Friday, November 18, 2011

Chief of Naval Operations on Authority, Responsibility and Accountability of Commanding Officers

We have to hold standards for our commanding officers. I believe in the charge of command. I believe that for the authority and the responsibility we give our commanding officers, there is an accountability factor. However, I think that we have to help them to succeed.

I would describe it as sort of a three-pronged approach:

(1) We have to have a consistent screening process -- that as these folks come forward, we are comfortable that we have screened consistently.
(2) We have got to help them with character development. Stress affects different people differently. Some folks handle it well. They find the proper relief. Others don’t handle it well; maybe their personality changes to a certain degree. And they have to understand that they are role models.
(3) When in command, help them succeed. We have taken some recent unfortunate failures and made case studies of them -- ashore, afloat, maybe where somebody had a personality change, became mean. They had anger issues, and then somebody just made a bad decision. 

Put those case studies together and provide it for the kids -- they’re all kids to me. Provide it for the candidates as they come up in school and review these and say, so where did this go wrong? Where did this individual maybe go wrong? Where could we in the chain of command have helped him above and below?

[There is another] piece I would mention to you. We talked about this at the three- and four-star conference, and an interesting aspect came out in Naval Special Warfare Command. They have sea buddies, a peer assigned to check on each other.  Command is a lonely position sometimes. You are out there; those below you cannot really hang out and share your concerns. [The idea is] to encourage peers to develop a network so that you can have somebody to talk to and say, you know, I am feeling this, that or the other thing, and before you go awry or off course maybe you have that conversation.


Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

There was a time that Commanding Officers in the Navy did not need the type of guidance specified by CNO in this post. But the world has changed a great deal and the things that were emphasized in even elementary school, for more than the last 40 years has not been patriotism, honor of country, flag and our countries (previous) ideals. This age has evidently become the time of reckoning, when we have to worry about how our Commanding Officers will do their sacred duty and assist them in their effort to perform those duties we are in serious trouble in the Navy.

Very Respectfully,

CWO4 Brian Ashpole, USN-Retired said...

I would add that the emphasis on authority, responsibility, and accountability starts at commissioning and must continually be empasized throughout the officer's career.
A wise man (Captain Ed Williamson) once pointed out to me that it's easy for a junior to point out a senior's faults and it's hard for us to recognize our own faults.
Is the junior doing his or her absolute best in remaining accountable to seniors and juniors? How are you doing with your own division or departement?
We live in an age of instant communication where one can instantly communicate the "guess what he/she did this time," which is or can be taken out of context.
I've never experienced the "burden" or responsibility of command, however, I do realize that it is lonely at the top and it can be easy to feel invincible.
My point is that although it can be hard and difficult at times, the junior owes his senior his or her best recommondations and work ethic.
I do feel for these men and women who have had what appears to be a successful career and then fail when in command.

Anonymous said...

"(1) We have to have a consistent screening process"

And we have to use that process consistently. I don't mean just make sure the process itself is consistent which I believe is what the CNO meant, but use it every time to select for command.

The cryptologic/IDC community only recently starting using the command screening process, yet two new commands were recently activated where (non command-screened) OICs fleeted up to be COs. That's unfair to those officers who have successfully screened and any who failed to screen for lack of billets...not to mention that it undermines the entire process that only recently became the community standard.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, November 18, 2011 4:39 PM

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