One year ago, the shocking suicide of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jeremy "Mike" Boorda - purportedly over a questionable naval decoration - seemed to highlight the military's philosophy of zero tolerance for perceived moral failings. Admiral Boorda committed suicide in two senses; he literally died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but, in a wider sense, he was destroyed by a puritanical mindset that was promoted and cultivated on his watch. An old proverb says, "He is lifeless who is faultless." Unfortunately, this lesson has not been learned in the year since his tragic death. In the topsy-turvy world of today's Navy, a single failing still can finish a career, destroy a reputation, and even doom a life. The Navy's crusade for perfection also discourages innovation, chills free thinking, and weakens morale.
We Can't Afford Perfection
By Lieutenant Commander Patrick J. Vincent, U.S. Navy