Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Executive Officer's role in Command Excellence

Commander Andy Reeves, XO NIOC Yokosuka Japan
As the next ranking line officer ashore, the Executive Officer (XO) serves as the aide or “executive” to the Commanding Officer (CO). As such, the XO is the direct representative of the CO in maintaining the general efficiency of the command. With the assistance of the heads of departments, the XO arranges and coordinates all command’s work, drills, exercises, personnel organization, and the policing and inspection of the command.

The XO investigates matters affecting the discipline and conduct of the crew and makes recommendations concerning these matters to the CO. The XO usually approves or disapproves liberty lists and leave requests. If the XO is unable to carry out the duties of the office, the next senior line officer assigned to the normally assumes the duties.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Commanding Officer's role in Command Excellence

Commander Mike Elliot, CO NIOC Yokosuka Japan
The CO in a superior command:

Targets Key Issues 
Gets Crew to Support Command Philosophy 
Develops XO 
Staffs to Optimize Performance 
Gets Out and About 
Builds Esprit de Corps 
Keeps His Cool 
Develops Strong Wardroom 
Values Chiefs Quarters 
Ensures Training Is Effective 
Builds Positive External Relationships 
Influences Successfully

Superior commanding officers focus on the big picture. They set priorities, establish policy, and develop long-range plans. They target only a few key issues at a time. In explaining his priorities, one CO says: "I regularly have captain's call with all paygrades so I can reinforce any points that I want to emphasize. I always talk about combat readiness, safety, and cleanliness. And whenever I ask them what my priorities are, they always tell me, "Combat readiness, safety, and cleanliness." Once they identify the critical needs of the command and chart a direction, these COs accomplish the command's mission by inspiring others and working through them.

This means that superior COs recognize the importance of their relationships with other people, and they concentrate on developing those relationships within and outside the command.

In dealing with the executive officer, superior COs are concerned not only with immediate issues but with overall progress: they look upon the XO as an assistant, but they know that this assistant is a future CO. Together, they discuss plans and review courses of action, and the CO is especially careful to keep the XO informed of command decisions. Whenever possible, the CO delegates, leaving room for the XO to function independently.

In the same way, the best COs develop their department heads and division officers, delegating work and meeting frequently for planning and review. They monitor morale and try to create a climate of mutual support. They take an interest in the well-being of their officers and express a willingness to talk about significant personal problems. They pay special attention to first-year officers, making sure they start out on a strong career footing. With more experienced officers, they provide opportunities for professional development and encouragement to move up through the chain of command.

Superior commanding officers are also sensitive to the role of chiefs and the chiefs quarters: It is the chiefs, they say, who "run the ship," who have that combination of management know-how and hands-on experience needed to keep the command's systems running smoothly and crew members working efficiently. As one CO put it, "The chiefs are the eyes and ears of the squadron. They're here all the time and know what's going on. I'd be a fool not to listen to them." These COs expect their chiefs to be involved in all phases of running the command, and they make sure the chief's role is respected.

Top COs know how to balance overlapping demands. They show great interest in and concern for their subordinates, yet they refuse to micromanage, to be constantly looking over people's shoulders to see what they're up to. By frequently getting out and about, these COs can express their interest in their personnel and get a feel for how things are going in their command. One CO states: "I've got a personal goal of seeing three people a day and just walking around and asking people, 'How's it going?' "

Much of leadership and management is influence, and superior COs are masters of influence. They know how to get people to do what they want them to do and to like it. A common trait of these COs is that they keep their cool; they are not screamers. But they do have a repertoire of influence strategies that they choose according to the situation and personalities involved. At one time, they may use reason and facts; at another, a judicious display of emotion and a loud voice. These COs know how to push the right buttons to get their people to make sacrifices and work exceptionally hard.

These COs have high standards, too. They want to be the best and they want their personnel to take pride in themselves, in the command, and in the U.S. Navy. They realize that without high morale, teamwork, and pride,  they cannot achieve and maintain top-flight performance. They also know that achieving their high standards requires high quality training, so they insist on training that is both realistic and practical.

