Monday, December 11, 2017

Smartest person in the room? Not by a long shot.



I met with a small group of IDC officers some years back and one of my fellow Captains wanted to make sure all of us understood he was the smartest guy in the room.  It wasn't a declarative verbal statement. But, you readily understood his intent. He professed his sincere apologies for arriving late to our meeting.  It wasn't long before he made it known that his schedule was way overbooked and he really didn't even have time for the meeting we were currently involved in and he would have to depart early.  Thank goodness one of his Sailors brought him his coffee and he had time to take a few sips before he jaunted off for his next meeting for which he was already late.  Good thing he was a Captain and those 40 Sailors didn't mind waiting.  Quite the busy man.

He wasn't the smartest person in the room, nor was he even the smartest man in the room.  Self importance is not a virtue in most environments requiring servant leadership.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Crosspost from Proceedings Magazine

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From the Deckplates - A Mistake Should Not Kill a Sailor's Career
  

Mistakes Happen 

Before enlisting in the Navy, I was in college working toward a bachelor’s degree in business. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but what I didn’t want to do was graduate college with no career goals and a load of debt. So I joined the Navy. 
I was the first in my family to join the military, and I taught my family the importance of military service. I scored high on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and signed a contract to be a linguist specializing in modern standard Arabic. I breezed through boot camp and found myself at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Life was easy, and I was doing well in school. I had friends, and we spent all week studying our languages and most weekends together drinking and blowing off steam. I was getting good grades, volunteering, and had all my required duty qualifications. What could go wrong? 
Life went on like this for about six months. The night that forever altered my career started when a couple of my shipmates came back late for curfew. They were returning from a party I had attended, and it was discovered there had been drinking. The command led a monthlong investigation until every person who had attended the party was identified. Every one of us was sent to a disciplinary review board. 
Suddenly, I went from being an asset to the Navy to being expendable. I was told the Navy didn’t need me, the Navy couldn’t trust me, and that I would be lucky if I were allowed to stay in the Navy. I went to captain’s mast. My departmental leaders assured me they would vouch for me. Unfortunately, my captain let no one speak on my behalf. This led to me being awarded every nonjudicial punishment (NJP) except administrative separation. I lost half a month’s pay for two months and was demoted, put on restriction, given extra military instruction, and kicked out of school. In addition, the entire command was required to witness the captain’s mast at 0400. 

Life after NJP 

Life after NJP was terrible. No one would look at me or speak to me, and everything I had worked for was taken. I served 30 of my 45 days of restriction before receiving new orders and leaving the command. I was sent to the USS  America (LHA-6) as an undesignated Sailor. 
Being an undesignated Sailor was demoralizing. I hadn’t been in the Navy long enough to use tuition assistance to go to school; I had no advancement to study for; and I was surrounded by negativity. I worked with Sailors who had been undesignated for years, trying and failing to get picked up for a rating. I spent weeks on end working from sun up to sun down, and for what? I was told I wasn’t going to get a real job because of my record and that I should take whatever the Navy gave me. Day after day, the reasons to give up expanded. 

Overcoming Adversity 

I finally realized that if I wanted my life to change, I would have to change. From then on, I picked up collateral duties, started pushing to acquire more qualifications, and went after my enlisted surface warfare pin. 
Although these new goals changed my attitude, I still had to learn how to ignore the negative words from those around me. When I had been on my ship for a year, it was time to apply for a job. I decided to try for information systems technician, understanding that I was unlikely to get the job because of my record. As I waited for the results, I continued working toward my goals, and a month later I earned my surface warfare qualification. I was the first sailor in my department to get pinned. The day I got pinned also was the day I found out I had been picked for the information systems technician job. I cried tears of joy when I learned I would be getting new orders and leaving behind my past. 
Over the next three months, I earned my enlisted air warfare pin as well as my enlisted information dominance pin. Yet, again I was told it would be impossible to get what I wanted. I was even told that leaving with three pins would “hurt the integrity of the program” because I was only a seaman. I was determined, however. I earned my third pin the same day I departed the ship. I was the first seaman on the ship to earn the enlisted information warfare pin, and the first sailor on the ship to complete all three warfare programs. 

