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A Keen Eye on Keen Sword

By Rear. Adm. Karl Thomas
Commander, Task Force 70

This week, we wrapped up Keen Sword 2019, the biennial exercise with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, (JMSDF) or Kaijo Jieitai as they are known in Japan. This exercise is designed to strengthen and demonstrate our commitment to the U.S. – Japan alliance and ultimately increase the interoperability of our forces.

As we prepared for the final maritime strike, I had the opportunity to assist in the targeting of the enemy forces in the exercise from the back end of a VAW-125 Tigertail E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. With nearly 3,000 hours in the back of an E-2C, this was my first opportunity to experience the impressive capability of an E-2D. Hawkeyes have always been the fleet’s eye in the sky, but with the advancements in the new E-2D that eye is much more focused. I watched this radar develop throughout my career from its beginnings on a mountain-top in Hawaii, through a transition to the back of a C-130 test platform, and finally as it became reality in the fleet. It is simply a game changer.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 7, 2018) Rear Adm. Karl Thomas, commander, Task Force 70, departs an E-2D Hawkeye on the flight deck of the Navy's forward deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 7, 2018) Rear Adm. Karl Thomas, commander, Task Force 70, departs an E-2D Hawkeye on the flight deck of the Navy’s forward deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman/Released)

 

PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 7, 2018) An E-2D Hawkeye launches off the flight deck of the Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyleigh Williams/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 7, 2018) An E-2D Hawkeye launches off the flight deck of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyleigh Williams/Released)

As we walked to the aircraft in preparation for our flight, it dawned on me that I had more years of service than all four young Tigertail aviators combined. To fly with this next generation of warfighters who have the same drive and energy I possessed at their age is exactly why I continue to serve. It seemed like just yesterday I was the young aviator walking to the plane, showing the old guy how the system worked. The young Tigertail aviators manipulated the numerous systems in the back of the aircraft with ease as they fired up one system after another. A talented young E-2D naval flight officer, Lt. Cmdr. Mike “Hansel” Boyle, walked me through the radar functionality, explaining the differences of the APY-9 radar and how it transmits, receives and processes energy. I was like a kid in a candy store as I witnessed on my radar scope what I had only seen in simulators. This system is already making a huge impact on Keen Sword 19 and I couldn’t help but think of the capability and capacity that the recently acquired Japanese E-2Ds would add to future Keen Sword exercises. It all comes down to interoperability; the U.S. Navy and Kaijo Jieitai are an extremely effective team because of the common tactics, procedures, and equipment we employ.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), left, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181), right, are underway in formation with 16 other ships from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) as aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fly overhead in formation during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erwin Jacob V. Miciano/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), left, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181), right, are underway in formation with 16 other ships from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) as aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fly overhead in formation during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erwin Jacob V. Miciano/Released)

 

Throughout this exercise, ships and aircraft from both of our countries have focused on sailing, operating, flying together and building interoperability so that we can respond as one team if ever needed. Day after day I watched U.S and numerous Kaijo Jieitai ships protect USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) from attacking exercise submarines, while the striking power of Air Wing Five launched from the deck several times a day to fight side-by-side with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) and U.S. Air Force. This ability to fight with our allies across service lines is simply awe-inspiring. The relationships we build amongst aviators, surface warriors, warfare commanders and senior leaders in exercises such as Keen Sword is the cornerstone of our alliance – an alliance that has ensured regional peace and stability for nearly 60 years.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Murasame-class destroyer JS Kirisame (DD 104) and the JMSDF Hatsuyuki-class destroyer JS Asayuki (DD 132) steam in formation with other ships from the U.S. Navy and JMSDF during exercise Keen Sword 19. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Timothy M. Black/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Murasame-class destroyer JS Kirisame (DD 104) and the JMSDF Hatsuyuki-class destroyer JS Asayuki (DD 132) steam in formation with other ships from the U.S. Navy and JMSDF during exercise Keen Sword 19. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Timothy M. Black/Released)

As I sat drinking a cup of coffee with Rear Adm. Egawa, commander, Escort Flotilla One, while discussing lessons from our current exercise, we reminisced on our experiences as young naval officers. We talked of the ports we had visited, agreed how we could build upon our already strong relationship, and discussed how this partnership would only grow stronger upon our return to Yokosuka, Japan. At one point, we discussed my flight and what I observed, and it dawned on me how that moment really summed up what made Keen Sword special. From the young Kaijo Jieitai and U.S. Navy officers and Sailors flying and sailing together as one to the two senior officers ending the day together over a cup of coffee; exercises like Keen Sword enable us to practice integration so that it becomes simple, routine and highly effective. We ended our meeting with a keen eye to the future, and pondered whether the young aviators who fly our two nation’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes would be the catalyst to take Keen Sword 2021’s interoperability to an entirely new level.

