Monday, March 30, 2015

Command Excellence Exemplified - NIOC Yokosuka

The Crew of U.S. NAVIOCOM Yokosuka, Japan
In the Model for Command Excellence, between the inputs and results, were factors the model termed intermediate outputs. The intermediate outputs of superior commands also distinguished them. Sailors in the command had a sense of mission. They were motivated and committed to the command. Morale, pride, and teamwork were evident throughout the command. Attitudes and values of Sailors on board reflected this. These intermediate outputs directly affected the final outputs.

What accounts for the differences between them in superior and average commands?

Three areas make a difference between the results of superior and average commands:
  • the Sailors in the command,
  • the relationships between them
  • the activities they perform
"Sailors" refers to the different people in the command. This includes the Commanding Officer (CO), the Executive Officer (XO), the Wardroom, the Chiefs Quarters (Mess), and the Crew.

"Relationships" refers to the relationships between different groups of Sailors and the ways these groups of people interact with each other. "Activities" include those things that people do that make the biggest differences between average and top commands.

Five activities were identified:
  • Planning
  • Maintaining Standards
  • Communicating
  • Building Esprit de Corps
  • Training and Development
The book is available HERE.  Check the document properties; this is our (former CO/XO NSGA Yokosuka) 2005 update of our (CO/XO NSGA Yokosuka) original version from 1997.  There are two companion summaries: Command Excellence and the Wardroom and Charting the Course to Command Excellence.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Navy Humor - The Fight for the Admiral's Zipper - A "Sea Story" (It may or may not be true).


Being a Flag Aide or Executive Assistant to a Navy Admiral is very serious business nearly all the time.  International travel with a Flag officer is a complicated process and can be a logistics nightmare. While never stated explicitly anywhere, it is understood by all in the Flag Office that the Aide/EA is responsible for all things (large and small/significant and insignificant) - even acknowledged "Acts of God". Responsibility for the Flag officer's care, comfort, feeding, and movement involves a lot of moving parts and can be further complicated by a senior officer traveling partner (in this case a Navy Captain) who may want to take on the role of Aide/EA.

For this particular trip, I've successfully moved my Flag from DC to London (where the Captain joined our 'party'), after a 6 hour delay by UNITED for an equipment (aircraft) mechanical issue. Spending 6 hours at Dulles with a seriously inconvenienced Flag officer can be a real drag on one's energy. - Do we go back home and wait? - What's wrong with the plane? - Why did you book this flight? - How long is the expected delay? - Can you get us another flight? - Have you notified London that we are delayed? - Should we get some dinner? - What does our new schedule look like with the 1,2,3,4,5, or 6 hour delay?  - What events need to be rescheduled?

With many thousands of travel miles in the bank, my Flag traveled business class and I found myself free to relax in the comfort of economy class, far removed from the boss and the questions (none of which I could answer satisfactorily). We land at Heathrow and are met by the Captain and a vehicle with driver for the one hour trip on the M4 and A4 to London. 

I'll jump ahead two days and move the three of us to Digby via rental car, driving through Stevenage, Alconbury, and Peterborough with stops in great pubs in each town. We received a Flag greeting at RAF Digby and were assigned a "sergeant at arms" to see to us. We spent way too long in the pub that evening before dinner and way way to long in the bar after dinner.  The sergeant got us all safely back to our quarters. (I was a non-drinker back then).

The following morning, I had my coffee and went to check on my Flag in his quarters to get him and the Captain for breakfast before continuing our trip to Edzell.  The Admiral was quick to answer the door in his summer white uniform and declared that his zipper was broken. Being that the Aide is responsible for all things, it was my immediate job to tell the Admiral that his zipper was not broken, but merely stuck. At this point, the Captain arrived. The Captain immediately forgot what the aide's responsibilities were and wanted to assist in resolving the zipper issue. Keep in mind, the Admiral is wearing the pants in this relationship. I know what my responsibilities are and proceed to pull on the zipper up the fly of the Admiral's pants, catching only the left side teeth.  I am doing it all wrong and the Captain wants to correct my behavior and insists on a try at the zipper. Naturally when our battle over the zipper is at its zenith, with the Captain and I literally on our knees, and tugging on the Admiral's fly and his zipper, our sergeant at arms arrives to escort us to breakfast.  He pops to attention and turns slightly away and with an aloofness and feigned disinterest that only the British can pull off, says - "Jolly well, I see you gentlemen are otherwise occupied, I will return at a time more convenient for all of you." With that, he walked away - leaving the Captain and I on our knees still pulling at the Admiral's zipper in opposite directions. Thankfully, he never came back.  The Captain and I fought over the Admiral's zipper a bit more before I was able to get the slide back over the lower stop, connect the right/left teeth again (see the photo above) and zip the Admiral's zipper. 