Invest in Sailors 

Over the past three years I have seen an incredible gap in leadership. Sailors of all ranks and rates have made mistakes and been knocked down, yet more senior Sailors show no compassion for junior Sailors in these situations. Putting down our Sailors after they get into trouble, questioning their character, and stripping them of opportunities sets them up for further failures and tells them that the Navy will not take care of them. How can we trust these Sailors to fight for the Navy and defend their ship if they don’t believe the Navy will fight for them? If we want our Sailors to look out for each other and us in both good times and bad, then we, as leaders, must do the same and fight for them. 
The Navy should offer training to Sailors who are awarded NJP and counseling on how they can turn their careers around. These Sailors need to hear from other Sailors who have been in trouble that it is possible to overcome those obstacles. They need support, leadership, and guidance. NJP is the punishment; there is no reason the rest of their careers also should feel like a punishment. Right after NJP is our greatest opportunity to provide guidance and care to our Sailors. We need to look out for all Sailors, but especially those who are having difficulties. Building strong and resilient Sailors creates Sailors we can trust to stand by our side and carry out the mission. Overcoming adversity is one of the most important traits we can instill in our shipmates, and life after NJP is our best opportunity to do so. 

Petty Officer Heck enlisted in the Navy when she was 20. She currently is a member of the precommissioning unit of the  Portland (LPD-27) in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Monday, November 27, 2017

NSGA Yokosuka alumnus does well

From Station Hypo

NR NIOC GA Logo
26773875599_87fdea84c4_k
On November 18th, 2017, and after an extremely successful tour, Captain Greg Emery was relived by Captain Mark Meade as Commanding Officer of Navy Reserve Navy Information Operations Command Georgia (NR NIOC GA). The ceremony was held aboard Fort Gordon, GA and was presided over by Rear Admiral James Butler, Deputy Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet.

26773872899_fe2f294b5f_kCAPT Meade is also the regional commander for seven aligned NIOC GA units: NR NIOC GA – Pensacola, NR NIOC GA – Orlando, NR NIOC GA – Greensboro, NR NIOC GA – Great Lakes, NR NIOC GA – Fort Dix, NR NIOC GA – Detroit, and NR NIOC GA – Dayton.

Captain Meade’s biography follows.

CAPT Mark Meade (uncovered)
CAPT Mark M. Meade, USN
CAPT Mark Meade earned his commission from the United States Naval Academy on May 23, 1997.  After graduating from Cryptologic Division Officer’s Course (CDOC) (Pensacola, FL), CAPT Meade reported aboard U.S. Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA) Yokosuka, Japan as a Direct Support Officer.  During his three years in Japan, he made numerous deployments on three COMSEVENTHFLT surface vessels, earning his 1615 designator and designation as a Cryptologic Direct Support Element (CDSE) Division Officer.  CAPT Meade transferred to NSGA Denver in April 2002 where he served in the Chief of Staff Office as an Action Officer and the Inspector General Coordinator for the facility’s Commanding Officer.  CAPT Meade left Active Duty after six and one-half years of service, joining NR NIOC Colorado in January 2004.  At NR NIOC Colorado, CAPT Meade served as a Division Officer, Department Head, Executive Officer and eventually as the Acting Commanding Officer for the final 18 months of his tour, leading 35 Officers and Sailors. Following his tour in Colorado, CAPT Meade served twice as a Commanding Officer, leading the Officers and Sailors of NR NIOC Texas-St. Louis and NR NIOC Hawaii-Phoenix.  CAPT Meade returned from a mobilization to Jordan in 2015, and served for one year as the Navy Information Forces Reserve Southwest Regional Training Officer.
He presently is an Operations Research Analyst for MITRE in Colorado Springs, CO and graduated in March 2012 from Naval Postgraduate School, with a Masters Degree in Systems Analysis.
CAPT Meade is married to his wife Stacie of Tempe, AZ. They have three children and live in Castle Rock, CO.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