Editor’s note: Rear Adm. Thomas is a career E-2C Hawkeye naval flight officer and the commander of Task Force 70, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/11/09/a-keen-eye-on-keen-sword/ U.S. Navy

MCPON Letter to the Enlisted Force: Focus on building winning teams

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell L. Smith
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell L. Smith

The world stage is a very dynamic and challenging one, with many nations maturing their ability to efficiently operate in the maritime environment. The evolution of technology, and our Navy’s growth in this new “great powers” era demands that our Navy apply resources in a far more refined and complex manner. As our Navy’s storied legacy continues, the Navy the Nation Needs will demand more from us. We must become stronger, run faster and effectively build teams to compete and win in high-end warfare at sea.

Institutional loyalty – “ship, shipmate, self” – as well as organizational transparency and clear messaging will continue to be a priority, as well as dignity and respect between all of our teammates. Understanding the solemn privilege we have as stewards of the public trust will be emphasized. Austerity and humility are necessary attributes to embrace as we carefully manage the resources the American public has entrusted to us.

Every Navy leader aspires to leave behind a better and more prepared Navy than the one they found when they arrived, and I am no different. The principal concern of the Office of the MCPON remains first and foremost to serve as a determined advocate on behalf of our enlisted force, as well as to find ways to leverage our 3,000 master chiefs in leading 31,000 chief petty officers to build winning teams in preparation for the future fight. Together we must set a blistering pace above, on and below the sea, projecting strength so profoundly that we give pause to anyone who would dare challenge us.

Four great strengths of the Mess are technical competence, innovative thinking, communication and networking. These skills give us the ability to be a force multiplier in both peace and war, enabling us to solve the greatest challenges by connecting our Navy horizontally. Known for using deckplate skills and experience to innovate and get results, the Mess will be absolutely essential to finding new and better ways to build muscle memory that develops toughness, which will lead to true combat readiness.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 25, 2015) Chief Damage Controlman D. C. Coronado instructs Damage Controlman 3rd Class R. E. Berens, left, and Damage Controlman Firman D. R. Barber during a general quarters drill in the hangar bay of aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Harry S. Truman was underway conducting a tailored ship's training availability off the east coast of the United States. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class E. T. Miller/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 25, 2015) Chief Damage Controlman D. C. Coronado instructs Damage Controlman 3rd Class R. E. Berens, left, and Damage Controlman Firman D. R. Barber during a general quarters drill in the hangar bay of aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Harry S. Truman was underway conducting a tailored ship’s training availability off the east coast of the United States. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class E. T. Miller/Released)

 

We must keep Sailors from getting sidetracked or distracted, keeping them instead laser-focused on combat at sea against a determined enemy. To that end, we are engaged in delivering tools to the fleet, to render greater efficiencies in both personnel management and how we educate and train our Sailors. Those efforts will return time and opportunity to the deckplates, allowing leaders to focus on tactical skills and warfighting readiness.

Throughout our history, our greatest advantage has never been our machinery – rather, it has been the courage of the American Sailor facing adversity around the world. Perseverance, fortitude and spirit of service that each and every one of you brings to the fight will give us the decisive edge in the fight to come.

Russell L. Smith
MCPON

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Oct. 9, 2018) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell L. Smith congratulates recruits during a capping ceremony inside USS Trayer (BST 21) at Recruit Training Command. Trayer, more commonly referred to as "Battle Stations," is the crucible event that recruits must pass prior to graduation, testing their knowledge and skills in basic seamanship, damage control, firefighting and emergency response procedures. More than 30,000 recruits graduate annually from the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Spencer Fling/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Oct. 9, 2018) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell L. Smith congratulates recruits during a capping ceremony inside USS Trayer (BST 21) at Recruit Training Command. Trayer, more commonly referred to as “Battle Stations,” is the crucible event that recruits must pass prior to graduation, testing their knowledge and skills in basic seamanship, damage control, firefighting and emergency response procedures. More than 30,000 recruits graduate annually from the Navy’s only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Spencer Fling/Released)

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/10/25/mcpon-letter-to-the-enlisted-force-focus-on-building-winning-teams/ U.S. Navy

Special Report: Exercise Trident Juncture 18

U.S. Navy Sailors will be among 14,000 participants from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force when Exercise Trident Juncture 18 begins Thursday with 30 NATO allies and partner nations.

