Tuesday, July 12, 2022
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Saying Goodbye to Ole’ Blue

My ensign-mobile—i.e. the primary automobile I owned upon commissioning—was nothing flashy. A small blue Ford SUV that I creatively nicknamed “Ole’ Blue,” I purchased it as a result of it was inexpensive, appeared like a dependable mannequin, and had area to haul my meager possessions between responsibility stations. I by no means cherished it like different ensigns typically love their vehicles, nevertheless it did the job: 170 thousand miles, 4 PCS drives throughout massive swathes of the nation, a string of TAD drives to Fallon, North Island, and El Centro; it will definitely grew to become a helpful Dad-mobile for taking the children to faculty, the canine to the vet, and junk to the dump.

Over the primary 15 years I owned it, it wanted blessedly little upkeep: an alternator changed and a paint job after an unknown roadside hazard uncovered among the metallic body; that was it for a very long time, however quickly it began to present its age.

I began getting a recurring examine engine gentle for a cylinder misfiring. So, I had to exchange the spark plugs and ignition coils, after which the engine gasket. It wasn’t a lot, perhaps $200, and I did the work in my neighbor’s driveway, in order that helped. But after that, the repairs appeared to pile up shortly: The ECV blew out (actually), in order that meant changing that and the vacuum strains. That was due to issues with pushing the exhaust by means of the catalytic converter, so I had to exchange that too. It was an aftermarket half, so it match okay, nevertheless it rattled and made loads of noise till the components heated up and tightened a little bit.

And then {the electrical} issues began. The automobile wouldn’t begin and the battery would drain shortly. That meant it was perhaps a brief, but when I used to be fortunate it was simply an alternator downside. So I bought a brand new battery, and my second alternator, then a 3rd. The electrical drain continued, the battery would drain each 2-3 days if I didn’t run the automobile. No massive deal, I assumed, I simply stored a starter field with me. The automobile may nonetheless get my outdated canine to the vet and my children to sports activities follow. I simply wanted to preserve it operating and have the jumpers prepared. I’d chase down the defective wiring someday quickly, I advised myself.

In the span of about six months, I put about $1,200 extra into the automobile. OIe’ Blue bought so unreliable, I really purchased a brand new automobile to use every day whereas I tinkered with the ensign-mobile, hoping to stick with it and operating for causes that escape me now.

I stored her going for about eight months till I noticed what I used to be doing. I had succumbed to the sunk price fallacy, merely outlined as: persevering with “a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money, or effort).”

I had had Ole’ Blue for thus lengthy, and spent so little comparatively over the lifetime of the automobile that when the prices piled up, I rationalized it by saying: “Well, it hasn’t cost much until now” and “If I can just fix XYZ, it’ll be in good shape and I can still use it for odd jobs.”

Then, the canine died. He was an excellent boy (as all of them are!) and had an extended completely happy life with us; his white fur shaped a form of second upholstery for Ole’ Blue, inextricable from the automobile’s material. But when he died, I opened my eyes to the sunk price fallacy. I used to be throwing good cash after unhealthy, spending on repairs, fuel, oil modifications, insurance coverage, and so on., for marginal returns.

Per week later, I donated the automobile to the native tech faculty, hoping some aspiring mechanic may convey her again to life and perhaps discover some pleasure placing one other 180k on her (wonky timing chain and all).

So, what on this planet is any of this about?

It’s about NAVADMIN 124/22. This NAVADMIN introduced a number of uniform-related modifications, as all of us, from seaman to admiral, are accustomed (or numb) to, they’re as common because the dawn. Included amongst these modifications is that this gem:

“Effective 1 October 2022, all Navy Service Members will wear the black cold weather parka (CWP) rank insignia on all uniform components with rank tabs.”

That signifies that the ridiculous trying black tabs on our lime inexperienced cammo Navy Working Uniform Type III (NWU3) (a uniform I’ve bemoaned right here and right here, the second piece particularly discusses the absurdity of the black rank on inexperienced cammo) will quickly be the usual, a uniform method to a non-uniform look for a uniform that has little or nothing to do with the traditions, capabilities, or aesthetic of our service.

