Sunday, March 8, 2020

Your chance to know her is gone, but you can still remember her.

Who was Shannon Mary (Smith) Kent and why should you care? There are billions of incredible people in this world. They are waiting patiently to have their stories told.You may even be one of them.In this big big world, we can’t know them all but it would be good to know a few. In that incredibly crowded space, I’d like for you to know about Shannon Mary Kent.

If you don’t know her already, it’s too late. She’s gone. But, it’s not too late to know about her. So, I’d like to help tell part of the story of this amazingly brave, sweet girl. She NEVER cowered – ever. I’d like for you to know enough about this brave, sweet girl to care about her, to care about her family (a husband (Joe) and two sons (Josh and Colt); sister (Mariah); Mom (Mary) and Dad (Steven) she left behind and perhaps to care enough about her legacy and memory to write a personal letter to the Acting Secretary of the Navy asking him to name a Navy destroyer after her – USS SHANNON MARY KENT.  (How was that for a run-on sentence?)

She never once worried about recognition, but she is certainly worthy of it. 16 January 2019 marked the end of her young, vibrant, meaningful, and significant 35 years of life. She spent nearly half of her life in the Navy.  She spent her professional career in the top secret world of the Navy Information Warfare Corps.  She was practically unknown to the rest of the world. That is, until she was murdered by a terrorist who detonated an improvised explosive device in Manbij, Syria. 16 January 2019 marks the day that her existence and murder were made known to the entire world.

As a 19 year old, she joined the Navy in 2003 and attended foreign language school at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.  In seven short years she was able to distinguish herself as the top linguist in the Department of Defense while serving with the Naval Special Warfare Support Activity TWO in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She spoke Afghan-Dari, Arabic-Algerian, Arabic-Egyptian, Arabic-Gulf (Iraqi), Arabic-Levantine, Arabic-Standard, French, Portuguese-European, and Spanish.

 Prior to her assignment in Syria, Shannon had previously deployed four times for combat operations on Navy Special Forces actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. She deployed twice with SEAL Team 10 and twice with SEAL Team 4. Syria was her fifth combat deployment in 15 years – and her ninth deployment overall. Where do we find such brave women?  They come from all over America. SMK answered her Navy’s call to action nine separate times. 

She spent much of her career in harm’s way.  According to the Center for Military Readiness - “Since the attack on America on September 11, 2001, a total of 149 women deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria have lost their lives in service to America.  Most Americans, and even members of the media, are not aware that 149 brave servicewomen have died in the War on Terrorism. With few exceptions, news stories about their tragic deaths usually appeared only in the military press, or in small hometown newspaper stories and television accounts that rarely capture national attention.” Six of those 149 women were serving in the Navy.  Only one of those women took the fight to ISIS in Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve – Shannon Mary Kent.

She is the only enlisted woman ever to be honored with a memorial service in the USNA chapel. During that service she was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and a Combat Action Ribbon. About a month later, on 28 February 2019, General Nakasone, Director of the National Security Agency presided over a ceremony to add Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent’s name to the NSA/CSS Cryptologic Memorial Wall in a solemn ceremony.

Her Cryptologic Warfare Activity SIXTY SIX Shipmates say that CTICS (IW/EXW) Shannon Mary Kent exemplified the Navy’s core values of HONOR, COURAGE and COMMITMENT every moment of every day of her life. Her murder stunned her teammates. Many still have not recovered from the agony of her passing.  She meant so much too so many.

Don’t allow the memory of Shannon Mary Kent’s extraordinarily significant life to disappear as we live our lives. She deserves to be remembered. Shannon’s death is a reminder that, as Katherine Center says, “We are writing the story of our only life every single minute of every day.” 

Shannon Mary Kent’s story ended much too early. She wasn’t ready to stop writing her story.  We owe it to her to keep writing it for her. So I ask you to please sit down and write a letter. She fought for you, won’t you join the fight for her?

Won’t you help keep the story of Shannon Mary Kent alive? Please send your letter to:
THOMAS B. MODLY 
Office of the Acting Secretary of the Navy 
1000 Navy Pentagon, Room 4D652 
Washington, DC 20350

Short bio:

Captain Reiner W. “Mike” Lambert is a retired naval officer.  He started his career as a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive Seaman (CTISN - Russian linguist) and attended the Defense Language School in 1975-1976.  He was commissioned in 1982, commanded U.S. Naval Security Group Activity Yokosuka, Japan, and served as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s Staff Director for the Detainee Task Force examining detainee abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay Cuba.  He retired in 2006 following that assignment.  Today he runs The FARM at DEER HOLLOW with his wife Lynn.  He is also a Principal with Top Corner Consulting.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year !

