Those of us in this somewhat focused community of MilBlog writers and readers are often asked by people who haven’t any exposure to MilBlogs, “Why do you do it? You put in a lot of time and work. What’s the point?”
It’s a fair question. Thinking of ideas, and putting together a cogent discussion starter, or historical summary, takes more time than people think. Knowing that, and being somewhat of an analysis geek (which may turn out to be a very good thing soon), I have my list of half a dozen daily reads, at least. This’n here. Salamander’s Front Porch. Ray’s Information Dissemination. OP-FOR, The Castle, and a number of other places make the list, blended with traditional news sources domestic and foreign, plus policy and analysis outfits.
Why? Well, my gracious host here gives me an outlet for expression. Like anyone with a fair-sized ego, I believe just a little bit that everyone is entitled to my opinion. But there is also the great opportunity for feedback. To hear from a mostly very educated crowd, their opinions and takes on events and occurrences domestically and in foreign affairs. But it extends into culture, literary works, certainly history, and other aspects that spark discussion.
But one of the most valuable reasons to read and write in the Military Blogosphere is to hear from people who are truly experts in their fields, who possess great wisdom, are extensively experienced, and are considered and well-spoken people. I do miss terribly reading the thoughts and musings of Lex, which was a morning staple and often provided several day-long trains of thought. And this is true of not just Bloggers, but commenters. Byron, the ugly old shipfitter, could wax authoritative about steel, and aluminum, and hull flex, and do it in a way that, perhaps over beer, I am sure I could listen intently to for hours. Grandpa Bluewater’s urbane sophistication and eloquent dissertation always is worth the consideration, whether one agrees or not. And there are others who add insight and humor, and are enjoyable to read.
Another such commenter is Steeljaw Scribe, shepherd of a superb blog of his own. I did something the last two days that I rarely do, which is to go back and re-read a comment he made in Salamander’s post of the IG investigation of Admiral Gaouette. His explanation of the dynamics of the bridge of a CVN, and the personalities and cultures that must blend and not clash if the mission is to be accomplished.
The bridge of a CVN is a unique environment that brings together two communities that normally opt to keep their distances from one another – SWOs and Aviators. That the three senior officers that regularly spend time up there (CO, XO and Navigator) are also aviators can at times, exacerbate that standoffish environment. This clash of cultures evolves from one group that is brought up in a dynamic environment and is used to rapidly changing events, making intuitive decisions and being cognizant that their butt and that of the x-number of NFOs or aircrew with them will suffer the consequences of those decisions. SWOs that typically (and note I said *typically* – there are always exceptions) come to the carrier do not come from the CRUDES environment, but from amphibs and auxiliaries and tend to be methodical if somewhat conservative and deliberative in their decision-making and watchstanding. At least that was my experience as a CVN nav. My challenge was working across that divide – to show the aviators (from watchstanders up to the XO who would go on to his first deep draft after this tour) on the one hand, how a series of events can unfold where little things not readily apparent to the eyeball can bite you (case history of the Eisenhower hitting the Spanish freighter at anchor in Hampton Roads being one of my teaching points). The flip side of that was getting the SWOs to be more anticipatory (e.g., looking to the next 2x cycles for managing sea space for downwind repositioning) as well as coming to grips with the immediacy of fixed wing operations at sea.
I know of no other vehicle by which an audience can learn, and share the insights of men and women with such experience. It is the gaining of understanding, at the end of the day, that makes all this effort worthwhile. Brad’s rules here do not include “write only what I agree with” or “water it down so it couldn’t possibly offend”. He trusts us to understand and abide by propriety, and we seem to, as do the commenters, on the whole. And that is appreciated.
So in the end, despite the trolls, and my own alarming tendency to follow links and wind up pissing away two hours looking at cool stuff, reading and writing is worth the effort. Even if the pay isn’t great.