Top COs know how to develop a superior command and how to convey the image of that success to important outsiders. They develop networks that provide essential data and support; they get help from their squadron or wing staff when preparing for inspections; and they aggressively seek out the most qualified personnel, necessary resources, and good schedules. As a result, they are often more successful than average commands in getting these things.

Not all the COs in outstanding units write out their command philosophy, but it is clear that they all have such a philosophy, that they are successful at communicating it, and that they persuade the crew to buy into it. They tell people how they want the command to operate and they set an example themselves. This results in high morale, commitment, and trust.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

One thing and another

Knowing is one thing; understanding is another.  We live in a world where we have so much disinformation at our fingertips that it's just too easy to get it wrong. You know?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Corrupt a young officer

The surest way to corrupt a young officer is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike - than those who think differently.

Lieutenant Commander Fred Nietzsche

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wonder why people in the Navy may be afraid to write

The reason Navy writing is horrible is because many naval officers are afraid.  Afraid to say what they mean and share what they think, because they might be criticized for it. Afraid to be misunderstood, to be accused of saying what they didn't mean, because they might be criticized for it.  Or simply afraid to share.  And because of that fear, there is no writing to be criticized, commented upon and improved.  The common thought is that knowledge is power, after all. And shared knowledge = reduced power. So, keep it to yourself.  Quite the opposite is true.  Share your knowledge = increased power for all.

Seth Godin's advice:  Just say it. SHARE IT.  Say it clearly. Say it now. Say it without fear of being criticized and say it without being boring. If the goal is no feedback, then say nothing. Don't write the memo/e-mail/letter/article/note. If the goal is to communicate and share your knowledge/thinking, then say what you mean.  AND PUT IT IN WRITING !!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Strategic Plan

Part of our series of live engagements on YouTube, IDC Self Synchronization Live features the US Fleet Cyber Command/US TENTH Fleet Strategic Plan.

Our guest is CAPT Roy Petty, USN, Assistant Chief of Staff, Plans & Policy (N5), US Fleet Cyber Command/US TENTH Fleet. Ask your questions live on YouTube during the event!
Monday, June 22, 2015, 2100 EST.
Access the show at the following link:
US Fleet Cyber Command/US TENTH Fleet Strategic Plan

US Fleet Cyber Command/US TENTH Fleet Strategic Plan 2015-2020


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In case you missed it

Vice Admiral Jan E. Tighe presided over the Change of Command for Navy Information Operations Command Colorado on 11 June 2015.  Commander Marc Ratkus was relived by Commander Mark R. Alexander.

Commander Ratkus is headed to COMUSNAVCENT in Bahrain.

Admiral Tighe commended Commander Ratkus and his command for work with resolving a Maritime Threat Advisory Board Maritime Hard Problem with a robust solution.  The command also earned the EIDWS Pennant for 100% qualification of their personnel.  Over 169 Sailors and officers qualified under Commander Ratkus' command.  Commander Ratkus was commended for establishing a Deployer of the Year Award.  He also established the SPACE CADRE Model for the community.  The command also established the Master Training Specialist qualification for the NSA Schoolhouse in Colorado.  The command had 1 Copernicus Award winner, 1 On The Roof Gang Award Winner and 2 Association of Old Crows EW Award winners.  BZ!


Commander Ratkus enlisted in the Navy July 1983 and served 14 years in the Cryptologic Technician Maintenance rating attaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer. While enlisted, he served at sea in USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70), USS VIRGINIA (CGN 38), and USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) and ashore at Naval Technical Training Center, Corry Station, Pensacola, Florida and Naval Security Group Detachment, Crane, Indiana. 

In June 1997 he commissioned as a Cryptologic Chief Warrant Officer and in June 2000 was selected for promotion under the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program, serving simultaneously as a Permanent Warrant and temporary LDO. While a "Mustang" he served at sea in USS GETTYSBURG (CG 64) and ashore at Naval Security Group Activity, Kunia, Hawaii. 