We made our way to breakfast and I was later able to make a complete and permanent repair of the zipper by sewing a new lower stop on the bottom of the zipper during a brief visit  at the home of one of our Commanding Officer's while the Admiral was forced to wear the Skipper's wife's pink bathrobe in the process. The story about who walked in on us is even funnier and will have to wait for another time. The stuff our Navy Flags have to put up with is ridiculous.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CTMC (IDW/SS) Adam J. Birkholz wins 2015 NCVA Award for Cryptologic Support Excellence

Congratulations to Chief Petty Officer Adam Birkholz who today was announced as the winner of Commander, U.S. TENTH Fleet's 2015 Award for Cryptologic Support Excellence (ACSE).
Chief Birkholz was nominated for the 2015 ACSE due to his exceptional leadership as the NIOC Yokosuka Fleet Electronics Support (FES) Leading Chief Petty Officer during calendar year 2014. He transferred to NIOC Bahrain in late 2014.
C10F's official announcement (RMG 231803ZMAR15):
RMKS/1. In 1987, an award for cryptologic excellence was created by Commander, Naval Security Group based upon a proposal by the Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association (NCVA) to recognize Navy and Marine Corps personnel for their superior accomplishments in cryptologic support functions.
2. Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command U.S TENTH Fleet is pleased to announce CTMC(IDW/SS) Adam J. Birkholz, USN, Navy Information Operation Command (NIOC) Bahrain as the 2015 ACSE winner. Before transferring to NIOC Bahrain, Chief Birkholz expertly led NIOC Yokosuka's mission to provide cryptologic maintenance support to multiple ships across the Forward Deployed Naval Forces, including helping USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62) prepare for and ultimately pass the SSES portion of their INSURV inspection. Further, he coordinated the deployment of one DIRSUP CTM to USS MCCAMPBELL (DDG 85) for five months in order to assist them during a period of austere CTM manning. His leadership in this area enabled FDNF ships to maintain a high level of cryptologic operational readiness which is challenging due to the distance and time zone difference from the surface ship TYCOM and SPAWAR System Centers (SSC) in Charleston, SC and San Diego, CA and FDNF surface ships.
3. The competition was particularly keen for this year's
nominees and congratulations also go to the following nominees:
a. YNCM Donald R. Carter, NAVIOCOM Georgia
b. CTM1 (IDW/SW/AW) Asia S. White, NAVIOCOM Whidbey Island
c. YN1 (IDW/AW) Philip M. Breeze, NAVIOCOM Pensacola
d. YN1 (IDW/EXW/SW/AW) Phefelia E. Flournoy, NAVIOCOM Colorado
e. CTM2(SW) Kiia Synnestvedt, USS CHOSIN (CG-65)
f. CTM3(SW) Anthony Turner, USS NEW YORK (LPD-21)

4. These outstanding information warriors and cryptologists exemplify leadership, initiative, resourcefulness and dedication, and personify the highest traditions established for cryptologic excellence by the ACSE.
5. Congratulations and well done! Released by VADM Jan E. Tighe, USN, Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. TENTH Fleet.//

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Leadership Lesson - ENSIGN 101 - OIC's Rules of the Road

Nearly 100 years ago, when I was an Ensign at my first duty assignment, I lost a prisoner. Or maybe it was the Chief that lost the prisoner. In any case, let's say for this argument's sake that "we" lost our prisoner - The Mulch.

In the 1980's, the (illegal for American consumption/purchase) Japanese cough suppressant 'bron' was very popular among young Sailors due to its unrestricted availability, low cost and perceived low rate of detection.  One of our stellar Second Class Petty Officers succumbed to the temptation of a cheap and easy high and was caught in a routine urinalysis sweep of our detachment's Sailors.  Captain's Mast resulted in a reduction from E5 to E3, a fine and 30 days in Correctional Custody. ((NOTE: CC is the most serious deprivation of liberty authorized as punishment under the UCMJ, article 15. UCMJ, article 15 is designed to be a means of disposing of minor infractions of discipline without having to stigmatize service member with court-martial conviction.)) Administratively, he lost his security clearance, flight orders and was detailed to general duty as a Seaman aboard ship.  Funny that as CTs, we thought orders to a ship was punishment for a Sailor.

