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Tweet THIS

Long before Twitter, there was a message service with similar limits. For Navy ships that had to slice through ‘two hundred years of tradition unhindered by progress’ as we used to say, there was the Naval Message System (NMS). It was a strong, simple tool that could get through almost any radio interference and sometimes even signal jamming by the bad guys.

Brief, clear thoughts were a must. And, being the Navy, acronyms popped up in most messages. My favorite one was UODIR, short for Unless Otherwise DIRected.

UODIR is initiative incarnate. And I’m a big fan of initiative. For me, that’s likely a case of ‘no truer believer than a convert’; as a kid I was a clueless and total slacker. And, before my time in the Navy, I was a Marine. At every level, a Marine is expected to take initiative and complete the mission. To see what needs to be done and get it done. As a recruit, I was a slow learner and had to wake up five times or so with Sgt. Vasquez’ boot on my neck before I got the idea. Once learned though, it was very valuable.

For a warship in harm’s way to do its job, initiative is also key. So, when the upper echelons are vague and political, a combat commander uses UODIR to get the job done.

Suppose, hypothetically, there were pirates preying on civilian shipping in a certain part of the world. The mission is to prevent pirate attacks on these vessels. In a better time, initiative would read something like: “UODIR I WILL CAPTURE OR SINK ALL PIRATE VESSELS WITHIN RANGE. SURVIVORS WILL BE SET ADRIFT.” That message forces the bureacrats and politikers to get off their butts and act. They hate that. Especially when it’s in writing. One wouldn’t want the Opacity of Hope out there for all to see after all.

Then, if the toadies in Washington reply, as they essentially have, CEASE OFFENSIVE ACTION. AVOID HARM TO PIRATES UNLESS YOU ARE FIRED UPON (which of course could as easily be written: SACRIFICE CIVILIANS AS NEEDED FOR PIRATE SAFETY), a commander with Bull Halsey or George Patton levels of initiative might reply with something more than just WILCO (Will Comply).

A modern-day Halsey might use the phony-jargon preamble of WADR (With All Due Respect), but might also use my second-favorite NMS phrase: BLEEP YOU. STRONG LETTER FOLLOWS.

In my day, a million years and six wars ago, skippers sometimes used that wording during wartime as a response to onerous, foolish admin demands or deadlines sent to front line ships. Now, it seems a suitable reply to almost everything out of Washington DC.

So, when it’s time to Tweet your intentions to a sloth-ridden organization or reply to a Twittiot, remember UODIR and BYSLF. They’re much better than a lame, dithering, state-of-being tweet on the order of OMG WTF.

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