Sunday, July 29, 2012

Worth a Read: Antrim, Forrestal, Olympics

By Bill Doughty

Some quick-takes this week on Navy Reads:
Rear Adm. Richard Antrim in 1942
Suggested by U.S. Naval Institute Press: an essay by Michael Mink of Investor’s Business Daily, on Navy Reads by permission of the author.  Read about the courageous life of a Medal of Honor recipient, Prisoner of War, warrior leader and admiral:
“Richard Antrim always put the welfare of his men above his own.
“That commitment in World War II earned him the Medal of Honor among other decorations for self-sacrifice and courage.
“In April 1942, at a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Dutch East Indies, U.S. Navy Lt. Antrim (1907-69) and his fellow prisoners were routinely subjected to sadistic cruelty from the guards...”
Mink’s essay, which includes liberal excerpts from Antrim’s MOH, Navy Cross and Bronze Star citations, reads like a short movie synopsis.  Antrim’s story, courage and humility are inspiring.
USS Forrestal in 1967
The Navy remembers the tragedy and heroic response aboard USS Forrestal 45 years ago during the Vietnam War, in which 134 crew members were killed.  A video on provides rare photos and images of the explosions that occurred when a Zuni 5-inch rocket accidentally fired.  “We remember our shipmates.”  
Navy History and Heritage Command provides a comprehensive history of Forrestal and a detailed account of the tragedy that occurred on July 25, 1967.
“Within five seconds, the fire, fed by a ruptured 400-gallon fuel tank, rapidly enveloped the Skyhawks on either side of the wounded aircraft. Barely two minutes into the unfolding holocaust the first of many high and low level detonations erupted as the heat started to cook-off bombs, rockets and 20 mm rounds. An explosion shattered the windows of Primary Flight Control...
“Seven major explosions shook the ship during the first four minutes of the horrific crisis, and some 40,000-gallons of JP-5 jet fuel from aircraft on deck spread the inferno. Huge clouds of black smoke billowed upward, blinding crewmembers racing to battle the flames, which engulfed the fantail and spread to below deck on the 01, 02 and 03 levels, touching off ordnance, trapping some men and wreaking havoc with the crew and ship...” (read more
London Olympics in 2012
“..but strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” from Tennyson’s “Ulysses” is one of the inscriptions of poetry on sculptures in the Olympic Park.  The Athenians and Spartans of ancient Greece are remembered for their military bearing, love of learning, warrior spirit and poetry.
Poetry was part of the Olympics up until 1948, and literature seems to be back in fashion.  Oxford-educated London Mayor Boris Johnson commissioned and recited an Olympic ode in ancient Greek and English.
National Public Radio, New York Times and Huffington Post, among others explore the history of the Olympics and poetry.  The Wall Street Journal is publishing poetry about the Games.
Books, reading and readers were a big part of this weekend’s London Olympics opening ceremony -- with Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling’s Lord Voldemort, J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” taking center stage. 
To read about Olympics achievements of U.S. naval olympians, visit the Naval History and Heritage Command site.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Thinking Habits - Stephen Covey

By Bill Doughty

Stephen Covey died this week, leaving a legacy of helping people. The Navy recognized Covey's themes of ethics, leadership and good habits by choosing his "Seven Habits of Effective Leadership" as a key title in the Navy Professional Reading Program.

It was the first book to be reviewed here at Navy Reads in 2009.

He bonded with the Navy because he could see -- aboard the submarine USS Santa Fe or applied aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln -- how the Navy recognized the difference between leadership and management.

In good times or bad, Covey's insights can be applied to help individuals or families.  His principle-centered leadership theories are used by schools interested in furthering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by developing good leadership techniques and habits.

No doubt Covey, who helped people after Columbine, would be trying to help Aurora, Colorado in the wake of the tragic shooting at the showing of Batman "The Dark Knight Rises" this week.

A fitting tribute to Covey was aired by National Public Radio the day he died, well before the tragedy in Aurora.