Our awardee was about to be released from Yokosuka Naval Base's Correctional Custody Unit (CCU) and we (the Chief and I) were being briefed on the 'rules of the road' by our Officer in Charge (OIC).  ((NOTE: CC is the most serious deprivation of liberty authorized as a punishment under the UCMJ, article 15. UCMJ, article 15 is designed to be a means of disposing of minor infractions of discipline without having to stigmatize a service member with a court-martial conviction.))

The OIC's  'rules of the road" were to be:
  • Rule 1. Prisoner will make no phone calls. 
  • Rule 2. Prisoner will eat no meals.
  • Rule 3. Prisoner will not be allowed to shower or shave.
  • Rule 4. Prisoner will not be allowed a change of clothes.
  • Rule 5. Prisoner will never be out of sight (even in the head (toilet).
  • Rule 6. Prisoner will not smoke.
Now, even after 30+ years of analysis, I can't say for certain which violation of these rules led to the prisoner's escape. But, he did escape.

With the 'rules of the road' fully explained and understood, the Chief and I made our way in the command vehicle from Atsugi, Japan down to the Yokosuka Naval Base CCU via Route 16.  Recovering our "awardee" (once a stellar PO2 and now a Seaman) from CCU was quite an experience.  They had broken him down to his least survivable component.  I should say that CCU of 1983 and CCU of today are two VERY DIFFERENT animals. When he went into CCU 30 days prior, he had been stripped of all his clothing and walked around the circular CCU cell area, searched and then placed in a holding cell.  Quite a traumatic experience for our former Sailor of the Quarter and for me, a brand new Ensign. These behaviors are prohibited now but were standard practice then:
  • Requiring awardees to salute enlisted personnel or address them as sir/ma'am.
  • Requiring awardees to face the bulkhead at close range when a staff member passes.
  • Requiring awardees to request permission to speak when there is no valid reason for the requirement.
  • Requiring permission to move normally within spaces when not engaged in formal activities.
  • Requiring silence as a routine condition. 
The Chief and I signed for our awardee and began our trip to Narita International Airport to put our awardee on a commercial flight to the U.S. so he could join his ship in San Diego.  He was a broken young man, in need of a shower, shave, change of clothes and a hot meal - all prohibited by the OIC in his 'rules for the road'.  As we headed for the airport, we made an unexpected (by me) detour back to Atsugi on Route 16.  The Chief said he had forgotten something at home and needed to grab it before heading to Narita.  

Once at the Chief's home in Atsugi, we all went in where we were greeted by the Chief's very gracious wife who invited us into the kitchen for breakfast, which was already well underway - violation of rule #2.  Our awardee had not eaten for more than 15 hours at this point.  After the meal, the Chief sent The Mulch to take a shower and shave in the back bathroom and to put on his dress blues (violation of rules 3, 4 and 5).  We had maintained strict adherence to rules 1 and 6 for more than two hours.  We were strong on 1 and 6.

The Mulch thanked the Chief's wife for breakfast and then we headed out for the airport.  We made it there in about 2 hours and had not broken any more rules.  We checked in at the UNITED counter with The Mulch and check-in counter attendant engaging in a lively conversation in fluent Japanese.  The Mulch had immersed himself in Japanese culture during his tour in Japan and was leaving behind a Japanese fiancé that he had not seen or spoken to in 35 days and who was several months pregnant with their little girl.

With the check-in complete, we were about 90 minutes from seeing our awardee get on a plane and head to his new assignment as a deck Seaman aboard USS MONTICELLO (LSD-35).  We stored his seabag in a locker, stopped at a phone bank so he could let his fiancé  know that he was departing the country and would not see her for some time.  Again, he spoke fluent Japanese and we didn't have a clue how his conversation went.  We could only assume there was plenty of crying on the other end. 

Then we began the wait for departure at Bob's Big Boy restaurant on the second level of the terminal area.  The Chief, The Mulch and I had lunch (Why not, we had already violated rule #2; once broken there was no fixing it.)  The Mulch toyed with his lighter and cigarettes but the Japanese were enforcing rule #6 and this is the one rule which would remain intact for the entirety of this story. As one would expect over a 6 hour period, The Mulch needed to go to the head.  Rule #5 reared its ugly head.  The Mulch was not to be left alone, not even to go to the head.  I suggested the Chief go with him.  The Chief suggested that we could both see the door to the head and could keep an eye on it from the table.  After all, where was The Mulch going to go?  He had already checked in and confirmed for the flight to Los Angeles For Further Travel (FFT) to San Diego.

