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Developing Leaders in the Surface Force Enlisted Ranks

SAN DIEGO – Commander of Naval Surface Forces, Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, kicked off the pilot for a new Petty Officer Leadership Course (POLC) October 2 at Naval Base San Diego.

POLC is a series of new leadership training courses currently being tested by junior Surface Force Sailors and is being considered for possible fleet wide implementation after evaluation of the pilot course’s effectiveness.

The concept originated at Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet where leadership identified a training gap in enlisted leadership training following the discontinuation of the Navy’s leader development program (NAVLEAD) in 2009.

“In this course, you’re going to gain a lot of insight into leadership fundamentals,” Rowden said to the first group of students selected to attend the pilot program.

Prior to POLC, enlisted Sailors were only required to attend a Petty Officer Selectee Leadership Course upon being selected for advancement to E4, E5 and E6, and a Chief Petty Officer Selectee leadership Course at E7. Unlike the selectee course, POLC begins at the E1 paygrade and Sailors will attend the courses prior to being selected for advancement in order to maintain their leadership development throughout their career progression.

During his visit, Rowden emphasized the need for proactive leadership at all levels of the chain of command.

“Make no mistake; every sailor has the opportunity to be a leader,” said Rowden. “Don’t wait for a certain position, rank, title, or billet to put your leadership in motion.”

The three levels of POLC include a Foundational Course for seamen and third class petty officers (E1-E4), and Intermediate Course for second class petty officers (E5) and an Advanced Course for first class petty officers (E6).

The curriculum for POLC was developed by the Naval Leadership and Ethics Center (NLEC) in Newport, R.I. It is much more in depth than the current POSLC courses and provides more facilitated discussions and interactive training. Each pilot course will last three days and unlike the POSLC, Sailors are removed from their commands and placed in a dedicated training environment, giving them the benefit of training alongside other Sailors in their paygrade.

Four iterations of the Foundational Course will be taught in 2017 and the Intermediate and \Advanced courses, still being developed by NLEC, will be launched in 2018.

The POLC pilot in San Diego is being taught by senior enlisted leaders from Afloat Training Group San Diego. Sailors may attend the course with nominations from their respective command master chief; final approval is determined by Surface Force Master Chief Jason Wallis.

The administration and data collection for the initial pilot courses will take roughly one year to complete, and aims to provide the foundation toward a permanent program for the Surface Force and potentially the entire Navy in the future.

For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Forces Pacific, visit

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