Trident Juncture 18 is designed to test NATO’s ability to plan and conduct a major collective defense operation – from troop training at the tactical level, to command over large elements of a NATO force.

The month-long exercise will take place in Norway and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, including Iceland and the airspace of Finland and Sweden. The exercise will include a live portion, Oct. 25-Nov. 7, and a command post exercise, Nov. 14-23.

More than 50,000 participants – including U.S. service members – are expected to participate, utilizing approximately 150 aircraft, 65 ships and more than 10,000 vehicles in support of the exercise.

Be sure to bookmark and frequently visit this page to follow Trident Juncture 18.

Highlights

Ally Island Stands Watch over the North Atlantic

There is no NATO without the North Atlantic. Strong presence in this key region assures NATO’s collective security and Iceland is central. As I recently said in my second podcast, “On the Horizon,” the operational reality is that should conflict arise, whoever can exert control over this region can either protect or threaten all of NATO’s northern flank. Defense of the North Atlantic is thus synonymous with the sovereignty and security of the alliance.

Read more of Adm. John G. Foggo III’s blog on Navy Live.

U.S. Forces Ready for NATO Exercise Trident Juncture 18

More than 14,000 U.S. service members from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps will take part in Exercise Trident Juncture 18, which begins Oct. 25, 2018.

The month-long exercise will take place in Norway and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, including Iceland and the airspace of Finland and Sweden. The exercise will include a live portion, from Oct. 25-Nov. 7 and a command post exercise from Nov. 14-23.

Read more on Navy.mil.

USS New York Arrives in Reykjavik, Iceland

The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland, for a scheduled port visit Oct. 17.

The ship’s port visit serves to enhance U.S.-Iceland relations as the two nations work together with 31 allies and partner nations in the upcoming Trident Juncture exercise. Trident Juncture 18 will take place in Norway and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, including Iceland and the airspace of Finland and Sweden.

Read more on Navy.mil.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (Oct. 17, 2018) The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) docks in Faxa Bay, Reykjavik, Iceland, with U.S. Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) as part of Exercise Trident Juncture 18. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa/Released)
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (Oct. 17, 2018) The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) docks in Faxa Bay, Reykjavik, Iceland, with U.S. Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) as part of Exercise Trident Juncture 18. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa/Released)

Harry S. Truman Strike Group Enters Arctic Circle, Prepares for NATO Exercise

For the first time in nearly 30 years, a U.S. aircraft carrier entered the Arctic Circle Oct. 19 to conduct operations in the Norwegian Sea.

Accompanied by select ships from Carrier Strike Group Eight (CSG-8), the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) traveled north to demonstrate the flexibility and toughness of U.S. naval forces through high-end warfare training with regional allies and partners. USS America (CV 66) was the last ship to operate in the area, participating in NATO exercise North Star in September 1991.

Read more on Navy.mil.

NORWEGIAN SEA (Oct. 19, 2018) An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to the "Red Rippers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11, launches from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Thomas Gooley/Released)
NORWEGIAN SEA (Oct. 19, 2018) An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to the “Red Rippers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11, launches from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Thomas Gooley/Released)

Adm. Foggo Commemorates Battle of Atlantic Ahead of Trident Juncture Events in Iceland

Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy, commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic in Faxa Bay, Iceland, aboard the Icelandic Coast Guard Vessel Thor, Oct. 16, 2018.

Read more on Navy.mil.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (Oct. 16, 2018) Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy, delivers remarks during a commemoration ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic in Reykjavik, Iceland, aboard the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Thor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Nelson/Released)
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (Oct. 16, 2018) Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy, delivers remarks during a commemoration ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic in Reykjavik, Iceland, aboard the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Thor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Nelson/Released)

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/10/23/special-report-exercise-trident-juncture-18/ U.S. Navy

Ally Island Stands Watch over the North Atlantic

Adm. James FoggoBy Adm. James G. Foggo III
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa
Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples

There is no NATO without the North Atlantic. Strong presence in this key region assures NATO’s collective security and Iceland is central. As I recently said in my second podcast, “On the Horizon,” the operational reality is that should conflict arise, whoever can exert control over this region can either protect or threaten all of NATO’s northern flank. Defense of the North Atlantic is thus synonymous with the sovereignty and security of the alliance.

The security of the North Atlantic has been a focal point that predates NATO’s establishment. I recently had the privilege of speaking at a commemoration ceremony honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Battle of the Atlantic – the longest continuous battle of the Second World War. Over 2,775 merchant vessels were sunk over 68 months, totaling 14.5 million tons – that’s over 40 ships a month. It finally ended when Grand Admiral Donitz ordered his U-boats to cease all hostilities and return to base on May 4, 1945.

