Mabus Strikes his Colors on Ratings

Mabus joins the ranks of those, like HMS Java in the foreground here, who tangled with the US Navy and lost.

It was a stinging defeat for the cruelest, most bitter enemy the American Navy has ever faced.

Ray Mabus’s decision to eliminate Navy enlisted ratings, which was approved by a slew of yes-man admirals including current CNO Adm. John Richardson and Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke, and a slew of yes-man master chiefs including current MCPON Steven Giordano and his predecessor MCPON Mike Stevens, has been quietly reversed in a Christmas Week memo. Mabus’s signature was absent, with the loss of face for the Secretary’s defeat accruing to his camp follower, Richardson.

The Navy Times noted that it was all Mabus’s initiative, originally, to eliminate what he saw as an obstacle to social engineering. Imagine what greater heights the social imbroglio might have reached in the anticipated Clinton administration, where Mabus imagined himself SecDef; but, alas for the prospect of mandatory gender transitions, it was not to be.

[T]he decision was made by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, whom multiple sources described as eager to announce the new policy before his impending departure after more than seven years atop the the sea service. Mabus, the first to broadcast this new policy Sept. 29, was motivated by a fervent desire to promote gender neutrality across the Navy and the Marine Corps, which he also oversees. He was presented with four options for removing the word “man” from nearly two dozen job titles — what the Navy calls ratings — and opted for the most extreme option.

Mabus, sources said, was determined to put ratings reform in motion — and on the record — before he leaves office. Gender integration, while Obama’s directive, has become a hallmark of Mabus’ tenure as Navy secretary. And he’s upset plenty of people along the way, notably within the Marine Corps, which has reluctantly opened its ground combat units to women and modified many of its job titles as well, though not to the extent that the Navy has.

The idea was always top-down, and never popular in the ranks:

When the order came down to provide feedback about possible gender-neutral ratings changes, most sailors were cynical, the [unnamed to prevent retaliation by Stevens, Giordano, et. al.] command master chief said. Many, wondered why the Navy was prioritizing the issue. “No one,” he added, “not a single sailor — across paygrade and gender lines — I spoke with saw the need to change the names of ratings based on gender neutrality.”

It was really unpopular in the ranks, and Mabus, a career politician who never has been popular in the ranks himself, did his politico’s Brave Sir Robin emulation and bugged out, leaving career naval politician Adm. Richardson holding the bag:

“I underestimated how fiercely loyal people were to their rating, I’ve gotten a fair amount of feedback on that,” Richardson said … Dec. 6 at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada.

” … So we kind of [underestimated] the loyalty with which people affiliated themselves with that rating tribe. So as we go forward, we’ll learn.”

The rapid cancellation of the centuries-old tradition generated an overwhelmingly negative response from sailors.

With the Trump defense team including actual, not political, leadership in DOD and the Service Secretary positions, Richardson put his name on a backpedal; Mabus realizes that saving Richardson’s career is one way to save some of his social justice warrior legacy in the Pentagon — apart from gutless, gunless ships named for his fellow politicians.

But, as we said in the lede to this post, Richardson has backpedaled on Mabus’s behalf. Sure, he’s doing it to avoid being relieved in January, but a good decision made for a bad reason can still be a good decision. As a wise old man once told us, “The most important thing a bad decision means is that you now need to make a new decision.”

Effective immediately, enlisted sailors will officially regain their ratings, the traditional job titles that have inspired a deep cultural loyalty and that have defined enlisted career tracks for generations, Navy officials said.

The extraordinarily rare move comes after a fierce backlash from the fleet….

Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, called it a “course correction” and acknowledged the overwhelmingly negative reaction from the fleet was a key factor in the decision.

Well, that and the likelihood that the incoming SecNav would want the ass-kissing Richardson’s resignation on his desk, along with that of the even-more-ass-kissing Giordano (Stevens has already retired, although they could recall him for keelhauling or something). Never underestimate the power of career fear on those who rise high via suckuppery.

The reversal did not surprise many sailors, though many believed it would come after a new Navy secretary takes over early in 2017.

