Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Simple Gesture - Start The New Year Right

By any measure, 2008 has been a busy year - one filled with countless challenges. Everyone in the Navy certainly feels the added pressure of the steady demand signal for improvements in readiness and performance. As we conclude the year, nearly every Sailor, Chief and officer may feel somewhat overworked, tired, and even taken a little for granted. Some of our senior leaders may feel tense or irritable themselves.

What better time to lift everyone's spirits? The solution may be better than a Navy medal and it is simple and free. It's far more personal. And it works.

What is it? A personal note. Send personal notes of thanks to the people on your team telling them specifically what you value about each of them as Shipmates.

Tell them about something they've done that they might not know that you even notice. Don't have your staff prepare form letters. Take the time to send a hand-written note. An e-mail won't do in this case.

If you're a Flag Staff Action Officer, you could ask the Chief of Staff to send a letter to your team acknowledging their contributions.

Many of our best Flag Officers are well-known for their hand-written notes.

You can be sure the recipients will treasure the notes because they are completely unexpected.

End the year on a positive note (or many of them). Tell your team "THANK YOU" with a personal note. They'll feel better. And, so will you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The U.S. Navy - An Object of Special Pride

"From our earliest national beginnings the Navy has always been, and deserved to be, an object of special pride to the American people. ... It is well for us to have in mind that under a program of lessening naval armaments there is a greater reason for maintaining the highest efficiency, fitness and morale in this branch of the national defensive service. I know how earnest the Navy personnel are (in their devotion) to this idea and want you to be assured of my hearty concurrence."

President Warren G. Harding, 1922

Monday, December 29, 2008

Set A New Course in 2009

As we sail toward the end of 2008, "adrift" is a word all too frequently associated with our great Navy. Several problems continue to erode confidence in our Navy's leadership and none is more insidious than the common perception that integrity can be hazardous to one's career -- especially if it means vocalizing issues that might embarrass the brass.

If allowed to continue unabated, this perception will breed yet "another" generation of cynical, risk-averse naval officers more concerned with getting promoted than with addressing and fixing problems. Responsible criticism has long been considered an act of disloyalty. The Navy should reward integrity - above most other traits. We should consider changing the FITREP systems to include these simple questions: (1) Will this officer deliver the bad news, even when the boss doesn't want to hear it? (2) Will this officer risk his or her career for the men and women under him?

We should apply some positive steering now and get back on course. Otherwise, we may be heading into shoal waters.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Reader Statistics

People who read this blog can be divided into four groups.
  • 25% like it for the right reasons.
  • 25% hate it for the wrong reasons.
  • 25% like it for the wrong reasons.
  • 25% hate it for the right reasons.
I'm not sure which group concerns me more.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Navy Information Operations - Our future success is dependent on ...

Our future success is dependent on more than just advanced communications hardware and software alone. From the days of the gladiators to the present, history is replete with examples of technology providing an advantage in combat. The key to victory has not been merely having new technology available, but how a warrior has been innovative and used that technology to his advantage in combat. Navy Information Warfare is no different – we need to approach every system, newly installed or already in place, with a long-term view of how to exploit the rapid development of information systems. Innovative and smart incorporation of new technologies, as well as existing legacy systems, will carry the day for the Navy’s preparedness for and success in future joint and combined operations.

Today’s capabilities began with some wise decisions to invest strongly in communications technology and some innovative thinking on the part of our ship and squadron crews and our operational staffs, the Systems commands, and all involved in the Navy C4I community. The result is a much more capable warfighting force, and our success in the war on terrorism can be attributed in part to the remarkable advancements we’ve put in place. I’m convinced we have the talent for innovation and access to technology to continue the pace we’ve set for ourselves over the past decade. If we do, today’s capabilities hardly scratch the surface compared to the tremendous potential for the future of Navy Information Warfare.

Admiral Robert Natter, former Commander, Fleet Forces Command

Friday, December 26, 2008

Share a secret with your team

A Sicilian proverb says "Only a spoon knows what is stirring in the pot."

When you allow a Shipmate, Sailor or subordinate to know what is 'stirring' within you, giving a taste or hint of what's cooking, you are giving him a taste of the plan or idea. You are instantly making a meaningful connection with him. Who doesn't what to know what the boss is thinking?

Share your ideas - make meaningful connections with your team.

From John Maxwell's - 25 Ways to Win With People

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Proven Leadership Secrets of Jesus Christ - Merry Christmas

