Friday, November 30, 2012

25th Navy Commanding Officer Fired

Captain Sean McDonell, CO Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FOURTEEN, was fired by Captain Roger Motzko, Commodore, 3rd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR).  Captain McDonell was fired due to "loss of confidence in his ability to command".

According to NAVYNEWS, Captain McDonell was relieved because of mismanagement and major program deficiencies.

Captain McDonell is the 25th Navy Commanding Officer fired in 2012.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

MCPON "zeroing in on excellence"

At our Leadership Mess Symposium in September, I mentioned that my refrain as MCPON will be Zeroing in on Excellence.  For me, that is about solidifying our lines of operation with three fundamental focus areas:
  • Developing Leaders
  • Good Order and Discipline
  • Controlling What We Own
Zeroing in on Excellence is a universal theme we can all apply in our respective positions.  It does not distract from or add to existing individual roles and responsibilities – it provides a sturdy framework around which we can build sound, durable readiness.  Each of you has your own professional obligations, and your sustained success in meeting them is a large reason our Navy is the world’s preeminent maritime force.  I simply ask that as you carry out the business of leading Sailors, you do so not only with energy aimed at accomplishing a stand-alone task but also at building an environment where our entire organization gets stronger.

MCPON Mike Stevens

Check out the MCPON's post on the Official Blog of the United States Navy HERE.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

RDML Jan E. Tighe to head the Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, California

Secretary of the Navy has appointed RDML Jan E. Tighe serve as interim NPS school president, and O. Douglas Moses, the current vice provost of academic affairs, will serve as the acting provost. SECNAV also has created a working group that will implement the recommendations in the IG report.


Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has fired the top two administrators of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., for mismanagement and fostering an atmosphere of defying Navy rules and regulations.

The firings of the school’s president and provost come after an investigation by the Navy’s inspector general. It found that the president, Daniel Oliver, failed to comply with federal and naval regulations, circumvented federal hiring authorities and inappropriately accepted gifts from a private foundation that supports the school.

The investigation also found that the provost, Leonard Ferrari, did not comply with Navy regulations and accepted gifts from the foundation.

“Navy inspection and investigations into management practices at the prestigious school determined that the school’s leadership fostered an ‘atmosphere of defiance of statutory requirements and Department of the Navy rules and regulations’”.


“Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them.” 

— R. Buckminster Fuller

For my Shipmate Sean - don't let them de-genius you in your new role.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Set the example

"Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means."

Albert Einstein

Monday, November 26, 2012

Skewed Judgment

“There is something about a sense of entitlement and of having great power that skews people’s judgment.”

Robert M. Gates
Former Secretary of Defense

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Command Excellence - The CO

COs in superior commands
»Target Key Issues
»Gets Crew to Support Command Philosophy
»Develops the Executive Officer
»Staffs to Optimize Performance
»Gets Out and About
»Builds Esprit de Corps
»Keeps Her Cool
»Develops a Strong Wardroom
»Values the Chiefs Quarters (Mess)
»Ensures Training is Effective
»Builds Positive External Relationships
»Influences Successfully

Saturday, November 24, 2012

You gotta have a plan

In the Navy's Command Excellence study, superior commands were distinguished from others in part by several of the following planning characteristics:
  • Planning is a regularly scheduled activity. Besides planning for special events, planning may be scheduled weekly for tracking progress toward goals. 
  • Planning occurs at all levels. Commands, departments, divisions, and work centers plan.
  • Planning is long range. A work center may have a monthly long-range planning meeting in addition to weekly short-range operational planning sessions.
  • Plans are specific. Plans are documented with milestone charts and a matrix showing who is responsible and when tasks are due.
  • Plans are publicized. Plans are not the private information of leaders but are published in the Plan of the Day (POD), posted on bulkheads, and explained at quarters.
  • Systems are put in place to implement plans. Routine tasks and operations are standardized with someone in charge of the process.
  • The Command makes every effort to stick to the plan. Plans are taken seriously. Though circumstances may require it to change, considerable effort is put into abiding by the plan.

Friday, November 23, 2012

We teach this to 3rd Class Petty Officers yet many seniors don't understand it

As a leader in any organization, understanding the basic theories of motivation and how they relate to performance is a valuable asset. The more you understand your own needs, the better chance you have of recognizing the needs of your peers, seniors, and subordinates. 

Knowing how individual needs influence attitudes, behaviors, and performance, and using that knowledge, will increase your ability to influence others and enable you to be a more effective leader. 

