LIGHT Leadership Institute

Final Letter from Command

Commander, Naval Surface Forces required a post-Command letter from the departing CO. 

Here is mine.  30 July 1999, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portmouth, VA

Dear Admiral Giffin:

Thank you for the opportunity you have given us to reflect and un-wind from our tours in Command.  "Old Admirals" who visit the ship have always said that we're in the Best Job in the Navy... and I heartily agree.   I am not sure where I can serve better over the next few years.  Luckily Bill Doud took pity on me and has allowed me to go to the National War College for the next year.  We are thrilled since we've never been assigned in the DC area and Julia‘s looking forward to another move and the Washington life.  I will enjoy going to school and preparing for a "challenging" assignment.

My letter is long, but I wanted to capture my own feelings of Command and lay out both the "Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat" as ABC would say.

The Outline:

1.  Privilege of Command

2.  "My Way"

3.  Victories

4.  Tough Losses

5.  "If only I could have....."

6.  Quality of Life and "Time Off"

7.  BZ's

8.  Quo Vadis??

1.  Privilege of Command 

Becoming a Commanding Officer is a tremendous privilege.  We must guard against any dilution of the tradition of total responsibility and total accountability.  Our leadership courses must stress that even if it’s not your fault, per se, you are responsible.  And I think a sober approach to the meaning of “I relieve you” is demanded from the courses that prepare us to take Command.

The responsibility is enormous and unrelenting.  We are always on the edge of disaster and often there is no time to signal “Time Out.”  COs must develop confidence in their people and know they are doing OK even without the CO being there.  To establish that confidence early, you have to plant your “whole” self on the scene and demonstrate repeatedly what you mean... because your folks will often see it differently... Once you get them rolling... and convince the “10%” who really do run the ship, then “your way” can become the norm, and you then have control of your time to spread out and selectively focus.

The trust our country, the Navy, the Boss, your Sailors, but more importantly the families of your Sailors, put in you must be maintained.  It is nurtured by leveling with them and making communications flow.  E-mail et al is a curse and a blessing, and as we harness it, it will do even more to keep families informed and on our side.  The Ombudsmen, your good Chiefs, the XO and your spouse will work to keep you straight

2.  “My Way” 

Here are a few of the things I did to keep myself in Command:

a.  08-09 Walk through the ship.  My goal was to see everybody, every day!  I would stop by every department office and check on what new work/message/program had come in over night and discuss deadlines.  I did not allow meetings or other gatherings during this time.  I expected to see every officer and CPO out in their spaces with their people as I made my way around the ship.  My Best were always the ones who managed to arrange their time to be with their Sailors at the opening bell of the day.  I used this time to find out what was really going on and praise every good thing I saw!

 b.  The CO’s Sign Up List.  I maintained a list on a clipboard outside my cabin.  Anyone who needed me from XO to CMC to newest Sailor, could sign up on the list.  He left his name, reason to see me and a deadline, and where he would be for me to find him.  Since I checked in every new guy, he (they) were often surprised to see me in their berthing area or work space within a few hours of signing my list.  The Department Heads/ Divo’s and CPO’s used to spot their people on the list and often beat me to the Sailor and took care of some business by the time I got there.  It fostered great comms and kept me from running off the ship before someone really needed me to get their pet project signed out. 

c.  The Steel Beach.  We kept it open as much as possible.  Fishing was the norm and every nice Sunday we had a steel beach picnic with various events...Skeet shooting, Catch, 3-on-3 Basketball.  Once we even had a golf driving range set up and awarded a prize of the “Closest to the Paint Punt” during a Navy-Marine Corps Relief Fund Drive.  Full uniforms were only required when you were on duty.

d.  Every Sunday at Sea @1800 was SITE TV Captain’s Call.  Usually I had a personable E6 lead off with some “Mess Decks” rumors and softball questions that allowed me to lay out my agenda, then the CMC slipped in beside me.  After going through whatever had come through the CO’s Suggestion Box, we had phones lined up to take calls with “neutral” CPOs/E6's to write down the questions.  As the CMC read each concern, “We” would respond.    Some of my best answers: “Have you asked your Chief?”...  “Good idea, OK” ... “NO!”   The sessions helped keep the information flowing and let some guys blow off steam.... usually, the toughest questions came from the “Left Outs” and we learned to get them involved. 


