Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Naval Aviators Reprimanded for Rescues 
Heh. Sounds like the Navy.

Hell, these are the same people who fired Admiral Macke from CINCPAC for making an insensitive comment, and disciplined Admiral Larsen for telling an off-color joke at a staff meeting.

That said, it's not a brilliant idea to take two helicopters off mission for an entire day, either. Jeb Stuart thought he was doing a good deed by riding circles around Meade's army on the eve of the battle of Gettysburg. And yes, he captured 40 wagons and brought them back to the Army of Northern Virginia.

But because Stuart lost his mission focus, Lee lost his eyes and ears forward at a crucial time.

We don't know what the helicopters could have delivered had they stayed on the resupply mission. And the resupply mission is important. I don't know that I agree with their commander's decision. It's a matter of a cost-benefit analysis.

But it is the commander's call.

And it's important that people stay in their lanes.

That said, if any of my LTs are cut off, I want them to exercise sound judgement, within the limits of my intent. My leaders are free to make mistakes. They are NOT free to abdicate all initiative and professional, on-the-scene judgement. But they must do so knowing my intent and priorities, and those of the commander two levels up.

If they acted within these priorities, they did right. If they ignored them, they did wrong. If the command did not make their intent and priorities clear, then these lieutenants did the right thing by making the best decision they could with the information they had and executing violently.

Who's right?

Not enough information to tell. Withhold judgement.

Splash, out


Discussed this with a friend that doesn't understand the military much. Points I made:

1) Somebody's got to be out front, but somebody's got to be in support role, too. That day their job was support. Who knows what logistical support fell down because they were doing their own thing?

2) Didn't tell anyone what they were up to until hours later. That bright move might have resulted in the Navy diverting resources from helping survivors to doing SAR for THEM.

3) They weren't formally punished. They got an ass-chewing. That's what they deserved. The headline reflects headline writer hype more than accuracy (not the first or last time we'll ever see that).

4) The one that was insubordinate demonstrated he shouldn't be let back into the air until he recognized the need to follow his orders.

5) They went in unfamiliar with the area, probably without even maps, and without the least brief on the conditions they were flying in. Also didn't have any idea what A2C2 procedures were in effect in the area. They were a safety hazard. The pilots who were supposed to be there had most likely been briefed on these things. Still in danger, but at least aware of the hazards and procedures.

6) Not mentioned in this article, but found in another, is that the center they made their first logistics run to, Stennis Space Center, was being used as a staging area for launching relief supplies into affected areas. According to their website, Stennis also has "Facilities include a number of large antennas to receive available oceanographic and meteorological satellite data, a Map Data Formatting Facility, a water-wave channel, and numerous laboratories for acoustic and oceanographic computation, instrumentation, analysis, and testing." Sounds like Stennis was important to the handling of this disaster in several ways, in my book. If the other logistics runs these guys were on were supposed to support similarly important facilities, then their loose-cannon approach to their mission may have been detrimental to the much larger relief fight - adversely affecting more than just 110 victims. (BTW, COUNUS-based log support doesn't come from helicopters except in emergencies, so it's hardly 'mundane' as the reporter characterizes it).

The commander was right, they were wrong, and they got the appropriate level of punishment - an ass-chewing.
Let's not forget that Macke managed to torque off a majority of our Japanese supporters at a tense moment in international relations--and he was supposed to be a diplomatic guy. He screwed up enough to need firing.

(BTW he was also the guy who arranged for Greeneville to go out for a day with civilians...)
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