1. Jesus was a problem solver.
2. Jesus believed in his product.
3. Jesus never misrepresented his product.
4. Jesus went where the people were.
5. Jesus took time to rest.
6. Jesus took time to plan.
7. Jesus knew he did not have to close every sale.
8. Jesus had something others needed.
9. Jesus was concerned about people’s finances.
10. Jesus was willing to go where he had never been.
11. Jesus never allowed what others said about him to changes his opinion of himself.
12. Jesus understood timing and preparation.
13. Jesus developed a passion for his goals.
14. Jesus respected authority.
15. Jesus never discriminated.
16. Jesus offered incentives.
17. Jesus overcame the stigma of a questionable past.
18. Jesus never wasted time answering critics.
19. Jesus knew there was a right time and a wrong time to approach people.
20. Jesus educated those he mentored.
21. Jesus refused to be discouraged when others misjudged his motives.
22. Jesus refused to be bitter when others were disloyal or betrayed him.
23. Jesus networked with people of all backgrounds.
24. Jesus resisted temptation.
25. Jesus made decisions that created a desired future instead of a desired present.
26. Jesus never judged people by their outward appearance.
27. Jesus recognized the law of redemption.
28. Jesus was a tomorrow thinker.
29. Jesus knew that money alone could not bring contentment.
30. Jesus knew the power of words and the power of silence.
31. Jesus knew when you want something you have never had,
you have to do something you have never done.
32. Jesus permitted others to correct their mistakes.
33. Jesus knew his worth.
34. Jesus never tried to succeed alone.
35. Jesus knew that money is anywhere you really want it to be.
36. Jesus set specific goals.
37. Jesus knew that every great achievement requires a willingness to begin small.
38. Jesus hurt when others hurt.
39. Jesus was not afraid to show his feelings.
40. Jesus knew the power of habit.
41. Jesus finished what he started.
42. Jesus was knowledgeable of scripture.
43. Jesus never hurried.
44. Jesus went where he was celebrated instead of where he was tolerated.
45. Jesus constantly consulted his heavenly father.
46. Jesus knew that prayer generates results.
47. Jesus rose early.
48. Jesus never felt he had to prove himself to anyone.
49. Jesus avoided unnecessary confrontations.
50. Jesus delegated.
51. Jesus carefully guarded his personal schedule.
52. Jesus asked questions to accurately determine the needs and desires of others.

From - The Leadership Secrets of Jesus by Mike Murdock; published by Honor Books, Tulsa OK; 1996

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Leadership Outliers - 10,000 hr rule

Malcolm Gladwell's latest book OUTLIERS talks about what separates the stars from everyone else. It isn't raw talent. It is sheer persistence--those who practiced harder did better, and those who practiced insanely hard became wildly successful. Can the same be applied to Naval leadership?

Gladwell dubs this phenomenon the "10,000-hour rule." I think this can be applied equally to leadership. Becoming truly great at anything -- (leadership included) -- requires ten years of experience and 1,000 hours of practice per year. "Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness," he argues.

Becoming a leader requires "deliberate practice."

What are the elements of 'deliberate practice'? It's designed explicitly to improve performance -- the little adjustments that make a big difference. It's repetitive, which means that when it's time to perform for real, you don't feel the pressure. It's informed by continuous feedback; practicing leadership only works if you can see how you're improving.

Bits and pieces paraphrased (and others cut and pasted) from HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Good Chief

"If there is anything I want to be remembered for, it is being remembered as a good Chief. That is one of the highest compliments a Chief can attain."

Former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

Rick D. West was born in Rising Fawn, Ga. He graduated from Northwest Georgia High School in 1981 and immediately entered the U.S. Navy.

He received recruit training and quartermaster training at Orlando, Fla., followed by Submarine School at Groton, Conn. His first duty assignment was on board USS Ethan Allen (SSN 608) where he completed submarine qualifications.

Other assignments included: USS Thomas Edison (SSN 610), USS Sea Devil (SSN 664), Commander Naval Activities United Kingdom (COMNAVACTUK), USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628)(Blue) and Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) Staff (TRE Team).

He was then assigned as chief of the boat (COB) on board the San Diego-based fast attack submarine, USS Portsmouth (SSN 707), completing 2 Western Pacific deployments. The crew earned two Battle Efficiency “E” awards.

Upon completion of a command master chief (CMC) tour at COMSUBRON 11, he was selected as force master chief, COMSUBPAC from January 2001 to 2004. West was then assigned to USS Preble (DDG-88) homeported in San Diego, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf and qualified as an enlisted surface warfare specialist.

West was selected during his tour on the Preble to serve as Pacific Fleet (PACFLT), fleet master chief from February 2005 to June 2007. Following PACFLT, he served as the 14th fleet master chief for the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

West’s personal awards include the Legion of Merit (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy Achievement Medal (two awards), Enlisted Surface Warfare Insignia, Enlisted Submarine Insignia and SSBN Deterrent Patrol Pin.

Note: Times have changed. My OCS instructor, CWO4 Wallace Louis Exum, served in the Navy from 1942-1985 (through WWII, Korea and Vietnam). In those 43 years, he earned a Purple Heart for wounds received at IWO JIMA and a Navy Achievement Medal for saving a sinking ship that was on fire in San Francisco Bay. At 81 years of age, I am sure he would like to read the citations for the MCPON's Legions of Merit.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Admiral of the Cyber Sea

“No matter how long I live, no matter how many more different jobs I may have, I have already been given the highest reward I’ll ever receive, the privilege and the responsibility of serving very proudly in the United States Navy.”

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

Friday, December 19, 2008

MCPON Campa - Gone - Legacy Remains

"MCPON Campa can take great pride in his many contributions during his watch. His extraordinary leadership, keen insight, and sound judgment enhanced the role of the Chief Petty Officer. He authored the Chief Petty Officer's mission, vision, guiding principles, revitalized the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy's Leadership Mess, and empowered Fleet, Force, and Command Master Chiefs. Most importantly, he re-established the deckplate leadership that is the essence of a U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer. His efforts significantly increased the impact of Navy Senior Enlisted Leaders and, in doing so, improved the readiness of the Navy. "

Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead

I think MCPON Campa would probably argue every point above. There was no "me" or "I" in his vocabulary, so far as I know. His Chiefs authored the CPO MVP (mission, values, principles); the Navy Leadership Mess had long been empowered and Navy Chiefs re-established for themselves their role as deckplate leaders. He'll be a hard act to follow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It is not a job, it is a way of life

One thing must be remembered; it is not just a job, it is a way of life. One must be caught up in it bone and marrow to find its deepest rewards. In to day's Navy, significantly different from that of the pre-World War II era, few new officers are full-blown, predetermined professionals. The training, the experience, the education (much of it self-administered), the refinement by fire, and the continuing competition and selection work their effects through the years until, at some time not easily defined or identified, a true professional is created. Once this has happened, a change has occurred which will not easily pass.

