WASHINGTON (NNS) -- As he did in his Navy Administrative Message released this past weekend, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen emphasized the importance of the Navy family when he and Mrs. Mullen addressed the Ombudsman Quality Management Board (OQMB) meeting at the Naval Academy July 25.
The OQMB serves to update policy and procedures for the Navy Family Ombudsman and Command Family Ombudsman Programs, which Mullen believes plays an integral part in a healthy Navy Family.
"I am convinced that family readiness is tied directly to combat readiness," said Mullen. "Our families serve as we serve, and the ombudsman program is critical to making sure we recognize that."
Approximately 35 people attended the OQMB meeting, including senior ombudsman coordinators and fleet and force command master chiefs.
The new CNO praised the board members for their service as well, saying it was important for him, on his first full day in the office, to spend time with them.
"There are literally centuries of experience in this room, and I want you to know I'm going to take advantage of that," he said. "I need you to help teach me what issues out there are of concern to our families."
Clear and concise communication between Navy leadership and families is one of the reasons why then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt founded the ombudsman program in 1970. And, according to Mullen, that function is just as relevant - if not more so - today.
"It's an uncertain world we live in, a changing era," said Mullen. "Threats to our security are coming from places we aren't necessarily accustomed to. We just can't be a predictable force anymore. But I know unpredictability, like what we need in the Fleet Response Plan today, causes more uncertainty for our families. One of the best ways to reduce that uncertainty is by telling our people what we know just as soon as we know it."
Mullen said he believes the best ombudsman programs come from strong support by the command leadership team.
"Good leadership values it. That's where you see good [ombudsman] programs," he said.
Leadership was a central theme for Mullen, who took command of the Navy July 22 in a change of command ceremony at the Naval Academy. In a naval message posted over the weekend, Mullen called leadership one of his guiding principles and stated his belief that everyone in the Navy possesses the capacity to lead.
"So much of what we do depends on good leadership. That's what we get paid for. We get paid to lead," he said.
He wrapped up his remarks by taking questions from attendees but made it clear how vital families are to the Navy.
"I did not decide to stay in the Navy alone. My family had a role, and I know I'm not unique in that regard. I firmly believe we recruit a Sailor, but we retain a family," Mullen said.
For more information about the ombudsman program, visit www.persnet.navy.mil/pers66/ombudsman1/index.htm.
For more information about CNO, visit http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/index.html.
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