By Vice Adm. Bill Moran
Chief of Naval Personnel
Been out and about since last communicating with you – on a listening tour of sorts, mostly meeting Sailors, but also civilians, families and retirees. My goal at the start was to trace a Sailor’s path from a recruiting station, through recruit training, on to A-school and then finally to the fleet. It took six weeks, but with a stop in Norfolk last week, Fleet Master Chief April Beldo and I completed the circuit.
Sitting here at my desk typing this blog, having just returned from the D.C. area pinning ceremony for our new chief petty officers, it reminded me of the importance of pride and professionalism in our call to service.
This event is always a favorite for so many because it brings together the entire Navy family.
Over the last two weeks we were fortunate to visit Great Lakes during perfect weather, enjoying tours of Recruit Training Command (boot camp) and Training Support Center (A-schools), and then spending time with Sailors on the Norfolk waterfront. These visits were central to my understanding of the issues that our commanding officers, Sailors and families face every day.
Manning was the central theme in every one of our visits. All of us know full well that while our technology can be powerful, it is the people that truly bring it to life and make our Navy great – it is the Sailor standing the watch who makes the difference in time of crisis or opportunity. We have to continue to pay attention to manning the fleet appropriately – message received.
At Great Lakes, our recruit division commanders, instructors and naval military training instructors go to great lengths to ensure that our newest Sailors have the mental and physical foundation necessary for success. As part of my “listening tour,” we sought out areas for improvement especially in our current processes. Sailors were upfront and honest about what they needed and what changes they felt should be made to facilities and timelines to optimize their experience in the training pipeline.
In Norfolk, crews in USS Anzio, USS Cole and USS Arlington were working hard conducting either preservation work or maintenance on specialized systems. Their candor and direct feedback on manning issues and how the current fiscal environment was affecting their ability to send people to schools or conduct training at sea were very helpful to me.
Some very frank discussion left me with a sense that we’re not executing perfectly and there’s room for improvement at every level to make us all better. In addition to manning, blue shirts shared an important message with me – especially important on this this day where new chiefs are pinned, a message really for all of our khaki leadership – leadership by example; our young Sailors are extremely smart and they are able to easily spot flaws and chinks in our armor. They know when we say one thing and then do another, they see when we don’t meet standards, they see when we slack off proudly wearing the uniform, and all of this erodes trust. And, of course, without trust you can’t effectively stand watch, can’t accurately launch a tomahawk, you can’t safely recover an aircraft and you can’t right wrongs.
The key to our success lies in how we prepare for our watch, the pride and professionalism in which we stand our watch, and then how we look out for each other on and off duty once our watch is complete.
Think of how many accidents have been prevented or bad decisions averted because a shipmate stepped in, spoke up, or simply acted to do the right thing – setting the example. Ok, off my soap box, but thank you to the Sailors out there who spoke up on this topic, you made an impression.
At the end of each small group session with Sailors and civilians we had the opportunity to field questions or even ask a few. Given the Navy’s laser-like focus on sexual assault, I used the opportunity to ask Sailors how we were doing with our sexual assault prevention and response training and where we could improve. As I expected, there was no shortage of feedback.
A number of Sailors felt that the training was too specific, robbing individual units of creativity or leeway. Others found the training valuable, but wanted to see updated scenarios or vignettes. A common thread of feedback that I heard throughout my travels was that our bystander intervention training, the idea that we are all shipmates and need to look out for each other, is well received and Sailors would like to see more of that type of discussion.
All of these visits reinforced my faith in the great Sailors we have in today’s Navy and in the process we have for developing young men and women who want to serve our Navy and Nation. So, my listening tour will continue south to Pensacola and out west to San Diego in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, please don’t think that you have to wait to see me before you can give me feedback or ask a question. I will personally answer any comment made to this blog – either directly on Navy Live or on the Navy Facebook page. Many of you have already helped me learn this way, keep it coming.
I’ll close today by reflecting on 9/11 and simply thanking those of you deployed and on watch every day around the globe – our destroyers operating in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Nimitz Strike Group in the Red Sea, the Truman Strike Group in the Arabian Gulf and special warfare teams operating in the shadows are all powerful examples of America’s Navy standing watch worldwide where it’s needed, when it’s needed.
Thanks for your time and attention. I look forward to seeing you in the fleet.
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