Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Importance of THE 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.

It goes without saying (Well, why am I saying it then?), that the Senior Enlisted Leader/Command Master Chief can easily make or break the proper functioning of THE MESS.  That individual must have the respect of the crew, THE MESS and the wardroom to be effective.  Excessive absences from the command for 'other' activities is a problem.  Lack of warfare qualification is a problem.   A poor relationship with THE MESS is a problem.  Poor communication with the CO/XO is a problem.  Lack of interaction with the crew is a problem.  Add all that up and you have enough problems as the SEL/CMC to not only force THE MESS to fail but to point the command toward failure.  

Yesterday, the Navy advanced its latest group of newly minted Chief Petty Officers.  They have great expectations upon being welcomed into THE MESS.  Let's give them the best chance to become the great CPOs the Navy needs.  Let's not encumber them with the dysfunction of a poorly led  mess.  Master Chief / SEL, if you're not up to the job, step aside and let one of your very capable brothers or sisters in the mess lead the group.  There are plenty of them ready to step up and lead if you can not or will not.

Congratulations to these fine IWOs selected for command and milestone tours

A look at command opportunities from a few decades ago.
NSG had 30 command opportunities.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Commander Christopher Slattery assumes command of Center for Information Dominance Unit Monterey, California

At a traditional Navy change of command ceremony officiated by Captain Susan K. Cerovsky, CO, Center for Information Dominance Corry Station, Pensacola Florida, Commander Sean Cooney was relieved by Commander Christopher Slattery.


Monday, September 15, 2014

From the NSGA Yokosuka TSUNAMI PRESS - January 2000

Note to our Sailors:

The things that I discuss with each Sailor who reports aboard the command are very straight-forward.  We've done all we can to eliminate guessing from the success equation.  The leaders in this command are here to direct the accomplishment of the command's mission. People (our Sailors and their families) are a priority - that hasn't changed; but we have to accomplish the mission.  We will do all we can as leaders of this activity to ensure that every Sailors has an equal opportunity to succeed in his/her naval career.  We recognize that, for some, that a career will only be a single enlistment and for others 20-30 years.  In either case, you've got to make the most of it.  Come to work on time, do your job correctly, do an honest day's work, treat your Shipmates with dignity and respect, add value to the things you do, pay your bills on time, be faithful to your spouse and family, and live the Navy's Core Values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.  Do all that and I can virtually guarantee you will be a success - in the Navy and in life.  Anything less is unacceptable.  R/CO

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sailor power

How great is it that every Sailor has the power to change the direction of the Navy?

Check out the Chief of Naval Operations' Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) on FaceBook HERE.

Friday, September 12, 2014


"All of the Sailors we encounter have tremendous talents. 
And, for some reason, we squander those talents rather ruthlessly."

Word to the wise - don't squander your Sailors' talents.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering my Shipmate Commander Dan Shanower, USN - 9 | 11 | 2001

CDR Dan F. Shanower was born on February 7, 1961 in Naperville, Illinois. He was a member of Naperville Central High School’s varsity soccer team and graduated in 1979. He attended Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, graduating in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. While a student at Carroll, he participated in the Washington Semester at American University, interning in the office of Illinois Senator Charles Percy, then Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. 

CDR Shanower attended Aviation Officer School in Pensacola, Florida and received his commission as an Ensign, U.S. Navy in June 1985. After attending the Armed Forces Air Intelligence Training Course at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado, he reported to VAQ-136 onboard U.S.S. Midway in March 1986 as Squadron Intelligence Officer. In September 1988, he was assigned as Officer-in-Charge of the Pacific Fleet Area Support Team Detachment, Subic Bay, Philippines. Following this tour, he transitioned to the Naval Reserve, serving from August 1990 to October 1994 as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Department in the Philippines. 

CDR Shanower was recalled to active duty in November 1994 and reported to the Navy & Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center as a student. He was assigned to the Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Detachment Japan in December 1994 as Operations Support Department Head. He served aboard USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC-19) which was the Flagship for the Commander, SEVENTH Fleet. In May 1997, he received orders to the staff of the Commander, U.S. Third Fleet in San Diego, California aboard the USS CORONADO as the Assistant Intelligence Officer. 

In June 1999, CDR Shanower reported to the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, DC as Fleet Support Department Head. He began graduate work in the Naval War College. In August 2000, he was selected as the Officer-in-Charge of the Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Plot. There he was responsible for the provision of current intelligence support to the Navy Secretariat, Chief of Naval Operations staff, and the Director of Naval Intelligence. In December 2000, he was promoted to his final rank of Commander. 

CDR Shanower’s personal and professional commendations include the Defense Meritorious Service Award, two Navy Commendation Medals, the Navy Achievement Medal, the Purple Heart, and numerous campaign and service awards. Carroll College awarded him its first Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to Country in February 2002. Naperville Central High School recognized his contributions to his country by presenting him an Outstanding Alumni Award in May 2002. 

