Dilbert Navy

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The Dilbert Navy

This is a paraphrased version of Scott Adams' work in his first book that I thought was perfectly on parallel with the way that the Navy seems to handle it's internal workings. You be the judge, but be forewarned that I spent six cynical years in the Navy and I saw these exact things happen.

In the Navy, we have casualty control procedures. Most of the time, these procedures will be to save the equipment and the ship. It is just by coincidence that by saving the ship we also happen to be saving our own skins. The times when the procedures do call for saving your own life, it is only because without your life saved, the equipment won't be saved.



Note that I wrote this back in 1997-1998 when I was either still in the Navy, or had just gotten out of the Navy. I still have the book from Scott Adams, and probably need to re-read it sometime. I remembered that I had written this way back then, and thanks to the Way-Back Machine I was able to recover it. I think there may have been pictures to go with it at the time, but the import thing to me was the text.

I now look back on this with fondness, as it sort of describes how I was feeling at that time in my life. There are some very cynical things being said in this document, many of which are simply not true. However, there are also some things that continue to ring true. Your mileage may vary.

I have an open door policy

The Captain has an open door policy. Of course, you have to ask permission to enter through the door, but it is an open door policy. And once you are inside his door, you are subject to all of the articles of the UCMJ, so if you incriminate yourself to him you are also sort of sealing your fate and might as well go down to your bunk and change into your dress uniform so that you can receive your Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP or Mast).

You could earn more money under the new plan

I liken this to the old reenlistment bonus scheme that the Navy has. The Navy offers bonuses to certain rates that will re-enlist for six years. I have seen upwards of $30,000.00 for bonuses. The thing is, there is a very specific reason why they are offering these bonuses. The civilian world pays people with these skills a heck of a lot more than what the Navy does, and the Navy wants to keep these people in. The bonus isn't worth it, because in the civilian sector you can make more than your Navy pay plus bonus, and not have to go through as much grief to get it. Another thing is that it is a bonus, which can then be split into "Bone Us", the typical thing that happens to all naval personnel when they re-enlist.

We're reorganizing to better serve our customers

The Navy is constantly reorganizing. Of course, there are no real customers except the citizens of the United States, and they don't know that they are the customers because the Navy has very poor customer relations. The only thing that they ever do in the general media is explain their mistakes and try to recruit more workers. This is mostly due to reorganizing. The reason that there is so much reorganizing in the Navy is that the people are constantly being moved around. New people means new organization means no work gets done.

The future is bright

The management in the Navy is always saying something like this. It isn't true. The future while you stay in the Navy just gets duller and duller as the years roll by. Those twenty year chiefs are probably the dullest light you will ever see. It's sad, really.

We reward risk takers

Taking a risk in the Navy is like tying a noose around your neck and jumping off the side of the ship, hoping that the rope will break. If you actually succeed when you take a risk, some upper management type is going to take the credit anyways, and you will probably get yelled at for being stupid enough to take the risk in the first place, even if it did succeed. And if you happen to fail, the upper management will deny any knowledge of it, regardless of whether they actually knew about it or not. You fry either way, so there isn't any point. A big Catch-22.

Performance will be rewarded

There is a little saying in the Navy. You work more to work more. Those that work hard get noticed, and they are set with tasks that make them work even harder. Those that don't work very hard are ignored, and can breeze through without having any extra work placed on them. Those that do work a bunch and should receive a reward have to contend with the supervisor that has to do the paperwork. Paperwork sucks normally, and in the Navy it is even worse. Supervisors don't want to do it, and so it doesn't get done.

We don't shoot the messenger

Actually, this is the first person in line to get shot.

Training is a high priority

Scary as it may seem, this is actually true. Unfortunately, the Navy has taken it to such an extreme that it actually hampers the efforts of the sailor. There is such a thing as too much training, and the Navy enforces it. I think the only group of people on board that have more power than the training division is the Quality Assurance division, which seems to double in size every three days. I expect by the end of the year it will take up approximately half of the crew. For an idea of just how anal the navy can get with their procedures and training, take a look at the instructions recently posted at a dunking booth in the shipyard one afternoon.

I haven't heard any rumors

The Navy thrives on rumors. A day doesn't go by when there isn't some new rumor floating around about how we are going to the armpit of North Africa to free the chimpanzees or something.

We'll review your performance in six months

It is actually standard Navy practice to do performance evaluations every six months. Usually just before advancement exams.

Our people are the best

If you have ever taken the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), you will understand when I say that the people in the Navy are not the best. You have to get something like a 30 percentile to get into the Navy, which is the approximate equivalent to an imbecile. Small town court systems use the Navy to take away troublesome people that keep getting thrown into jail on Saturday night for blowing up mailboxes.

Your input is important to us

I have actually seen both extremes of this. Either your input is going to be completely ignored and you are going to get dumped on for bringing up something so stupid (two days later this idea will be implemented, of course) or your entire chain of command is going to come down on you because it got to the Captain and he wants to know why this wasn't happening the whole time. Basically, any input makes everyone above you look bad, and you are going to be the one to suffer.