As a Navy leader, you must focus on motivating your subordinates to maintain the standards required in naval service. 

From NAVEDTRA 38201 - Petty Officer Indoctrination Course.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Who watches the watchers?

Many leader preach to their protégés that character was what you did when no one was watching. 

Remember, that someone is always watching.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

MCPON on the "Law of the lid"

I believe effectively and efficiently executing mission requires innovative leadership. Without competent leadership, even the most routine tasks can become difficult.

In John Maxwell’s book, the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he states, “Without leadership ability, a person’s impact is only a fraction of what it could be with good leadership. The higher you want to climb, the more you need leadership.” He calls this the Law of the Lid, which suggests “Wherever you look, you can find smart, talented successful people who are able to go only so far because of the limitations of their leadership”.  If our Navy is going to continue climbing, then we as Chief Petty Officers must always seek to increase our and our Sailors’ ability to lead.

We develop leaders through a combination of mentorship, practical experience and training. Do not downplay the acute impact you have in your routine daily interaction with enlisted and commissioned Sailors on how they ultimately evolve as leaders. It, more than any other element, sets the tone for exactly how singularly irreplaceable personal example is in building bold, accountable, confident leadership.

MCPON Stevens


More on 'the law of the lid'

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Twenty three and twenty four

Two commanding officers have been fired for misconduct in unrelated incidents, the Navy announced on Monday.
Capt. Ted Williams, CO of the amphibious command ship USS MOUNT WHITNEY, and Cmdr. Ray Hartman, CO of the amphibious dock-landing ship USS FORT MCHENRY, were both fired by 6th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Frank Pandolfe.
Williams was temporarily reassigned to 6th Fleet staff and Capt. Craig Clapperton took command of the Gaeta, Italy-based ship.
Hartman was sent to Destroyer Squadron 60 staff and Cmdr. Eric Kellum assumed command of the Little Creek, Va.-based LSD.
In both instances, 6th Fleet cited “allegations of misconduct” as the reason for the firings, but did not elaborate on the nature of the accusations.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fit to command


"No man is fit to command
another that cannot
 command himself." 

~ William Penn 

Don't give in to temptation!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2012 Navy Firings - A quick review

Captain Jeffrey Riedel was fired Jan. 26 as program manager for the Navy’s littoral combat ship program due to allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Commander Diego Hernandez was fired Feb. 4 as CO of the ballistic-missile submarine USS WYOMING’s gold crew for mishandling classified materials.
Captain Robert Marin was fired Feb.10 as CO of the cruiser USS COWPENS “while an investigation into inappropriate personal behavior is conducted.”
Commander Jeffrey Wissel was fired Feb. 27 as CO of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron ONE amid allegations of “personal misconduct.”
Commander Jon Haydel was fired March 12 as CO of the yet-to-be commissioned amphibious transport dock USS SAN DIEGO amid an investigation into “personal misconduct.”
Captain Kim Lyons was fired April 6 as CO of Navy Health Clinic New England after a survey found a poor command climate.
Commander Dennis Klein was fired May 1 as CO of the attack submarine USS COLUMBIA due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command after a number of external assessments.
Commander Lee Hoey was fired May 1 as CO of the Navy Drug Screening Lab in San Diego due to command climate problems at his command.
Commander Derick Armstrong was fired May 8 as CO of the destroyer USS THE SULLIVANS due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.
Captain Chuck Litchfield was fired June 18 as CO of the amphibious assault ship USS ESSEX, in the wake of ESSEX’s May 16 collision with the replenishment oiler Yukon as both ships were en route to San Diego.
Captain Liza Raimondo was fired June 29 as CO of Navy Health Clinic, Patuxent River, Md, due to a loss of confidence in her ability to command due to a significant lack of leadership and integrity.
Commander Michael Ward was fired Aug. 10 as CO of Los Angeles-class submarine USS PITTSBURGH for allegations of personal misconduct.
Commander Franklin Fernandez was fired Aug. 21 as CO of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion TWENTY FOUR due to loss of confidence in his ability to command.
Commander Martin Arriola was fired Aug. 30 as CO of the destroyer USS PORTER due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.
Commander Sara Santoski was fired Sept. 1 as CO of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron FIFTEEN due to a loss of confidence in her ability to command.
Commander Sheryl Tannahill was fired Sept. 14 as CO of Navy Operational Support Center Nashville, Tenn., due to a loss of confidence in her ability to command.
Captain Antonio Cardoso was fired Sept. 21 as CO of Training Support Center San Diego due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.
Captain James CoBell was fired Sept. 27 as CO of FRC Mid-Atlantic after an investigation found he was abusive to subordinates and used them to conduct personal favors.
Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette was fired Oct. 27 as head of the USS JOHN C. STENNIS Carrier Strike Group while the CSG was deployed to the Arabian Sea. The Navy cited “inappropriate leadership judgment” for his “temporary reassignment.”
Commander Joseph Darlak was fired Nov. 2 as CO of the frigate USS VANDEGRIFT, along with his XO, OPS and CHENG, after investigators found the ship's crew had behaved inappropriately during a September port visit to Russia.
Captain Michael Wiegand was fired Nov. 8 as head of the Southwest Regional Maintenance Center “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Know your Sailors

