September 07, 2010
By Jacey Eckhart
In a single month, the Navy fired the commanding officer of the USS Peleliu for unduly familiar behavior as well as the head of the telecommunications command in Bahrain because of multiple relationships with others in the command. Surely now Big Navy has got to admit that whatever they are teaching their leaders about sexual relationships is just not working.
Not the threats.
Not the punishments.
Not the mothers-in-law reading humiliating headlines to you over the phone. No matter what they try, the Navy has still had to relieve seven ship captains in 2010 alone. What is that telling them?
It is telling me that those trainers ought to change tactics. It is telling me they ought to learn how to wield sexual humiliation from my little mom. Think I'm exaggerating? OK. Take the time I got one little hickey in high school. OK. It was kind of a line of hickies. Like I had been attacked by James Dyson and all his 5000 prototypes. Anyway, we were in the middle of a shopping center when my mom noticed.
"OH NOOOOOOOO! SOMETHING IS BLEEDING ON YOUR NECK. YOU ARE INJURRRRRED!"
"Mom, would you hush," I hissed at her as the crowds gathered, peered at my neck, smirked. "Its just a hickey."
"A HICKEY??? WHAT IS A HICKEY???"
"It's a passion mark, Mom. A love bite. You know, a hickey."
My mom stumbled on for a few steps. Laid her hand on my arm. Leaned in and whispered. "How…exactly… did you do that?"
Turns out, the nice girls in my mom's class at St. Mary's High School in 1959 could conjugate Latin verbs, but not anything else. My punishment for getting a hickey was explaining how exactly how I got a hickey. In excruciating detail. With a crowd watching.
I never had a hickey again. No, nor any of my kin.
Which is exactly what the Navy ought to do about commanding officers, executive officers, and command master chiefs who get caught messing with the crew. They should get the details in excruciating detail in front of a crowd.
Now I'm not really interested in humiliating anyone in real life. I'm just saying we really do need to understand how people who have consistently performed at such a level that they attained command can suddenly fall.
Granted, we know human beings do not always act in their own best interest, but how does this happen in a command? What is the process here? What makes them think they won't get caught? What are they telling themselves when they allow themselves to break all the rules they know about command? How does this affect the microcosm of command and the lives of those family members on shore?
Big Navy needs to take a note from Yale who hired General McChrystal to lecture on leadership after the fiasco at the hands of Rolling Stone. Who better to lecture on sexual ethics all over the fleet than these folks who slipped down that slope? I say that these fallen commanders with 17 or 18 years in the military who want to stay in the military and still collect retirement should have to take a crap job that no one else wants to do AND become the teachers of the sex ed part of command schools.
We could make it a lecture no one could sleep through. I could help. After all, I learned at my mother's knee.