KEFLAVIK, Iceland (Oct. 17, 2018) A U.S. Marine assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) posts security at Keflavik Air Base in Iceland, during Exercise Trident Juncture 18. Trident Juncture training in Iceland promotes key elements of preparing Marines to conduct follow-on training in Norway in the later part of the exercise. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Menelik Collins/Released)
KEFLAVIK, Iceland (Oct. 17, 2018) A U.S. Marine assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) posts security at Keflavik Air Base in Iceland, Oct. 17, 2018, during Exercise Trident Juncture 18. Trident Juncture training in Iceland promotes key elements of preparing Marines to conduct follow-on training in Norway in the later part of the exercise. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Menelik Collins/Released)

 

While visiting Iceland, I also witnessed the first field exercise of Trident Juncture 2018. Trident Juncture will take place primarily in Norway, but the activities got underway early in Iceland. The main phase will begin Oct. 25, bringing together around 50,000 personnel from all 29 allies, as well as partners Finland and Sweden, and 65 ships, 120 aircraft and 10,000 vehicles. U.S. Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit kicked off Trident Juncture 2018 events in Iceland last week. The Marines from the amphibious assault ships USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) conducted a simulated air assault at the Keflavik Airport.

These events gave me the opportunity to reflect not only on the criticality of this region, but to also reflect on the importance of our allies and partners, particularly Iceland.

The Strategic Importance of the North Atlantic

When examining the Battle of Atlantic, it is clear that although adversaries and allies have changed, the strategic importance of this body of water endures. During WWII, Germany dropped leaflets over the United Kingdom proclaiming “Britain’s losing the Battle of the Atlantic means Britain’s losing the war.”

Although propaganda generally distorts the truth, the leaflets in this case were accurate, as the war effort depended heavily on supplies that were transported by sea: food for Britain, shipbuilding materiel for the U.S. and fuel and ammunition for tanks and fighters in the North Africa campaign. They wreaked havoc amongst the convoys that were a lifeline for the British population and the war industry. The seas were crucial to success or failure of the Allied effort.

The tables turned in May 1943, when the Allies began to attack and sink German U-boats with higher precision and greater regularity, severely debilitating the enemy’s control over the region. Success was only possible because of the high number of Allied ships, submarines and aircraft working together and out of necessity. These units developed new tactics and honed innovative new capabilities which ultimately strengthened the alliance. While many factors contributed to the Allies’ victory, control of the North Atlantic proved to be among the most critical factors.

Coast Guardsmen on the deck of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Spencer (WPG-36) watch the explosion of a depth charge which blasted a Nazi U-Boat's hope of breaking into the center of a large convoy, April 17, 1943. The depth charge tossed from the 327-foot cutter blew the submarine to the surface, where it was engaged by Coast Guardsmen. Ships of the convoy may be seen in the background. (Official U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)
Coast Guardsmen on the deck of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Spencer (WPG-36) watch the explosion of a depth charge which blasted a Nazi U-Boat’s hope of breaking into the center of a large convoy, April 17, 1943. The depth charge tossed from the 327-foot cutter blew the submarine to the surface, where it was engaged by Coast Guardsmen. Ships of the convoy may be seen in the background. (Official U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

 

Unsung Hero

The unsung hero in the Battle of the Atlantic was Iceland and the generosity of its citizens. Officially neutral, the Icelanders allowed American, British and Canadian servicemen and women to be stationed on their shores and to have ships, submarines and aircraft operate from Icelandic airfields and ports. Keflavik and Hvalfjordhur became important bases for anti-submarine forces.

Allied aircraft based in Iceland were critical to the campaign to protect the vital North Atlantic sea lanes of communication as they scoured the seas for U-Boats that stalked and engaged Allied assets with deadly efficiency. Ultimately, about half of all successful U-boat engagements were carried out by shore-based aircraft, many departing from Iceland.

Strategically located, Icelanders kept watch over the Atlantic. Tens of thousands of Allied servicemen were welcomed as honorary Islanders, treated with familial hospitality and after six years, the Allies prevailed.

NATO’s Three Ds

Iceland hosted the famous Reykjavik Summit, which would eventually lead to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty in 1987. Prior to the Battle of Atlantic commemoration, I had the opportunity to visit the Hofdi House. This is historic location where President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Mikhail Gorbachev met in 1986 to discuss critical topics of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and human rights. As I sat in President Reagan’s chair from 1986, I thought about how it is important for countries to discuss differences and address possible situations that could make the region, and the world, a better and safer place for everyone. Dialogue also helps to reduce the possibility of a miscalculation between countries, possibly preventing military conflict.