e.  CO's Personnel Inspections.    I inspected a Division or group every week and worked up to three a week during the Decomm process.  I would say to them as I finished,   "I am looking at you, but who am I inspecting?"  Then I would point to the Khaki and LPO and say  "Them!"  It gave me good ammo for counseling and FITREP time and kept me in front of the troops.  I also would do mini-CO's calls after the inspection to see if there were concerns or rumors or....

f.  Friday evenings at sea were "for FUN."  At sea on deployment or CD Ops, my CMC and I hosted a TV Sports Talk Show where we covered the recent happenings from Football, Basketball, Baseball, and even NASCAR and Wrestling... since we actually got more Wrestling shows in the AFRTS packages than "real" sports. We took phone calls and did interviews with our local stars.  We had several Trivia Contests and reported on our SOCAR sports teams as well.  We discovered several sleepers for our Softball and Soccer teams.

g.  Training.  OK so I'm a nuke, but there never was time enough to get real training unless I led most of it... at least that's what I thought... until I followed the Nuke rules and began monitoring the various training sessions going on Daily around the ship.  Many topside CPO's are Master Training Specialists, and we had great success in our Training programs.  We ran the gamut from individual rating excellence to team building to PACE and ESWS/ SWO.  Using Admiral Clark's idea of  "Training = Activity Reinforced,"  we moved beyond mere lectures to many active and deep learning sessions.  The CMC led an "ESWS Rodeo" at least monthly at sea.  Each Sailor at a Training event had the similar responsibility we all carry for Safety.... if the Session was not "training" you, you had an obligation to speak up and work to make it worthwhile for you. 

h.  Level of Knowledge (LOK) Spot Checks.  As a Nuke CO I was required to "spot check" the knowledge of some of my propulsion plant watchstanders.  I did this underway after dinner for about an hour.  It kept me busy and out of the Department Heads' way and also let me talk to the watches.  I expanded on it to cover various topside watches, and finally built sessions (mentoring!?) with JO's where we talked "SWO LOK" based on the recent SWO Magazines or messages or stuff.  I used all the sessions to gauge what we really knew and what I needed to get more involved in.  It was a lot easier explaining a CVN Planeguard turn looking at a maneuvering diagram in my stateroom, than having them trying to figure it out while it was happening on the Bridge.

i.  "Nest".  When underway, I set up a portable computer "nest" so that I could review messages on the Bridge or in CIC.  That way I watched the "CONN".  Besides keeping a parallel data bank on my stateroom computer to cover MDS crashes, I wasn't tied to the CO's Stateroom BOX to see what the Bosses wanted.  I had SATCOM TG Command patched nearly everywhere I could walk since listening to radio traffic is still the best indicator of what's going on.  The YN were trained to find me for routing so my In-box--Out-box routine never slowed.  I got through my box every day.  I seldom took any work home.


j.  "Hot Lists".  I kept a single page of "Hot List" items broken down by All, individual Department or specific assignment.  That way if it was supposed to be in progress, I had it on my list... and if it wasn't on there, the person in charge was to ensure he got me to put it on there so I could stay focused.  Included was a list of "hurting" people... not the reason, just the name for all to be aware of.

k.  4 Programs.   During my Command Qual Board, one of the best pieces of advice came from the Flag Captain  who said to remember four programs: Safety, DC, 3M, Quals.  I kept those on top. 

- SAFETY was paramount and we used ORM.  Our briefs covered how we would do it and were even set up to allow us to practice the Commands and repeat back orders.  We "Talked, Walked, then Ran" as we executed known events.

- Our DC Organization both preventive and Reactive was superb.  The DCC made DCCS, the HT1 made CPO.   The R-Div JO's became the top Division Officers and best Qualifiers including all three as Nuclear Engineers!!

- I did weekly CO's PMS spot checks and they worked.  Every PMS Work Center supervisor who failed to achieve a 100% RAR was required to see me and explain why it wasn't done...They signed my list and I would go find them during my walk arounds to see what their problems were.  Often I found out they couldn't get my permission to do some of the maintenance... We fixed those processes.   Our gear worked well and most every thing was in top shape as we deactivated.

