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The Navy's Next Fix For Sleepy Crews Could Be… Rose-Colored Glasses
It’s been a rough year for the Navy, especially the forward-deployed surface fleet. Reeling from four underway mishaps that claimed the lives of 17 sailors in 7th Fleet alone, the service enters 2018 resolved to improve safety fleetwide — which that means addressing sleep deprivation among overstretched crewmembers.
And that could mean government-issue tinted spectacles for shipboard watchstanders.
That’s one novel fix the service is looking at, according to an analysis yesterday by USNI News. “Based on initial testing,” USNI’s Ben Werner writes, “Navy researchers think wearing specially tinted glasses for an hour or two before bedtime can make falling asleep easier.”
The idea — which could be especially helpful to all those poor operations specialists in the ship’s combat information center — “is to address sailors’ ability to fall asleep after working shifts at computer screens or in artificial lighting,” Werner writes.
That’s because exposure to artificial “blue light” produced by digital screens inhibits some of humans’ natural sleep mechanisms. So even after you shut ’em off, those infernal displays are keeping you more awake than you should be. (Your smartphone manufacturers already know this; it’s why they include a “night mode” to reduce the bluetones emanating from your little timewaster in the wee hours.)
The Navy is the lead agency responsible for all the DoD’s safety-glasses requirements, so the service spent much of the past year playing with inexpensive red-brown tints on existing spectacles — which can block out up to 70% of blue light bouncing in a sailor’s direction. Tests are ongoing, but Nita Shattuck, a top sleep researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, said in an April news release that “the results are very promising so far.”
Mind you, making sailors see the world through rose-colored glasses isn’t the Navy’s only new action on sleep issues — or even its most significant, long term. Last month, Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, the commander of all surface forces, pushed out a new “Comprehensive Fatigue and Endurance Management” guidance to the fleet recommending seven hours of sleep a day for sailors “under ordinary circumstances underway” — a laudable step forward, but also a challenge for a sea service where extraordinary circumstances underway seem increasingly common.
It’s that challenge that’s leading the Navy to look at incremental, lowest-level fixes like tinted glasses. Speaking as a former operations specialist myself, I like the idea… though I’m also skeptical of wrapping sleep-enhancing spectacles around the head of an already-groggy sailor halfway through a turn on the electronic warfare console.
But the Navy already knows that. The glasses, the service conceded in a press release, would be worn only “an hour or two before bedtime,” not all the time, “since people need to be alert on the job.” Don’t worry: Nothing ever happens in that last hour or two on the midwatch, right?
Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.