Most of the elements of this essentially practical profession are open and plain for all to see. It has aspects, however, like all professions worthy of the name, that go deeper; there is an indefinable dimension, a sort of mystique, that does not yield its secrets to the casual inquirer or, indeed, to many who wear the Navy's blue and gold for many years. Its deepest characteristics are as inscrutable as that combination of the sea and service to country that gives the profession its distinctive flavor.

Is it worth it? Every man must speak for himself. As for me, the answer is yes. It has been worth it, over and over again.

RADM James Calvert, former Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy in his book - THE NAVAL PROFESSION

On The Roof Gang - A little history

In July 1928, the CNO announced the establishment of a school to instruct radio operators in intercept operations, particularly for Japanese kana. The first class would begin on October 1, 1928, and instructors were to be two of the self-taught radiomen from the Asiatic fleet.
The first class was considered a success, so five more were held in 1929. The instructor for the first three was Chief Radioman Harry Kidder (A building is named in his honor at the Center for Information Dominance at Corry Station in Pensacola, Florida). The last two were taught by Chief Radioman Dorman Chauncey. Both were veterans of intercept operations in the Asiatic Fleet. Chauncey had conducted intercept at the U.S. Navy sites in Hawaii and Peking.
The first classes of trainees were composed largely of experienced radiomen of senior enlisted rank. To ensure that there would be continuity of service, the second and third groups of trainees were relatively junior.
Marine Corps personnel participated in the training from the third class, which began in November 1929. The class that trained from December 1930 to April 1931 was composed entirely of Marine enlisted men. Marines engaged in intercept activities for most of the 1930s, but the number dwindled late in the decade, since intercept operations were not a Marine rating and promotion possibilities were less for intercept operators than general service radiomen.
With a larger pool of intercept operators to deploy, additional collection sites were opened: Guam, Olongapo, Philippine Islands, and Astoria, Oregon. Some intercept was conducted aboard ships, principally the USS Agusta and the USS Gold Star.
Since these classes were held in a wood structure set atop the Navy Headquarters Building in Washington, and since the radiomen could not explain their classwork to others, they eventually acquired the nickname, "The On-the-Roof Gang."
Some of these fine men survive today.

NOTE: The Navy Building in the District of Columbia, by the way, was demolished after World War II. Part of the area where it once stood is now occupied by the Vietnam Memorial.
Taken from the NSA Website.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who Shall Lead?

'First movers' in coordination situations are most likely to become leaders, and this prediction is borne out in the literature. A recent meta-analysis indicated that of the Big Five personality dimensions, extraversion is the most highly related to leadership emergence and effectiveness ratings.

Primary studies report correlations between leadership and such narrower band dimensions as assertiveness, boldness, initiative, need for achievement, proactivity, and risk taking, which all increase the propensity to move first.

In the cognitive domain, people who quickly recognize that situations require coordination are more likely to become leaders. This might explain the relationship between general intelligence and leadership and why intelligence is a universally desired characteristic of leaders. We expect that as coordination tasks become more complex, cognitive factors will become a better predictor of leadership.

Our analysis also suggests that an ability to estimate the payoffs for followers is necessary for leaders to be influential. This would explain the empirical links between leadership and social intelligence, political skill, empathy, perspective taking, and nonverbal sensitivity.

“The leader must be able to know what followers want, when they want it, and what prevents them from getting what they want”. This also suggests that the more complex the group, the more socially astute the leader needs to be. Another implication of our analysis is that good leaders should be perceived as both competent and benevolent because followers want leaders who can acquire resources and then are willing to share them.

Leaders’ willingness to share (information, for example) is reflected in such traits as trustworthiness, fairness, generosity, and self-sacrifice— universally desirable leader attributes.

Given the risks associated with following, people prefer leaders who can benefit the group.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Transformational Concepts and Capabilities - Information Operations

Information Operations (IO) provide, in coordination and synchronization with other effects-based joint activities, an asymmetric advantage to shape the battlespace from forward-deployed maritime forces by employing capabilities including electronic warfare, computer network defense and attack (CND/CNA), psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception, and operational security. Forward deployed naval forces provide joint force commanders with persistent platforms from which to execute joint information operations using embedded capabilities. The Navy and Marine Corps are developing transformational concepts and capabilities that will be employed to influence, affect, or defend information, information systems and decision-making in support of joint effects-based operations.

The Navy has taken several steps to invigorate work in this area. Efforts are underway to create a top-down Concept of Operations for IO laying out organizational responsibilities and guidance regarding the conduct of Information Operations. A Capstone Requirements Document for Navy IO is also under development. In addition, Information Operations has been designated a primary warfare area and a new career force is being created to develop and sustain IO professionals. New IO billets have been created at many levels, including the designation of a three star operational commander for IO at the newly established Naval Network Warfare Command, the posting of IO specialists in OPNAV, and the inclusion of an IO Warfare Commander within each battle group.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

Journaling allows leaders to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It's often a good problem-solving tool where one can hash out a problem and arrive at a solution, which is easier on paper. When we experience a traumatic event, sometimes our emotions dominate our thinking. Journaling about traumatic events allows us to engage both the emotional and rational sides of our brain to make sure we're bringing our best possible thinking to bear.

