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The Navy’s Mission to Search and Destroy Smut

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MCC Gerard Sekerak / U.S. Navy

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus speaking to sailors during a 2011 sail aboard the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship.

While the Air Force is putting a two-star general in charge of its efforts to combat sexual assault, and the Army’s top general spent the first two days of this week at a conference grapping with the vexing issue, the Navy – as is its tradition – is charting its own course.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has ordered his sailors to stamp out visible smut by the end of the month.

“This ALNAV [all-Navy message] directs that the Under Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), and Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) perform a comprehensive visual inspection of all DON [Department of the Navy] workplaces to ensure they are free from materials that create a degrading, hostile, or offensive work environment,” Mabus said in his missive, transmitted to the fleet last Friday. “Inspections of all DON workplaces, including the U.S. Naval Academy, must be completed NLT [no later than] 28 June 2013, and inspection results reported to me by 12 July 2013.”

This won’t be a one-time thing. Mabus declared senior naval leaders “shall direct comprehensive and regular inspections of all workplaces and common access spaces under their control” to find and eliminate the following:

barred items

(Huh? No more “supremacist images, publications, or materials”? That’ll rule out an awful lot of what Navy public-affairs officers — driven to show that the sea service reigns supreme, especially compared to the others — spend their days doing.)

Some places are off-limits to commanders’ prying eyes. They “will not inspect assigned government laptop or desktop computers (with the exception of visible screensavers), assigned individual barracks rooms/living quarters, assigned desk drawers, assigned cabinet drawers, clothing (e.g., coats), assigned lockers, purses, brief cases, backpacks, private automobiles, and personal electronic devices (e.g., iPads, iPhones, etc.),” the message says. Whew!

Mabus ordered his leaders to use this “standardized reporting template” to account for transgressions. “All DON personnel shall be treated with dignity and respect,” he said. “Fostering a command climate free of all forms of unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment, is essential to maintaining high morale, good order, discipline, and readiness.”

Not everyone associated with the message is hailing its arrival. “This type of action fails the SECNAV’s own direction by failing to treat us with dignity and respect,” one retired male naval officer says. “This is childish, foolish, and wasteful in a time of fiscal constraint, and just plain stupid.”

Sounds like he needs a spanking.

UPDATE: “These inspections,” a Navy spokeswoman says, “are at DoD’s direction.”

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