Vice Adm. Richard Brown, commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet presented the Battle Effectiveness (Battle “E”) award to the crew of the guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) as part of a visit to local Forward Deployed Naval Force- Japan (FDNF-J) ships and commands June 13.
The Battle "E" competition is conducted to strengthen individual command performance, improve overall force readiness, and to recognize outstanding performance. The award symbolizes the ship’s overall
readiness to carry out its assigned wartime tasks.
While aboard, Brown took the opportunity to congratulate and pin Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 3rd Class Brandon Wells of Oklahoma City, as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist. Brown also awarded Navy Achievement Medals to Lt. Azariah Lindsey of Houston, and Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Lianamarie Quevedo of San Francisco.
Following the presentations, Brown spoke to the crew about his priorities, explained his philosophy and vision for the Surface Fleet, and engaged in a question and answer session. He focused his discussion on the elevated naval capabilities within the region and the increased necessity for warfighting readiness as ships in their areas of operation confront great power competition in the region.
“It’s déjà vu all over again,” said Brown during his remarks. “I joined the Navy during the Cold War and until now, there have not been any other world powers who could combat the U.S. Navy. We still have an unmatched Surface Force, but we need to work harder than ever before to keep it that way.”
Brown stressed the importance of setting a baseline and encouraged the crew to continue to go above and beyond with training saying, “focus on excellence, not compliance.”
The crew asked several questions about new initiatives that are being put in place to ensure that ships and crews will be prepared for combat. On the subject of Ready Relevant Learning, Brown went into detail about the importance of preparing Sailors for the job that they are actually going to do.
Operations Specialist Seaman Loni Harrison of Jacksonville, North Carolina, who asked a question, was very excited about the initiative and the changes.
“It makes sense and saves time and money,” she noted. “The way the system is now, by the time Sailors actually start doing their jobs aboard the ship, most of the information you learned [in pipeline courses] isn’t being applied and is gone.”
While in Yokosuka, Brown also conducted a region all Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) call to discuss the current and future status of the Surface Force, in an effort to continue the shift from a culture of compliance to a culture of excellence and produce crews ready for the high-end fight.