Reduces stress – Journaling has been proven to reduce stress. Once you're journaling, you won't carry as much of what you have written about within you. It is on paper or in the computer. By journaling, you give yourself a powerful form of self-expression, and through that expression you gain clarity, release, and relief.
Problem Solving – Journaling is an effective way to think through problems until you reach a point of clarity. Putting your problems on paper avoids linear thinking about more complex problems. It allows you to see the many possible solutions so you can evaluate how each one will affect the people involved. Journaling allows you to overcome the brain's functional limitations by expanding the mental working memory that's available for problem solving.
Define Your Dreams and Goals – "Our dreams are the visions that shape our lives. Do you know what your dreams are? Have you stopped dreaming? Sometimes we do. At different points in our journey, both professionally and personally, it is so easy to get caught up in surviving that we stop dreaming. When we stop dreaming, we slowly begin to disengage from our work, from our relationships, and from life itself." (The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly) What do you want to accomplish? Journaling helps you to actually see and better understand what you want and what is important to you. It gives you the opportunity to explore your dreams and develop the goals that will allow you to realize your life's purpose. You create a personal checklist of things you want to accomplish and develop the action plans to make them happen.
Helps focus – Writing in a journal creates more personal awareness; therefore, more focus on the issues that are important to you. If you want to be a successful leader, you can explore the skills you will need to develop in order to obtain the results you want. You learn to focus on daily leadership opportunities and how you make a difference.

Health benefits – Research has proven that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma, arthritis, and other health conditions. It improves cognitive functioning while strengthening the immune system which in turn prevents a host of illnesses. Journaling is very therapeutic and counteracts many of the negative effects of stress.

Charting the Course for a Successful Leader

by Ed Ruggero and Dennis F. Haley

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ethical decisions

Your job is to make decisions. But your duty is to make the right decisions...the ethical decisions. In my first letter to all Flag and General Officers of the Navy and Marine Corps, sent the day I was confirmed as Secretary of the Navy, I stated this duty very frankly: "If we cannot do something ethically, if it is not in keeping with our values--then we just won't do it."

I want to restate that to each and everyone in the Naval make sure that every Sailor, Marine and civil servant knows that that is the standard. If we can't do something ethically, I don't want it done. We need to develop and maintain--within each of us individually, and collectively within the entire Naval Service--the character to make ethical decisions.

Former Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My First Chief

"My first chief had a big impact on me. I still look at what he did," Campa said. "When he spoke, he spoke with such credibility because he had such a strong knowledge of his ship, his rate and the people that he led; that inspired me to want to do well for him. He planted some seeds — but I have been fortunate throughout my career to have good, strong, deckplate leaders -— those who kept their focus on the people and measured their success through them.

"That is what I tried to bring back with deckplate leadership. That kind of leadership is traditional of the chiefs' mess and critical to our people and our Navy."

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa during his change of office ceremony with new MCPON West

Friday, December 12, 2008

Widen Your Outlook

First, you have the opportunity to widen your outlook and broaden your horizons and to gain the kind of perspective rarely possible under the pressure of daily duties.

Second, you have the opportunity to escape from the preconceptions, the prejudices, and the viewpoints associated with the necessarily limited scope of virtually all operating jobs.

Third, you have the opportunity to advance in knowledge and understanding of many great and complex problems which face this country and the world today; and to see these problems, not in the context of the needs and interests of a particular service or agency, but of the Government and the Nation as a whole.

To sum up: Here you will have the opportunity to broaden your intellectual horizons, escape from the limitations of professional prejudices and interests , and gain in understanding of many difficult and complex problems facing this country today and in the years ahead.
General Mundy's comments to the incoming class of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1958.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Official IW Community Blog Is Back !!

Great news !! The Official IW Community Blog is back and RADM Deets is moderating it. Check with your IW leadership to learn how to log in on the new site. You'll need a CAC enabled computer to login. Use it or lose it.

"If we are to have frank and open discussion I need you to understand that some of our comments will be of a "proprietary" nature and thus not appropriate for release beyond the wardroom.

Also remember that many of our retired officers are contractors so much of what is on our blog won't be releasable to them.

I've created this to allow open dialogue. I will regularly participate. I hope all of you will too.
Best, EHD"

Quote from RADM Ned Deets

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can you lead...

Can you lead your people without seeking to control?
Can you open and close the gates in harmony with nature?
Can you be understanding without trying to be wise?
Can you create without possessiveness?
Accomplish without taking credit?
Lead without ego?

This is the highest power.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Navy Tradition

The Navy has a great tradition, especially in warfighting. It is not the ship, it is not the weapons - it has been, is, and always will be the leader. In times of crisis, the Navy looks to its leaders to set the tone and establish the priorities to achieve victory - in combat and out. In the end though, it is in combat that everything meets its ultimate evaluation. We are informed and influenced by those who have come before and the sacrifices they have made and have ordered others to make. We should always look to their example to ensure that we meet that standard.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sailor - with a capital "S"

1-16. Identifying Navy and Marine Corps Personnel . . . Capitalize "Sailor" and "Marine" when referring to members of the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.

Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton in 1994

SECNAVINST 5216.5D, Navy Correspondence Manual

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Reflections on Leadership

More broadly, if as an officer one does not tell blunt truths or create an environment where candor is encouraged, then they have done themselves and the institution a disservice. This admonition goes back beyond the roots of our own republic. Sir Francis Bacon was a seventeenth-century jurist and philosopher as well as a confidante of the senior minister of England’s King James. He gave this advice to a protégé looking to follow in his steps at court: “Remember well the great trust you have undertaken; you are as a continual sentinel, always to stand upon your watch to give [the king] true intelligence. If you flatter him, you betray him.”