- Quals included DC, 3M, Watchstanding, Advancement, Commissioning, Individual, Team and sections.   We ran a phenomenal PACE program using both instructors and computer-based courses.

l.  "My 37".   En route to my command tour I developed a list of "37" attributes I wanted us to be about... I have enclosed a copy for your continued enjoyment.  They spelled out "South Carolina" and laid out what I wanted to stand for.  I read the essay to every new officer and CPO during their check in as well as to each Midshipmen group who came our way, then gave them their own copy.  I tried to keep myself honest and up to that standard.

m.  Recognition and Awards.  One of my goals was to say "Great!" when it was and "Damn, we gotta do better" when it wasn't.  I found the latitude for CO's NAMs and CAP about right.  We worked to praise every good thing we knew about and always kept SOCAR available for citizens to visit  "their ship".   As an O/CPO left the ship, we would form a "set of ranks" (ne' gauntlet) and each would shake hands and bid "Farewell." The departing leader then hit the Brow for the last time with the cry "Three Cheers" resounding behind him.

n.  XO- CMC and the Chiefs.  You cannot be in Command until these groups back you.  I was very fortunate.  I had the Best XO-CMC team ever and the Chiefs understood when I told them they, not I, were responsible for training Division Officers.  We made some very good Divo's as a result and several CPO's were prepped for more senior positions.  It was interesting how the "Best" CPO's also had the "Best" Divo's.

o.  "Stealing".  We watched other how other ships did business, and copied many "good ideas."  One of the assignments any SOCAR member had when they visited another ship for crossdeck or TAD was to come back with three things they did better than we did them, and three things we did better than they did.   "Cross-decking" helped guys pick their next assignments very judiciously.

p.  Monthly P-for to my boss.  Whether it was good news or not, I sent a monthly P-for to my boss which laid out as candidly and directly as I could Ship Material Concerns, Operations and Training, People Issues, and .... after calling it "Warfighting Development" ....Warrior Spirit.  It usually exposed too much of our real problems, but I wanted to capture both the highs and the lows throughout my tour.  It sure helped in the writing of this letter.

3.  Victories We were very successful:

a.  Decomm Process.  We were organized and worked well with every organization involved.  We ensured every one received the best follow on orders for them, and finished the defueling and ship turnover early.  We had a little time at the end for fun with a Beach Picnic, fishing expedition, and Awards Ceremony.  Most guys actually transferred before the final Decommissioning ceremony. 

b.  Deactivation Ceremony and September 98 “Strip Ship”.  As you have heard, we tried to make the Deactivation Ceremony a tribute to all those who were responsible for the CGN program.  The designers, engineers, builders, trainers, maintainers, Sailors, and Leaders.  Not only were we the Last Nuke, but also the last Steam Powered cruiser (Combatant?) And the last NTU ship to go.    We made great progress in turning around all our Combat Systems (48/49/CIWS/SLQ32/OUTBOARD/SYS2/MT 51/52.. etc) so all that Warfighting power was off the ship and headed for refurbishment before we were towed away from the pier at NOB.   

c.  Charleston Visit,  THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A STATE VISIT CANNOT BE MISSED.  Our best port visit was the one where we showed the people of SOUTH CAROLINA their ship.  Nothing we did improved morale more or cemented for each Sailor how much the citizens appreciate our service than the way we were acclaimed in Charleston. 

d.  CD Ops.  Although you took some heat, we went and did a good job and completed enough extra qualifications so that everybody (who wanted to) completed ESWS and every nuke became “Senior in Rate” qualified.  We made several boardings, towed the “CANDY TRADER”, and hit Cartegena, Columbia and Curacao (literally).   We also had lots of fun with the Midshipmen last summer. 

e.  Med Deployment.  Escorted GW and Nimitz, stayed in Med, 14 Ports in 5 months.  Qualified over 100 Surface Warriors (ESWS and SWO), In Naples for Christmas USO Show and Midnight Mass at the Vatican.  Pierside in Toulon and Rota. 

f.  JTF X.   Served as AMPHIB Protector.  Fished a lot.  Learned what to expect in a phased operation.  I can do the Battle Group or even the CJTF job.

g.  COMPTUEX.  Led the AAW Missilex as “GW” where ten ships fired over 30 missiles against various targets.  Got a Hit on our Harpoon shot, Fired a 105.9 on the Gunnery range.  Had a softball tourney in Roosey Roads.  (Repeated the event in ‘98).... came back and led THE SULLIVANS and MONTEREY VANDAL-EX with nine ships, and after having to wait all day, got in two VANDAL Profiles in the last hour of range time. 

