Surface Warfare Community’s 18-3-18 Concept
Becomes Prospective Commanding Officer Pipeline

SAN DIEGO - Changing times often present new threats and in order for something to stay relevant and effective, it must evolve. The United States Navy lives by that statement constantly observing, updating and upgrading every spoke on its wheel. The new Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO) Pipeline program is an improvement to the executive officer (XO) to commanding officer (CO) “fleet-up” construct by allowing time for training.

The PCO pipeline, formerly known as the “18-3-18” concept, creates a three month period for training (the “3” between the two “18” month tours) between the XO and CO fleet-up assignments. This also allows the PCO to prepare for command, while at the same time giving a new XO time to get established under a seasoned commanding officer.

“We owe it to ourselves and more importantly to our Sailors, that our executive and commanding officers are provided with the time to concentrate on assuming command and final preparations to lead at sea,” said Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces.

The first PCO courses started in March 2016. By October, the full PCO pipeline will consist of 30 days of leave and/or a temporary assigned duty station, attending the PCO course at Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport, Rhode Island, advanced warfighting training, and type commander indoctrination.

“The time in between the two tours allows for reflection, introspection and ultimately enables an officer to create a strategic roadmap for their command tour,” Rowden said.

With initiatives like Distributed Lethality and advancements and investments in training resources, the program further develops expertise as leaders and warfighters. Additionally, the intent is to provide XOs and COs with the tools, resources, time needed to manage and lead with energy and confidence.

“This program is exceptional. Having been ashore for five to six years a lot of things have changed,” said Cmdr. Sean Lewis, who recently began the PCO pipeline process and will become XO of USS Sterett (DDG 104). “This has allowed me to get back to the basics of what the community is doing and I’ll be able to positively apply that once I get to the ship.”

Every step in the pipelines sequence is intended to invest in the future professional development, expertise, and readiness of our leaders at sea.

“These changes in the command tour pipeline are important,” said Rowden. “They are in place to grow effective leaders who can adapt as our force increases its sea power, its power projection and ultimately, how we operate as Surface Warfare Officers now and in the future.”


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