In the military, as at every university or company in America, there is a focus on teamwork, consensus-building, and collaboration. Yet make no mistake, the time will come when a leader in today’s military must stand alone and make a difficult, unpopular decision, or challenge the opinion of superiors and tell them that they cannot get the job done with the time and the resources available—a difficult charge in an organization built on a “can-do” ethos like America’s Army; or a time when a member of the military will know that what superiors are telling the press or the Congress or the American people is inaccurate. These are the moments when an officer’s entire career may be at risk. What will they do? These are difficult questions that require serious thought over the course of any officer’s career. There are no easy answers.

If they will follow the dictates of their conscience and maintain the courage of their convictions while being respectfully candid with superiors and encouraging candor in others, they will be in good stead to meet the challenges facing them as officers and leaders in the years ahead.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Other things being equal, a superior rating will invariably be given to the officer who has persevered in his studies of the art of self-expression, while his colleague, who attaches little importance to what may be achieved through working with the language, will be marked for mediocrity.

A moment's reflection will show why this has to be the case and why mastery of the written and spoken word is indispensable to successful officership.

As the British statesman, Disraeli, put it, "Men govern with words." Within the military establishment, command is exercised through what is said which commands attention and understanding and through what is written which directs, explains, interprets or informs.

Battles are won through the ability of men to express concrete ideas in clear and unmistakable language. All administration is carried forward along the chain of command by the power of men to make their thoughts articulate and available to others.

There is no way under the sun that this basic condition can be altered. Once the point is granted, any officer should be ready to accept its corollary - that superior qualification in the use of the language, both as to the written and the spoken word, is more essential to military leadership than knowledge of the whole technique of weapons handling.

It then becomes strictly a matter of personal decision whether he will seek to advance himself along the line of main chance or will take refuge in the excuse offered by the great majority: "I'm just a simple fighting file with no gift for writing or speaking."

From: The Armed Forces Officer, 1950

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Study military history

The officer who studies military history along the lines of recreational reading and analytical research will benefit in three ways:

First, he will develop a mind rich in the experience of war in all its aspects. The climate of war will become an integral part of his subconscious being. Without consciously thinking about it he will have a cultivated awareness of the pitfalls which strew the path of the commander and the staff officer, and he will be able to see the possibilities and the dangers of any situation or any course of action.

Secondly, he will develop the power of analysis—the power of breaking up the problem into its component parts, balancing one against the other, and arriving at a sound solution.

Thirdly, it will fill his mind with knowledge of human beings in combat, and that is essential knowledge for the soldier.

Finally, remember that unless your critical analysis of fact is not tempered with sympathy and compassion you will never learn anything about humanity.

From: The Australian Chief of Army Reading List

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Write with your eyes open

Candor Sometimes Goes Unrewarded

In today's military, boldness is rewarded only in battle, and sometimes not even then. It's a fact of human nature that leaders tend to promote subordinates who most emulate them. The argument has been made that controversy among military officers should not be played out in public. Unfortunately, controversy played out in private usually dies a very quiet death. To give an idea life, sometimes the only effective way is to make it public, even when doing so might imperil one's career.

And there's the rub. I believe the real threat to serious and open debate has been a single-minded focus on careerism among some officers. This is destructive. In the final analysis, if you wish to advance the cause, you must be willing to put the good of the service over the good of your career (advice I gave to a young officer in "An Open Letter to Lt. Butler" and advice I tried to follow myself).

I received warnings from superior officers that it would be in my best interest to stop writing. Some of this criticism stemmed from the nature of the subject I had chosen to write about. Some of the blame belongs to editors who changed the meaning of the pieces by assigning them eye-catching but off-the-mark titles. The result was the same: intense pressure from a superior officer to stop writing.

In fact, I've been admonished by a flag officer after every piece I've written, usually by a member of my own warfare community.

** Extracted from Captain William J. Toti's USNI December 2008 PROCEEDINGS Article **

Read the entire USNI PROCEEDINGS Article. Click on the link below

Write With Your Eyes Open, Captain William Toti, United States Navy (retired)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Marketplace of Ideas

In this rapidly globalizing 21st century, our nation and our military are out competing in a marketplace of ideas. We live in a 24/7 news cycle with near instant reporting and widespread dissemination of stories. It is a teeming, tumultuous, and exhausting marketplace. There has been a tremendous push for military professionals to understand, quantify, and assess our ability to compete in this arena. On all fronts, we must excel at strategic communication—the ability to get our message out to the right audience, at the right time, with the proper effect, and in all media.

Each of us has a clear obligation to contribute to this effort, to be a part of the conversation, to help our ideas compete. Our nation was founded on ideas that just could not be repressed—those of freedom and liberty. In 1776, we launched these ideas into a world ruled by a different system. Our ideas faced stiff competition, and throughout the years we have even suffered wars to defend them—wars like today’s struggle against extremists who use terrorism as a weapon, often to suppress freedom of expression. Our second President, John Adams, once wrote that the best way to defend our ideas was through using our minds:
“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”

Admiral James Stavridis
USNI Proceedings

Monday, December 1, 2008

The United States Navy

is responsible for maintaining control of the sea

and is a ready force on watch at home and overseas,

capable of strong action to preserve the peace

or, of instant offensive action to win in war.



Sunday, November 30, 2008

Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell


Effective leadership is exercised across a full spectrum of responsibilities, and also over time. Across an entire organization involving a wide variety of people engaged in a multitude of tasks (both concurrently and in sequence), the leader must spark high performance and ensure the welfare of the group. Well, that's complicated. Even if the leader manages to get everybody happy with today's reality, somebody's very likely to get off the bus tomorrow. A leader simply cannot please everybody all the time.

