For the Deckplates

MCPON Smith's 128th CPO Birthday Message

01 April 2021

01 April 2021

Goats, Happy 128th Birthday!  

We have much to celebrate on this day when, in rare form, those humble leaders known as Chief Petty Officers - who quietly and confidently serve others so selflessly - take a knee and pause to celebrate our unique and storied history.

 This year presented significant challenges to our Navy, to the nation, and to the world.  Amidst incredible political turmoil, social upheaval across the Nation, and a global pandemic with an unprecedented death toll in the millions, our Mess and our Sailors performed far beyond expectations.  The leadership of Chiefs directly led to some amazing feats:

- Continuously recruited, trained, prepared and deployed combat forces, maintaining 90-94 ships deployed.  

- Managed COVID infection rates far below expectations, despite the most challenging operational environments in the DoD aboard our ships and submarines.

- Deployed COMFORT and MERCY, and thousands of medical professionals across the nation, contributing to the national “whole of government” response.

- Participated in selection boards for Chief/Senior/Master Chief, continuing to promote our best Sailors into new pay grades with additional responsibilities. 

- Managed the longest Initiation season in over a decade, with seamless execution and incredibly robust efficacy despite the constraints of a pandemic.

- Integral to Task Force One Navy’s success: assembling a true blueprint for improvements to our Service that we will lead and remain committed to.

 In addition, we participated in listening sessions across the Navy to better enfranchise our teammates; we executed a new Sailor of the Year process that more appropriately recognized our top performers; we managed adjusted evaluation timelines for most all of our senior Sailors (First Classes and Chiefs/Senior Chiefs), and continuously adapted to a myriad of successive challenges as they were thrown at us.  We commissioned the USS DELBERT D BLACK (DDG 119), saw the USS STOUT deploy for 215 consecutive days at sea, and had NIMITZ Strike Group/DESRON NINE Team return from a deployment of over 300 days.  And pervading through all of this was the leadership of The Chief, continuing to maintain critical functions ranging from technical expertise to retention, at record high levels. 

 But we know, as humble servant leaders, that the best is yet to come.  What we did yesterday only prepares us for tomorrow, and we never rest on our accomplishments.  The daunting challenges that await our herd will continue to hone our skills, sharpen our swords and prepare us for the war at sea that we believe is a very real probability.  And when that day comes, we will be ready. 

 As we are challenged physically, we are going to continue to be challenged mentally. Tough choices await us, hard decisions about how to proceed amidst asymmetric threats in an uncertain world. We must be willing to leverage everything we know; take stock of what we believe, what we want and need for the mission, and what best serves our Sailors and ourselves.  We must have the courage and fortitude to continue to stand into difficult situations, as comfort and convenience - smooth seas - is not the sea-state Chief Petty Officers anticipate.  We must embrace our diversity to overcome adversity, and chart a course to where we need to go, to where our hearts and our conscience know is right.  That journey is often hard, but we must find the courage to navigate those heavy seas in order to arrive on station safely, combat ready. 

 So take this day to celebrate who we are, and to recognize the strength of our Mess - how we are far better together. 

Happy Birthday Goats!

 MCPON Russell Smith


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