h.  Silver Anchor.   (3 years in a runner up to a Big Deck AMPHIB). 

i.  Advancements.  Better than fleet average and three new WO/LDO’s, four MCPO’s, Eight SCPO’s, 16 CPO’s; plus SN to Admiral, BOOST, and NROTC selectees.  Even some SH’s made PO2 and PO1 without being CAP’d!! 

j.  Virtual CVN Planeguard.  Developed a way to train for planeguard duties by using a DRT trace of CVN turns and trying to drive us around the CVN’s turning circle (the “Virtual CVN).  Either using a turn we had made behind GW as the model, or by pretending to maintain the plane guard station when we were out in a Screen assignment and closely tracking the CVN, we practiced the turning techniques so that whenever we got the STATION 3SNX assignment we were ready- we even had the CVN’s lights figured out!! 

k.  CPO’s and JO’s.  All developed according to their drive and desires.  Some CPO’s took to the “ROAD”- but not for long.  Most realized how important my endorsement could be in landing a future job and did not want to risk it.  The “Short-time” JO’s kept driving to the end to ensure they’d get a good rec from me.  Each has landed extremely well and several keep in close touch.  Some miss what we do already.  We used a “TEAM” effort in every division and when the Combat Systems Officer was detached without a SWO replacement, the LDO-CPO Combat Systems team took over and ran what I think was the best department on the ship when we were operational.  They can do the job-- give it to them and get a little out of the way...but watch what they do so you can still lead them.

 l.  Midshipmen.  We had lots of success because we spent most of each summer underway.  I think that’s the key to success in Midshipmen training.  My JO’s put together a “What every Conning Officer Should Know” booklet that they... repeat...they... demanded that every Midshipman who reported to watch on the Bridge had read and practiced the commands and repeat backs expected of a conning officer or a Tactical Communicator before they could take the watch. 

m.  SWO/ ESWS.  Every Officer except my “Fallen Aviator” Disbo who joined us in July 98 and enlisted person who desired to, qualified Surface Warfare.  We flew the Gold SWO Pennant from our Ship Yard Barge.  There were nearly 150 enlisted qualified as ESWS, and I know I would have had more ESWS’ if I had gotten all the nukes turned on.  Some have already told me how much they regretted not doing it.  We held the Standard and a few had to lose their extra weight to make it through their pinning ceremony.  Funny how once they achieved the standard, that they got even better. 

n.  Pass in Review.  As we completed an event with a new unit (GW, GUAM ARG, NIMITZ, TRUMAN,  French TG, etc) I would muster all hands on deck with Khaki on the Foc’sle and the rest aligned along the rails and speed close by on nuclear power.  I did it so we could show our respect to those units we worked with for what they did- it often built respect for what we did (inside and outside the lifelines). 

o.  Ombudsmen, Wives, and Family Support Group.  They formed an unbeatable and supporting team behind all the things that we were able to accomplish.  The Ombudsmen were so magnificent, and the wives kept in touch with e-mail, our  Ship’s Homepage, and the schedule.  The FSG raised money for the Fisher House swing set (installed by our CPO’s) and last week turned over $500 to Charity as we decommissioned.   

4.  Tough Times 

Although not as “cherished”, there will be things that happen in command that drain you.  Here’s my list: a.  SN Jafferi- gunned down on the streets of Norfolk as he was walking back to the ship for “No reason.”  He was the son of an Indian-American Doctor and US wife who also was a physician.  Their older son had served as a Doctor in the Air Force.  The family was very proud of Medhi.  The Divo and I went to the funeral in Chicago and tried as best we could to offer condolences.   His father paid a visit to Norfolk in May 1999, just to walk through the streets and visit a Navy ship.  We were able to have him meet some of the guys still left who had worked with his son.   

b.  CTAC Shaner- A tragic case.  After a SOCAR Sailor had died from what was determined to be Legionnaire’s Disease in December 1996, a CPO reported to the hospital in February 1997 with terrible pneumonia.  He just never got any better.  Shipboard we treated the water system throughout the ship with cal-hypo and cleaned all the vents as a precaution.  Additionally, EPMU took water samples which when analyzed by the Center for Disease Control showed no signs of the Legionella bacteria, but rumors persisted that we were a “Death” ship.  A series of “Town Meetings” and lots of support and extra Medical procedures allowed us to resolve any worries that the ship caused the illnesses.  Chief Shaner has gone from a wonderfully fit young man to just above a permanent invalid.  I will never understand why this happened. 