Learning Names is Important

Names of your Sailors are important. The sweetest sound to anyone is his or her own name. Learn it and use it!

After a formal and impressive change-of-command parade and ceremony at one of our larger NIOCs, the departing CO was honored at a reception at the officers club. As he greeted the line of Sailors, officers, Chiefs and their wives, he called each by name, asked something about their families or status and then greeted the next. 

Someone in attendance remarked,  “He is one of few COs in recent memory that I have served with who can do that. And I can guarantee you that not one member of his command will ever forget him, and many will seek to serve under him again.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chiefly Expectations: A JO’s Perspective

LT Ryan Haag is an Information Warfare Officer. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he served in USS HAMPTON (SSN-767) as the Electrical Officer and Assistant Weapons Officer, at U.S. Second Fleet as a TLAM Senior Mission Planner and Flag Aide.  After obtaining a lateral transfer, he is now serving at NIOC Georgia as the Air Operations Officer. 

Check out his guest post on CDR Sean Heritage's blog HERE.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review of General and Flag Officer Ethics

Statement by the Press Secretary on Review of General and Flag Officer Ethics

The Secretary believes that the vast majority of our senior military officers exemplify the strength of character and the highest ethical standards the American people expect of those whose job it is to provide for the security of our nation.  They represent not only the best of the American military but the American people.  The majority of these officers lead by example, which is one of the reasons the United States military stands without peer 

Over the past several months, the Secretary has spoken with the service secretaries, service chiefs, and combatant commanders about those instances when senior officers have not lived up to the standards expected of them. This has been an ongoing discussion reflecting shared concerns. 

This week, the Secretary directed General Dempsey to work with the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review how to better foster a culture of stewardship among our most senior military officers. Their initial findings are due to the Secretary within the next few weeks. This process is intended to reinforce and strengthen the standards that keep us a well led and disciplined military. 

Input to the Secretary will form the basis of a report to the President on the Department's progress in this area by December 1, 2012.

More on the importance of writing

How does one become a good writer?

a.  Anyone who has the brains to gain a commission has the brains to become a good writer. It requires work. It doesn’t come easily or quickly. It demands time and effort to master the language. It demands practice, practice and more practice. Lastly, the writer must have something to say. The task is to deliver the message of substance in the clearest possible way. Almost always this means the shortest way.
b.  A person who reads a lot soon finds that writing is almost as easy as reading. Most effective officers read a lot, and not just instruction manuals.
c.  The only way to become a writer is to write. There are reasons why the services are so free with dictionaries and run so many courses on fundamental writing skills. There are reasons why the services have either published or adopted a manual style and format. The services want to provide opportunities for mastery of the language. Just as a condition of the profession demands that an officer master a particular weapon, learning the language of the profession is similarly essential. Poor spelling, poor grammar and lack of specific vocabulary are excuses, not the result of effort. Even great athletes, whose stock in trade is essentially muscular coordination, understand the need for practice.
d.  In the same way, good writing comes from practice and practice and more practice. Only after the process of making words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into chapters becomes a natural rhythmic process does the stamp of individuality and personality shine through the writing to the reader.

From The Armed Forces Officer available HERE.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sailor misconduct characterized as a 'disease'

If it is in fact a disease, the Navy's cure all of punishing the whole for the acts of the few is not close to a remedy for curing misconduct. 

