COMMANDER JOHN WADE at WVRC on December 10th
LEAH VRIESMAN led the Pledge. PP JIM COLLINS provided the Invocation, which he began by telling what a difficult time he had finding it and then being told by daughter Cathy that all he had to do was pull it up on Google! JIM read this in the McKinsey Quarterly in 1974.”The man in the glass”. When you get what you want in your struggle for self, and the world makes you King for a Day, just go to the mirror and look at yourself and see what that man has to say. For it isn’t your father or mother or wife, whose judgment upon you must pass. The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life is the one staring back from the glass. You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum and think you’re a wonderful guy. But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum if you can’t look him straight in the eye. He’s the fellow to please never mind all the rest, for he’s with you clear to the end. And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test if the man in the glass is your friend. You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years and get pats on the back as you pass. But your final reward will be heartache and tears, if you’ve cheated the man in the glass. “Lord we are thankful for this beautiful day and we are thankful for this wonderful holiday time of the year. We are thankful for our families and our friends, and we bless our Rotary Club and our friends who are Rotarians, and we thank you for this food and this very wonderful day. Amen”. JIM, that’s about as good as it gets Well Done. LENNY, of course, endured his usual introduction, this time being presented as a student of Native American dance and music. This in turn allowed ED to show the hat that we’re all sure LENNY wore while conducting his research. And once again, we marvel at this hat collection! We are pleased to be able to say that LENNY recovered enough to lead us in Silent Night.
There were no Visiting Rotarians, but several guests. SUNNY came with LENNY, and Kathie accompanied Prexy ED. I introduced Hedy Zhang, and her son, Alan Grusky, as my guests. Masaki Nakoda is our Ambassadorial Scholar from Japan. Those seated at the Head Table included GORDEN FELL, DWIGHT HEIKKILA, and JOHN HEIDT. Three leadership positions have opened up for the current Rotary year. At our Board Meeting on Tuesday, these three positions have been filled. GORDON FELL will take MARK BLOCK’S position of President Elect. TERRY M. WHITE will become Secretary, which GORDON FELL had occupied. Lastly, because of personal obligations, JR DZUBAK has asked to be relieved of Youth Activities Chair. DWIGHT HEKKILA will take over for him. JOHN HEIDT and his wife, DONNA, own Santa Monica’s final remaining beach-facing cottage. If everything goes according to plan, it will become Santa Monica’s very first legal B&B. Obviously this joyous occasion is worthy of a fine, which will be $25.00. This number was not greeted with acclaim, but Prexy ED resisted these pressures and left it at the original amount. His final comment was to congratulate JOHN for a job Well Done in the annals of historic preservation.
At this time I came forward to introduce Alan Grusky, who came today to introduce himself to us, preparatory to participating in our District Speech Contest next spring. Alan will come back, perhaps in March, to give his projected speech, after which we can sponsor him for the Contest.
Alan began by telling us he is 14 years old, and attends LACES, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Study. They have students from 6th through 12th grade, of many different backgrounds, and Alan is in the 9th grade. His courses this year are Geometry, English, Biology, AP World History, and AP Music Theory. His grades are all A's, and the two AP courses are particularly challenging. In addition to school, he has extra-curricular activities. He plays the piano, and is learning Chinese, plus practicing public speaking. He began piano at age 6, and his list of repertoires include Scott Joplin, JS Bach, Frederic Chopin and Beethoven. Next year he plans to take the 2010 advanced level Certificate of Merit Music Association Test. He studies Chinese at Santa Monica College, and it is very important. The world has about 6.7 billion people, and China has one-fifth of that total 1.3 billion. He expects to bridge the language barrier and help our economy and a voice in the rear shouted, “Hurry Up”. He has also created a youth Toastmasters Club, starting with 2 members and now up to 12, and growing. It was here that he learned of the upcoming Rotary Speech Contest Take A Challenge, and explain how he can help whatever the problem may be, using the Four Way Test. He thanked me for bringing him before our Club - and the applause was thunderous, as you might imagine!
Looking ahead, Prexy ED reminded us that next week will be Spouses Day, with entertainment provided by the University High Select Glee Club. We will then be dark for the rest of December. He was pleased to announce that District 5280 has approved District Designated funds of $11,500 for our Turkish Project! NEVIN SENKAN is there right now, getting the required signatures. We can all agree that this is a great achievement.
It was with almost uncontrollable sadness that we learned there would be no joke this week.