c.  MM3 Lang.  A Sailor who got very despondent and as we were trying to get him back under our control, was approached by Norfolk Police.  He panicked, took off in his truck running down an officer and crashing a police car.  He was lucky that no one was seriously hurt.  He has spent the last eight months in Norfolk jail.  Luckily, he has also started thinking better and after sentencing in August will go home to Texas and try to start over. 

d.  Drug and Alcohol Abuse.  Although diminishing, we still need to fight it.  Both the CD OPS war and the Anti-drug and Drinking education and life changing campaigns must continue.  Too many hours are lost trying to un-do the damage to careers and families due to this abuse.  The worst problem with druggies is that they become very good liars and as such... usually pretty good Sailors since they are living a lie.  As much as I want to help the guys on drugs, I just don’t believe them anymore. 

e.  Family Matters.  After Drug and Alcohol Abuse in taking up your time (and that of your leaders) are “Family Matters”... anywhere from Medical services to $$ to “custody”/ separation.  The Ombudsmen and Family Service Centers do a great job, but it still comes down to how we help the Sailor stay responsible and make the right choices.  Often the Sailor wants his “rights” and refuses to move back to the ship or stay away from his wife /his problem arena/ and winds up in more trouble.  Probably the same 13 people (out of 500) were responsible for most of my Ombudsmen and CMC’s phone calls. f.  JO’s getting out.  As good as a ship as we were, there were still some JO’s with tre­mendous ability who decided to get out.  The most common theme was “Family Separation”, although several had been exposed to too much “anti-nuke” talk that they felt their career choice as Surface Nukes was a “Dead End” that would lead them to a CVN RO job that helped a classmate make Flag from the CVN CO position.

5.  If only I could have....

a.  Started spelling your name right earlier.

b.  Been a better JO.  I was not focused as well as the JO's I have working for me.  I often did not learn enough about the Navy as I "worked out of the sunlight" in nuclear powered ships.  Luckily, my shore tours always put me into a superb area with Surface Officers: SWOS, SOSMRC and out in Bahrain.  I learned more about the job the whole Navy does and how each of us plays a role.  I'd be a much better JO the next time around!!

c.  Gotten my XO Command Screened.  I do not know what the process takes, but to see the person who makes you successful, not get the nod for Command leaves a bitter taste.  CDR Jeff Kulp is the guy we need to go be a CVN RO and lead the new breed of nukes.  I've been told he has a good chance his next (and last) time. 

d.  Inspired every Sailor.  In spite of my desire to make everyone love me, there were some from whom I could never get "their best".  I thought I could relate to nearly every kind of person.  But I find I am challenged by the ones who are capable, but do not want to take either the risk of "getting wet" or "being responsible" for another person's effort.  A few guys seemed content to work below their true ability, and I think, chose to shy away from every challenge.  Few of them ever complained about their evals or lack of recognition.  They just "went through the motions" as TR said "Never becoming the man in the Arena."

e.  Taken some leave.  I did not do a good enough job of letting go, even for a few days.  I did ensure that all my people took time off.  I did get a few days each summer, over Christmas ‘98,  and had my family visit in Naples for Christmas ‘97 on deployment.

f.  Gotten my CMC an MSM!  He truly is exceptional and my best friend on the ship!!

g.  Kept my cool whenever Comms were acting up.

h.   Not believed the Curacao pilot.

i.  Made my older son's High School graduation. (June 1998- CD OPS)

j.  Commanded CGN USS TEXAS!

6.  QOL.. and "Time Off"

We need to douse the idea that "Quality of Life" is time away from the ship and the sea.  We need to focus on "Quality of Life" as we do our jobs.  The jobs at sea can be made better by improving the design and maintenance of shipboard services.   The three areas we can't afford to screw up are food, pay and shipboard store services (Laundry, gedunks, necessity items).   

