Words of Wisdom from our Shipmate Commander Fred W. Kacher, former CO USS STOCKDALE

“Ethics is not a sometime thing. It is the small everyday decisions that, if handled badly, can erode your moral landscape.”

Commander Fred W. Kacher offers three tips that he has tried to follow in his career: 

do not ignore the little voice in your head, 

do your best in all things at all times, and 

be ready to do the right thing every day, 

because “you don’t get to choose when you’ll be tested.”



3 thoughts on “Words of Wisdom from our Shipmate Commander Fred W. Kacher, former CO USS STOCKDALE

  1. Rah! I really like the first point made. All too often I think we/some try to rationalize behavior that is clearly counter to the Navy's Core Values. If it's wrong, it's wrong, period and I'm sure that little voice in one's head was there at the time advising not to do something. I was mildly disappointed when we had our first integrity seminar down here at NPS. It was said that one of the reasons the Navy can't be having people commit these gross integrity violations is because we can't afford the negative press coverage. My loss for not speaking up at the time, but this is not the right direction on this issue (in my mind). Protecting the image of the institution is not paramount; our own conscience and our trust in each other is! Now the second integrity seminar we had was much better (done by a senior chief!). One of the things he mentioned (and why I again like the little voice in your head) is that part of the reason we see integrity violations repeatedly come up is simply due to human nature. We continue to do these character development type seminars, we continue to punish people (I guess..), but either way, what makes people commit integrity violations when they fully know the consequences?!! The Economist in their October 29th issue did a piece on mind-reading technology(thoughts revealed without speaking) as one of their Leaders. I found it an interesting read. It talked about how that would lead to disaster since lying is \”at the heart of civilization.\” The article also then raised how the relationship between the individual and state would change — that \”speaking truth to power would no longer be brave: it would be unavoidable.\” And then there were 2 Letters that readers wrote in a few weeks later. A Richard Spalding wrote, \”The real problem with mind-reading technology is that we could no longer deceive ourselves.\” A Ranko Bon wrote that \”Telling fibs without being detected and detecting those told by others is key to our intelligence.\” I babble on about this article to highlight that we do things quite differently in the Navy and we should be frank in telling people this.

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  2. Ah, but the difficulty lies in,if I do this and it makes things better for us alldo I do this in order to maximize our utilization of the yard periodis 10 pounds of coffee in a tin worth an additional 200 gallons of lube oilYou see the question and it begs the answer. Never do it for yourself or for gain to you or to ease your way.Where does ethics stop and responsible leadership begin?Do you owe the men or do you owe the mission your best effort?What is your best effort? Does it encompass a view that is, antithetical?If, after doing X, is my unit more able to perform its mission or less able?I suppose these could be ethical questions. If the result is, \”I should write a memo suggesting a larger optar budget, have I fulfilled my purpose?\” is a valid question.

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