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Vice Adm. John B. Nowell Jr., Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP), served as the guest speaker at the ceremony and Rear Adm. Pete A. Garvin, commander of Naval Education and Training Command (NETC), officiated the event.
CNP addressed participants, guests and many of whom were watching virtually at the change of command ceremony and showed his great appreciation for Sands’ accomplishments.
“Over the last two years I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to call [Rear Adm. Sands] shipmate and to watch his incredible leadership in action,” said Nowell. “Under his leadership, we have reimagined, we have reshaped many of the programs NSTC is responsible for and exclusive of what we have had to do with COVID.”
Rear Adm. Sands, from Farmington, Connecticut, will report to Stuttgart, Germany where he will serve as commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA). Sands was the first Navy SEAL officer to command NSTC.
Sands received the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as NSTC commander from April 2019 to May 2021, presented by Rear Adm. Garvin. The award specifically recognized the fundamental shift in accessions training, focused on essential maritime warfighting skills.
“Under [Rear Adm. Sands’] leadership, the team conceptualized and implemented numerous groundbreaking initiatives within boot camp, officer training programs, and Junior ROTC – it is truly inspiring,” said Garvin.
“We have faced unprecedented challenges, not the least of which is the ongoing global pandemic, but [he] ensured we safely trained more than 83,000 enlisted Sailors and 8,000 new officers…51,000 of those during COVID,” added Garvin.
“I am so proud of this remarkable command,” said Sands. “These men and women are some of the finest Sailors and civilians in the Navy. Our NSTC imperative is warfighters to the fleet. [Rear Adm. Couture], you are the perfect leader for this organization and I look forward to seeing where you take NSTC and the Navy.”
Rear Adm. Couture, a native of Vineland, New Jersey, reported to NSTC following an assignment as assistant chief of staff, Naval Surface Forces, Atlantic, Norfolk, Virginia.
“I am thrilled to assume command of NSTC,” said Couture. “I have always had great respect for the role this incredibly talented organization plays in setting the foundation of future Navy leadership.”
“[Rear Adm. Sands], thank you for your superb leadership of this fine organization in such turbulent times, imparting a warrior spirit, strength, agility and devotion to all its members,” added Couture. “You’ve been a great mentor to me already and I hope to continue your proud legacy.”
NSTC supports naval accessions training for 98 percent of the Navy’s new officers and enlisted Sailors. This training includes the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) at more than 160 colleges and universities across the country, Officer Training Command (OTC) in Newport, Rhode Island, Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy’s only boot camp, as well as the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development program at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
For more information about NSTC, visit http://www.netc.navy.mil/nstc/.
For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.
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