After a lengthy period, I became nervous that The Mulch had not returned from the head (though his VALUABLES - $4 pack of cigarettes,  $2 lighter and $8 Casio watch were still at the table).  I'd had enough of the rule breaking, I was going in to the head and lay down 'the rules of the road'.  I didn't see The Mulch at any of the urinals and all the stalls were empty except one.  Thank goodness, there was still a chance he was in that stall.  I called out his name.  No answer.  I called it out again.  No answer.  I banged on the stall door.  No answer.  I climbed on the toilet in the adjoining stall to look over into the last stall.  A poor Japanese gentleman was cowering on the toilet looking up at the LUNATIC Ensign.  Our prisoner had escaped !!

I went back out to the table to let the Chief know, we had lost our prisoner.  He said, "You know sir, the OIC put you in charge of this detail."  Inside the Chief was laughing the laugh that only a Chief can laugh.  "Well sir, you'd better call the OIC and let him know The Mulch is gone."

I made the call to the OIC.  
- Me - "Sir, The Mulch is gone"
- OIC - "Glad I could send you and the Chief and get the job done.  Good job."
- Me - "No, sir, I mean he took off.  He's gone."
- OIC - "You're calling because he assaulted you and the Chief, and then took off?"
- Me - "No, sir, I'm calling because he went to the head and went out the back door."
- OIC - "Mad Dog Murphy, the XO is not going to be happy to hear about this from you tomorrow when you get back.  Grab the Chief and come back to Atsugi."

That was a long drive back to Atsugi.  There were about two dozen leadership lessons in there and the story has been told many times over.

The Mulch made it to his ship on time.  We had no authority over him after he did his time in CCU. There were no 'rules of the road'.  The Chief did everything right that day for the Sailor and the Navy.  The OIC had no bad words for us upon our return.  The XO feigned outrage over our loss of the prisoner.  The Chief knew better.  He restored that young man's dignity from the first moment of contact with him and he taught me lessons all day long and for many months to come at that little detachment in Atsugi, Japan. I was the butt of many a JO joke and paid many tabs at the O Club where my shipmates left their $4 cigarettes and $2 lighters as 'collateral' when they left $40 checks at the table.

The Mulch told his girlfriend on the phone that he was at Narita but would be "home" soon for a few days before he'd have to fly to San Diego to join his ship.  He told the ticket counter attendant not to check him in that day and that he'd be back for a later flight.  All of this was unknown to us because we hadn't immersed ourselves in the culture as he had.  True to his word, he made the later flight and made it to his ship on time.  He served out the rest of his time in the Navy honorably and married his fiancé.  I only hope that they lived 'happily ever after.' 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Constructive criticism

From the archives:

"Mike, I find most of your posts to be questionable, yet still useful."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group Superstar CTR2 Melisa Wink !!

William Penn University Photo
The Fiscal Year 2015 Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps In-Service Procurement Program (IPP) Selection Board met on 10 February 2015 to consider 15 highly qualified applicants. The board used the "whole person" concept to identify those applicants with the greatest potential for successful service as a Navy Judge Advocate.

Please join us in congratulating and welcoming to the JAG Corps this year's impressive selectee:

CTR2 (IDW) Melisa J. Wink, Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group, enlisted in the Navy in 2012 after graduating summa cum laude from William Penn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Pre-Law and History. While in school, CTR2 Wink served as captain of the women's soccer team, ran cross-country, studied abroad in Rwanda, was twice elected Student Body President and was elected Homecoming Queen. After graduating first in her class at CTR "A" School she reported aboard the Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group in Washington, D.C., where she conducts cyber intelligence analysis in support of U.S. TENTH Fleet operations. She quickly made critical contributions to projects with CNO and interagency involvement, earning recognition as her command's 2013 Bluejacket of the Year. In addition to her professional excellence, CTR2 Wink has also volunteered hundreds of hours as a local youth soccer coach and took the initiative to learn about the JAG Corps by performing additional duties as a paralegal for the Fleet Cyber Command Staff Judge Advocate's office.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Chief Petty Officer of Note

Peter Tomich 
Date of birth: June 3, 1893
Date of death: December 7, 1941
Burial location: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Entombed in USS UTAH)
Place of Birth: Austria, Prolog
Home of record: New Jersey
Status: KIA