What will 2020 bring?  What will you bring to 2020?

As much as things change, so many things remain the same.  This was my post from 2008.  Twelve years later, it's still true.

Baggage - lots of it

Let me say that I am carrying a lot of Navy baggage. I remain connected to the Navy from my very first day at the MEPS in St Louis, Missouri. Carry that through bootcamp in San Diego, California and a succession of great assignments in the Navy (Monterey, CA; San Angelo, TX, Misawa, JA; Newport, RI, San Diego, CA; Atsugi, JA; Barbers Pt, HI; Monterey, CA; Washington DC; Yokosuka, JA; Corry Station, FL and Washington DC). I can't let any of it go. I carry memories, lessons learned and friendships from each command with me to this very day. I can honestly say that I have maintained contact with a Shipmate from each and every place I have been. You can't let that baggage go.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thinkers 50 - Leadership Award - Liz Wiseman


When it was launched in 2001, Thinkers 50 was the first-ever global ranking of management thinkers. It has been published every two years since. In the intervening decade, the scope of the T50 has broadened to include a range of activities that support its mission of identifying and sharing the best management thinking in the world.

That mission is based on three core beliefs: Ideas have the power to change the world.      Management is essential to human affairs. New thinking can create a better future. A friend and mentor, Liz Wiseman, aligns well with T50's core beliefs. She has shared those ideas with many middle and senior management level leaders in the Navy over the past several years. She's taken her "Multipliers - How " seminar to the U.S. Navy Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. I've distributed her book to dozens of senior leaders in the Information Warfare Community.  Some of them have read it.  The best of those have applied it in their Navy careers.

This year, Liz Wiseman won the Thinkers 50 Leadership Award.  She's an amazing person.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Twelve Years Ago Today - CTMCM Ronald N. Schwartz Passed Away

Master Chief Petty Officer Ronald N. Schwartz passed away on 27 August 2007 following a fatal tractor accident near his home in Indiana. He had a distinguished career as a Cryptologic Maintenance Technician in the Naval Security Group. He served in USS BIDDLE, in The White House Communication Office, at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Education and Training, as an instructor at Naval Technical Training Center - Corry Station - Pensacola, Florida and as Command Master Chief for U.S. Naval Security Group Activity - Yokosuka, Japan.  One of the young men he influenced there (now CTRCM Cedric Rawlinson) took his place as the Command Master Chief twelve years later.

On the twelfth  anniversary of his passing, I suspect he continues to smile upon us knowing that, Naval Network Warfare Command reversed their decision to disestablish the Cryptologic Technician Maintenance rating in the Navy.  The CTM rating is stronger than ever.  He was foremost a career-long advocate for Sailors and, in particular, the Cryptologic Maintenance Technicians afloat and serving in the Fleet Electronic Support shops around the world. THE 

MESSAGE: Never doubt the value of our Cryptologic Technicians; for the most part, theirs is a unique contribution to the Navy's warfighting ability. That capability must be preserved for the good of the nation.

His son, Ronnie, proudly served our country in the United States Marine Corps.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Importance of the Chiefs Mess in Command Excellence


"The backbone of the Navy" is how one old adage sums up the importance of the Chiefs quarters. Superior commands are especially quick to acknowledge the Chief Petty Officer's special role and contribution. The uniqueness of that role is a function both of the position the Chief occupies in the organizational structure and of the job qualifications that must be satisfied before the position is attained. Chiefs have considerable managerial and technical expertise and are the linchpin between officers and enlisted.

For there to be a strong Chiefs quarters, the Chiefs must feel that they are valued and that they have the authority and responsibility to do the job the way they think it ought to be done. In superior commands, the Chiefs feel that their special leadership role is sanctioned and appreciated by the rest of the command, especially the CO. In these commands, the Chiefs are included in all major activities, particularly planning. Their input is sought and readily given. If they believe that something won't work or that there is a better way to do it, they speak up.

Chiefs in superior commands lead by taking responsibility for their division. They motivate their subordinates, counsel them, defend them when unjustly criticized, monitor and enforce standards, give positive and negative feedback, communicate essential information, solicit input, monitor morale, and take initiative to propose new solutions and to do things before being told.

The Chiefs play a key role in the enforcement of standards. Because they are out and about, they see for themselves whether job performance and military bearing meet the Navy's and the command's requirements.