This just in from Seth Godin

The boss goes first

If you want to build a vibrant organizational culture, or govern with authority, or create a social dynamic that's productive and fair, the simple rule is: the rules apply to people in power before they are applied to those without.
It's easy to rationalize the alternative, to put yourself first. After all, you've somehow earned the authority to make an exception for yourself.
But when we avoid that temptation and expose ourselves to the rules first, obey the rules first and make the sacrifices first, our culture is more likely to stick.
The rules that matter the most are the ones about behavior, transparency and accountability.
People might hear what you say, but they always remember what you do.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Great American's Birthday Today




Captain Clyde C. Lopez, United States Navy - retired, celebrates his 80th birthday today.  This great American enlisted in the Navy in October 1955 and served for 40 years, retiring in 1995.

His illustrious Navy career would fill volumes.  It is sufficient to say that he was a Sailor worthy of being called a Shipmate by all who know him.


He was born on this day in 1937 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

Sir, Happy Birthday SHIPMATE !!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sad news


LCDR Bob Morrison, USN, retired, reported that CTA1 Jerry Oster passed away at 71 years of age on September 26, 2017 in Las Vegas.  Jerry was our Admin Chief for several years at Naval Security Group Detachment Atsugi, Japan in the early 1980s.  I was saddened to hear that news.  He trained some good CTAs who went on to make Chief Petty Officer - CTAC Michael Schuenke and CTAC Frank Zakravsky.  May Jerry rest in peace.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A couple of things about caring for Sailors that I learned at my first command - 1977-1979



Learning is a lifelong process.   "Stop learning - stop living" someone wise once told me.  First commands offer an incredible and long-lasting learning experience if you really pay attention.  I like to think that I did pay attention.

Some of the leadership best practices I picked up from then Captain James S. McFarland (a career long mentor and later-in-life friend):

- When Sailors reported to the command, he wrote letters to the parents letting them know that their son/daughter had arrived safely in a very distant Misawa, Japan and that his Chiefs would take care of them.  Commands which make this time are remembered long after the Sailor departs.  Some commands have the Department Head or Executive Officer do this.

- Most Sailors were sent to the Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa photo lab for their "official Navy photo".  Little did the Sailors know that the CO actually sent these photos back to the parents.  Captain McFarland also sent a copy of my Sailor of the Quarter (SOQ) photo to my parents, as well - along with a copy of "The Misawan" newspaper's SOQ announcement.  Sent in 1979, my family still has these.  Getting a photo of their Sailor means a lot to parents.  If you doubt it, ask a parent!

Monday, November 13, 2017

VADM Jan E. Tighe


Perhaps a more important Naval figure than RADM Grace Hopper.  

Only time will tell.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The supreme quality is missing in a few of our senior officers

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible.

DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER

Friday, November 10, 2017

Worth repeating

Not everyone can be a Sailor


A man or woman can be false, fleeting, a liar or a coward - in every way corrupt and still be an outstanding engineer, doctor, a great artist, cryptologist or a computer wizard.  But there's one thing they can't be and that is a Sailor or a Naval officer.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

What can be more important??



"Mike,

Thanks for your continuing engagement on the vital issue of leadership -- at the end of the day, what can be more important to our Navy and our nation?"

Admiral James Stavridis

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Writing is writing




Planning to write is not writing.  Outlining a book is not writing.  Researching is not writing.  Talking to people about what you are doing, none of that is writing.  Writing is writing.

E. L. Doctorow


Today, I received letters from two NIOC COs, a NIOC XO, a NIOD OIC, a retired Navy Captain colleague, my sister, a priest and a NWC graduate attending the Warfighting school.  As you can imagine, it was a very good day for me. These men and my sister understand what it means to write.  

As per H.L. Mencken's example, I will send out my responses by day's end.  I will be writing.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Remembering my friend, mentor and lunch partner


http://www.robcannonphoto.com
Back in 1981, the Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Admiral Lando W. Zech Jr. made a very wise detailing decision.  He sent CWO3 Wallace Louis Exum to teach celestial navigation at Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island.  I was one of hundreds of his students at OCS.  Both men influenced my Navy career greatly.  VADM Zech signed off on my first set of orders in June of 1982, sending me to Atsugi, Japan to fly with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron ONE (VQ-1).  Thirty years later, both men were still in touch with me and we developed into great friends.