Five years before World War I began, Peter Tomich (Tonic) immigrated to the United States. When war broke out he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served until January 13, 1919. He received U.S. Citizenship and, ten days after his Army enlistment expired, joined the Navy. He had no known relatives so when the destroyer named in his honor was commissioned in 1943, it was decided to award his Medal to the ship itself. The award was presented on January 4, 1944 by Rear Admiral Monroe Kelly. In 1946 the U.S.S. Tomich was mothballed. In 1947, Governor Herbert B. Maw of Utah proclaimed Peter Tomich an honorary citizen of that State, and guardianship of his Medal was granted to Utah. In 1989 the Navy built the Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, RI and named the building TOMICH HALL. The facility is a combination of academy, dormitory and museum. Chief Tomich's Medal of Honor was displayed there until 2006 when surviving family were identified and his Medal of Honor was presented to them. It went to a distant cousin of Chief Tomich, Lt. Col. Srecko Herzeg-Tonic (ret.) of the Croation Armed Forces.  He is the grandson of John Tonic with whom Tomich had immigrated to the United States in 1913.

The prestigious Peter Tomich Award for exceptional military excellence is awarded to the honor graduate of the U.S. Navy's Senior Enlisted Academy.  Our current MCPON Mike Stevens has earned this prestigious award.

AWARD: Medal of Honor

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Chief Watertender Peter Tomich, United States Navy, for distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, and extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by the Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Although realizing that the ship was capsizing, as a result of enemy bombing and torpedoing, Chief Watertender Tomich remained at his post in the engineering plant of the U.S.S. UTAH (AG-16), until he saw that all boilers were secured and all fireroom personnel had left their stations, and by so doing lost his own life. 

Action Date: December 7, 1941 
Service: Navy 
Rank: Chief Watertender (CWT)
Division: U.S.S. Utah (AG-16)

Pulled from various sources.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNAP), relieved the commander of Strategic Communications Wing 1 (SCW 1) and Task Force (TF) 124 - Captain Heather E. Cole at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma on  March 17, due to a "loss of confidence in her ability to lead". 

The firing was the result of initial findings of an investigation, which determined that Captain Cole had not performed up to the high standards demanded of a Navy officer in command. (See the CNO's "Charge of Command" HERE for specifics).

Captain Cole has been temporarily assigned to the CNAP staff pending the final adjudication of the case. Captain Brian McCormick, the former deputy commander of SCW 1 and TF 124, has been assigned as acting commander of the wing and task force. 

SCW1's aircraft allow the president and the secretary of defense to directly contact the submarines, bombers and land-based missiles that comprise the nation's strategic nuclear force.
A spokeswoman, Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld, said the firing was based on findings of an investigation into deficiencies in her management of the wing. Details were not released.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Why you should share your leadership stories

Several Navy leaders have left Naval service and written very good books about their leadership experiences.  Some names you may recognize are Captain D. Michael Abrashoff (It's You Ship, Get Your Ship Together and It's Our Ship) and Admiral James Stavridis (Destroyer Captain).

Captain L. David Marquet is getting a lot of attention for his book Turn The Ship Around and its companion workbook Turn Your Ship Around-A Workbook for Implementing Intent-Based Leadership in Your Organization.  The Motley Fool recently named his book as being among the top 12 business books of all time - mentioned with people like Peter Drucker, Seth Godin, Warren Buffett and Dale Carnegie.  That's some pretty high praise for a former submarine skipper who was able to translate Navy leadership lessons into a best seller and solid business model.

Each one of these successful books by former Navy leaders centers around taking care of their Sailors and developing new leaders.  I encourage you all to put pen/pencil to paper, put a new sheet of paper in the typewriter, or fingers to computer keyboards to tell your own stories of leadership.  The blogosphere abounds with new military writers every day, telling inspiring stories of leading our fine men and women of the armed services.  Add your voice.  We'd like to hear it.

I just found this book - Your Leadership Story - today, 19 March on AMAZON.  There are some good tips in HERE.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Saturday, March 14, 2015

USS DEL BLACK - a great idea

The late master chief has been chosen as the namesake for the DDG 119, dubbed guided-missile destroyer Delbert D. Black, the 60th Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer.

Friday, March 13, 2015

New warriors

Joining a legion of cyber warriors in the IDC as full fledged "war fighters" are intellectual warriors (our public affairs team of PAOs and Mass Communication Specialists). These folks are on the front lines in the battle of ideas.  After all, the pen has always been mightier than the sword.