Recalling the restrictions on personal liberty imposed during my time on the staff of the Commander, U.S. SEVENTH Fleet aboard USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC-19) , the entire crew and staff  (E-1 to O6) were governed by the identical restrictions after a number of liberty incidents.  In foreign ports we were not allowed to leave the ship alone.  Everyone on board had to depart with a 'buddy' and had to return to the ship with the same 'buddy'.  If your 'buddy' didn't want to return to the ship, you were stuck in town overnight.  

None of this made sense to anyone and our favorite Marine on the staff confronted our well meaning Chief of Staff and said, "When you issued this directive, I was under the impression it applied to E-4 and below.  There is no way this could apply to an E5 or an O5, it just doesn't make sense."  The Chief of Staff assured the Colonel that the policy applied "across the board."  It was many months before the policy was eased.  I always left the ship with a buddy.  The Colonel always left the ship alone as a matter of principle.  I think the Chief of Staff was okay with that.

Don't punish the whole when you know who the 'at risk' individuals are.  Be sensible.  Imposing archaic and unreasonable rules on high performing Sailors just doesn't make sense.  Our leadership can do better than that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Obstacle Illusion

One of the young people I mentor opened my eyes to the fact that something which I was having a very difficult time overcoming was not nearly as challenging as I was making it out to be.  In the process of solving this complex (in my mind) problem, we came up with a new (in my mind) term for my inability to see past my own perceived limitations.  I was suffering from what we call an "OBSTACLE ILLUSION".  The obstacle was not real but I had created it in my mind and the illusion of a non-existent challenge prevented me from solving the problem.

My advice to you - don't let "OBSTACLE ILLUSIONS" prevent you from reaching your goals.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How much more focus can they have?

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens has a strong message to Chief Petty Officers:

You’ve got to focus harder on maintaining 
good order and discipline. 

By now, the CPO community has to be tired of this steady refrain.  2012 was supposed to the the YEAR OF THE CHIEF.  Honestly, they can't carry the whole Navy on their backs.  Eventually folks are going to get tired of every broken trail leading back to the Chiefs mess.  Time for Sailors to take individual responsibility.  It's also time for the Navy to stop punishing the entire crew for the criminal acts of a few bad actors. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

 “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Saturday, November 10, 2012

8 signs you have found your life's work in the Navy. 5 of 8 is not bad either.

1. It doesn't feel like work.
Your life's work is not a "job"-- it's a way of living.

2. You are aligned with your core values.
Your life's work is an extension of your beliefs and worldview.

3. You are willing to suffer.
Passion comes from the latin word 'pati,' which means 'to suffer.'

4. You experience frequent flow.
You naturally and often fall "in flow," deeply immersed by your work and the present moment.

5. You make room for living.
Your work provides you the ability to live fully and enjoy life.

6. Commitment is an honor.
When you discover your life's work, the question of commitment is easy.

7. The people who matter notice.
"You look vibrant!" and "I've never seen you so healthy and happy!" and "This is without question what you're meant to be doing!" are among the comments you may hear from the people closest to you when you're on the right path.

8. You fall asleep exhausted, fulfilled, and ready for tomorrow.
You go to sleep each night grateful for the day.

From  Amber Rae, Founder & CEO of The Bold Academy,  You can read the whole post HERE.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Number 22 in the books

Captain Michael Wiegand was fired by Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Centers.  The Navy announced on 8 November that the commanding officer of Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, was relieved of command due to "loss of confidence in his ability to command."

The Navy said that the the decision stems from an investigation into contracting improprieties at Southwest Regional Maintenance Center. Navy spokesman Christopher Johnson said the investigation “substantiated allegations of waste as a result of poor project management and lack of proper oversight.” He said that government funds were “misspent in a number of areas” but declined to offer any more details, saying that the investigation is ongoing.

Captain Wiegand, who took command in July 2010, will be reassigned to administrative duty.

Captain Wiegand is the 22nd naval officer in command to be fired in 2012.

Change of Command CIDU Monterey

In case you missed it, Commander Sean Cooney assumed command of the Center for Information Dominance Unit Monterey on 26 October.  Best of luck to you in command, Sean.  

If you make it to Vladivostok during this tour, be sure to read the USS VANDEGRIFT lessons learned. :-)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Missed the point

"One of the things the decider-in-chief has to do is decide whether he’s going to bring this country together across all its diversity or let it drift apart. Look at how much stronger the American military is because it is less racist, less sexist and less homophobic and we’re just looking for people who can do the job."