This means, that since my commissioning 18 years in the past, the next working uniform modifications have been made (in roughly chronological order):

  • Adoption of the NWU Type I (NWU1) blue cammo to exchange wash khakis and utilities
  • Restriction of the NWU1 from shipboard use
  • Fielding of the NWU Type II (restricted to particular warfare) and NWU3 uniforms
  • Retirement of the NWU1 for the NWU3
  • Removal of rank on the NWU 8-point cap
  • Authorization of the black rank for O-6 on the NWU3
  • Authorization of the black rank for all palms on the NWU3
  • Mandating the black rank for all palms on the NWU3
  • The alleged fielding of a still-nowhere-to-be-found two-piece shipboard uniform in khaki and blue. This uniform reveals up within the palms of the good and mighty from time to time, all whereas Sailors put on the NWU3 ashore and numerous organizational uniforms (i.e., flight fits, coveralls, and so on.) at sea.

The alternative for NWU3 exists in restricted numbers (apparently flags and the MCPON can get them, however you and I can’t) on waterfronts and flight strains proper now. It’s a two-piece working uniform appropriate for sea and shore, related to our previous, and higher trying than digital inexperienced cammo with a black rank tab.


But the Navy has failed to rip off the bandaid of the failed NWU period for a similar motive I couldn’t do away with my Ole’ Blue SUV: the NWU3 is a sunk price. The Navy is tinkering with the ensign-mobile of the NWU regardless of the apparent undeniable fact that it’s a damaged uniform.

We have untold thousands and thousands of {dollars} of those nasty inexperienced uniforms, and its related e book luggage, duffel luggage, notebooks, and who is aware of what else, sitting in Navy Exchange storerooms, and so the NWU3 persists as a result of to do away with this uniform can be to throw away good cash that we’ve already spent on “tacticool” gear and uniforms.

As a reminder: the sunk price fallacy is constant “a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money, or effort).”

What Big Navy’s uniform tinkering ignores is that Sailors are those persevering with to pay for the unhealthy choices. Sailors are actually going to scramble to purchase black rank tabs. The subsequent change to this catastrophe uniform, no matter it’s—perhaps an eyepatch, or a inexperienced cammo cape, or one thing—will affect the wallets of our Sailors. So will the related prices of shopping for matching gear or equipment, optionally available gadgets, to ensure, however attempt telling your new E-2 not to purchase the cool NWU3 backpack with all these bizarre loops and zippers throughout it and see how far that will get you…

Continued incremental modifications from OPNAV will affect Sailors as a result of there isn’t a urge for food for a wholesale uniform change that might in a single fell swoop introduce a extra acceptable uniform to the Fleet. The prices to NEXCOM apparently outweigh the harm in public relations that OPNAV will endure for one more uniform change. Moving alongside a warehouse stuffed with inexperienced cammo is extra essential than the opinion (and pocketbooks) of Fleet Sailors, maybe.

I didn’t need to retire Ole’ Blue, the automobile had been with me by means of thick and skinny, it had served me properly, and I assumed that only a bit extra elbow grease may save her. But I used to be flawed, it was a cash pit and it was costing me in time, foreign money, effort, and peace of thoughts. The new automobile I purchased prices me extra a month than Ole’ Blue did thanks to a automobile cost, nevertheless it additionally doesn’t require fixed consideration to preserve cell and I do know this new automobile will final me many extra years than Ole’ Blue had left in her.

The Navy wants to admit that the NWU experiment of the previous twenty years has been a failure. I don’t have a lot confidence on this taking place, however it might be good to see the brass give it a attempt. If our management can acknowledge the failure of the NWU3, I like to recommend the next:

  • Announce the retirement of the NWU 2 & 3 for all palms besides in relevant tactical conditions.
  • Announce the adoption of the two-piece flame resistant working uniform because the working uniform for all palms.
  • Don’t create some dumb acronym for the uniform, name them “working blues” and “working khakis” and be carried out with it.

