This author has gotten his hands on a truly mind-numbing and depressing piece of propaganda recently promulgated by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Information. The head of said office, the Navy’s Chief of Information (CHINFO) — the position sounds eerily similar to a “propaganda minister” in some socialist nightmare state — is clearly marshalling his persuasive powers in order to sell what looks to be a turd-burger to the Navy’s enlisted community.
The document in question is a “communication plan,” or strategic communications document, laying out how the Navy’s leadership should “sell” a brand new rating system to the Navy’s enlisted ranks.
For the sake of review, per the Navy Times: “The Navy deep-sixed all of its 91 enlisted ratings titles Thursday [September 29, 2016], marking the beginning of an overhaul of the rigid career structure that has existed since the Continental Navy in a radical shift sure to reverberate through the fleet and the veterans community beyond.”
I had to quote that particular portion of the Navy Times article simply to illustrate the scope of the change that has hit the Navy’s enlisted ranks with this new policy approved by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral John Richardson.
The Navy Times article goes on to describe how rating (job) titles that have been around since the 18th century, such as Boatswain’s Mate (BM) and Gunner’s Mate (GM), as well as more recent, but still lore-infused titles like Hospital Corpsman (HM), will go the way of keelhauling and hard-tack biscuits, never to be seen again in the U.S. Navy. Instead, they will be replaced by “Navy Occupational Specialities” (NOS).
Let us look at some examples, for clarification’s sake. A SEAL, who currently carries a Special Operator (SO) rating, is now an E300 NOS. An Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) tech is now an E200. A Gunner’s Mate is now a B320. A Quartermaster is now a B450. And, in an especially ballsy change, at least from what I can tell deciphering the CHINFO communications document, a Hospital Corpsman is now a G000.
This last example is perhaps the most egregious of the new designations, or NOS, included in the big shake-up. A “Goo?” Really? Is this supposed to reflect a corpsman’s frequent contact with various bodily fluids, as part of his or her job, in some kind of sick joke being payed on corpsmen by an especially sadistic (and/or bored) Personnelman (PN), now a B710 (or is it L510?), crafting the new designations?
Can you see why enlisted sailors might be depressed, angry, and angst-ridden at losing their tradition-rich and historical rating titles? No longer will young people grow up saying, “I want to be a Navy corpsman!” Instead, they will now say, “I want to achieve the NOS of G000.” Inspiring.
And I will not even address the issue of the job title “SEAL” going away, because it simply will not. No matter what the SECNAV or SECDEF says.
Another hilarious — if not ominous — NOS is the “All other/Unidentified” category, which is labeled Z999. First off, who the hell are these people, in this catchall category, with no jobs? Secondly, Z999 is straight out of some Orwellian or Richard K. Dick-created dystopian future, in which people are assigned categories meant to dehumanize drone workers, and rob them of any tradition, professional pride, or heritage behind their job title.
A thousand dead Bosun’s Chiefs are currently rolling over in their graves as we speak.
Furthermore, in a frankly surprising and blatant nod to political correctness and gender nondiscrimination — even if the latter are admirable goals in a job classification/labelling system — the first sentence of the CHINFO communications plan seems to betray the real reason for these sweeping changes. The document reads, in the first sentence of its first paragraph, “In January 2016 following [Defense] Secretary [Ash] Carter’s…decision to open up all occupations to women, Secretary Mabus…directed Admiral Richardson (CNO) to update Navy’s position titles and descriptions to ensure that they are gender integrated.”
This kind of deference to political correctness is usually executed in a more circumspect and subtle manner within the U.S. government. I guess we can thank the outbreak of “plain speaking” and “truth telling” in this election year — ironically — for the lack of any attempt to hide the rationale for making these changes. The communications plan then goes on, though, curiously, without a single mention of gender integration as a reason for the change.
In what is likely perceived by CHINFO as a savvy move, perhaps those responsible for selling these changes simply decided that using gender integration as a reason to jettison centuries of tradition simply would not fly. Instead, they had to craft more benign-sounding reasons for the changes, like “professional development,” “career management,” “credentialing, ”and “Ready Relevant Learning.”
Good God. My head wants to explode its goo all over the room.
Or, maybe I am just being too cynical and curmudgeonly. After all, I can completely understand wanting to incorporate the female gender into already-existing rating titles. That is an admirable and achievable goal. It was already done, for example, when “Personnelman” was changed to Personnel Specialist (PS). Voila! Was that so hard? But nooooooo, we had to go all batshit crazy with this change.
At any rate, the Navy could not have come up with a more technocratic, inhuman, bureaucratic career designation system had it been trying to mimic the worst of Soviet-era banality in naming government functions (see “Main Camp Administration,” which was the name for the Siberia-based penal system known as the “gulag.”)
All humanity, esprit de corps and heritage have seemingly been stripped away from the Navy’s job titles. No longer will one be permitted to proudly proclaim, “I am a corpsman, dammit, and you will drink more water during this physical training because I said so!”
Now, Navy medical technicians will say, “Seaman, drink more water. I am a G000, and I know what is best for you.” Many enlisted sailors are not amused.