W.J. Clinton

I think the former President missed a huge point here.  I don't believe the American military was more racist, sexist or homophobic under previous presidents.  I think the military policy makers suffered from those afflictions.  The men and women who serve in our military are far superior in their sophistication and dedication than our policy makers have ever given them credit for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote Today

“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion 
without the discomfort of thought.” 

― John F. Kennedy

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ethics Training 2012 - Really?

We must do better than this!  I completed the 2012 Annual Ethics Training and purposely answered each of the questions incorrectly to see what might happen.  I completed the 55 part slide deck with zero correct answers and was greeted by this final slide of congratulations.  

By printing the certificate, I certified that I personally reviewed each of the 55 slides in the module.  I have to wonder how this constitutes compliance with U.S. Government Ethics requirements.

This probably explains why we continue to have problems.  Who could take this training seriously?  How could this possibly meet the training requirement?  How can this go on?  Who in a leadership position can be satisfied with a simple "check in the box"?

You can get your very own certificate (suitable for framing) HERE.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

More on the Navy's "Moral Compass"

The “standards of conduct” training for COs recently mandated by the CNO (in the wake of the firing of those involved in the “XO Movie Night” episode) is merely Scotch tape on the problem—a robust, durable, career-long emphasis is still not in place.   Once an officer has been selected for command, it is too late to try to develop integrity and character.  This absence of training for all officers to a set standard has led to a failure of leadership. Many commanding officers have shown misguided support to junior officers who display character flaws such as alcohol abuse or infidelity. “I did that when I was younger, so why should I punish them for doing the same thing?” seems to be the theme. 

Captain Mark Light
More HERE.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Another Navy CO fired

USS VANDEGRIFT change of command 7/27/2012
Commander, Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN fired the CO of USS VANDEGRIFT  (FFG48) on Friday, November 2nd.  The CO had been in command only since July 2012.

Captain John L. Schultz relieved Commander Joseph F. Darlak due to loss of confidence in his ability to command after demonstrating poor leadership and failure to ensure the proper conduct of his wardroom officers during a September port visit in Vladivostok, Russia.

The executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Ivan A. Jimenez, the chief engineer and the operations officer were also fired for poor judgment and personal conduct involving use of alcohol and not adhering to established liberty policies.

Captain H. Thomas Workman, Deputy Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWENTY THREEE has assumed command of VANDEGRIFT and will serve as the commanding officer until the ship completes its current seven-month deployment. Vandegrift is expected to return to San Diego later this month.

Purpose of USS VANDEGRIFT's visit to Russia:

While in port, Vandegrift Sailors will conduct professional exchanges with Russian Naval Officers and Sailors as well as participate in host city tours and community service events with Ostryakova Children’s Hospital and Pos’yetskaya Street de Motion Dance Center.

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to visit Vladivostok and experience all the city has to offer," said Commander Joseph R. Darlak, commanding officer of Vandegrift, “Our Sailors are especially looking forward to visiting a different land and making new friends.”

The Superstar Dilemma - Building a Winning Team

As a non-athlete myself, please excuse this sports analogy.

One of my Shipmates was lamenting about the lackluster performance of his wardroom team.  Seems he had a group of superstar players who couldn't win a ballgame.  These are all seemingly gifted Naval officers who have all enjoyed some measure of success in previous commands (on other teams).  Many have advanced degrees.  

As a player-coach, the CO has moved these officers around in his own command from department to department looking for the best fit and best results.  His best operator is too junior to put in operations and his best engineer is stuck in admin.  Finding the best position for an officer in the command can be a challenge given our Navy's rank structure and seniority.  

Having a bunch of officers senior to the XO milling around his various departments doesn't make for a happy ball club.  Trying to force your catcher to play center field and having your right fielder at shortstop is going to limit your success and their love of the game.  And, keeping in mind that the guy (detailer) sending you players is also populating all the other teams, this wreaks havoc on your ability to play winning ball.  As the coach, you're going to have to figure that all out and build your winning team anyway.  That, my friend, is what leadership is all about - so I'm told.

Friday, November 2, 2012

So, 3 years later, how are they doing?

Standup of OPNAV N2/N6 - Landmark












Thursday, November 1, 2012


  "I want to put a ding in the universe."

 Steve Jobs 

Do you think you could put a 'ding' in the Navy?  Are you trying to make your mark?  Can you make some small difference that will improve the way the Navy operates? Can you do something to improve the QOL for your Sailors? Implement some new IW tactic?

You don't have to change the world but you must make a difference in it !