Sadly, Vice Admiral Zech passed away six years ago in January and is no longer with us, except in spirit.  The last time I saw him, he was in good spirits.  He was ill and weakened from his lengthy hospital stay - but his spirits were high. We talked a little bit about the USNA honoring him and a few of the other guys recently for being Captains of their varsity baseball teams over the years.  He was very proud of his years at the United States Naval Academy.

Besides being an athlete, he was very much an old school nuclear submariner and later a surface warfare officer. My goodness, how he loved the Navy and his family.  After his retirement from the Navy, he was Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  He leaves behind a wonderful widow - Jo, 5 beautiful daughters and many grand children.  And, he leave behind a very sad Shipmate who still grieves deeply and tries to keep his memory alive in all ways that he can.  Farewell Admiral Zech.  Those who knew you - loved and respected you greatly.  Those who didn't - missed out on a great experience.  I said my good-byes at Arlington National Cemetery but they were in no way - final good-byes.  You will remain fresh in my memory.

His obituary:

ZECH LANDO W. ZECH. JR Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.) Former NRC Chairman Lando W. Zech, Jr., age 87, a retired Navy Vice Admiral who later served as Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission died on Sunday, January 9, 2011. Admiral Zech, a resident of Falls Church, VA was born in Astoria, Oregon and spent his youth in Seattle, Washington, where he attended Roosevelt and Lakeside high schools. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1941. At Annapolis, he played varsity baseball and basketball. In his senior year, he captained the baseball team. Admiral Zech served 39 years in the Navy after his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1944 with the World War II Class of 1945. His first assignment was to the destroyer USS JOHN D. HENLEY (DD 553) in the western Pacific where he participated in the second battle for the Philippines, the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns and on picket station duty off the coast of Japan during the last days of the war. After the war and a second destroyer tour on the USS HENRY W. TUCKER (DD 875), Admiral Zech volunteered for submarine duty and subsequently commanded four submarines, USS SEA ROBIN (SS 407), USS ALBACORE (AGSS 569), and after nuclear power training, USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571) and USS JOHN ADAMS (SSBN 620). He later commanded the guided missile cruiser USS SPRINGFIELD (CLG 7). Upon his selection to flag rank, he served as Commandant of the Thirteenth Naval District in Seattle, WA, the Chief of Naval Technical Training in Memphis, TN and as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Japan in Yokosuka. After his selection to Vice Admiral he served as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel and Training and Chief of Naval Personnel in Washington, D.C. He retired from the Navy in 1983. Admiral Zech graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College, the National War College and received a Masters Degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. In addition to campaign and foreign service medals he was awarded two Distinguished Service Medals, two Legions of Merit and the Navy Commendation Medal. On retiring from the Navy he was appointed a Commissioner and later Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by President Ronald Reagan. During this 5 year appointment he visited all 110 nuclear powered plants in the United States and many plants overseas including Chernobyl after the accident in the then Soviet Union. After retiring from the NRC, he served on the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Edison Company (now Exelon) for another 5 years and later as a Nuclear Safety consultant. Admiral Zech had been a resident of Falls Church since 1983. He was a parishioner of the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington, VA, a supporter of the U.S. Naval Academy, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A., the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and a member of the Army Navy Country Club. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Josephine K. Zech; five daughters: Janet Z. Cocke (James) of Richmond, VA, Joanne Z. Lyons (Coleman) of Atlanta, GA, Nancy Z. Cunnane (Robert) of Coto de Caza, CA, Carol M. Zech of Arlington, VA and Patricia Z. Nelson (Kirk) of Sammamish, WA.; his 12 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Also surviving are his brothers, Dr. Robert J. Zech and Dr. Jerome M. Zech, both of Seattle. He was preceded in death by his brother John R. Zech.