the good and honest Admiral said, and wait for better times, or better chances. Buy contractors.

Or you won’t have a Navy, for reasons you sailors well list above. This is survival time for America, not reform.

Look the facts in the face and deal with what we really have, not what we should have.

Expand full comment
Jan 17, 2023·edited Jan 17, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

Really, really, excellent piece you've written to very nicely explain the enormous impact of demographics on Navy (and by implication, the other branches of the military) personnel and recruitment, along with other known challenging factors.

One typo to correct if you can:

"I see a lot of reacting, pulling from the historical took box... "

LOTR - Fool of a Took https://youtu.be/5cZ4ABUo6TU via @YouTube

Expand full comment

Thanks. Mefixie. No editor but the well meaning folks in comments.

Expand full comment

I recall we all liked hard work and a challenging job. It's what we who hadn't yet received a draft notice signed up for. An adventure. Long and frequent deployments and problems with under manning offered great opportunities to learn your trade and to promote. But burn-out can happen. I was a 19 year old surplus RD2 on a DE in 1967 with 2 years 1½ months service and was transferred to a deploying DDG. We had no Chief or RD1. CIC was short-handed so I became LPO under an RD2 6 months senior to me. That cruise made my career, and after that I was a 30 year man. Got promoted to RD1 before I sewed on my first hash-mark because of those opportunities. I loved my Navy then and for the next 22 years.

Later in 1982 I served 4 years aboard an Oliver Hazard Perry FFG. Those ships were minimum manned by design. That design never realistically took into account all the sweep/swab/wax/buff, chip & paint and watching standing the minimum manned crew had to do. The CNO's new drug policy saw us lose a lot of people too. They were not missed, but it made us stay undermanned until they were replaced. Retention wasn't great. In my 4th year aboard, we transferred to the NRF program. We became more minimally manned as a result. We were promised TAR replacements for some of the people we lost. Others would be replaced by the SELRES who drilled aboard on underway weekends once a month and 2 week drills once a year, underway. The promised TAR reliefs were mostly forced convertees from TAR's in the admin fields, with a long training pipeline for technical "A" Schools and follow-on equipment training. The SELRES were good people. But they weren't there often enough to be of much help. But that was OK because they were there to train. The TAR's? I don't know. In my final year I never saw one. I heard that many of the TAR's were resentful about being sent to sea duty (as it was not part of their "contract"). Also, the TAR's I was tracking for my own division were having difficulty in their schools that involved frequent setbacks. Setbacks that would have been "drops" for a Regular. But those TAR convertees were a scarce resource and HAD to complete their training. I always suspected they wanted to be dropped and go back ashore to be YN's and PN's again. Retention went into the toilet that final year I was aboard. You cannot stay perpetually under manned and overworked in a fast food restaurant or in the Navy without retention falling off. I cite the undermanning on that Frigate because I was there for 4 years and served with good Sailors for most of their enlistments and saw them pack it in and leave in the end. Some JO's too. That Frigate was like a small friendly town. I liked it enough to extend a year. That ship should have been a reenlistment incentive. But people just burned out and left. Sadder still was 1 suicide, 3 mental breakdowns that got them sent ashore, a big string of ruined knees from off-duty tackle football with beer as both a sedative and lubricant, 1 Seaman who had his wife run over his foot with their car, 1 desertion, failed drug tests, OTH discharges for too frequent disciplinary & alcohol problems.

You want to attract people? Make the job and the career attractive. I only have anecdotes, not answers.

Expand full comment

Regarding your TEMADD question (ie, where are the TEMADDs going?), the answer is actually to deploying ships. This is a Rob Peter to Pay Paul game that TYCOMs play, where they take sailors with certain "critical" NECs and pull them off one ship to fill a gap on another. Typically, the sailors are grabbed from ships in maintenance and put on ships that are either deployed or about to deploy.

I've been on the receiving end of this a couple of times. For example, when I was on my CSIO tour on an LHD, I had to send off one of my best network admins for 6 months to support another ship on its deployment. They got back to us right as we were getting out of maintenance, and then went through workups with us and deployed again. Since they had 6 months between deployments, they didn't trip any PERSTEMPO alarms...however, that sailor's two year time period was a heavy yard period (which is very busy for the IT rating), a deployment on a different ship where they went aboard and stepped into an LPO at sea role, followed by a compressed workup cycle (thanks to the avail running long), followed by another deployment that ended up 1) extended, 2) shifted from C6F to C5F (yay), and 3) losing port calls due to the onset of COVID-19. This sailor, by the way, has all the skills, experience, and certifications needed to get out and easily pull a 6-figure salary in an IT or cyber role. And we wonder why there are retention and recruiting issues!

And this to say nothing of the ship that is giving up the sailor to support the non-optional TYCOM directive to provide said sailor. That ship just has to make do with what they have, regardless of impacts to training, duty rotation, testing, etc.

So in that sense, getting rid of TEMADDs is a very good thing, as it will get rid of a band-aid that is probalby helping to mask just how dire the shortfall in certain rates really is.

Expand full comment