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AUSN Blogs

Happy New Year! Captain McAtee is on vacation this week (he stayed here last week while I was gone). Linda has returned from a two week + visit back home and the rest of us are also back in battery. This week we will host the Board for their first face to face meeting and Chairman Israel has a full agenda planned. We have just over two weeks until our Capitol Hill Reception and we are beginning to look at the next Navy Now Forum. Also working with the Director Navy Staff on approval for our October symposium, so as always, lots of irons in the fire.
During December we had a table at two NOSC Pre Deployment Family Readiness Conferences, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Dave Bradley signed up seven new members in Los Angeles (including the CO).  Phoenix also had a good showing and we gained a lot of e-mails for our perspective member contact data base. Our “formula” for these events is to have our banner, table cloth, brochures, tickets used to sign up for a drawing for an iPod Shuffle, and our membership presentation on a laptop. This is an important step to reconnect with Reservists at the NOSCs, something we haven’t done much of lately. I have authorized a reduced rate of $25 for a membership if the member signs up on the spot with cash or credit card (no mail in later for this rate). We are ready here to support you. I have the NOSC schedule for these events this year so let me know if you wish to engage.
Just before the Christmas recess the Navy scored a coup in Congress. If you followed CAPT Puzon’s legislative announcements you know that Congress authorized the Navy to build ten of each LCS platform. As we mentioned earlier the Navy angered a number of legislators by throwing this on the table at the last minute as a change to the announced program to deselect to one builder. Nonetheless, they went along at the end of the day so good for you CNO. This gamble paid off. That said we need to keep our eye on this program as it develops. The first four ships have been developed independently by the two builders – Lockheed Martin and  Austel USA. Now the Navy wants common Combat systems so there will be additional development costs. The warfare modules for ASW, mine warfare and surface warfare, already two years behind plan, will now need to be compatible with two platforms. Our sources suggest an additional two years delay is possible. 
Most of you probably also have heard that the lame duck session did repeal the “don’t ask don’t tell” law which has been on the books for eighteen years. I have heard from a number of members wondering about our position on the issue. Since the members did not take up the issue at our conference in Las Vegas (that is why we should do resolutions) it was not something that Ike or I could decide for you. What we have said is that AUSN supported the SECDEF in his request to conduct a study and report, which he did. Our position now is that implementation should be conducted carefully and in such a manner as not to interrupt or hazard operations. I will add here that I believe the Services are better off with a change in law rather than a change forced upon them immediately by the courts. Ultimately it may well be decided by the Supreme Court but in the mean time the Services have the opportunity to plan and adjust. Our Navy has always done a good job of dealing with difficult social issues and I would expect this issue to be dealt with appropriately in due time. There will no doubt be incidents here or there but as with women in planes, ships, and now submarines it is the older folks (me included) that will have the most angst. As one of our members recently pointed out to me this particular issue does have religious overtones for many and so calling it a social issue may be too simple. We will watch this closely as well. Don’t forget our CAPWIZ system allows you to contact your Congressman directly to voice your opinions.
Our new website is operational and has been for a couple of weeks. There are still some backplane issues being worked but new members will have an easier time joining and you should have an easier time registering for events. The site is now hosted with Amazon on their server farm. On a related issue you may remember that the Budget and Finance Committee decided not to renew our contract with Groupsite at the end of 2010. Jean has created groups for each Region under communities on our web. Those groups will automatically become populated by our members within those regions. Other groups are being created. Groups such as FON Michigan will also be created and the members of those groups will be sent an e-mail with login information. It won’t happen over night but that is what we are doing. I had hoped to have this done by the end of last year but… The advantage to us is that every visit to a group is a “click” on our web site not Groupsite’s and we already own our site so over time the savings will be substantial. Initially the graphics will not be as slick as Groupsite’s but that can be added as well at no cost to us.
Conference update: the hotel will be the Bourbon Orleans and the dates are the 13-17 July. I don’t have a signed contract yet so I cannot post the registration on the web but you can make your plans. The room rate will be $98/night.
I have gotten pretty tired of political correctness, particularly in this town. While many things are not as simple or obvious as we may think we still do ourselves a disservice when we don’t call it like it is. Have you seen some of the uproar over the Naval Aviation history currently on the site for the 100th year celebration? Almost nothing there about Viet Nam and very little about the heroes of WW II, but lots about women in aviation, etc. It is generating a lot of angst from aviators who remember those heroes of the past who fought and died building carrier aviation and have been left out for more politically correct listings. Women and minorities deserve their place in our aviation heritage but to borrow from ESPN football – C’mon Man.
Of course you have heard about the CO of the Enterprise being canned for the videos he produced while XO. I lived on a carrier for two years. I know about f’ocsle follies and stuff we like to do to pass the time on long deployments. It is all part of not taking ourselves too seriously. And, I believe that ensigns should be forgiven for being stupid but, the XO making racy videos about women showering together, etc…C’mon Man! Time will tell if this story will have legs long enough to reach those seniors who were aboard when this happened. Didn’t we learn from Tailhook?

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