"Making people mad was part of being a leader. As I had learned long ago . . . an individual's hurt feelings run a distant second to the good of the service."
Leadership can't be a popularity contest. Trying not to offend anyone, or trying to get everyone to like you, will set you on the road to mediocrity. Why? Because leaders who are afraid to make people angry are likely to waver and procrastinate when it comes time to make tough choices. Leaders who care more about being liked than about being effective are unlikely to confront the people who need confronting. They are unlikely to offer differential rewards based on performance. They won't challenge the status quo. And inevitably, by not challenging tradition, they hurt both their own credibility and their organization's performance.

Oren Harari, The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Learn to follow first

Stellar followers approach their roles with enthusiasm and commitment to establish and maintain competence. Competence is an elusive quality these days. Competence demands more than acquisition of several competencies or microskills.

Competence is the capacity to integrate knowledge, experience, and contextual factors in order to function smoothly and effectively in the real world.

Competent followers start by doing their homework. They become intentional students of the organization, literate in the organization's mission and objectives, and very aware of the CO's philosophy and leadership style.

Because they anticipate problems and questions, they acquire all the information their superior requires to make well-informed decisions. In fact, they routinely go above and beyond minimum expectations in this regard. They are proactive in seeking opportunities for enhancing job knowledge and practical competence.

From: Becoming A Leader The Annapolis Way

Friday, November 28, 2008

No more exacting method of determining an officer's worth

"The 20-year-old bluejacket is the backbone of the navy." And he advised the 1970 graduating class at the Naval Academy: "When you step aboard ship and stand in front of your first division of bluejackets, they will evaluate you accurately and without delay. In fact, there is no more exacting method of determining an officer's worth."

"Furthermore, you can't fool bluejackets. They are quick to recognize the phony. If you lose the respect of these men, you are finished. You can never make it back."

"Some officers get it backwards. They don't understand that we are responsible for our men, not the other way around. That's what forges trust and loyalty."

Admiral John S. McCain

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The qualities of practical intelligence

“…we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington…”

Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Defense Against Buzzword-Nomograph-Acronym Mentality

Ethics is taught in many forms in service academies and postgraduate institutions. But Stockdale wants to create a model specifically designed to help the military "regain our bearings." Says he: "Today's ranks are filled with officers who have been weaned on slogans and fads of the sort preached in the better business schools—that rational managerial concepts will cure all evils. This course is my defense against the buzzword-nomograph-acronym mentality."

VADM James Bond Stockdale, PhD, Heroism

In his class, "Foundations of Moral Obligation" at the Naval War College. Taken from TIME MAGAZINE, February 1979

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Think about the future—frequently.

Constant change is a characteristic of the modern era, and constant change requires
people of vision who can look beyond the current paradigm in order to chart our future. Develop ideas that guide your career, the Naval Intelligence community, and the Navy. Seniors are looking for bold officers with good ideas. Although not all people possess equal capabilities to look to the future, all of us have the capability to try.

Look for opportunities to contribute your ideas. If opportunities don’t present themselves, look for ways to create the right opportunity.

VADM "Jack" Dorsett, Director of Naval Intelligence

Monday, November 24, 2008

Integrity is powerful

The moral forces are order, courage, confidence, and cohesion, forces that assure the troops' faith in the integrity of leadership, its dependability to keep consistent standards of right and wrong.

Integrity is a powerful word that derives from a specific concept It describes a person who is integrated, blended into a whole, as opposed to a person of many parts, many faces, many disconnects. The word relates to the ancients' distinction between living and living well.

Contrary to popular thought, a person of integrity is typically easygoing with a sense of humor. He knows himself, reflects a definite and thoughtful set of preferences and aspirations, and is thus reliable. Knowing he is whole, he is not preoccupied with riding the crest of continual anxiety but is free to ride the crest of delight with life!

VADM James Bond Stockdale

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Positive Attitude is Crucial

A positive attitude is crucial in achieving success. If I had to pick out one characteristic that I would want to have myself or hope that I was able to produce in the people I work with, it would be the concept of having a positive attitude about their work, about what they're trying to accomplish and what they are accomplishing.

I'd like to deal with the negatives as tasks to take on that will lead to further success. I think its absolutely critical that one be able to develop within one's peer groups, and certainly one's subordinates, a positive attitude, and that goes to whether you're working with just two people or four or ten or hundreds of thousands. It is critical that you have a positive attitude about what you're doing, what you're trying to accomplish and what the groups are trying to accomplish.

Hopefully you're able to lead people in a positive fashion that will build into a success-oriented organization, and they do go together, there isn't any question about it. If you have a negative attitude in a unit you will not have success, and the leader has to turn that situation around. The leader has a very difficult challenge if he has a lot of people coming in and asking for transfers. He better understand why and be able to deal with that, and I guess one might say there's another element there. If you're the next senior up, you had better be wise enough to know what the cause; of that negativism is and remove it, even if it's the division officer or the division chief who is the problem.

Admiral Thomas Hayward

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Once I Was A Navyman

I like the Navy. I like standing on deck during a long voyage with sea spray in my face and ocean winds whipping in from everywhere - The feel of the giant steel ship beneath me, it's engines driving against the sea is almost beyond understanding - It's immense power makes the Navyman feel so insignificant but yet proud to be a small part of this ship, a small part of her mission.