Dan was known for his ready smile, terrific sense of humor, love of conversation, ability to tell a story, love of politics, and his intellectual and cultural curiosity about the world. He loved the sea, sailing, scuba diving, water skiing, and above all else, his family, friends and the Navy. He enjoyed writing both fiction and non-fiction, and many of his opinion essays and articles were published in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings, including the poignant May 1997 one entitled, “Freedom Isn’t Free.” His article reflected on the loss of his shipmates in 1987, and he wrote: 

“Those of us in the military are expected to make the ultimate sacrifice when called. The military loses scores of personnel each year. Each one risked and lost his or her life in something they believed in, leaving behind family and shipmates to bear the burden and celebrate their devotion to our country… They knew the risks they were taking and gave their lives for something bigger than themselves.” 

CDR Shanower’s survivors include his parents, Dr. Donald, WWII veteran and college professor, and Patricia, retired public school teacher; brothers, Thomas and Jonathan; sisters, Victoria and Paula; and eight nephews and nieces. 

He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery on October 1, 2001.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

VADM James Bond Stockdale Inspirational Leadership Award Winners Announced

The Commanding Officers of a destroyer and a fighter squadron are this year’s recipients of the Navy’s top leadership prize.

Commander Gavin Duff, former commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 14 and Commander Thomas J. Dickinson, former CO of USS BARRY, have been named winners of the prestigious Vice Admiral James Stockdale Award. The two winners were selected from a pool of eight nominees.

These COs were nominated by fellow COs, O-5 and below from unrestricted line commands. Nominees are screened by how well they embody the leadership ethos of the late-Vice Admiral Stockdale, a Vietnam POW who earned a Medal of Honor for leading a resistance campaign against his North Vietnamese captors. 

The other finalists, selected for “inspirational leadership” according to the release, are: 

  • Commander Martin Muckian, CO, USS Greenville 
  • Commander David Ray, former CO, USS New Orleans
  • Commander Andrew Thomson, CO, USS John Paul Jones 
  • Commander Brian Weiss, former CO, VP-9 
  • Commander Greg Zettler, CO, USS Norfolk 
  • Commander Daryle Cardone, former CO, VAQ-121 

Rear Admiral Babette Bolivar is the only woman to ever be nominated for the award.  She was a 2006 PACFLT finalist.

Thought and reflection

"Most people expect learning to just happen without their taking the time for thought and reflection, which true learning requires. In the past, with slower com- munication systems, we often had a few weeks to ponder and rethink a decision. Today we’re accustomed to e-mails, faxes, overnight letters, and cell phones, and have come to believe that an immediate response is more important than a thoughtful one."

— Steven Robbins
Harvard Business School 
Working Knowledge 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

12 September 2014 Change of Command at Center for Information Dominance Unit (CIDU) Monterey, California

Commander Sean Cooney will be relieved as Commanding Officer, CIDU Monterey on Friday, 12 September 2014 by Commander Christopher Slattery.  BZ gentlemen.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sometimes I am just clueless about what's happening - Mark D. Neighbors has moved from the OPNAV Staff

Senior Advisor
 to the 
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance
 has left the OPNAV Staff.

Mr. Mark Neighbors enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1974 and trained in Chinese Mandarin at Defense Language Institute, Monterey, California. After serving in various assignments as an enlisted voice analyst in Korea, Maryland and Hawaii, he was commissioned an Ensign in 1983. He subsequently performed duties in operational and staff assignments ashore and afloat in California, Japan, Maryland and Washington, DC. 

He was the Commander, Task Force 70/Striking Force SEVENTH Fleet cryptologist in the 1990s and was a powerhouse on the Yokosuka waterfront for a number of years, having served as the Officer in Charge, U.S. Naval Security Group Detachment Yokosuka, Japan.

To our great dismay, Mark retired as Commander in 2001. He entered the U.S. Civil Service and served in several staff intelligence assignments at the U.S. Navy Headquarters (OPNAV).

He was selected as a Defense Intelligence Senior Level (DISL) in 2007 during a three year assignment as the Navy’s Deputy Senior Language Authority.

In September 2008 he reported to the staff of the Director, Naval Intelligence where he facilitated the OPNAV Headquarters reorganization in 2009 and became Chief of Staff to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance. In January 2010 he executed a Joint Duty Assignment with the Defense Intelligence Agency where he developed the Civilian Foreign Area Specialist (CIVFAS) Program for the Defense Intelligence Enterprise. He returned to OPNAV in February 2011 and serves as the Senior Advisor to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (N2/N6).

Mr. Neighbors holds a bachelors of general studies in political science from Chaminade University, Honolulu, Hawaii and a masters of science in national resource strategy from National Defense University in Washington, DC. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s SEMINAR XXI Program, and a recipient of the Department of the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award. His highest military decoration was the Legion of Merit. 

On the horizon - crown jewel of the former Naval Security Group to decommission on 30 September; closure ceremony to be held on 10 October 2014