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Your Career

The Way Ahead

Navy Senior Enlisted Talk Top Issues

The Navy's top enlisted Sailors held an enlisted leadership roundtable at the 26th Annual Surface Navy Association (SNA) Symposium in Arlington, Va., Jan. 14.

The roundtable kicked off with introductions by seven fleet and force master chiefs and two command master chiefs.

The enlisted leaders participated in an information exchange with both junior and senior enlisted service members on the current challenges facing today's Navy.
Topics ranged from the Navy's efforts to combat sexual assault to deployments, operating tempo and the future of the littoral combat ship (LCS).
Navy Photo

Fleet Master Chief of Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education April Beldo speaks about the future force of the Navy at the 26th annual Surface Navy Association National Symposium. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Hurt.

"The purpose of the roundtable today was to make our Sailors aware of what's going on in all our different areas," said Fleet Master Chief April Beldo, the fleet master chief for the Navy total force, manpower, personnel, training and education. "We had an opportunity to allow our Sailors to get firsthand information from our master chiefs, so they all know what our responsibilities are, and how we use their interaction with us to make sure we have our pulse on the fleet."

During the roundtable session a retired master chief asked what the Navy is doing to curb and educate our Sailors on sexual assault.

Beldo's response was that the Navy started the 21st Century Sailor and Marine Office, which helps educate not only victims, but also the accused. She said the office's number one focus is to draw down the behavior of disrespect.

"Where did we lose the embedded moral fortitude of treating each other with respect?" said Beldo. "I believe sometimes in society today, if you're not taught in a home that understands what [it] means when you say [treat others how you want to be treated,] then you don't even know what that means, and we're trying to change that."

A hospital corpsman 1st class aboard USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) also asked wheter or not LCSs were going to be lessening the burden on other ships, or will they just be adding to the diversity of the Navy's warfare capabilities.

"They are going to be forward deployed, but not forward homeported, the crew rotation is going to be four to six months and they are designed to be overall changed out within 72 hours," said an audience member. "It is going to reduce the workflow of the DDGs and it's going to free up the cruisers [for other tasking.]"

Fleet Master Chief JoAnn Ortloff, the U.S. Navy Forces, Europe fleet master chief, also offered her take on the type of Sailor LCS will need to be successful.

"Everybody is going to be a starter on that ship, and you're going to have to know a multitude of jobs in order to get that ship under way and sustain it," she said. "The LCS Sailor is someone we look at very closely on the capability they have walking into that ship, and the capability they have walking away. Because the stamina and the educational foundation, the professional foundation that's necessary on that ship is above and beyond [what the Navy typically requires.] Because [when] you lose one Sailor [from the ship,] then you've lost more than one focus area of one job. The team is small, but the contribution is huge."

Ortloff also expressed her confidence with today's Navy.

"As I sit here with my 31 years in the Navy and I prepare for retirement in a year and half-the Navy is in excellent hands with all of our Sailors, particularly with our enlisted corps," she said.
Navy Photo

Fleet Master Chief, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet Susan Whitman speaks about the future force of the Navy at the 26th annual Surface Navy Association National Symposium. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Hurt.

Other panelists expressed their overwhelming certainty that today's Sailors are poised to carry the Navy forward into the next era.

"When we retire it's our sincere hope that the generation behind us are adequately prepared to replace us," said Fleet Master Chief Charles Clarke, Fleet Forces Command fleet master chief. "I'm here to tell you that this [discussion] solidifies the fact that our Sailors that are coming up behind us are not only prepared, but better than we are. I leave here today with a happy heart knowing that the discussions that the Sailors are having in their berthing spaces or out on liberty are the same discussions we are having at the fleet forces level - so we are kind of aligned."

The Surface Navy Association was incorporated in 1985 to promote greater coordination and communication among those in the military, business and academic communities who share a common interest in Naval Surface Warfare and to support the activities of Surface Naval Forces. The theme of this year's conference was "Surface Warfare - Warfighting First."

For more information about the SNA, visit