When work is done well, they offer recognition and rewards; when it is done poorly, they act to correct it. They also know the importance of modeling the kind of behavior they expect their people to display. If they expect their personnel to work long hours to get something done, they work the same hours right along with them. Their concerns extend beyond their immediate areas, however.

Chiefs in superior commands act for command-wide effectiveness, promoting the success of the unit as a whole.  Although they have a strong sense of ownership and take responsibility for their division's activities, they are able to look beyond the job at hand: when other departments or divisions need assistance, chiefs in superior commands are willing to help.

The superior Chiefs quarters usually has a strong leader who plays the role of standard-bearer for the command, creates enthusiasm, offers encouragement, and drives others to excel. It is usually someone whom the other chiefs perceive as fair, who stands up for their interests and those of the crew, who listens with an open mind, and who has demonstrated a high degree of technical proficiency.
 
In superior commands, the Chiefs quarters functions as a tight-knit team. The Chiefs coordinate well, seek inputs from each other, help with personal problems, identify with the command's philosophy and goals, and treat each other with professional respect.
 
Finally, this ability to perceive larger goals and to work toward them as a team extends to their relationships with division officers. Chiefs in superior commands are sensitive to the difficulties that arise for division officers, who lack experience and technical know-how but must nevertheless take their place as leaders within the chain of command. A superior Chiefs quarters supports and advises these new officers fully and tactfully.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Commanding Officer's role in Command Excellence


Commander Brian Schulz, CO NIOC Yokosuka
The CO in a superior command:
Targets Key Issues 
Gets Crew to Support Command Philosophy 
Develops XO 
Staffs to Optimize Performance 
Gets Out and About 
Builds Esprit de Corps 
Keeps His Cool 
Develops Strong Wardroom 
Values Chiefs Quarters 
Ensures Training Is Effective 
Builds Positive External Relationships 
Influences Successfully



Superior commanding officers focus on the big picture. They set priorities, establish policy, and develop long-range plans. They target only a few key issues at a time. In explaining his priorities, one CO says: "I regularly have captain's call with all paygrades so I can reinforce any points that I want to emphasize. I always talk about combat readiness, safety, and cleanliness. And whenever I ask them what my priorities are, they always tell me, "Combat readiness, safety, and cleanliness." Once they identify the critical needs of the command and chart a direction, these COs accomplish the command's mission by inspiring others and working through them.

This means that superior COs recognize the importance of their relationships with other people, and they concentrate on developing those relationships within and outside the command.

In dealing with the executive officer, superior COs are concerned not only with immediate issues but with overall progress: they look upon the XO as an assistant, but they know that this assistant is a future CO. Together, they discuss plans and review courses of action, and the CO is especially careful to keep the XO informed of command decisions. Whenever possible, the CO delegates, leaving room for the XO to function independently.

In the same way, the best COs develop their department heads and division officers, delegating work and meeting frequently for planning and review. They monitor morale and try to create a climate of mutual support. They take an interest in the well-being of their officers and express a willingness to talk about significant personal problems. They pay special attention to first-year officers, making sure they start out on a strong career footing. With more experienced officers, they provide opportunities for professional development and encouragement to move up through the chain of command.

Superior commanding officers are also sensitive to the role of chiefs and the chiefs quarters: It is the chiefs, they say, who "run the ship," who have that combination of management know-how and hands-on experience needed to keep the command's systems running smoothly and crew members working efficiently. As one CO put it, "The chiefs are the eyes and ears of the squadron. They're here all the time and know what's going on. I'd be a fool not to listen to them." These COs expect their chiefs to be involved in all phases of running the command, and they make sure the chief's role is respected.

Top COs know how to balance overlapping demands. They show great interest in and concern for their subordinates, yet they refuse to micromanage, to be constantly looking over people's shoulders to see what they're up to. By frequently getting out and about, these COs can express their interest in their personnel and get a feel for how things are going in their command. One CO states: "I've got a personal goal of seeing three people a day and just walking around and asking people, 'How's it going?' "

Much of leadership and management is influence, and superior COs are masters of influence. They know how to get people to do what they want them to do and to like it. A common trait of these COs is that they keep their cool; they are not screamers. But they do have a repertoire of influence strategies that they choose according to the situation and personalities involved. At one time, they may use reason and facts; at another, a judicious display of emotion and a loud voice. These COs know how to push the right buttons to get their people to make sacrifices and work exceptionally hard.

These COs have high standards, too. They want to be the best and they want their personnel to take pride in themselves, in the command, and in the U.S. Navy. They realize that without high morale, teamwork, and pride,  they cannot achieve and maintain top-flight performance. They also know that achieving their high standards requires high quality training, so they insist on training that is both realistic and practical.