   One of the best things in the Navy has been our food services.  I notice we are experimenting with "prepackaged" foods and are looking for ways to improve this area.  We should never skimp or go back to "Warm beer and bread".  On SOCAR we had a tremendous set of MS's who although undermanned did an exceptional job.  We consolidated all the cooking to the main galley and served scrumptious and super meals.  However, I think we paid a price for re­ducing Wardroom services and hauling food up from the Messdecks.

 We tried as best we could to fix every pay problem quickly.  Most were not caused by the Sailor or by shipboard actions... so most were not fixed ASAP!!  I don't know whom we didn't trust: DK's or DISBO's. But they have become field input pay clerks who can take your problem and "Get Back to you later."  Help!!  (CNO N1 141256JUL99 was great!!! )

The S3 organization which runs the store services really are under-manned for what they must do.  Especially in the areas of accountability.  Often they must be given "special" treatment so that the Soda and Geedunk machines stay full 24x7.  To have a sharp looking crew you need a very well engineered and laid out Laundry.  Over the years, we had developed a "flow" and made several "Sailor-alts".  However, the people who design ships' laundries nearly always put in the same capacities of washers and dryers... but it takes two to three times as long to dry as it does to wash.  And the "Flow" still backs up in turning in and picking up laundry daily.

There are still some efficiencies and QOL "low hanging fruit" in each of these areas.

7.  BZ’s 

There are so many people off the ship who help make it successful.  At the risk of leaving someone out, here’s a list of BZ’s: 

a.  Your staff particularly the Front Office led by CDR Robertson and Chief Haldiman (ok including Bobby Perry but he might think I’m Brown nosing him), the Force CMC’s (Conklin, Hallstein, and Slingerland), Larry McCullough and Tiki Mitchell, Paul Danks,  John Singley and JO’s, Carl Morris- don’t lose Linda K!, Tom Ward, Dave Roemmich and Rick Rickard, Howie Cronauer and SKCS Reed, the Nukes of NPMTT including Tim Dull and Chuck Sanders, Dwight Dew and Joe Faircloth,  Pat Cassidy and Gene Garrett, and Dave Shaw and SWDG.  The “HOWGOESITS” have been great hits and make us feel involved in the processes. 

b.  The alphabet soup of support:  RSG , SIMA- Bob Butler is dedicated to ships!, FISC (XO more in touch with reality than CO), FTSCLANT, Trip Barber as best NAVSTA CO, and the Norfolk Retention Center (My NC1 went there to keep the Quality great!).  

c.  Sewell’s Point Navy Center Doctors and Dentists, the Naval Safety Center- never let them get “politically corrected”,  and the Family Service Center especially: Kathy Conklin and Sheri Determann. 

d.  NAVPERSCOM- They helped us all the way to the end.  Every SOCAR Sailor left knowing that they got what they wanted.  Special BZ to PERS41 and EMCM Gary Wier. 

e.  NNSY (Tim Scheib and Bill Harman) and NAVSEA 08 (and NRRO- Art Tryon here as well) and PMS312 who never abandoned us. 

f.  The CCDG2 and George Washington Battle Group organization.  I served in the Best Battle Group ever.

8.  Quo Vadis? So where do we go from here??  Or is the Navy an anachronism in the new Millennium? 

a.   We must ensure that as busy as we are, we remain always productive.  If not, Busy will not equal Productive and we will really get Worn Out.  A definite structure and the discipline to finish tough jobs will pay off in the future. 

b.  As we think about Smaller ships and crews, the basics of cleaning and preserving will not go away.  I applaud the ideas we have to improve the processes.  I think we should be working to develop an “Engine Room Zamboni” or built in “Wall Vacuum” system that will consolidate, recycle and “neutralize” waste and dirt.  To clean a dirty space, there will still be some ugly jobs.  We also have to stay tough enough to make our sailors clean their ships. 

c.  Rapid and TV-computer age Comms and the subsequent info explosion make “simplicity” mandatory.  Who decides what info we really need and who on the ship knows enough to understand what/where/why/how/who needs to know it?  I think the CO might, but no one else has the breadth of experience or responsibility to shift through all the info, be selective in processing it, and concentrate on teaching your people what/why and how a particular message/ program or thought is critical to our future success.  We may be reducing our selves to just doing what the boss tells us, rather than committing to working to figure it out for ourselves.  See Al Zimm’s article in May 99 PROCEEDINGS for a more thorough explanation of my concern. 

