Index Home About Blog
Newsgroups: sci.military.naval
From: (J.D. Baldwin)
Subject: Re: State of discipline in USN
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 04:21:12 GMT

In article <>, Mark
G. Havener <*> wrote:
>>What were the Carter years like?
>>I've always assumed that, being post VN, post Nixon resignation,
>>decreasing budgets, and end of the counterculture/campus dissent era they
>>were the worst for both morale and discipline.
>I enlisted in 79 and got to GLakes right before they started "Brigade."
>which is where you had battalions by series of buildings and companies by
> This came about because there were people who weren't saluting
>officers and looking like they slept in their uniforms. I distinctly
>remember having to keep a roll of toilet paper in my locker because
>you couldn't keep a roll in the head.

It was far, far worse than that.  I was at GLAKES in 1979 and saw
sailors hooting and howling disrespectfully at evening colors.  (For
the uninitiated:  this is the ceremony at sunset during which "Taps"
(or "Retreat") is played as the national flag is lowered.)  They'd
shout catcalls and jeer loudly when the national anthem was played at
the base movie theater (prior to every movie).  Those of us standing
quietly at attention were definitely in the minority, though maybe
only barely a minority.  (This sad state of affairs actually made the
national news.)

It all culminated in an incident of mass public disorder--a borderline
"riot"--outside the gate.  (I, thank God, was on TAD a few hundred
miles away at the time.)  Many, many sailors were involved, and even
the idiots in charge in Washington could no longer ignore the total
breakdown in discipline--the base CO was relieved and the guy who came
in cracked down (but not too hard) and restored some semblance of

Young SN Baldwin, in uniform just over a year, was wondering just what
the hell kind of outfit this *was* he'd involved himself with.

Meanwhile, in the fleet, the Carter years were taking their toll far
more profoundly.  The drastic cutback in ships and operating funds
with no concurrent reduction in operational commitments (sound
familiar?) was forcing eight-, nine-, ten-month and longer deployments
(these lasted well into the Reagan years, before the fleet was built
back up).  Pay had eroded badly in the face of runaway stagflation
(another Carter contribution to the national weal), and a lot of petty
officers' families were on food stamps--and worse.  Attrition was
astonishingly high, and among the people the Navy could least afford
to lose--the senior petty officers who faced a decision whether to
enlist for a third four-year term.

> Uncle Elmo and his "Z-Grams" caused more confusion in the ranks than
>a Soviet SSM stuck into the port side of the Enterprise at frame 43.

I've met Elmo Zumwalt.  In fact, I had dinner with him and a nice,
long conversation about Vietnam.  So it pains me to say this, because
he's a hell of a nice guy who meant well and who paid for that sordid
little war as much as anyone, but his tenure as CNO was indeed an
unmitigated disaster.  They broke out the caviar and vodka in the
Kremlin the day he was nominated for CNO, I'm sure.
 From the catapult of J.D. Baldwin  |+| "If anyone disagrees with anything I
   _,_    Finger |+| say, I am quite prepared not only to
 _|70|___:::)=}-  for PGP public    |+| retract it, but also to deny under
 \      /         key information.  |+| oath that I ever said it." --T. Lehrer

Index Home About Blog