NORTH SEA (Oct. 12, 2018) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Rear Adm. Gene Black, commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8, observe flight operations on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Thomas Gooley/Released)
NORTH SEA (Oct. 12, 2018) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Rear Adm. Gene Black, commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8, observe flight operations on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Thomas Gooley/Released)

 

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the NATO alliance is about three Ds: deter, defend and dialogue. And the alliance allows our political and military leaders to participate in such dialogue with other countries from a position of strength. One example of these three Ds is the symbol of my headquarters, the Lion of Saint Mark’s from Venice; I’m very proud of that. The lion holds a sword, the sword is to defend. The lion’s paw is on the book of peace; deterrence. But you have to have dialogue, and we do.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford and the Commander of U.S. European Command Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti have had an ongoing dialogue with Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov. There’s been some tense moments and I think that dialogue is good to defuse and to avoid mistakes and miscalculations.

The U.S. Navy participates in annual Incidents at Sea (INCSEA) discussions with the Russian Federation Navy. We have a dialogue and it’s professional. And that’s the way it should be and we should continue that. So deter, defend and dialogue. We must not be any other way as it is critical to avoid mistakes and miscalculations that lead to military confrontation.

As we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic in Faxa Bay, Iceland, aboard the Icelandic Coast Guard Vessel Thor, we could see the Hofdi House. This was done purposely by the Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs. This provided a great historic perspective as we commemorated the longest battle of WWII, it sent the stage for Trident Juncture and the future for the NATO alliance.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (Oct. 16, 2018) Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy, delivers remarks during a commemoration ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic in Reykjavik, Iceland, aboard the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Thor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Nelson/Released)
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (Oct. 16, 2018) Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy, delivers remarks during a commemoration ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic in Reykjavik, Iceland, aboard the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Thor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Nelson/Released)

 

Conclusion

From the Battles of the Atlantic to the Reykjavik Summit to today, Iceland is at the center of the geopolitically critical North Atlantic. Iceland is a trusted and long-time ally, and an outstanding founding member of NATO. To the Icelandic people, thank you for your hospitality to me and all the NATO soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. It was a magnificent visit and crucial to communicate we are stronger together. Takk!

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/10/22/ally-island-stands-watch-over-the-north-atlantic/ U.S. Navy

Exercise BALTOPS 2018 Enhancing Interoperability Among NATO Allies and Partners in Baltic Region

Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region, is taking place in the Baltic Sea from June 1-15.

Air, maritime and ground assets from several NATO ally and partner nations are involved in the live training event that set sail from Klaipeda, Lithuania, and finishes in Kiel, Germany.

Training focus areas include air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, maritime interdiction, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations.

Follow this page for continuing updates about the exercise, which enhances flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate international resolve to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region.

 

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 3

Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018 continued with the final day of the pre-sail planning conference with the 22 participating nations making final preparations before moving to the next phase of the operation.

Read more on Navy.mil

LIEPAJA, Latvia (June 2, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, meets with Raimonds Bergmanis, Latvian minister of defense, at Liepaja Naval Base during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)
LIEPAJA, Latvia (June 2, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, meets with Raimonds Bergmanis, Latvian minister of defense, at Liepaja Naval Base during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 4

The President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, observed a naval demonstration from the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). Two Polish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft performed a fly-by while Grybauskaitė was aboard.

Read more on Navy.mil

BALTIC SEA (June 4, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Force NATO, right, speaks with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite aboard the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)
BALTIC SEA (June 4, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Force NATO, right, speaks with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite aboard the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 5

A B-1 Lancer bomber laid exercise mines and decoys in the vicinity of Bornholm Island, Denmark, and Ustka, Poland.

The Baltic Naval Squadron (BALTRON), consisting of the Vidar-class minelayer LNS Jotvingis (N42), and four mine counter measure ships worked together to locate and disarm the munitions.

Read more on Navy.mil

BALTIC SEA (June 5, 2018) The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) approaches the German Berlin-class replenishment ship FGS Frankfurt A.M. (A1412) for a replenishment-at-sea in the Baltic Sea during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/ Released)
BALTIC SEA (June 5, 2018) The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) approaches the German Berlin-class replenishment ship FGS Frankfurt A.M. (A1412) for a replenishment-at-sea in the Baltic Sea during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/ Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 6

Eight members of the international media embarked the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). They received a tour of the ship, watched an air defense exercise and conducted interviews with Vice. Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), and Rear Adm. Guy Robinson, OBE, Royal Navy, deputy commander, STRIKFORNATO.

