Cowards in khakis

Author - CWO3 Jack Hudson
Dated: 11/27/2000

I have been in the Navy for almost 28 years. When I came in, military bearing and protocol were pretty clear. You showed military respect to senior personnel, you acted as if you were in the military, and peers and seniors enforced and reinforced this ideal. If a sailor was not within standards, he could expect guidance on getting squared away.

Throughout the years the Navy has changed. Sailors nowadays disrespect each other and their juniors and seniors, while some Cowards in Khakis complacently accept this behavior. This complacency has eroded good order and discipline and our sense of military direction. A lance corporal in the Marine Corps commands more respect than some chiefs and officers in the Navy. I wonder why?

You know who you are. You turn your head when you see a sailor outside without a cover.

You're the chief who lets your first class "buddy" call you by your first name in the exchange. (you’re both in uniform).

You're the officer who says "What the heck, the sailor didn't salute me, even though he or she was only three feet away and we had direct eye contact. No problem. I don't want a confrontation."

You're the khaki who sees male sailors with rings in their ears and noses on base and sailors playing loud, vulgar, profane music in the exchange gas line (some of you are playing the music yourselves), but you say nothing.

You're that khaki standing outside a bar in town having a smoke with your jacket unzipped and your cover off (now that commands respect!).

You're the "leaders" who say it's okay to wear Dickies and Durango boots as uniform items.

You're the khaki who illegally parks in reserved medical spaces while pregnant women walk two blocks to keep an appointment, then walk around like you're above the law saying you live honor, courage and commitment.

You're the khaki who has given young sailors the courage to openly challenge military authority, protocol and behavior standards on a daily basis.

You're weakening the Navy.

These are situations I, as well other khakis have seen. Sailors don't mind correcting themselves if they are given some direction. But the majority of their senior personnel obviously don't care enough to train and guide them if there might be some resistance.

This "I don't want to confront you" behavior has got to change. It makes the few khakis willing to enforce standards bone tired and appear to be bad guys. It makes our jobs harder because some khakis are AFRAID to enforce standards.

We need leaders willing to confront personnel problems of this nature rather than going the ostrich route. I salute khaki leaders, past and present, willing to set the standards. Others should join in rebuilding and enforcing them. You'll get your courage and respect back.