THE IMPORTANCE OF RANK STRUCTURE IN THE NAVY
This is an essay I had to write after disagreeing with a chief in the Navy. After serving faithfully for 17 years I am reduced to the same level as a middle school student and made to write a 1000 word essay. The topic was given to me and I put a spin on it that made the 'powers that be' a little angry when they read it. I am sure this will not settle well with all that read it, but it is an opinion. I only put it on here because it was recently published, although only as a 'letter to the editor.' It is the first time I was published. The only downside I saw to getting published was: 1) I could not use my real name as then I would have been in trouble with the Navy; and 2) It was on the page opposite an article about cat food conspiracy. But it did get in print!
THE IMPORTANCE OF RANK STRUCTURE IN THE NAVY
Rank structure has been used since the beginning of history. Someone had to be in charge. From the ancient tribal chieftain to the modern day President, there has always been someone in charge. In most capitalistic communities this person in charge is chosen by the people below them. However, in fascist, communist and dictatorships, the persons in charge are not selected by the people below them. The modern day military falls under the second example.
Rank structure, in the enlisted ranks, is determined by amount of time served, ability to conform to a superior’s agenda, knowledge of rating, and lastly leadership ability. Sadly, the criteria, in the order listed above, is the determining factors of where someone is in the rank structure in the modern day military.
The Basic Military Requirements manual states, “There are three elements that make an effective Navy leader:
1. Moral Principles
2. Personal Example
3. Administrative Ability
Moral principles include honesty, integrity, and loyalty. These principles of human conduct provide direction, solidity, and consistency to leadership.
The key to leadership is the emphasis you place on personal moral responsibility. You show personal moral responsibility by being honest and loyal. Your shipmates see these traits as your moral character. And a strong moral character influences others in a positive manner.” (NAVEDTRA 12018, page 21-8)
“Loyalty, both up and down the chain of command, is essential to effective leadership.” (NAVEDTRA 12018, page 21-3) can be contrasted with the statement on the same page that is used, usually for personal gain. “Loyalty – Always be loyal to the personnel above you in the chain of command, whether or not you agree with them.” (NAVEDTRA 12018, page 21-3).
Leading by personal example goes along with moral responsibility. Effective leaders have many different leadership traits, such as know-how, sincerity, and courage. Which trait is most important is a matter of opinion. However, if you show weakness in any trait a worker thinks is important, you lose that person’s respect.
Respect isn’t automatically given to a leader because of authority. You have to earn respect and confidence of personnel working for you by setting a good example. Lead your workers, don’t drive them.” (NAVEDTRA 12018, pages 21-1 & 2).
Leadership is a long forgotten standard among the “powers that be.”
With these examples given from the Navy’s own Basic Military Requirements manual, I will now discuss the importance of rank structure in the Navy and the importance to obey that rank structure.
The structure of the Navy requires that the few “powers that be” must be able to control the many “non-powers that be.” The programming begins in boot camp when new inductees are brainwashed into believing that superiors are always right. This brainwashing continues through the career of the sailor until one day he has become brainwashed enough to become a “power that be” and wear the enlisted khaki uniform. It’s like MK-Ultra controlling the brain, suggestive thinking causing their perspective to change. (Immortal Technique) At this point the brainwashee becomes one of the brainwashers.
In order to turn subordinates into mindless machines that follow orders without regard to feasibility or rationality you must program them. In order to program them you use valid examples such as, “If a superior tells you to turn the ship then you turn it, you don’t ask questions. Otherwise you may run aground or collide with another vessel.” This example provides rationale for the order that was given.
The problem ensues when the “powers that be” start issuing orders that have no rationale behind them. The orders are given either because the subordinate is attempting or doing something that the superior does not agree with, or the order is given to incite anger in the subordinate. The subordinate is conditioned to say things such as, “Aye, aye, chief!” and to carry on smartly. This type of conditioning is eerily reminiscent to Nazi Germany’s “Heil Hitler!” and carrying on smartly when an order was given. If this type of conditioning does not work then the next step is taken, invoking fear in the subordinate. In modern times this is done by holding a threat over the subordinates head. Such examples include, but are not limited to; threatening to “write someone up”, take privileges of the subordinate away, or threats of Captain’s Mast or Court Martial. In earlier times it was a more immediate and extreme form such as; killing one of the subordinates peers to coerce him to do as “the powers that be” say, attacks on the persons family or possessions, or killing the person who did not agree with the “powers that be” or their agenda.
These styles of control have been used effectively many times in history. Without this type of control, the Iraqi’s would not have used mustard gas on thousands of their own people when Saddam Hussein ordered it. Without this type of control, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi SS would not have been able to get so many of the German soldiers to kill innocents with military actions that preceded the Second World War. Without this type of control, the slave traders of the 17 and 1800’s would not have been able to get so many African’s to get on their ship to be sent to the United States to become slaves. Without this type of control, the Roman Catholic Church would not have been able to have so many people killed or tortured throughout Europe during the Inquisition.
It is constantly preached to us that we should have a questioning attitude. However, in reality, if we have a questioning attitude we are suppressed, counseled, or reprimanded in some way. In some cases the person questioning the Nazi-like tactics is disposed of. (Guffey, page 227). Once you voice your opinion, and it disagrees with them, you open yourself up to being a target for the “powers that be.” Therefore, when the junior sailor, identified by the enlisted blue shirt he wears, is told to have a questioning attitude, it is not meant to be toward the superior sailors, those who wear the enlisted khaki uniform. It means to have a questioning attitude toward those equal or lower to you. How long before the orders go from illogical to irrational? How long before, “Don’t do this because the ‘powers that be’ don’t agree with it,” becomes, “Kill your own innocent people because they do not agree with the ‘powers that be’?”
In summary, it is important to have rank structure in the Navy in order for the sailors to know who are manipulating them and who they should be manipulating. It is important for the rank structure to be followed so that whenever the “powers that be” issue an order it is followed in a mindless manner without regard to rationality or any sort of questioning attitude. The superiors must make their subordinates conform until authority usually goes unchallenged, as the subordinates resolve has been usurped through subjective and command-oriented conditioning. (Patton). For without this type of control, the “powers that be” will lose the power that they feel they so rightly deserve.