NPR's story shows how Covey will be remembered:
Covey's ideas have also been embraced by more than 800 schools worldwide. The first was A.B. Combs Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C. Following the Columbine shootings, the school was looking for a way to improve its environment and performance.
"Our children are making better decisions [and] we're seeing a huge decline in discipline [problems]," says Muriel Summers, the school's principal.
Summers says the school also saw an increase in test scores and more engaged families, since it also taught Covey's 7 Habits to the students' parents.
"It's pretty amazing what is happening," she says.
Her words would most likely be music to Covey's ears. He loved inspiring and working with young children and had more than 50 grandchildren of his own. His publicist said Monday that she thinks Covey would most want to be remembered for being a good family man.
Reading Stephen Covey -- thinking about values, ethics, good habits and leadership -- may be the best way of honoring his memory and legacy and remembering what's really important.

Stephen Covey on the meaning of life: "Live, love, laugh, leave a legacy."

Among the victims of the tragedy in Aurora were at least two people with direct ties to the Navy,  Petty Officer Third Class John T. Larimer and Navy veteran Jonathan T. Blunk; Air Force Sgt. Jesse Childress; and former Airman Rebecca Wingo.

According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta:

“I know that many are struggling to understand why these innocent lives were taken from us, and how such a tragedy could occur in this country. Even as we try to make sense of this evil act, we are also moved to learn more about the actions of men and women like SSgt. Childress, who threw himself in front of his friend in the movie theater to shield her from the gunman. His selflessness saved her life, at the cost of his own.
“These acts of heroism and sacrifice are the essence of what military service is about -- putting your life on the line to defend those who are part of the American family.
“Let us all honor the victims of this tragedy by committing ourselves to the hard work and sacrifice of protecting this country. Bravery, courage, and dedication are the hallmarks of our men and women in uniform -- our heroes..."

How would Covey have wanted us to honor the victims of the shooting in Aurora?  How would he have wanted us to analyze the root cause and take action?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thomas Friedman: Tribal Politics, Roots of Conflict

Review by Bill Doughty
The most shocking thing about Thomas Friedman’s “From Beirut to Jerusalem”  -- a book on the Navy Professional Reading Program list -- is that there is no discussion of oil, energy or a flattened earth.
His 1989 book, written more than a decade before 9/11, focuses instead on the history, religion and politics at the heart of the Middle East conflict.
Friedman provides a clear history of “invented” nations, countries of landless bedouins, heroic zealots and refugees of tribal conflicts and wars put in place by Great Britain, France and Italy for the remains of the Ottoman Empire.
Punctuated with terror, tragedy and bizarre taxi rides, Friedman gives typical first-person insights as he witnesses a kidnapping, experiences the bombing of his apartment building and sees the aftermath of massacres in Lebanon and Syria.
His chapter “Hama Rules” resonates 23 years after it was published, untangling the roots of hate, distrust and conflict.  Friedman describes Stalinist cruelty in Syria and violence involving the Muslim Brotherhood and the Assad government.
To understand the conflict in the Middle East, he writes, people must understand the three Hama Rules:  tribal politics, authoritarianism and the modern nation state.
In tribal politics there is no democracy, no free-thinking, no mediation, no compromise.  Revenge equals justice.  A refusal by fundamentalists and extremists to compromise brings continuing conflict.
“So much of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been the history of the wrong men in the wrong place,” writes Friedman.
Beirut Barracks bombing, visible from miles away. USMC photo.
One of the toughest parts of the book to read is the description of the suicide bombing of the Marine Corps’ four-story Beirut Battalion Landing Team headquarters on Oct. 23, 1983 in what became known as the Beirut Barracks bombing.  Friedman was ten miles away and was shaken awake by the explosion.  He conducted interviews with Marines who lost 241 of their comrades, examining the causes and effects of the attack, one of countless suicide attacks by extremists.
Friedman warned us of 9/11 in 1989 through the words of an ambassador to Lebanon:
“In the wake of the Marine bombing, the Italian ambassador to Lebanon, Franco Lucioli Ottieri remarked to me, ‘You know how they say people are always fighting the last war? Well, you Americans have been preparing yourselves for the confrontation on the Eastern front ... But you are deplorably unprepared for the war in the Third World.  You are like a big elephant.  If you are up against another elephant, you are fine.  But if you are fighting a snake, you have real problems.  Your whole mentality and puritanical nature hold you back.  Lebanon was full of snakes.’”
He writes of American can-do optimism in the face of tribal politics from Beirut to Jerusalem, Syria to Iran -- and, by extension, Iraq to Afghanistan, describing an arrogance of power.  
Friedman’s book was published the same year that Osama bin Laden and his new al Qaeda party claimed victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan and turned his attention to other secular non-muslim enemies, including the United States.  A year later Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, threatening Saudi Arabia.
Never one to lay out the problem without offering a solution, Friedman recommends the region shake off complacency and tribal politics and accept the realities of a changed world.
"The stunning success of the developing countries such as Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Thailand has demonstrated to Israelis and Arabs the benefits of getting their economic houses in order.  Some of these benefits are very new ... Those countries that provide attractive investment climates are rewarded; those that don’t are left as roadkill on the global investment highway.  The role of governments around the world today is increasingly to dress up their countries with better airports, better legal and financial systems, better-trained workers, better roads and bridges, in order to attract private global capital ... It is markets, not governments, that must now provide the financial payoffs for peace.”
In 1989 Friedman explained the origins of Middle East conflict and warned of a need to move from the past to the future, understanding global interconnectivity and the need for cooperation.
Today, in his most recent books, Thomas Friedman warns us -- and tries to shock us -- about the realities of a future without fossil fuels, often unwilling to embrace the inevitability of change, a world he describes as “hot, flat and crowded.”  
This is the fourth Friedman book reviewed on Navy Reads.
A memorial at Camp LeJeune, NC, to Marines killed in Beirut. Photo by LCpl. Adam Johnston 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

