Wednesday, November 29, 2006

America can sleep soundly. The Correct-Answer Man is in charge.

The Correct-Answer Man is Admiral Thad W. Allen Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard. He fired Admiral Van Sice as Superintendent at the Coast Guard Academy.
Admiral Allen is not a yes-man. He is the Correct-Answer Man. He speaks TRUTH to power. He specializes in managing events that have no precedent. He never gets angry. He never gets emotionally involved, because he believes that when one becomes emotionally involved, he loses a sense of perspective and allows the situation to take control. He never allows himself to just "wing-it". Well, almost never.
There was one time recently when he did "wing-it". It was at the Academy and he was speaking on 8 September 2006. He did not mention the Webster Smith Case. But, talking with reporters, Admiral Allen said THE PROCESS used to deal with the issue worked as it should.
Apparently, Admiral Allen did not know that the PROCESS was stalled. It had been stalled for 4 months. It appeared that he had not been fully briefed on the Webster Smith court-martial case. He did not seem to be aware that his fellow Admiral James Van Sice, the Superintendent, was stonewalling the PROCESS.
Well, now that Captain Doug Wisniewski is gone; and, Admiral James Van Sice is gone; and 2 new positions have been created (Deputy Assistant Commandant for Intelligence and Investigations, and Director of Current Operations), will things return to normal at the Academy? Can cadets stop living in fear of being the next one to be court-martialed? Can teachers get back to teaching? Can Webster Smith get on with his life (as a cadet and Coast Guard officer)?
This was truly an event that had no precedent. A cadet had never been court-martialed at the Coast Guard Academy. The very idea of court-martialing a cadet still seems preposterous. That is nothing short of a monumental failure in leadership. So, what do you do after you get rid of the people in charge who have ruined so many innocent lives? Can anyone put Humpty-Dumpty back together again?
Admiral this really calls for meta-leadership, as they call it at Harvard. What are you going to do about Webster Smith? How are you going to start the healing process. You have cut out two big malignant tumors, but now comes the healing process. You have gotten rid of Wisniewski and Van Sice, but what are you going to do about Webster Smith? How are you going to make it right? Surely you have an answer. I know you have the correct answer, because you are the Correct-Answer Man.



Blogger ichbinalj said...

On 17 August 2006, we lost two of our shipmates assigned to CGC HEALY, LT Jessica Hill and BM2 Steven Duque, in a tragic diving accident in the Arctic. There are valuable lessons to be learned by all of us regarding leadership, risk management, training and program oversight that apply to all Coast Guard operations.
The convening authority, VADM Wurster, Pacific Area Commander, has taken action to hold HEALY's Commanding Officer, Executive Officer and Operations Officer accountable for failing to meet their personal responsibilities surrounding this mishap.
The deaths of LT Hill and BM2 Duque were preventable and resulted from failures at the Service, unit and individual levels. The investigation revealed failures in leadership within the chain of command aboard HEALY, as well as numerous departures from standard Coast Guard policy. Had a proper risk assessment been conducted, this tragedy could have been avoided. As a Service, we failed to exercise sufficient programmatic oversight of the dive program, including failures to adequately staff our dive units and conduct annual dive safety surveys. This mishap further highlighted our need to improve dive expertise in unit dive lockers and address shortfalls in dive program policy, guidance, training and experience. As a result, we will elevate program management on par with other high risk, training-intensive operations such as aviation.
As Coast Guard men and women we accept that risk, but we will not accept preventable loss or injury. This tragedy has prompted us to re-examine our dive program to ensure it is as well managed and safe as such inherently dangerous operations allow. The safe conduct of Coast Guard training is fundamental to Coast Guard readiness. Without it, there can be no successful Mission Execution. When it comes to dangerous operations such as diving, "good enough" is never good enough. We can do better. We will do better.
The sacrifices LT Hill and BM2 Duque made in service to their Nation will never be forgotten. Their loyalty and dedicated service will forever be appreciated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Admiral Thad Allen
Commandant, U. S. Coast Guard.

5:05 PM  

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