However, Prexy ED gathered himself sufficiently to introduce our Speaker, Commander John Wade. He began by telling us that he served with Cdr’s (that’s Navy slang, as I’m sure you realize…) father, Fred, on the Aircraft Carrier Franklin Roosevelt (CVA 42) starting in 1958, so he and Cathie have known the Wades for a very long time. Cdr. Wade graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1990, and is rated as a Surface Warfare Officer. He has served on several destroyers, cruisers and a patrol craft in both oceans, completing multiple deployments in operations including Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. As a lieutenant, he was CO of USS Firebolt (PC10) and was the most junior commanding officer in the US Navy. Firebolt earned the coveted Battle Efficiency Award for superior combat and material readiness. Wade also served with the Army’s 10th Mountain and 82nd Airborne Divisions in Afghanistan. In November 2008, he assumed command of USS Preble (DDG 88). In the meantime, he earned a MS in Information Systems at the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, plus earning a MS in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C. Cdr. Wade’s personal decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medals (4 awards) Navy Commendation Medal (2 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Army Combat Action Badge, and numerous personal meritorious unit, service and campaign awards. He and his wife Catherine have two sons, Connor and Ryan and a daughter, Caroline, and they reside in Coronado.
When Prexy ED asked him to speak, the list of topics seemed impossible to cover, so he is concentrating on the Navy today, what they do and why, the sailors aboard the Preble, and his experience in Afghanistan. He was assisted by a power point presentation. While the news today covers so much, he wants to emphasize that the Navy is working very hard, around the world, 24-7-365 to carry out its assignments. They have 285 top-of-the-line ships and submarines, about 4,000 aircraft, and right this moment, 50% of those ships and 40% of the submarines are fully deployed in two aircraft carrier Strike Groups, and two amphibious Forces for a total of about 60,000 sailors throughout the world. In addition to those at sea, there are 14,000 sailors on the ground who are supporting operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, and elsewhere. He has just returned from 7 months in the Pacific aboard Preble.
Please be reminded that our Navy is global, is forward-deployed where our interests are, and is trying to deter and prevent conflict. They do that by bringing credible combat power, but also by working with others, showing the flag and showing the strength of the United States. In other areas they conduct what is called “Sea Control”, which means not only the sea, but the air above and what lies below, to conduct operations or to influence events. So the biggest capability we have is power projection, which is best illustrated by our carriers. In addition to that, we have the ability to launch missiles from our cruisers, destroyers, and submarines. The third capability concerns the Marines, who can be launched by sea or air to affect events. But he emphasized that this projection is not only about bullets and guns about a month ago a typhoon hit the Philippines, an earthquake struck Indonesia, and a tsunami hit American Samoa. There was an amphibious task force near Guam, a Strike Group in and around the South China Sea, a couple of destroyers out near French Polynesia, and they were given an order: PROCEED AT BEST SPEED AND HELP! So that’s what they did - provided support, search and rescue, food and water, electricity, served as a platform from which Aid Agencies could assess the damage and help those governments do whatever they needed to do to help their people. So it isn’t always about projecting offensive power to hurt people it’s also about projecting power that helps!
The last capability we have is maritime security that is to ensure that the flow of commerce, trade and communications between people is secure. If you recall that 75% of the earth is covered by water, that we have been and always will be a maritime nation, that 95% of the world’s trade is moved by sea, it gives you perspective. If you consider the trade between the U.S. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Australia and India, that’s 60% of the world’s GDP in and out of the ports on the west coast of the United States! Today, 95% of inter-continental communication is carried undersea by submarine cables. At this moment, over three trillion dollars of e commerce is taking place on the seabed. (I’ve run out of exclamation points!) Combine that with natural resources yes, oil and gas, but new technologies that continue to open the seabed if you look at all this, you cannot help but conclude that the sea is going to become more and more important in the future. On top of all that, over 50% of the world’s population lives within one hundred miles of an ocean. So it’s in our country’s national interest to have a navy not only for today, but for tomorrow.
Cdr. Wade loves to talk about his sailors. The strength of the system is not our weapons or the steel that makes up our ships it’s the sailors themselves. On the Preble he has 320 sailors, 18% of whom are women. They come from all walks of life, rich and poor, every religion, from every part of the United States it’s a snapshot of today’s America. Many come for different reasons he meets with all his sailors some have technical skills, some joined to make money in order to get a college education, some want to prove something to themselves or to others, some want to get away from bad things in their family or their lives, and some have been given an ultimatum go to the Navy or go to jail. There is nothing more gratifying than to see someone become successful once they have been given that ultimatum! Actually, what he is most proud of is that the overwhelming majority of them want to serve their country. Some unique facts about his sailors 98% have high school degrees, and 50% have college credits. Many have associate or bachelor’s degrees this is a much different Navy than it was twenty or fifty - years ago. These sailors are very intelligent, and technologically savvy. They have grown up with the Internet. This means they can handle change very well. The average age of the sailor aboard is 20.3 years. They truly are a national treasure. Today at your meeting, one member was requesting that you turn in to her your spent ink cartridges (Yes, that was Lorin Ruttenberg)
His sailors have grown up with recycling, and understanding about the environment, and they are civic-minded. They just want to give back and contribute to society. He feels privileged to lead them.
