Sunday, March 20, 2011

Implementation: We're Getting Better

Though spending a few days in Orlando (to include "The Happiest Place on Earth") celebrating my son's birthday was clearly the highlight of the week, the most surprising was the two hours I spent on Monday before the drive attending Navy Tier 2 Training regarding Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) Repeal Implementation. I say surprising because after over two decades of enduring General Military Training (GMT) I have become numb to most messages and the vehicles used to communicate what has become "Check in the Box" training. However, I was impressed by the DADT training because unlike just about every GMT we are forced to sit through each month, it was deliberately developed and tailored to a specific audience. In fact, at the end of the session, I was left not wondering why we (DOD) were repealing DADT, but what took us so long? Primary take-aways include:

- Standards of Conduct: Navy standards of conduct are sexual orientation neutral. All members are responsible for upholding and maintaining the high standards of conduct of the Navy 24/7.

- Privacy and Cohabitation: Berthing and billeting assignments or the designation of bathroom facilities based on sexual orientation are prohibited.

- Moral and Religious Concerns: No one is required to change their personal views and religious beliefs; they must, however, continue to respect and serve with others who hold different values and beliefs.

- Benefits: Service members not in a Federally-recognized marriage will be treated as "single" for the purposes of benefits eligibility.

- Equal Opportunity: Sexual orientation is not specified as a class eligible for the MEO complaint resolution process. Sexual orientation is treated under the same general principles of MEO policy that apply to all Service members. Sexual orientation may not, in and of itself, be a factor in accession, promotion, or other personnel decision-making. Gay and lesbian Service members, like all Service members, are evaluated only on terms of merit, fitness, and capability.

The message was simple and extremely well-framed. I did find it interesting that so many of my peers and seniors were focusing their attention on privacy and cohabitation, as well as standards of conduct. I guess I have a higher opinion of the team with whom I serve (yes, working primarily with CTs and ISs does spoil a Sailor), as I could not be any less concerned about those aspects. Not surprisingly, we were told that those with the millennial mindset were primarily interested in the benefits related discussion. As far as the communication vehicle goes, it was a grouping of Powerpoint slides with a recorded voiceover that was opened and closed by a video of our CNO himself. The last step in the delivery is for Command Triads to collectively deliver the training face to face (no NKO). An easy task and welcomed opportunity for NIOC Pensacola.

Ironically, when we (SEL, XO and I) returned from the training session, we were met with an e-mail from the Type Commander staff asking us to identify a member of our team from hispanic descent who might be worthy of consideration for an engineering achievement award...a completely opposing message to the the Equal Opportunity communique we had heard and applauded just an hour earlier. We say it's about diversity of thought, our actions demonstrate something very different. Seems to me, we are getting DADT repeal implementation right, yet use diversity programs as a divisive tool. DADT repeal will succeed because our objective is to make the differences a non-issue, where diversity programs continue to present unintended consequences because we choose to make our differences THE issue.

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