WASHINGTON - The role of the chief petty officer (CPO) has long been an integral part of our Navy. When Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens took office last year, he recognized that training chiefs for their new leadership role in six weeks, as the original CPO induction dictated, was hindering them in becoming as successful as possible.
"We recognized that we wouldn't always have the time that we would like to provide the training for our first class petty officers (FCPO) to become chiefs. So two years ago we implemented the CPO 365 training process that would afford them a longer period of time to train," said Stevens.
"What we've done now is said, 'Why should we have a break six weeks prior to pinning and change the way we've been training?' What we've decided to do is continue to train throughout the year, all the way up to the final night, and progressively make the training more intense and more relevant as they get ready to become chief petty officers."
CPO 365, a year-long development and training for FCPOs, was first introduced in 2010 under former MCPON Rick West. It includes two phases, the first of which begins in September each year. Under MCPON Steven's revised program, detailed in his 2012-2013 CPO 365 Guidance, all FCPOs will participate through the duration of Phase One, whether they are board-eligible or not.
"CPO 365 depends a lot on momentum," said Stevens. "It's a continuous process of learning and development. What we don't want to do is have a clean break from CPO 365 where the FCPOs who were not selected to chief, are no longer involved in the training. We want to maintain that momentum, and continue to train. We recognize that there will be some events where all FCPOs won't be able to participate in, but by and large, we'll keep them together and continue to do the training they've been doing, because it's vitally important that all of our petty officers continue to learn and develop."
Phase Two of training begins when CPO selectees are announced and concludes with the pinning ceremony. Upon announcement, each command will hold a congratulatory meet-and-greet for the selectees and their families, after which they will continue with training while maintaining good order and discipline.
Phase Two will continue to contain many time-honored traditions, such as CPO Charge Books and a capstone event focused on teamwork and resilience.
"We wanted to continue a program that set the conditions for every FCPO to be a successful and effective chief, and remove any road blocks that would interfere with that opportunity for success. We'll add in various things that would afford them a greater opportunity to be successful chief petty officers."
One process that will no longer be a part of CPO 365 is the word "induction".
"Effective immediately, we're respectfully sun-downing the word 'induction', and in its place we'll use CPO 365 as the primary term," said Stevens. "I believe that induction is more about a moment in time, and CPO 365 and the development of our FCPOs to become CPOs is not about a moment in time. It's about a continuous time. This is something we're going to do every day, 365 days a year, and so we want to make sure the term we are using is matching what we are doing."
MCPON added that the term CPO 365 was coined by CPOs in the fleet, due to their belief that developing leaders is a year-round process.
"This training is far more by the fleet, for the fleet than it is from folks in Washington," said Stevens. "A couple of years ago, when I was working with then-MCPON Rick West to help develop the CPO 365 guidance, I was overseas talking to a CPO Mess about the program. While I was addressing them, I looked in the corner and I saw their CPO guidon, and on it was written '365'. I asked them what they meant by that and what they shared with me was "we believe that developing FCPOs to become chiefs is a year-round process, so we use the term CPO 365. So, this is a title that was developed by the fleet and we just adopted it."
Additionally, Stevens said that although the CPO 365 is primarily geared towards FCPO and CPOs, all Sailors will benefit from the training.
"To develop great leaders we must have a training process that is ongoing in a Sailor's career," he said. "If everything we do starts and stops with leadership, then every Sailor will benefit from a more effective leader."