I like the Navy. I like the sound of taps over the ships announcing system, the ringing of the ships bell, the foghorns and strong laughter of Navy men at work. I like the ships of the Navy - nervous darting destroyers, sleek proud cruisers, majestic battle ships, steady solid carriers and silent hidden submarines - I like the workhorse tugboats with their proud Indian names: Iroquois, Apache, Kiawah and Sioux - each stealthy powerful tug safely guiding the warships to safe deep waters from all harbors.

I like the historic names of other proud Navy Ships: Bennington, Midway, Hornet, Princeton, Suribachi and Saratoga. The Ozark, Hunley, Constitution, Missouri, Quincy and Manchester, as well as The Sullivan's, New Jersey, Tecumseh and Nautilus - all majestic ships of the line. Each commanding the respect of all Navymen that have known her or were privileged to be a member of her crew.

I like the bounce of Navy music and the tempo of a Navy Band, "Liberty Whites" and the spice scent of a foreign port - I like shipmates I've sailed with, worked with, served with or have known: The Gunners Mate from the Iowa cornfields, a Sonarman from the Colorado mountain country, a pal from Cairo, Alabama; an Italian from near Boston, some boogie boarders of California, and of course a drawling friendly Oklahoma lad that hailed from Muskogee; and a very congenial Engineman from the Tennessee hills.

From all parts of the land they came - farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England - the red clay area and small towns of the South - the mountain and high prairie towns of the West - the beachfront towns of the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf - All are American; all are comrades in arms - All are men of the sea and all are men of honor.

I like the adventure in my heart when the ship puts out to sea, and I like the electric thrill of sailing home again, with the waving hands of welcome from family and friends waiting on shore - The extended time at sea drags; the going is rough on occasion. But there's the companionship of robust Navy laughter, the devil-may-care philosophy of the sea. This helps the Navyman - The remembrances of past shipmates fill the mind and restore the memory with images of other ships, other ports, and other voyages long past - Some memories are good, some are not so good but all are etched in the mind of the Navyman, and most will be there forever.

After a day of work, there is the serenity of the sea at dusk. - As white caps dance on the ocean waves, the sunset creates flaming clouds that float in folds over the horizon - as if painted there by a master. The darkness follows soon and is mysterious. The ship's wake in darkness has a hypnotic effect, with foamy white froth and luminescence that forms never ending patterns in the turbulent waters. I like the lights of the ship in darkness - the masthead lights, the red and green sidelights and stern lights. They cut through the night and appear as a mirror of stars in darkness - There are rough stormy nights, and calm, quiet, still nights where the quiet of the mid-watch allows the ghosts of all the Sailors of the world to stand with you - They are abundant and unreachable, but ever apparent - And there is always the aroma of fresh coffee from the galley.

I like the legends of the Navy and the Navymen that created those legends - I like the proud names of Navy Heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, McCain, Rickover and John Paul Jones - A man can find much in the Navy - comrades in arms, pride in his country - A man can find himself and can revel in this experience.

In years to come, when the Sailor is home from the sea, he will still recall with fondness the ocean spray on his face when the sea is angry - There will come a faint aroma of fresh paint in his nostrils, the echo of hearty laughter of the seafaring men who once were close companions - Now landlocked, he will grow wistful of his Navy days, when the seas were the largest part of him and a new port of call was always just over the horizon.

Recalling those days and times, he will stand taller and say -"ONCE I WAS A NAVYMAN !"

E.A. Hughes, FTCM(SS),
- Copyright, 1958, 1978

Friday, November 21, 2008


Writing is a skill that is improved through practice, so officers should seek every opportunity to write and therefore to improve their technical ability to write. Imagination and the desire for self-improvement play a large part in the effectiveness of an individual's writing.

Some people know the mechanics of how to write, but they are not very good writers because they don't have the imagination to add the appropriate descriptive phrase, adverb, adjective, whatever it is that makes this thing live A little, makes it more readable, more appealing. I don't think you necessarily can teach just anyone to be a professional writer, but you can help them improve, I would encourage young officers not to draw away from the normal approach to writing tasks but to accept them as a challenge to create, just as any other artist does.

Rarely is rewriting unnecessary. Write it, read it, and, as a consequence of reading it, write it again and work it and rework it and get suggestions and get it critiqued.


Thursday, November 20, 2008


First you find yourself overlooking small infractions that you would have corrected on the spot in the past.

Soon you are a participant in these infractions. "After all," you say, "Everybody's doing it."

All too soon you find yourself trapped. You no longer can stand on a favorite principle because you have strayed from it.

Finding no way out, you begin to rationalize, and then you are hooked.

The important fact is, the men who travel the path outlined above have misused the very basic quality and characteristic expected of a professional military man, or any other professional man for that matter.

They have compromised their integrity.

Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, NAVAL LEADERSHIP - Voices of Experience

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Issue of Accountability

I hope actually in the time you’re here (Air Command and Staff College) you really do chew on this and have some healthy debates and discussions about it – is the whole issue of accountability. It’s how I grew up, it’s why I stayed in, it’s why I love command. And there isn’t anybody at any level of seniority that wouldn’t tell you, you know, that their worst day in command was better than any other day they had anywhere else, and that their worst day in command, some days, you know, there was a hand that reached in to save their careers and they got lucky.

That said, we are accountable for our commands at every level, and that message is very important. That’s a very important message right back to – and I’ll speak specifically to the chiefs’ position, and having been a chief of a service, I do understand that. And when you lose that accountability, when accountable officers don’t step forward and say, it’s my command, okay, and my command – in Navy terminology – is aground, and when you are aground, you know, you walk off the brow. That’s the rule. We know that. So the accountability aspect of all that is also really important.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ol' Time Khaki Deckplate Leadership

Creativity is vital to the Deckplate Leader because without it change will never begin at the level that it should, the deckplates. The only constant in life is change, and change requires leaders to “Be Creative” in order to be successful. Deckplate Leaders take ownership of this fact and are always thinking about process improvement to make the mission just as successful, but more efficiently.

