NAVAL AMPHIBIOUS BASE CORONADO, Calif. – Commander, Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet hosted the 2018 Command Senior Enlisted Leadership Symposium at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado Nov. 5-8.
The symposium afforded Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith and more than 120 command senior enlisted leaders the opportunity to collaborate and share their experiences and concerns with regard to better meeting the needs of the fleet. As well, the event allowed MCPON to hear feedback directly from the senior enlisted leaders serving on the deckplates; each used their invaluable experiences to raise the collective operational knowledge for the group.
A primary focus for the group was force generation and how to better provide fleet commanders with lethal and capable surface forces.
“Readiness for readiness sake is not what we are striving for, we need to focus on building readiness so it can be turned into lethality when and where our nation requires.” said Force Master Chief James Osborne, the senior enlisted Sailor for the Navy’s Surface Forces.
This year’s symposium theme was “Alignment to the Fleet,” which drove the numerous leadership-centric briefs and discussions.
“Our Sailors are committed to warfighting excellence and there simply can be no other distraction from that effort,” said Osborne. “We have to ensure our warfighting Sailors are ready to perform at the highest levels under the most challenging conditions. That means we have to dedicate each and every day to getting better.”
During the symposium, the enlisted leaders were briefed on a range of topics including the readiness status across each numbered fleet, regional installation commands and manning providers.
“There are a number of challenges facing the Navy,” said Osborne. “Our senior enlisted leaders need to understand their roles in the organization as well as the roles, responsibilities and expectations at flag commands and the strategic thinking required at higher levels of leadership to ensure we are achieving the highest levels of readiness and lethality.”
This mandate follows the spirit laid out by Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer in a memo released in August 2017 which defined the Navy’s mission, vision and priorities, all of which were incorporated into the discussions of the forum. Spencer’s prioritization of “People, Capabilities and Processes” are inherently part of the mission, functions and tasks carried out by the senior enlisted deckplate leaders on the aboard surface ships.
"For the Navy we need today and tomorrow, our leaders have to be aligned and ready to lead war fighters," said U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief James Honea. "This large group of Command Senior Enlisted Leaders have spent this week actively engaged on topics towards increasing fleet readiness and in collaborative discussions on how to be a stronger, more ready and when required more lethal fleet. The product of this week is just how critical the war fighting effort is and how this must be brought back to their commands to be translated into action and results for this symposium to truly be of value."
The 120 senior enlisted Sailors from ships, numbered fleets, squadrons, expeditionary forces, and regional commands also brought their combined experience together to address training shortfalls, surface ship maintenance, and surface warfare readiness gaps.
“The working groups made great progress in addressing where we are across a range of issues, where we need to be and how to get there,” said Osborne. “Having this many Sailors together allowed everyone to learn and grow and, ultimately, take valuable lessons learned back to their commands to strengthen their chiefs mess and their organization.”
The symposium also featured a panel discussion with MCPON Smith and the four fleet master chiefs.
Smith discussed with the group how current U.S. Navy policies and initiatives are helping chief petty officers better focus on tactical skills and warfighting readiness to effectively build teams capable of competing and winning in high-end warfare at sea.
“Everything we do, even in the personnel and HR [human resource] world and in [manpower, personnel, training, and education], is designed to take as much slack out of all of the unnecessary things and give you that time back, so you can invest it in your command and your readiness to fight at sea,” Smith said.
Osborne said he appreciated the discussion and the level of questions posed to the panel.
“We are facing new leadership challenges every day. Being able to discuss best practices with the MCPON and fleet master chiefs was eye opening for many attendees and vital for improving the warfighting abilities of their sailors.”
The symposium made an impact on the command leaders in attendance, and it will be felt in commands throughout the fleet.
“It was an honor and a humbling experience to be among such great senior leadership and to get their perspective on the direction our Navy is heading,” said USS San Diego (LPD 22) Command Master Chief Josh Jackson. “We got specific rudder order to build upon our readiness into warfighting! I’m excited to back-brief my commanding officer and our chiefs mess to continue to prepare them and our crew to take the fight to the enemy.”
Osborne summed up the end of the symposium with a message to the senior enlisted leaders.
“The success of this symposium was not merely having it, but implementing what you have learned when you return to your commands,” he said.