Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Blue Angels' blues

Recent news accounts have referred to command climate within the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron. The investigative report is now available on the Navy's Freedom of Information Act website here. To give the flavor:
This Commanding Officer witnessed, accepted, and encouraged behavior that, while juvenile and sophomoric in the beginning, ultimately and in the aggregate, became destructive, toxic, and hostile. The Blue Angels Ready Room environment under his command ran counter to established Navy standards and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and dramatically weakened good order and discipline. . . .
In sharp contrast to his first tour, throughout his second tour as the Blue Angels’ Commanding Officer, Captain [Gregory] McWherter and many in his command openly engaged in sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviors, which he failed to correct. Examples include proliferation of explicit pornography and sexually suggestive images in the cockpits and in the "GroupMe" intra-squadron electronic communications tool, the painting of male genitalia on the roof of the center point trailer at the Blue Angels’ winter training facilities in El Centro, California, and hazing during the enlisted "Cresting Process." Not only does Rear Admiral Crites' investigation demonstrate that Captain McWherter failed to take immediate and decisive action to guard against and suppress violations of Navy policy, it established that by condoning and encouraging unlawful behaviors over a sustained period, he created a hostile work environment.
Reviewing the investigative report, Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, wrote on May 16, 2014: "[t]he breadth and scope of the inappropriate behavior . . . tarnished more than two decades of significant progress that the Navy has made toward Equal Opportunity and inclusion."

The report and endorsements are 63 pages long -- worth reading and pondering.

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