Monday, September 26, 2011

NIOC Maryland Commanding Officer's Farewell Letter to his command and their families

Captain Lambert,

I want to share with you an article from the ANCHORWATCH that was written by my current Skipper at NIOC MD, Captain Ashworth.  After 25 years of Navy, Captain Ashworth is scheduled to retire on September 30, 2011.  I am convinced that any attempt to describe his character will fall short of reality.  Therefore, I submit to you his outgoing message to the NIOC MD family, an authentic depiction of his extraordinary leadership, absolute selflessness, and above all, incredible ability to inspire those under his command.

Very respectfully,
LTJG McNamara

From the Skipper

"As I sat in my office discussing with the Public Affairs Officer my farewell message to the command, I thought about the significant chapter in history this command has written through its many substantial accomplishments over the past two years. The 3,000 plus Sailors who have passed through the Command’s doors have enabled literally hundreds of operations around the world in support of USPACOM, USSTRATCOM, USCYBERCOM, USEUCOM, USAFRICOM, USNORTHCOM, USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and USSOUTHCOM, NAVAF, NAVEUR, COMTENTHFLT, COMFIFTHFLT, COMSEVENTHFLT, COMFOURTHFLT and COMSIXTHFLT. You have touched every corner of the earth and the command has averaged more than 140 Sailors deployed at any single moment in time to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, above, below and on the seas. Your devotion to duty and commitment to operational excellence has kept the Nation and Navy safe.

After my arrival two years ago, I knew that if I provided the leadership, strategic vision and guiding principles, correction and guidance when needed, the command would respond and achieve greatness. I was honored to have had the opportunity to address the entirety of the Chief Petty Officers’ Mess shortly after I met with Command Master Chief Scott Drenning. We talked about leadership philosophies and that under my command the Chiefs would run the command. Chiefs are the foundation of the Navy and if they took care of the day-to-day issues, the Officers would be allowed to keep their heads up with their eyesfocused on thinking strategically with longer range vision and innovation. The junior Sailors in turn, could be led, mentored, developed and Sailorized by the Senior Enlisted leaders and allowed to thrive and achieve their greatest possible potential. Under this leadership of command by negation style, the Sailors soared to greatness with too many achievements to mention in this writing. However, a few significant achievements are worth mentioning:

• Advancements averaged over 54 percent, three times the Navy’s average.
• Retention soared with the command earning the Retention Excellence award the last two consecutive years.
• Our language program was selected as the DoD Language Program of the year.
• We won the Navy’s Crystal award for barrack’s excellence.
• Over 29 command and community activities have enabled Fort Meade and the surrounding community to thrive with support to Saturday Scholars and Sarah’s House touching the lives of hundreds and leaving a lasting positive legacy. This commitment to the Navy and community helped earn the 2010 Naval District Washington Large Shore Category Community Service Award.
• All of your accomplishments have been truly amazing!

Although the command earned its share of accolades, we experienced tragedy in the untimely deaths of Petty Officer 1st Class Ronny Vigilant, Petty Officer 2nd Class Bradley Sunkins Jr., Mr. Raymond Borredo and Christian Dencklau. These tragedies shook the command to its foundation but proved the command’s resolve and showed we could mourn together and heal together as a strengthened Navy family.

I am very proud of each of you for what you have done, from building out the foundation of United States Cyber Command and Commander TENTH Fleet to enabling the operations conducted in the Mediterranean and Middle East; you have made a lasting difference in how the nation conducts cyber operations. I know that you wear the cloth of the Nation each day and don’t think twice about the sacrifices you make but realize that today in America, less than one percent serve in the armed forces. That one percent protects the remaining 99 percent of the American population and protects our American way of life, which allows each individual to sleep soundly in their beds while you stand watches around the world.

On that note, I would like to leave you all with one final thought on a conversation that I had with an acquaintance on what today’s American Sailor was like when pushed into a fight and as to how so few could possibly protect so many. He had a turned up eyebrow on the one percent number, so I asked him if he had ever seen the movie “True Grit?” He replied “Yes.” So I said the American Sailor is like the scene in the movie where Rooster Cogburn takes the reins of his American quarterhorse in his teeth and with a lever action rifle in one hand and a six shooter in the other, he charges off across the field with guns blazing to take on the enemy, knowing full well that he is out-numbered and out-gunned. At the core of the American fighting spirit is a bare knuckled brawler who, like the Greek Spartans, will always come back from a fight with their shield and that is how so few protect so many! He smiled back, saying “Enough said, I will sleep well tonight.” 

When you are old and gray bouncing your grandchildren on your knee, know that you have been a vital participant in an important chapter in history that has changed the world, made it safer and will be a shining light of pride for an entire nation to guide by as we move out into the 21st century. God bless each of you, thank you for your service and selfless sacrifice and I wish you all of the greatest happiness and successes that life and liberty have to offer."

Steven Ashworth
CO, NIOC Maryland


Mark said...

Steve has been a great leader for our community. Thank you for your service.

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of serving with CAPTAIN Ashworth over the years, he is a great leader and will have a profound impact on our community for years to come. Friday will be a sad day for our community. Good luck and fair winds and following seas SHIPMATE

CDR Paul Wilkes

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

I like the way that this Commanding Officer talks, not many in this day speak of warriors and the real purpose of our fighting men/women but he seemed to relish in what the purpose of our Military is. This was taken for granted 30 or more years ago but now the objective is not the same, are we in for a surprise when we find ourselves the target of some other hostile nation?

Very Respectfully,

Anonymous said...

CAPT Ashworth, farewell and following seas, you are an inspiring leader that will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Why is it so many of the good ones are choosing to leave, while so many who are content with "just putting in time" will stay until we send them home? Funny thing is that if we helped the latter to leave, we'd only have the that'd be a community worth belonging to!

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous 7:55pm post to many people are in charge because they have put in the time rather than any actual leadership ability. Why did we increase the size of the officer corp so we can get the required number of DH's, not to get the right number of quality leaders.

The reason so many good one's leave is quite simple the Navy has changed and not for the better. We talk of taking care of our sailors and yet cut at sea billets and those that are left have to do 60 months at sea for their first and second sea tours.

We used to be loyal to our people and now tell them sorry we have to many. You can stay in and convert to XX rating even though the last 10 years we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars training you to be a ___.

We talk of diversity like it matters, it doesn't, how about promoting someone because they are good rather than because they are ______ gender or race. My father started out in the Navy as an 8th grade educated E-1 from the barrio's of East LA, and left 28 years later as a CWO-4 with a bachelors degree.

We talk of the navy as some corporation and yet we have no profit margin or stock holders. Our bottom line should be, can the US and the world sail where it needs too without interference to conduct commerce.

I could go on but I wont, the Navy has tried to reinvent itself and in doing so has forgotten it's true function of protecting the country and service with honor.

Don't get me wrong the Navy has been good to me and the sailors I have working for me are far superior to me when I was at their level but the upper leadership, in my opinion, has become so far removed I don't think they truthfully know whats going on at the deck plate level.

I wish Captain Ashworth fair winds and following seas'shipmate.
Very Respectfully,