This brought us to Afghanistan, and why a Naval Officer there? It started in early 2006, when the U.S. Commanding General started to evaluate the conditions on the ground. Up until that time, the main focus of the troops on the ground was the enemy Al Qaida, the Taliban, etc. This U.S. General had a good friend, General Petraus, and the two of them began to wonder if maybe they were doing this wrong. What was the root cause of these terrible conditions? They determined that these individuals had known nothing but war civil war, strife, no jobs, no hope, really. So almost overnight the strategy changed they were going to focus on the people, to try to bring security, good governance and development while at the same time put pressure on the enemy, to transform the environment. When the General looked at his resources, he didn’t have what he felt was necessary to change strategy. All the Army forces with the necessary capability were engaged in Iraq, so Secretary Rumsfeld asked the Navy for help. Could they provide a few selected officers to lead these new teams? William Wade was one of those officers selected.
There were three parts to the mission. One, train the Afghan police and army to provide security. Two, to strengthen the reach and capacity of the Afghan government at provincial and district levels. This was to be done by coaching and mentoring the Afghan government officials Wade became, in effect, the assistant Governor of his area! Lastly, they were to facilitate development, which meant building roads, bridges, schools, and health clinics, plus training nurses, doctors and teachers the objective being to separate the enemy from the people, connect the people to the government, and help the Afghan government take ownership to meet the needs of the people. That is a summary of the mission.
The team was 200 people, mostly soldiers, a couple of sailors, Dept of State, Dept of Agriculture, the Agency for International Development, even the Dept of Justice an incredible team, really. He then proceeded to display and describe a number of photos to illustrate his points. We probably all know why we are in Afghanistan, but for Wade, it was personal. He lost three close friends in NY on 9/11, and was serving at the Pentagon when it was bombed. He helped in triage those he could, and then the next day was designated CNO (that’s Chief, Naval Operations, of course) briefer with the other service chiefs, and with Secretary Rumsfeld. So he was there to see the key decisions that were made about Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was “in country”, on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it had served as the training grounds for Osama Bin Laden when planning 9/11, so it had special meaning to him. Up to now, all his training had been at sea and now he was commanding an interagency group, mainly Army, on the ground. He showed a photo of sailors and soldiers looking skyward, to see the F-18s that had travelled 900 miles in case they were needed for air cover. He was aware of the Army troops same age as his sailors who might be concerned about being led into harm’s way by a Naval officer. Apparently the Army has a different response than the Navy to situations the Army says, Hruh while the Navy says, Aye Aye. At their training in Virginia, one of the Army enlisted asked if he could speak. “Sir, could you use a little more Hruh and a little less Aye Aye?” (And in my never ending quest for absolute authenticity, I confess that I called GORDON FELL for spelling help with this Army technology!)
Once there, he went out of his way to ask advice of the Army officers they knew the territory, so to speak. His mission was to contribute to the betterment of others, and he is very proud of that. He soon learned that a wave, a smile, a kind word, was more effective than a bullet. When you are developing trust, you must build friendships they work. He carried soccer balls in the back of his Humvee, and played with the kids when he could needless to say, they loved it. He showed photos ‘at work’ when he wasn’t wearing his battle armor you have to demonstrate your courage in order to build confidence and trust. He feels that Obama took the proper amount of time in deciding what to do in Afghanistan. It won’t be easy, but we know what we have to do. To be honest, the Afghan people thought their country would be farther along than it was they had visions of paved roads and skyscrapers. So this will take a long time. Sometimes, it was necessary for them to fight their way into an area, to make a point. He showed photos of tribal leaders gathered in a circle, with Wade doing the talking. This is high pressure stuff! But over time, building trust made it possible for the tribal leaders to also participate, which they began to do. The next-to-final photo in this series shows the government official talking to his constituents which of course is what this is all about. Shows the government official at a press conference, making his news to go out by cell phone, on the radio, in papers, or whatever
In preparation for this mission, Wade read up on the Marshall Plan, which was hugely successful. He learned that while the buildings were destroyed, the basic belief in the rule of law, and democracy, were not destroyed. These positives were in the hearts and souls and minds of the people. That gave them much to build on. The problem in Afghanistan is that they simply don’t have these beliefs. There is much that must be interconnected here. If you have a college professor who is an agricultural expert, who can show farmers how to increase their yields and bring more to the market you still have to have roads to get them there. That takes a lot of time, and money, which is one of the challenges we face. His two favorite pictures are of the young women and the young men of Afghanistan they are the future. He noted his unit received one silver star, 15 bronze stars, 20 purple hearts, and his wife spent a lot of time at Walter Reed Hospital visiting those who were wounded. Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appointed Wade to be his emissary to congress and the media to tell them what we are doing. He asked that if we see a Veteran who doesn’t appear to be fully OK, remember that he may have PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) he may need your help. He left us with this word we gave it our all, (and YOE asks, who can ask for more than that?)
Commander John Wade, you are an inspiration to all of us. We are in your debt.
Words of Wisdom:
The spirit of tolerance which has made it possible for Rotary to form a worldwide fellowship of business and professional men and women will make all things possible.