Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rear Admiral Manson K. Brown.

The Change of Command ceremony for RADM Manson K. Brown on 8 May 2008 at the Coast Guard Maintenance and Logistics Command Pacific, Alameda, California signaled a PROMISE of what can be, or what might be, and how great the Coast Guard can be. I experienced a sense of promise and a sense of hope in the future of the Coast Guard. My hope is inspired by RADM Brown's promotion, transfer, and the fact that he is on track to become the Coast Guard's first African American Commandant.

As I sat in the audience at the Change of Command ceremony I saw what had become of the braniac high school senior that I had recruited out of Saint John's Prep School in Washington, DC in 1973 for the Academy class entering in 1974. When he was sworn into the Class of 1978 it signaled a new day for the Coast Guard Academy and the United States Coast Guard.

What I saw on 8 May 2008 surpassed my wildest expectations. I saw a Coast Guard admiral of cosmopolitan intellectualism and oratorical eloquence. With his image and the power of his words, he embodies the type of leader that the Coast Guard will need in the next few years. RADM Brown projected a youthful vigor and indescribable charisma. There was an inherent decency and sincerity in his pleasant face and smile.

I like to read Alexis de Tocqueville. He was a 19th Century French statesman and writer who liked to travel around America and make comments about what he observed in the American body politic. On one occasion he noted a characteristic in the American spirit that he felt boded well for America; that is, America's "capacity for self-correction".

I believe that the Coast Guard also has a capacity for self-correction. It is time for a change. Change is in the air. It is time to move on. It is time for healing. It is time to embrace change. I pray that the Americans occupying the most senior positions in the United States Coast Guard will exhibit that sense of self-correction and get back on course.

A mid-course correction could be accomplished by a change at the top, by a single act of bold and daring leadership. Selecting Manson K. Brown as the next Coast Guard Commandant would be such an act of bold and daring leadership.

An Award, The Legion of Merit.

Sir, I stand relieved as CO of Maintenance and Logistics Command, Alameda, Ca.

A promotion to Two-Stars.

A Power Couple, Admiral and Mrs Manson K Brown return to Hawaii.

Class of '68 (Tozzi, Steverson, and Sharp) celebrates with The Star of Class of '78.

Q-dogs, Coleman and Collins, share your happiness. Bow-wow.

Admiral John Tozzi, USCG (Ret.) loves a Change of Command.

The Golden Gate Bridge from the National Naval Officers' Association.

Sir Robert Brown, son of Admiral and Mrs M. K. Brown.

After the ceremony and the general reception, I was fortunate to be able to chat with a retired Naval admiral. He was Rear Admiral Robert L. Toney, U.S. Navy (Ret.).

Admiral Toney's experience in the Navy featured leadership and management positions afloat and ashore, including Naval Base Commander in San Francisco, where he managed more than 60,000 people from Monterey to the Northern California border, with a payroll of $2.6 billion.

Admiral Toney was born on August 30, 1934 in Monroe, Louisiana and moved to Oakland at the age of eight. He attended Youngstown State University (Ohio) from 1962 and 1954, and graduated from California State University, Chico in 1957 with a bachelor of arts degree. He was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy Reserve on October 31, 1957. He completed NATO Defense College in Rome in 1977 and the National and International Security Course at Harvard in 1990.

Admiral Toney has served on the board of directors of The United Way, World Affairs Council, Commonwealth Club, Volunteers of America, and the Oakland Boys and Girls Club.

He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters from National Defense University in October 1988, and from Golden Gate University in June 1994.
The recipient of many awards and decorations for meritorious service during his years in the Navy, Toney has two daughters and one son. He currently resides in Oakland.

(Admiral Robert Toney, USN, Ret., see bald head with glasses in 2nd row)

Change is inevitable no matter who is selected to be the next Commandant. Thad Allen came in with such high expectations, but he has not delivered. His superb job during and after Hurricane Katrina led many to expect more from ADM Allen, but his tenure has been marked by a series of blunders and missteps. From the Cadet Webster Smith court-martial to the Deepwater fiasco and his failure to provide proper supervision of the Coast Guard Office of Civil Rights, ADM Allen's performance has earned him unflattering comments from the Congressmen and Senators who oversee his areas of responsibility.

The "noose incidents" occurred on his watch. He appears to have done nothing about them. The investigations were ineffectual. It was left to the Governor of Connecticut to take decisive action. The Connecticut State General Assembly was taking the lead in an area where initiative and strong leadership are drastically needed.
On 25 March 2008, the Legislature's Judiciary Committee voted 43-0 in favor of a bill that makes it a hate crime to hang a noose on public or private property, without permission of the property owner, and with the intent to harass or intimidate.
As Thomas Jackson said at the time, "The noose story is not the epicenter of Coast Guard Civil Rights issues. Equal Civil Rights are the story. The Coast Guard must and we think they will come to terms with this issue and others confronting the service. Leadership is the key to unlocking binds that hold progress in Equal Civil Rights back. Admiral Thad Allen is searching for the key with all his energy, but his staff expends ten times the energy hiding the key in a new location each time he gets close.

When asked about the Webster Smith court-martial, ADM Allen replied that the "process" had worked just as it was supposed to and just as he expected. On the otherhand, in an attempt to remove the albatross from the neck of the Coast Guard, it was ADM Robert Papp who took steps to remove ADM James Van Sice from office. ADM Van Sice and CAPT Doug Wisniewski were the architects of the Webster Smith travesty. It would appear that while ADM Thad Allen has his head in the clouds, it is ADM Robert Papp who has his feet on the ground. It kind of reminds one of the differences between George Patton and Omar Bradley. One was all talk and the other was mostly silent action.

With his new job as Atlantic Area Commander, VADM Papp is a step closer to the top job, but Manson Brown would be a better choice. His experience is broader, and he preceeded Barack Obama to Iraq by several years. The details of that duty are classified. There was a time when he was the special envoy of SEC-DOT Norman Mineta. The Selection Board for Commandant will have all of the relevant facts. While either Brown or Papp would be a better Commandant than Allen, VADM Manson K. Brown would be the wiser choice. History would smile on such a choice.



Blogger ichbinalj said...

VADM Robert J. Papp Jr became the Coast Guard's chief of staff in 2006.

Now he has a new task- overseeing all Coast Guard activities on the eastern half of the world, from the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf.

He took over as the Commander of the Coast Guard Atlantic Area and Defense Force East the second week of July 2008 in Portsmouth, Va.

VADM Papp is 56 and has 33 years of service. He is a CGA graduate in the Class of 1975.

Unless ADM Monson K. Brown is selected to become the next Commandant, there may be one more job for Papp: Coast Guard commandant.

Adm. Thad W. Allen, the current commandant, took over leadership of the service in 2006. A typical commandant's tour is four years. Papp, who is serving what is expected to be a two-year tour, would be finished in Portsmouth at the same time Allen is done in Washington, D.C.

His name would almost surely be on the short list of potential successors

11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the 60s-80s when we talked about "managing diversity", we really meant race and gender. Sadly, we still find ourselves well short of optimizing either or both of those elements. Both the enlightened intellectual and the practical project leaders of today see huge value in making certain his or her team is composed of members who bring not only gender and racial diversity but also a wide spectrum of skills and capabilities to the table. We want variations in expertise and age and MATURITY and ideas and CULRURE and any other factors of consequence that could help get the project done well. For too long we have celebrated what we had in common. That's OK, but the fault lies in pretending that we have everything in common. WE SURELY DO NOT and the better leader knows that and acts on that knowledge.

9:49 PM  

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