Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
 
Deputy Dispatches

Greetings from our Surface Forces’ headquarters in San Diego, our community’s center of gravity for innovation, revolutionary warfighting thinking, talent, and our Surface “man, train and equip” efforts.

My hope is that you’re steaming rapidly and safely towards end of year holiday celebrations. And -- by the time you read this – I hope you’ve enjoyed quality time with family, and ushered in the new year with optimism and reflection. For those of you reading this while in harm’s way, or far from home, please know we value your contribution to our Navy and our country, and look forward to your safe return to us soon. I remain steadfastly appreciative for everything you’re doing to keep our Navy the strongest, most capable and effective force the world has ever known.

As I’ve said in these columns since assuming my role as your Deputy Commander, it’s a great time to be a Surface Warrior. We’re the best in the world today, and we’re taking action to ensure we remain the world’s finest Navy well into the future. We are the proud owners of the legacy of the world’s greatest Navy; a Navy the nation needs and deserves to preserve our way of life. As a learning organization, we’re examining how we operate, the missions we fulfill, how we assess our effectiveness and how we train and select our teams. “Forged by the Sea” is our new Navy brand line, reflecting our surface Sailors’ proud ownership of over 242 years of exceptional maritime service and strength.

Some of you will be reading this during our annual community gathering, the National Surface Navy Association Symposium, in Arlington, Virginia. The annual event not only offers a chance to catch up with old shipmates, and to make and rekindle professional relationships, it also offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the current state and future direction of the community from Navy and Marine Corps leaders. I always walk away feeling better informed, better equipped and inspired after attending.

At this point you’ve likely heard of the November release, by Adm. Phil Davidson, Commander U.S. Fleet Forces Command, of the Comprehensive Review of Recent Surface Force Incidents (referred to as “the CR”). I encourage you to read and reflect upon the report in its entirety, particularly given the impact our actions today will have on our community far into the future. Among other things, the CR identified 58 specific recommendations to make our Navy a stronger, more resilient and better prepared force, and we’re moving out to make those changes a reality. The implementation is truly an all-hands effort, with representation spanning not only the Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific and Atlantic fleets, but also Navy Sea Systems, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Naval Personnel Command, Naval Education and Training Command, and many other commands that play a part in making relevant changes for our current Sailors, but also systemically develop future commanding officers and Sailors who drive their ships with proficiency, and are prepared to fight and win at sea.

 

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In many cases, the activities that we will implement are neither quick nor easy – but our leaders, from the most senior flag officer to the most junior Sailor, recognize their importance to the health, future potential and confidence of our Navy. To that end, we’ll continue to take decisive action to make the Surface Force safer, more proficient and more effective. We’re all in.

The over-arching focus and filter to our efforts remains support to you, our warfighters. We recognize that what makes us the best Navy in the world is not our ship, missiles, jets or latest technology, though all of those things are important and indeed impressive. We know that what makes us so great is our people --- our Total Force team of reserve and active duty Sailors, and our civilians. Each of these groups will contribute to our efforts to improve our future Navy.

We recognize our Navy is at an inflection point in the global strategic landscape, particularly in the manner in which we support our nation’s maritime interests. The operational environment is highly dynamic, requiring maximum levels of redundancy to support mission demands around the world. Navy-wide OPTEMPO has been difficult for many years as the basic supply-demand curve relative to combatant commander desires and asset inventory conspires against us. We also live in an era of funding uncertainty, which requires us to think through current and future demands and often make unpleasant tradeoffs. There’s no question that the maritime security environment of the next 25 years will be far different than the last 25 years. For these reasons, our work is both challenging and inspiring, because our business never closes and we don’t have the luxury of putting pencils down.

So to address these challenges, we’re looking at the things we can control, and the things that we can do better. We’re seeking a cultural change. A focus on the basics. Reinvigorating systemic efforts to build capable mariners and enhance our ability to safely operate at sea. Both of these will ultimately strengthen our warfighting capability. And you bear a contributing role – not as consumers of our culture, but as those who will shape and forge that culture on the waterfront every day. We’re counting on you.

We as Surface Warriors are more than a community. We’re a team. To that end, please continue taking care of yourselves and those you mentor. Lean forward by participating in professional development/mentoring sessions, and review and manage your record well in advance of upcoming selection and promotion boards. If you don’t have a mentor, get one. If you’re not a mentor, be one. Those two very simple actions will guarantee our community thrives in the future. Keep up the great work leading the world’s finest Navy. I look forward to seeing you on the waterfront. Surface Warfare Magazine

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