Today was an enormous, epochal news day, for obvious reasons. You know, the Navy authorized anyone – not just the instructors, but anyone – who has ever served at a recruit or officer training command to wear a new ribbon. This has got to be the most memorable thing to happen this week.
So, having served three years as an officer at the Navy’s only boot camp, I can get another ribbon now. It used to be that just actual trainers were eligible – the Recruit Division Commanders who work 16-hour days for months on end without a break. But now it’s been opened up to all staff.
That’s fine, I guess. But there have been a few things like this in the last several years. Last summer the Navy established a new award for the top graduate in each weekly class of recruits; there’s a physical fitness award in the works; and the ubiquitous end-of-tour award is less a mark of a job well done than a handshake out the door. Some awards are certainly earned, but many seem to be handed out just for doing one’s job.
Of course, it’s totally rational that this happens. Two well-meaning COs on the waterfront each have a hot-running department head they want promoted; one of them finds he can give his guy a competitive edge by finding a reason to give him a prestigious award. Soon other COs get wise to it, and start doing the same thing so they can help out their people. It’s all done in benevolence, but pretty soon we’re all Oprah audience members getting stuff because… well, because it’s what you do. At a certain point (which we are well past), to not play along is to screw your people out of their careers.
One wonders what Nimitz would say…
Seriously, the more well-decorated an armed force gets, the poorer it tends to fare in the realm of actual combat. I mean, we’ll see how North Korea goes, but the prognosis isn’t looking good…
We don’t want to end up like Ottomans, Soviets and the Norks, right? Right?
Um… I see. Well, uh… wait! What’s that up in the sky? WHAT COULD IT BE? OH MY GOD, IT’S…
P.S. Will I go to the trouble of getting this ribbon? Duh! I earn two from the mobilization and this conveniently gives me a third to make a full row. Everyone has a price – now you know mine.
UPDATE: I have it on good authority that SMOD, bringer of instant armageddon, wears no ribbons at all.