Also, leading when everything is okay is easy. The true test of one’s leadership ability is to lead in the face of adversity, crisis and transformation; “leading in the suck”. This all usually takes place when new situations arise, and requires a certain degree of creativity to be successful.

The idea is not to re-invent the wheel. The wheel still works and we all like it. But if we can improve on the tread of the wheel’s tire, well, then now we have something special.


  • Be persistent
  • Keep it simple
  • Do the right thing
  • And eat the elephant one bight at a time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chiefs Should Take Responsibility

“The Chief Petty Officer can, and should, take the responsibility of keeping every Sailor under his leadership informed. If one of his Sailors has a problem, he has a problem. There should be no excuses. There is a solution to every problem, and it should be pursued until his Sailor is satisfied that every means has been exhausted in the effort to find a solution. I feel very strongly that we need to improve our leadership abilities to keep pace with the high level of technical skill. The rapidity of advancement has caused a need for establishment of more leadership classes at the command level. My feelings are that we must have a chain of command from top to bottom, but even more important, we must have a channel of communication and understanding.”

Former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, MCPON Del Black

A new comment on your post "Chiefs Should Take Responsibility":

Maybe it would be appropriate to point out that MCPON Delbert Black was the first MCPON. He was stationed at Dam Neck, VA in 1967 when he was selected for that job, and I was stationed there as well at Guided Missile School.
Very Respectfully,
Navyman834 (MCPO Hughes, USN, retired)


Saturday, November 15, 2008

We Must Sail

To reach a port, we must sail - sail, not tie at anchor- sail, not drift.

Franklin Roosevelt

Friday, November 14, 2008

Communication is Number ONE !

As a leader, there is one single thing you can do that will make, or break, command morale. According to a leading survey, the key is communication.

And while that's true in "normal" times, it's become even more important now that we're in a Presidential transition.

Regular communication with Sailors is always integral to a command's success, especially during periods of uncertainty, and in federal executives' opinions, lack of communication with Sailors is the number one cause of low morale.

As the Navy is undergoing change, the best thing to do is communicate with your Sailors even if you yourself aren't sure exactly what's about to happen. It's foremost just to bring Sailors together. Talk to them one on one. You've got to manage the grapevine. You need to address these things so that Sailors are not preoccupied with worrying about rumors that may not be true.

More Valuable Than Money
It would seem that most leaders already know this answer. In the survey, leaders were asked, "In your opinion, what is the best remedy for low morale?" Their responses:

    Communication 48%
    Recognition programs 19%
    Monetary awards for exceptional performance 13%
    Unexpected rewards (e.g., gift certificates or sporting event tickets) 11%
    Team-building events or meetings 5%
    Additional days off 3%

Bottom line: Tell your Sailors what happened, what is happening and what will be happening.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We are the United States Navy

We are the United States Navy, our Nation's sea power – ready guardians of peace, victorious in war. ((Brevity approved by CDR SALAMANDER))

We are the United States Navy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Intellectual Renaissance in the Naval Service

The Naval Service and the nation are well served when we follow their example of teamwork guided by open and frank discussion. The changing operational environment requires that we eliminate redundancies and forge greater interdependence between us. The overarching goal is greater and more efficient alignment beginning at the service headquarters level. We charge all hands to conduct experimentation, wargaming, seminars, and debate in order to more fully understand and implement the guidance presented herein. We expect that this intellectual renaissance within the Naval Service will enable us to meet the security challenges of the 21st Century and reinforce the preeminence of U.S. Naval forces to help defend the homeland and win the nation’s wars.


The Naval Operational Concept 2008 has been delayed due to the inclusion of force structure details, which will outline how the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard will put the cooperative maritime strategy released last fall into action, the one-star admiral who oversees the effort said.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taking criticism like a Naval officer

Accepting criticism is a skill every well-adjusted Sailor must possess. We give and take criticism among our co-workers, our friends, and our family. Criticism is an important part of our personal self improvement, for it is other people who can point out mistakes and shortcomings that we can’t see because we lack objectivity. Unfortunately, Sailors today (me included) don’t know how to offer and accept criticism like a man. Instead we handle criticism like little boys. When giving criticism, we opt only to give snide, cutting jabs that do nothing to improve the situation. When receiving criticism, we sulk, make excuses, and argue with the person criticizing them. Ask any leader who has the nerve of giving a subordinate a poor Fitness Report. Today’s subordinates will cry and whine their way to a better one. Or worst of all, have a senior intervene. We simply don’t know how to respectfully accept criticism.

Because we all face situations every day that require us to give or take criticism, we provide the following guidelines on how to make the process more constructive.

How to Give Effective Criticism

  • Go in cool, calm, and collected.
  • Be specific.
  • Criticize the action, not the person.
  • Be a diplomat.
  • Make specific suggestions for improvement.
  • Personalize your approach.
  • Point out positives.
  • Follow up.

How to Take Criticism

  • Consider the source.
  • Shut your trap and listen.
  • Don’t take it personally.
  • Stay calm
  • Ask clarifying questions.
  • Take ownership of your mistake.
  • Change your perspective on criticism.
  • Thank your critic (even when they handed your butt to you).
  • Take action and follow up. Get better. Improve. That's what it's all about.
Stolen from: How to take criticism like a man