RIMPAC, Sustainability and ... Philadelphia?

by Bill Doughty
Australia's HMAS Perth arrives at Pearl Harbor for RIMPAC 2012.
The Navy’s Rim of the Pacific exercise started this weekend -- with more than 20 nations, 46 ships and submarines and 25,000 service members converging in and around Hawaii to train together, learn from each other and build cooperative relationships to preserve peace.
It’s the first RIMPAC with non-U.S. officers in charge of major components (Australia for maritime; Canada for air).  It’s the first to feature humanitarian assistance/disaster relief training as part of the exercise.  And, RIMPAC 2012 will include the first demonstration of green fleet technologies on a massive scale, with U.S. surface ships and carrier-based aircraft using biofuels and other energy-saving and sustainability initiatives.
The theme this year is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.”
RIMPAC is the world’s largest maritime exercise and involves nations as diverse as Russia, Chile, India, France, Singapore, Mexico, Japan, United States and the Republic of Korea.  So, what does it have to do with one of the nation’s smallest “schools” in Philadelphia?
At the Sustainability Workshop, located at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, urban high school seniors learn by doing hands-on real-world projects, with the world as their classroom.  While not affiliated directly with the U.S. Navy, the Sustainability Workshop shares some of the same values, including developing capable, adaptive partnerships.  Participants work together to apply innovative critical thinking as members of a team.
The school is the brainchild of engineer/teacher Simon Hauger, who was featured today on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s “The Next List” on CNN.  Hauger's philosophy of teaching involves incentivizing learning; the incentives are the students’ own sense of accomplishment, project achievement and a feeling of community they achieve by working together.  School work reinforces the students' natural idealism and desire to work hard.
According to Hauger, students read more because they want to read more:
“Maybe the most fascinating aspect of this work is that the academic skills follow,” Hauger said.  “Most of our students will tell you that they have done more reading and writing this school year than they had done in their entire high school career. Many will tell you they have done real science for the first time, and some will even tell you that they finally understand why math is useful.”
Students learn and apply STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  For example, over the past year they installed and then activated a solar rig, worked on a car to try to achieve 100 miles per gallon, and tested their own hypotheses for increasing energy efficiency initiatives for city buildings. 
Teacher and Sustainability Workshop co-founder Michael Clapper.
Teachers are more like facilitators and coaches than traditional instructors or disciplinarians.   Co-founder Michael Clapper is one of the teachers who helps them interact with private companies and government agencies.   
"We went to Urban Outfitters one day," recalls Clapper.  “...Then the next day we're at the Navy hearing about their power cell approach. We walk in and they say, 'We're so looking forward to interfacing with you today.' "
The program has a side effect of pointing students in a positive direction toward common goals.
Globally or locally, RIMPAC and the "Sustainability Workshop” showcase cool ideas:  a willingness to work together cooperatively to prevent conflict and a commitment to achieve greater sustainability and conserve resources.