Read more on Navy.mil

GDYNIA, Poland (June 6, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, meets with Polish Rear Adm. Miroslaw Mordel, inspector of the Polish Navy, in Gdynia, Poland, during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)
GDYNIA, Poland (June 6, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, meets with Polish Rear Adm. Miroslaw Mordel, inspector of the Polish Navy, in Gdynia, Poland, during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 7

An MH-60S Sea Hawk from the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), an AW159 Wildcat from the Duke-class Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth (F235) and two Mk41 Sea Kings from the Type 702 Berlin-class replenishment ship FGS Frankfurt A.M. (A1412) simulated a recuse of four stranded individuals during BALTOPS 2018’s first joint personnel recovery exercise.

Read more on Navy.mil

USTKA, Poland (June 7, 2018) AAV-P7/A1 amphibious assault vehicles transport U.S. Marines assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) and embarked aboard the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), during beach landing exercise in support of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Adam C. Stapleton/Released)
USTKA, Poland (June 7, 2018) AAV-P7/A1 amphibious assault vehicles transport U.S. Marines assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) and embarked aboard the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), during beach landing exercise in support of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Adam C. Stapleton/Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 8

Vice. Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) travelled to meet the crew of the Duke-class Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth (F235).

Read more on Navy.mil

BALTIC SEA (June 8, 2018) Members of the Romanian 307th Naval Infantry Regiment carry a combat rubber raiding craft in the well deck of the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) during a joint personnel recovery exercise as part of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica L. Dowell/Released)
BALTIC SEA (June 8, 2018) Members of the Romanian 307th Naval Infantry Regiment carry a combat rubber raiding craft in the well deck of the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) during a joint personnel recovery exercise as part of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica L. Dowell/Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 9

Thirty maritime units from 12 nations (Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States) maneuvered in close formation for a photo exercise.

Read more on Navy.mil

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 10

Vice. Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), flew in an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter to meet with the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96).

Read more on Navy.mil

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/06/11/exercise-baltops-2018-enhancing-interoperability-among-nato-allies-and-partners-in-baltic-region/ Jason Kelly

Exercise BALTOPS 2018 Enhancing Interoperability Among NATO Allies and Partners in Baltic Region

Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region, is taking place in the Baltic Sea from June 1-15.

Air, maritime and ground assets from several NATO ally and partner nations are involved in the live training event that set sail from Klaipeda, Lithuania, and finishes in Kiel, Germany.

Training focus areas include air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, maritime interdiction, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations.

Follow this page for continuing updates about the exercise, which enhances flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate international resolve to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region.

 

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 3

Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018 continued with the final day of the pre-sail planning conference with the 22 participating nations making final preparations before moving to the next phase of the operation.

Read more on Navy.mil

LIEPAJA, Latvia (June 2, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, meets with Raimonds Bergmanis, Latvian minister of defense, at Liepaja Naval Base during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)
LIEPAJA, Latvia (June 2, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, meets with Raimonds Bergmanis, Latvian minister of defense, at Liepaja Naval Base during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 4

The President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, observed a naval demonstration from the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). Two Polish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft performed a fly-by while Grybauskaitė was aboard.

Read more on Navy.mil

BALTIC SEA (June 4, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Force NATO, right, speaks with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite aboard the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)
BALTIC SEA (June 4, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Force NATO, right, speaks with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite aboard the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 5

A B-1 Lancer bomber laid exercise mines and decoys in the vicinity of Bornholm Island, Denmark, and Ustka, Poland.

The Baltic Naval Squadron (BALTRON), consisting of the Vidar-class minelayer LNS Jotvingis (N42), and four mine counter measure ships worked together to locate and disarm the munitions.

Read more on Navy.mil

BALTIC SEA (June 5, 2018) The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) approaches the German Berlin-class replenishment ship FGS Frankfurt A.M. (A1412) for a replenishment-at-sea in the Baltic Sea during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/ Released)
BALTIC SEA (June 5, 2018) The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) approaches the German Berlin-class replenishment ship FGS Frankfurt A.M. (A1412) for a replenishment-at-sea in the Baltic Sea during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/ Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 6

Eight members of the international media embarked the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). They received a tour of the ship, watched an air defense exercise and conducted interviews with Vice. Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), and Rear Adm. Guy Robinson, OBE, Royal Navy, deputy commander, STRIKFORNATO.

