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CNP Visits Forward Deployed Naval Forces in Sasebo

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Hinton, Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo Public Affairs

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- The chief of naval personnel said he plans to continue to take care of its most valuable resource, Sailors and their families, during an all hands call Dec. 8 aboard USS Essex (LHD 2) at Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS), Japan.

"Today we truly have the finest fighting force we have ever had in our history," said Vice Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III. "We are also the finest paid and compensated force we have had in our history."

Ferguson visited CFAS and ships of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7 in Sasebo as part of a visit to the region. ESG 7 is responsible for conducting expeditionary warfare operations and support contingencies, ranging from humanitarian and disaster relief operations, to full combat operations. They are the only permanently forward-deployed amphibious strike group in the Navy.

Located on the southern island of Kyushu, CFAS is focused on readiness to enable that mission with fleet support and services and providing for family members of more than 3,000 Sailors and nearly 300 civilians.

Sasebo is home to thousands of Sailors and their families, which all fall under Ferguson's influence.

The admiral arrived in Sasebo from a stop at Naval Air Facility, Atsugi. His busy schedule began prior to the all hands call with a lunch with area command master chiefs and senior enlisted advisors.

"What you are doing today is nothing short of amazing," Ferguson said. "We are the world's finest Navy and you being on the deckplates leading will ensure we stay that way."

CFAS Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Richard T. Hatton said the luncheon was eye-opening and senior enlisted leaders were fortunate for the opportunity to be able to ask questions directly to the person who controls manpower Navywide.

"We really got some insight on some of the challenges that he faces and how he plans to overcome them," Hatton said.

He said two key issues Ferguson discussed were balancing great recent retention in the junior ranks with advancement opportunities and how budget constraints may impact some programs. Ferguson told the group he would continue to rely on the experience and advice of senior enlisted leadership in moving forward in these areas.

Ferguson also visited Fleet and Family Support Center where 15 ship and shore command ombudsmen discussed issues of concern like last year's orders freeze.

Ferguson, the Navy's 55th chief of naval personnel, outlined his goal to give orders six months in advance but at a minimum of 60 days before the member's projected rotation date.

His next stop was the all hands call aboard Essex. The admiral met with more than 1,000 Sailors from various commands in Sasebo and discussed issues such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, adjustments in the cost of living allowance, future individual augmentee assignments and selective re-enlistment bonuses.

At the day's final stop, Ferguson visited Sailors on board USS Harper Ferry (LSD-49). The ship recently returned from an annual fall patrol where the crew participated in the Korean Interoperability Training Program with the Republic of Korea Navy.

Ferguson began his current assignment on April 16, 2008. He is responsible for the planning and programming of all manpower, personnel, training and education resources, budgeting for Navy personnel, developing systems to manage total force manpower, personnel training and education resources, and the assignment of all Navy personnel.

Story Number: NNS091215-15 Release Date: 12/15/2009 4:28:00 PM

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