ATG San Diego hosted the 2nd annual First Class Petty Officer Integrated Regional Symposium of Training (FIRST) on Thursday, June 30th at Admiral Baker Field. Speakers included CNSP FORCM Eric Page, Mr. Alexander Armenta from FFSC, NCCS German Trias from CNSP, MMC Michael Jackson from the EO Office, and CMDCM Charlene Terry, LCDR Mark Kaul and DCC Danielle Wiley from ATG San Diego. Participating First Class Messes included ATG San Diego, 13th Dental Co. Miramar, 1st Dental Battalion Naval Dental Center, ACU FIVE, COMNAVSURFPAC, EOD MOBILE UNIT ONE, FISC SAN DIEGO, Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center, LCSRON ONE, Naval Medical Center San Diego, NPASE WEST, USS CAPE ST GEORGE (CG 71), USS CURTS (FFG 38), and USS PEARL HARBOR (LSD 52).
CMDCM Terry opened the Symposium with the Sailor’s Creed and remarks on the expectations of a First Class Petty Officer (FCPO). As she related, the hallmarks of a successful leader are taking on leadership roles within commands and constantly looking for ways to improve.
FORCM Page was the keynote speaker for the event and elaborated extensively on the expectations of the FCPO. He stated that the First Class Petty Officers of today will “take the Navy into the future in the right way” and must keep up a steady strain on improving their various commands and processes. He related several sea stories from his thirty years in the Navy, and discussed the professionalism and pride that he sees as hallmarks of the Navy today. In particular, he recommended that sailors looking to advance in the Navy should single out the top personnel at their command and follow their lead – read the same leadership books, hold themselves to the same standard, and continuously be the problem solvers within their command. He talked about mapping out the future and taking the right steps to get there – for as he noted, “you only have as much power as you take.”
LCDR Kaul, Director of Combat Systems at ATG San Diego, discussed the LDO process and the various commissioning opportunities available. He related his own experiences as an LDO, ranging from the package submission and selection process to the training that he received prior to commissioning. While reminding sailors to retain their humility and sense of humor, he noted that commissioning represents a unique opportunity to excel and maximize expertise. He underscored that the LDO program takes the “best and brightest” and makes them a specialist, thus improving the Navy’s overall expertise and knowledge. He urged sailors to obtain their degrees and take advantage of the military’s education benefits as well.
DCC Wiley, ATG San Diego DAPA, reiterated the opportunity for the FCPO Messes to be positive influences throughout their commands. She re-emphasized the Navy’s “zero tolerance” policy and the ways in which the FCPOA can help educate their shipmates, as well as briefly discussing Navy policy on Spice and other illegal substances.
NCCS Trias spoke about ERB, PTS, and how sailors can help set themselves and their folks up for success. As he put it, the best way to make a mark on the Navy and protect yourself from ERB is to “leave your footprints all over the place.” He fielded numerous questions from the crowd concerning HYT, PTS, and ERB.
MMC Jackson spoke on Equal Opportunity and common misconceptions about the program. An EO inquiry can help clear the air at commands with issues, but Sailors must understand its intent, capabilities and limitations. The end of the day, the FCPO can be invaluable resources to Sailors by educating them on how EO can support the Navy’s mission throughout the fleet.
Mr. Armenta from Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) spoke about the variety of programs available to sailors and their families. He noted that leaders need to first educate themselves so that they can educate their Sailors. FFSC offers numerous resources – classes, counseling, home visits — free of cost to sailors and their families. Command leadership needs to be cognizant of these additional resources and let Sailors know what is available to them.
The afternoon continued with a catered lunch, volleyball and spades tournaments between the various First Class Messes. ACU FIVE won the volleyball tournament and ATG San Diego took home both spades trophies. The event was the second Symposium hosted by ATG San Diego, and received roundly positive reviews from attendees. FCPO mess presidents repeatedly mentioned that the networking and meet & greet opportunities at the Symposium were the most valuable takeaways. Special thanks go to the ATG San Diego FCPO mess, including SH1 Tracy Thresher and YN1 Ronnie Bledsoe, for their outstanding efforts.