Read more on Navy.mil

GDYNIA, Poland (June 6, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, meets with Polish Rear Adm. Miroslaw Mordel, inspector of the Polish Navy, in Gdynia, Poland, during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)
GDYNIA, Poland (June 6, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, meets with Polish Rear Adm. Miroslaw Mordel, inspector of the Polish Navy, in Gdynia, Poland, during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 7

An MH-60S Sea Hawk from the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), an AW159 Wildcat from the Duke-class Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth (F235) and two Mk41 Sea Kings from the Type 702 Berlin-class replenishment ship FGS Frankfurt A.M. (A1412) simulated a recuse of four stranded individuals during BALTOPS 2018’s first joint personnel recovery exercise.

Read more on Navy.mil

USTKA, Poland (June 7, 2018) AAV-P7/A1 amphibious assault vehicles transport U.S. Marines assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) and embarked aboard the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), during beach landing exercise in support of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Adam C. Stapleton/Released)
USTKA, Poland (June 7, 2018) AAV-P7/A1 amphibious assault vehicles transport U.S. Marines assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) and embarked aboard the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), during beach landing exercise in support of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Adam C. Stapleton/Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 8

Vice. Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) travelled to meet the crew of the Duke-class Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth (F235).

Read more on Navy.mil

BALTIC SEA (June 8, 2018) Members of the Romanian 307th Naval Infantry Regiment carry a combat rubber raiding craft in the well deck of the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) during a joint personnel recovery exercise as part of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica L. Dowell/Released)
BALTIC SEA (June 8, 2018) Members of the Romanian 307th Naval Infantry Regiment carry a combat rubber raiding craft in the well deck of the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) during a joint personnel recovery exercise as part of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica L. Dowell/Released)

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 9

Thirty maritime units from 12 nations (Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States) maneuvered in close formation for a photo exercise.

Read more on Navy.mil

BALTOPS 2018 Daily Update: June 10

Vice. Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), flew in an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter to meet with the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96).

Read more on Navy.mil

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/06/11/exercise-baltops-2018-enhancing-interoperability-among-nato-allies-and-partners-in-baltic-region/ Jason Kelly

New Foundational Training Courses Will Grow Better Enlisted Leaders

By Fleet Master Chief (SW/IW/AW) Russell Smith
Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education Fleet Master Chief

We invest a lot of time and energy in the Navy in teaching, training, and maintaining technical competency, but our delivery of leader development training is not nearly as robust. We have room to improve our standardized leader development training delivery for our enlisted Sailors.

We train our Sailors when they are selected for promotion. There is a standardized syllabus, but it’s not delivered the same way everywhere because we have not maintained quality control over who gives it and we haven’t professionalized the trainers that deliver this training.

When you look at the officer community, you will see it has a very specific set of time gates – officers either make rank at a certain time or they don’t stay – in the enlisted force, we have some challenges because you can become a chief as young as six and a half years or at nineteen-point-nine years. Despite these differences, every Sailor should receive some formal Leader Development Training at regular intervals in their career.

The Foundational Training courses outlined in “Laying the Keel – Developing the Backbone of Our Navy” is our solution. We developed it to ensure that we’re investing in Sailor Development at multiple levels and that and we are reinforcing the importance of character and competence early in a Sailors’ career – when the training will stick. When you teach and train to character at an early age the poor choices and destructive behaviors that are effects of under-developed character can be addressed.  Character and competence must be developed in equal measures. We also believe that investing in Leader Development earlier can accelerate a Sailor’s growth throughout their career – a small rudder shift early results in a big course change over time.

The first step is the easy step – taking the courses we have, the Petty Officer Selectee Leadership Courses (POSLC), and modifying them to be more relevant, highly interactive and delivered with the highest quality we can generate. The existing courses will be replaced with: the Foundational Leader Development Course (FLDC), the Intermediate Leader Development Course (ILDC) and the Advanced Leader Development Course (ALDC). The fourth and final piece is the Chief Petty Officer Leader Development course, after which most Sailors will progress to attending the Senior Enlisted Academy which is the next piece of training and development.

In addition to revising and updating our existing courses, there will be a certification process for the facilitators. Much like our current model, the Chief’s Mess will lead this training effort, but we will be augmenting the process with additional facilitator billets over the next few years.  Understanding the challenges for some of our commands in the current process, we will use a coalition approach to delivering these new courses.  Commands with the most resources and the most ability will “host” the training events. The idea is to conduct these courses as close to the waterfront and the flight line as we can without over burdening those commands with a high op-tempo and a small number of Chief’s to facilitate the courses.

Once we have gotten the professional, high-impact set pieces revamped a bit to better give the Fleet what they need in the structured curriculum, we will have the ability to enhance the conversations and the day to day mentoring and coaching that should happen daily in our work centers on the deck plates.