Top COs know how to develop a superior command and how to convey the image of that success to important outsiders. They develop networks that provide essential data and support; they get help from their squadron or wing staff when preparing for inspections; and they aggressively seek out the most qualified personnel, necessary resources, and good schedules. As a result, they are often more successful than average commands in getting these things.

Not all the COs in outstanding units write out their command philosophy, but it is clear that they all have such a philosophy, that they are successful at communicating it, and that they persuade the crew to buy into it. They tell people how they want the command to operate and they set an example themselves. This results in high morale, commitment, and trust.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Command Excellence Exemplified - NIOC Yokosuka, Japan


The Crew of Navy Information Operations Command 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

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What Makes A Good Petty Officer


"Good Petty Officers know what their uniform, their Navy, and their flag stands for. They are proud members of the best fighting organization in the world. The United States Navy.

Good Petty Officers are concerned with their Sailors' individual welfare and their future. They pat their Sailors on the back when they do well, and give them hell when they need it. That way they make better Sailors and make progress. They teach their trade. They encourage. They inspire. They are consistent. They are competitive. Their outfit is the best. They assume responsibility. They give their Sailors responsibility. They pass the word. They create team spirit.

Good Petty Officers put their hearts and souls into their work. They radiate enthusiasm and spark. They know the Navy. They know their rates, and they genuinely appreciate what they know.

Good Petty Officers recognize that success comes from the effort of a larger number of people, not just one or two. The whole organization has to function well, not just a few members."

ADM Arleigh A. Burke

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Naval officer


A Naval officer should have a firm handle on not just one or two, but every aspect of his humanity, working to strengthen himself in every way possible. If he is blessed with the gift of intelligence, his academic pursuits should not be chased to the expense of his physical health. Similarly, a creative personality should not lead an officer to isolate himself professionally and ignore the social aspect of his being a Naval officer. Excellence in one of these areas does not take attention away from the pursuit of the others but rather serves only to increase competence in complimentary areas, giving the Naval officer a greater understanding of himself, the Navy and the world around him.

Adapted from "The Art of Manliness"

Friday, February 1, 2019

RADM James S. McFarland

Admiral James S. McFarland - Gone 16 Years - NOT FORGOTTEN

LCDR James McFarland - Bronze Star Winner for combat action in Vietnam.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Rear Admiral McFarland graduated from Lewis and Clark College. His Naval career began in 1953 when he enlisted in the Naval Reserve. As a Third Class Petty Officer (YN), he was commissioned in 1957. After Communications School in Newport, Rhode Island, he spent four years in Hawaii working in Signals Security and making training and communications readiness visits to over 200 U.S. Navy ships. Staff duty in Washington, D.C. with Commander Naval Security Group followed from 1961-1963. This was followed by operational assignments at Karamursel, Turkey, and on USS Belmont (AGTR-4) as the Special Operations Officer. 

In 1967, he left the Staff, U.S. Atlantic Fleet for Vietnam, where he served primarily in support of U.S. Marine Corp Forces in  tactical ground operations. The Armed Forces Staff College was next, followed by a tour as Middle East Operations Officer. In 1971, he became the first Office-In-Charge of the Navy's Current Support Group (CSG) in Rota, Spain where the unit earned the Navy Unit Citation for its support of the U.S. SIXTH Fleet during the Yom Kippur War and the 1974 Cyprus crisis. He returned to the Staff, U.S. Atlantic Fleet from 1975 to 1979. His next assignment was as the Commanding Officer of the Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA) Misawa, Japan where he assumed command on 5 March 1979. 

In 1981, Rear Admiral McFarland assumed duty as Chief, Naval Forces Division, at the National Security Agency (NSA); and in 1983, was assigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Cryptology, Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet; Director, Naval Security Group Pacific (DIRNSGPAC). Early in 1985, he was selected for Flag Rank. His last assignment was as Commander, Naval Security Group Command (CNSG) from August 1986 to July 1990. Rear Admiral McFarland was also assigned as the Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI) for the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). 

Some of his personal decorations include the Bronze Star with Combat distinguishing device (for his time in Vietnam), Meritorious Service Medals and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

RADM James S. McFarland passed away on Saturday, 1 February 2003, at 8:00 p.m. At the Admiral's request, there was no funeral service. His ashes were scattered on the beach, near his Annapolis home.

RADM McFarland was married to the former Paula Ann Wiise of Macon, Georgia for twenty-five years. He has six children, Scott, Brett, Suzanne, Jeffrey, Matthew, and Kelly.