In October 2002 he laterally transferred to the Restricted Line (Special Duty Officer - Cryptology) and attained the rank of Commander in 2012. Prior to assuming command of Navy Information Operations Command Colorado, he served ashore at Naval Security Group Activity, Sugar Grove, West Virginia, at sea on the staff of Commander Carrier Strike Group EIGHT, and ashore on the staffs of Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Commander SIXTH Fleet, Commander Navy Personnel Command, and Center for Information Dominance, Pensacola, Florida.

Commander Ratkus holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Hawaii Pacific University, a Master of Arts degree in Management from Webster University, and Masters-level Military Sciences and Technical certificates from the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College and Naval Post-Graduate School. 

His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (6), Joint Service Achievement Medal, and Navy Achievement Medal (4).

Commander Ratkus is married to the former Brenda McVicker of Pensacola, Florida. They have four children and six grandchildren.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

A wild beast

"A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world." 

Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)
French Author, Philosopher, and Journalist

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A leader lifts first and sets down last

A leader does not abide within his tent while his men bleed and die upon the fields.  A leader does not dine while his men go hungry, nor sleep while they stand watch upon the wall.  A leader does not command his men's loyalty through fear or purchase it with gold. A leader lifts first and sets down last. A leader does not require service of those he leads but provides it to them.  He serves  them, not them he.

Stephen Pressfield paraphrased from
Gates of Fire

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Leadership is an opportunity to serve.  
It is NOT a trumpet call to self-importance.

J. Donald Walters

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Are you delivering excellence to your Sailors? Are you expecting it from them? Why not??

Are you delivering leadership excellence to your Sailors?  If not, you can learn how.  Ask for a free digital copy of Navigating a New Course to Command Excellence.

Other commands' Sailors are getting excellent leadership.  Shouldn't yours?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

From the archives - 5 years ago. Still valid today?

I believe there is a set of fundamental attributes that members of the Information Dominance Corps should possess, they include:

  • Professional Competence
  • Dedication
  • Sense of Urgency
  • Leadership
  • Vision
  • The Highest Ethical Standards
  • Attention to Detail
  • Humility

If you possess all, or even most, of these attributes, you will be successful in the Information Dominance Corps.

VADM Jack Dorsett

Monday, June 1, 2015

3000th post on this blog

Thank you all for making the time to stop by and share your comments and read a little bit about leadership and the cryptologic community.  I appreciate it very much.

Thanks also to the 1000 people who have read the open letter to the IW community in the past 3 days.  It's one of the most read posts in the last 6 months.

Cryptologic Community Foundational Principles - A refresher

One of the many things that drew us to the Cryptologic Community is the sense of belonging to a group that had unique and highly sought after skills.  Today, we continue to honor Captain Joseph Rochefort and his celebration of the fact that “we can accomplish anything provided no one cares who gets the credit.”  

In an effort to share expectations across the community, the following general responsibilities are recognized:

The Community Leader is committed to the following...

• Pushing regular updates directly to all interested community members  (i.e. record message, blog, RSS subscriptions, social networking, etc.)

• Biannual updates to Community Vision and Strategic Plan

• Creating opportunities to engage and celebrate traditions as a community

• Championing cryptologic contributions and capabilities to other warfighters

• Delegating and empowering as much as possible

The full package is HERE

plural noun: principles
a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

synonyms:truthpropositionconceptideatheoryassumptionfundamentalessentialground rule More
"elementary principles"
  • a rule or belief governing one's personal behavior.
    "struggling to be true to their own principles"
    synonyms:morals, morality, (code of) ethics, beliefs, ideals, standards; More
    integrityuprightnessrighteousnessvirtueprobity, (sense of) honor, decencyconscience, scruples 
  • morally correct behavior and attitudes.
    "a man of principle"
    synonyms:morals, morality, (code of) ethics, beliefs, ideals, standards; More
    integrityuprightnessrighteousnessvirtueprobity, (sense of) honor, decencyconscience, scruple 
  • a general scientific theorem or law that has numerous special applications across a wide field.
  • a natural law forming the basis for the construction or working of a machine.
    "these machines all operate on the same general principle"
a fundamental source or basis of something.