Now if they could just stop paying a half a billion for the million dollars’ worth of scrap aluminum that is a Littoral Combat Ship, we’d be getting somewhere. 

17 thoughts on “Mabus Strikes his Colors on Ratings

  1. Aesop

    course correction“= back azimuth = CNO Richardson yanking fiercely to get his head out of SecNav’s @$$ before someone snaps a damning photo.

    Here’s hoping Trump and incoming SecDef Mattis retire him and his toady MCPON on Jan 21st. Then spend a happy fifteen minutes rescinding 8 years of E-ring BS in toto across all the services. Given the number of outright sackings and pass-overs of less brown-nosed flag ranks since 2009, it’s the very least one ought to expect.

    Naming a Navy target the USS Mabus and then directing a surface battle group to blow the hell out of it, followed by an all-hands siderail piss on the spot where it sank would be fitting, but unlikely.
    Still, one can but hope.

  2. Boat Guy

    “..and a slew of yes-man E-9’s including . … ” Fixed it for you. Those sunsabitches are NOT Master Chiefs.

    1. jim h

      I was really looking forwarded to reading your view of this Boat Guy – im only sad it’s so brief!

  3. Tom Stone

    Here’s hoping Giordano and Richardson decide to spend more time with their families real soon. Trump’s appointments to head the DoD and the Services are hopefully going to get the backing they need to clean up the godawful mess that Obama’s crew has left.
    There’s going to be a lot of resistance…

  4. W. Fleetwood

    “After seven years atop the sea service.” Well, yes, in so many ways. I thought it was Fanning who was the “atop” guy. Never mind, roll on Jan 21 2017.

    Sua Sponte.

  5. bloke_from_ohio

    I have not once met a single Sailor, Marine, Soldier, or Airmen that cared whatsoever about the use of “man” in the compound words the pentagon is getting all lathered up about. I don’t interact much with our brothers and sisters in the Coast Guard, but I find it hard to imagine the trend does not extend to them as well.

    We must have better things for our senior executives and flag officers to do.

    I cannot wait to work for Mattis!

      1. staghounds

        I don’t know about small, isn’t the USCG like the ninth largest navy in the world all by itself?

  6. Blackshoe

    Don’t cry for Richardson, though. He’ll stick around.

    Of course, he gets to stick around and try and guide ORP (OHIO Replacement Program, the new SSBN design) into fruition. But that’s why he was made the CNO anyway.


    I was a rifleman. Always was, always will be. In fact I just got back from a trip to the range where I was zeroing a new scope on my .22 WMR.

    Any fool who attempts to refer to me as a rifleperson will be spit in the eye.

    1. bloke_from_ohio

      You are a rifleman based on the fact that you use a rifle, or more specifically because you are proficient in such use. The term is therefore a compound word based on something you do. Since anyone can use a rifle, anyone can therefore be called a rifleman in the broadest sense of the word.

      If rifleman your use of the term is tied to a tittle you earned in your military service, then it is probably a bit more complicated than that. When you say riflemen you are being more specific than just any person who uses a long arm with a grooved barrel. Even in that case, military rifleman are still conferred the title based largely on the person’s abilities and training with the afore mentioned weapon. This is much the same for mortarmen, machine gunners, AT gunners, grenadiers and so on. A Soldier or Marine could otherwise be an incredible specimen of martial prowess and skill, but if they cannot operate their primary duty weapon they will likely fail training and not be conferred the title. But again, anyone who passes the training and achieves the requisite standard can earn the title.

      Therefor it must be concluded that the gender of the person with the title or descriptor of rifleman is immaterial. It is not who they are, but what they do that confers the name. Thus the term is in and of itself ungendered since the gender of the person is immaterial to action that confers the title. There is no need to invent a new word based on gender neutrality since the old title does not implicitly indicate gender.

      For those that disagree, QED and go away.

    2. jim h

      riflepersun. remember to take the masculine all the way out. especially since the whole “loud like a bomb, jittery, anxious, nervous, every shot gave me PTSD” bit is apparently the look being sought. /sarc

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