d. CO relieving process.  After completing the USS ARTHUR W RADFORD investigation, I really wanted to know how and what we were teaching the PCO’s about “I relieve you, sir!”  Unfortunately, at SWOS, the relieving process is now covered in the Leadership course.  We need to be brave enough to say my command’s not as good as it could be and admit both to ourselves and our reliefs that everything’s not making roses, yet.  As great as any ship is, there are always some “closet” problems that the CO/XO/CMC  don’t know about but should, ... or that they do know about, but forget to tell the new guy.  I still think “CAVEAT EMPTOR” needs to apply and the new guy needs to follow Navy regs and make the guy leaving complete his job. 

e.  Maintenance.  We are still back in the 60's with respect to writing a “work order’ (4790/2K).  Even though it’s on SNAP3, there are still no pull down menus so that once you say “Gizmo is Broke”... that a series of menus appear to help you fully explain the symptoms and suggest to the repair activity what needs to be fixed.  Of course the repair activity has a whole section of planners and surveyors who know what’s probably wrong and, more than likely, needs to be fixed, but they have to go look anyway.  Moreover, I think there’s more on the ship that Sailors can’t fix (due to knowledge, experience, “technical advances”, time, parts, tools resources) than ever before.   The Port Engineers are great, but I reason that “Self-sufficiency” needs to include work planning and scheduling.  S/Y availabilities are still too traumatic on ship’s souls. 

f.  Bridge Project.  We need to “normalize” Bridge layouts and equipment.  Every ship has a different arrangement for its Furuno, BTB radio and other control instruments.  Most of them have been “Sailor”-alted due to different preferences of the current CO.  Amazingly, the CO’s chair on SOCAR was just like the seat at Fenway Park behind the support girder.  I could see very clearly out to the starboard side, but could not see straight ahead without getting out of the chair.  It made Sea Details interesting because an “MOE” was “How many times did the CO have to get out of his chair?” 

g.  Portsmouth Parking.  It’s been great ever since the DESRON deployed and the CVN’s left.  But still for the DESRON ships who are Homeported here, we still need to work to improve that QOL area. 

h.  Prime Vendors and Food.  We need to monitor very carefully how well we maintain the quality of foodstuffs we receive through the new program.  I know we go for “least expensive”, but sometimes the true value is by how easy it is to present and prepare and that key Ney term “Acceptability.”   Don’t let the SUPPLY guys sell us short. 

i.  SWDG.  I appreciate all they do to try to get us to think “Tactical”.  They have nearly “opened” the secret box and maybe made it more readable and understandable to the fighters of the fleet.  More different media and scenario driven Q&A (Games??)  which we could “plug” into our onboard trainers may help.  I do have the feeling that in a “1 v 1" or “1 v 3" situation that we would just shoot the closest we could see.  We need to prepare for the time after a Tomahawk strike when the “enemy” has a “Falklands War” capability to put 2-4 A/C overhead within hours following our attack.  I have never seen that exercised in any training scenario.  Additionally, we also need to think and “tabletop” the end-game... after we nailed the Bad Guy... (Ship/ sub/A/C), how do we go salvage, rescue, recover, and exploit what/who survived.  There’s not enough discussion of this in our TACTICAL courses either. 

j.  Stability.  Probably the most unachievable goal, but in a system under control, the most important factor is to bring the system into Stability.  That way you have a definite set of parameters that can be monitored and controls built in to keep the system productive.  In the Navy, stability has come from our CPO’s and our Mid-aged ships.  I acknowledge that the technology and comms and info are whizzing by at an ever-increasing speed, but I also think that for people to stay around, there must be places and systems in the Navy which run steadily and overcome outside influences.   We must make our changes in a way that clearly and demonstratively says, “This is the New way and we must work to stabilize it.”  Only after it’s in equilibrium should we “Orient, Observe, Decide and Act” again.  Now in some cases the process may take seconds, in others, it may take years and a series of CO’s or CNO’s.  Look at the Navy as fine wine, a Redwood forest or the Grand Canyon.... It’s going to take time.  Just ensure that each of us decides to do our best every time we get the chance.  Thank you for plowing through.  Best of Luck in every future endeavor. 

Remember- Command is personal and all about YOU for those you serve! Up, out, and down!

LIGHT Leadership Institute
Leader's Integrated Guide to Higher Thinking

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