In the spirit of proposing options to the chest rank imbroglio that can solely proceed with the two-piece uniform, I recommend the next modifications:

  • Allow both delicate shoulder boards or khaki subdued shoulder boards for the officer variant, to be worn on the shoulders or as a chest insignia.
    • Wearing the rank on the shoulders (as our bearded cousins do) solves the issue of: “My rank is up here, petty officer” that at present plagues the service.
    • Wearing a shoulder board insignia within the middle of the chest (as our bearded cousins apparently experimented with earlier than discarding), conversely, would preserve the present structure, however present a extra instantly recognizable rank insignia, the worst case being figuring out the wearer as some kind of officer, even when the stripes usually are not instantly discernible.
    • Using a shoulder board can be a direct indication (together with khaki) that the particular person is an officer, decreasing that awkward “chief or officer” calculus for sailors. Shoulder boards are extra seen than rank insignia and are distinctly naval in nature.
  • For enlisted sailors (together with Chiefs), undertake a shoulder patch rank, worn on the left shoulder pocket. This can be a tie again into the proud historical past of Sailors sporting their rank on their sleeves and for chiefs would assist additional distinguish them from officers.
    • Making these patches Velcro-backed would eradicate the prices of embroidering rank and value marginally greater than the rank tabs (Velcro flight swimsuit patches, for comparability, might be bought for about $7 apiece, black rank tabs price about $3).
    • The Navy should judiciously buy Velcro (hook-and-loop to use the right time period) patches at an achievable worth level for Sailors. The present laser minimize flag patches that run Sailors $13 every are too costly. If I paid my squadron espresso mess lower than $10 for a unit patch, the Navy should buy sufficient crows to outfit the Fleet for the same price per Sailor. Don’t let the uniform producers fleece us. No pun meant.
  • Abolish the eight-point cap and make the ballcap the usual headwear with the uniform, make the ballcap a command issued uniform merchandise, to embrace CO’s discretion for rank on the ballcap.
  • Make rolling sleeves and blousing boots optionally available for all palms when not in areas of hazardous responsibility (i.e., the flight deck).
  • Budget for a one time uniform allowance for all palms to buy two units of their respective uniform.
  • Make positive any present footwear that’s approved for this uniform is permitted for the brand new uniform, with the potential for phasing out the delicate desert tan boots sooner or later.

Illustration by the writer, from DVIDS picture.


Illustrations by the writer, from DVIDS picture.


Illustration by the writer, from @NavyMCPON on Twitter.

America’s Navy ought to seem like a navy: seaman-like, relatively than the present lubberly Army-adjacent uniform. Until the obsessive uniform tinkering of the twenty first century, our Navy spent many of the twentieth Century in khaki and blue (try these stunning aviation greens, although!). As we depart behind the expeditionary mindset of the War on Terror, we now have to admit that our dalliance with digital camouflage designs that embody the identical sunk price fallacy as my struggles with Ole’ Blue.

I used to be throwing good cash after unhealthy, even after having a suitable alternative readily available—surprisingly related to the Navy’s lukewarm method to the two-piece working uniform growth course of that has dragged on since no less than 2018. This pondering has led to a decade-plus of horrible NWU insurance policies and modifications. It’s time to eat the sunk price and admit that there’s a greater method.

Navy leaders will in all probability have to go to Congress for this to ask for cash and eat some crow. It will likely be painful for our service management who’ve inherited this downside. But that’s what leaders are for: to change course when it’s the fitting resolution to make, and it’s their duty to endure the results. As they are saying within the fleet: “That’s why we pay you the big bucks.”

And in truth, as a service we deserve to be upbraided for the careless stewardship of our heritage, the out-of-pocket bills levied towards our junior Sailors, and the silly method to a uniform that could be a poor match for a proud Navy. It is time to cease throwing cash at a nasty uniform. I had to admit to myself that my ensign-mobile wasn’t the automobile I wanted anymore, regardless of the numerous years of lengthy service and fond recollections. The NWU lacks even the sentimental pull of an ensign-mobile, there may be little in its 12-year historical past to be happy with. It’s time


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