Ultimately, the desired end state of this aspect of Laying the Keel is to start the substantive discussion of and process of leader and character development at the beginning of a Sailor’s career.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/05/10/new-foundational-training-courses-will-grow-better-enlisted-leaders/ U.S. Navy

Win First and then Go to War

By Cmdr. Stephen Aldridge
Commanding officer, USS Mason (DDG 87)

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” This 2,500-year-old Sun Tzu maxim was the quote of the day in USS Mason’s Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, plan of the day. As the executive officer, I published it only hours before the first of three separate anti-ship cruise missile attacks against Mason and other U.S. warships in the Red Sea.

Many factors contribute to fighting and winning at sea – but clearly training and preparation are near the top of the list. As Sun Tzu taught, “win first and then go to war.”

In my view, when compared to the legacy career path, the Surface Navy’s current executive officer, commanding officer (XO/CO) fleet-up model for O-5 command at sea supports what’s most important – preparing ships and Sailors for combat incidents to operations at sea.

GULF OF ADEN (July 25, 2016) Midshipman 3rd Class Phillip Moore, left, conns the ship under the guidance of Cmdr. Stephen W. Aldridge, executive officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), during a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO 203).  (U.S. Navy photo by Yeoman 1st Class Timothy Meece/Released)

 

There are numerous advantages to fleet-up models. With division officers, the strongest performers are typically selected by the ship’s captain and remain aboard for their second division officer tour. They become true “fleet lieutenants” with a tremendous amount of corporate knowledge amassed by their single longer tour. They know the ship from fo’c’sle to fantail and bridge to bilge. Traditionally, one department head per ship fleets-up, in the case of destroyers, it’s the combat systems officer who likely also serves as the senior watch officer. This officer’s clear tenure advantage improves the combat readiness of the ship. He or she knows the crew, what it takes to craft smart watch teams, and remembers the preparation and training required the last time the ship performed an infrequent complex evolution.

Given the clear advantages that fleet-up division officers and department heads provide to the ship, why wouldn’t we want to afford those same advantages via the captain? The longevity, continuity, and leadership consistency provided by these longer fleet up tours result in a ship and crew best prepared to win first and then go to war.

In Mason’s case, we were in leadership transition between missile attacks. The first attacks occurred in the southern Red Sea on Oct. 9. My relief as XO arrived via an oiler in the Gulf of Aden on Oct. 12. That evening, during a northbound transit of the Bab-el-Mandeb choke point, Mason and ships in company were attacked again with anti-ship cruise missiles. On Oct. 15, Mason was tested again and defeated another round of missile attacks against our U.S. Naval forces. Under the legacy career path, a newly arrived prospective CO could report on deployment and take command a week later. My relief was certainly a talented officer, command screened and a prior coastal patrol CO, however had he reported as prospective CO; a change of command would not have kept the ship and crew in the best position to continue fighting and winning in the Red Sea.

As great power rivalries return and the seas around the globe are no longer a sanctuary for the U.S. Navy – are we willing to turn over warship command to a newcomer on deployment; an officer who has not trained with the crew, does not know the crew, and lacks familiarity with the nuances and conditions of the warship’s engineering and combat systems? I submit that would be a poor decision today. The fleet-up method mitigates much of that downside; it reinforces Sun Tzu’s principle by enabling the XO to win first and then go to war from the captain’s chair. The fleet-up captain knows the strengths and weaknesses of his team and understands the specific capabilities and limitations of his or her warship on day one. Unlike other officers who report to their ship and must take time to qualify or re-qualify (e.g. officer of the deck or tactical action officer), the captain is “qualified by position” from the moment he or she states, “I relieve you.”

As well, clear XO/CO fleet-up advantages exist outside the lifelines of the ship. As XO, you build relationships with key players across the waterfront, from the type commander staff to the maintenance community. You learn the strengths of your immediate superior in command and the staff. The XO works closely with the deputy commodore, also likely to fleet up, and learns his or her leadership and management style. The fleet-up CO has the opportunity to build a strong working relationship with the commodore prior to taking command. He or she better understands the commander’s intent from the boss, also a key warfare commander in the strike group. The result is a ship better prepared to understand and execute tasking – victory before going to war.

ARABIAN GULF (Aug. 15, 2016) Cmdr. Stephen W. Aldridge, executive officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), addresses Sailors. Mason, deployed as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Janweb B. Lagazo)

 

In short, the longevity, continuity and leadership consistency fleet-up provides at all levels, builds officers better prepared to lead warships into combat, and when called on to fight and win.

Editor’s note: Cmdr. Aldridge is a 1998 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds masters degrees from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/04/13/win-first-and-then-go-to-war/ U.S. Navy