NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) -- In his first Commanders Training Symposium (CTS) as Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific (CNSP), Vice Adm. Rich Brown called on commodores and commanding officers to drive toward a culture of excellence within their commands and to be prepared to turn their readiness into lethality, Oct. 17.
“We’re not building readiness for readiness sake,” Brown told the group of nearly 100 commodores and commanding officers. “We’re building readiness so that we can turn it into lethality. We need to expand our warfighting ethos. Tell your crews to get ready to go into the fight.”
Brown made the remarks at CTS, which was a forum for commanders and commanding officers to receive updates on fleet-wide initiatives, as well as ask questions and provide feedback directly to CNSP. During the daylong event, Brown told the assembled leaders that the surface community must evolve its mindset from one of a culture of compliance into a culture of excellence.
“After the incidents of 2017, we absolutely had to have a culture of compliance. We had to re-establish our standards within the surface force and we had to comply with those standards to get the ship righted again. We’ve done that. We’ve had successes in 2018. But simple compliance doesn’t win battles. We need to build on that compliance – meeting basic standards – and now build a culture of excellence. Only then will we achieve operational excellence and transition readiness into warfighting lethality,” said Brown.
Brown also reminded commanding officers of the importance of command. He highlighted “mission command,” or the ability of a subordinate commander to successfully execute a mission with minimal guidance, as essential for success in maritime warfare and that mission command can only be accomplished through a well-established culture of excellence.
“I value command above all else. Incredible trust and accountability are placed on your shoulders. That’s why we spent 2018 developing and establishing TYCOM policies to support you to get your job done as the CO.” He asked for and received direct and valuable feedback from the more than 90 commanding officers across the surface force.
These updated policies and initiatives were briefed during the event, including the Surface Warfare Officer Career Path and Training Continuum as well as force manning, training, maintenance and safety initiatives, all with the goal to build a culture of excellence.
For example, a rewrite of the Surface Force Training and Readiness Manual (SFTRM) will be published Nov. 1, 2018, that accomplishes two important goals. First, it puts a big “T” (Training) and little “a” (assessment) into Afloat Training Groups (ATGs). Second, while maintaining the same standards, the SFTRM changes the delivery strategy of Basic Phase Training such that the focus is first on certifying ship watchteams with ATG conducting the training and drill execution, then focusing on ship training team certification, to ensure the ships are able to continuously train during the Optimized Fleet Replacement Plan (OFRP) cycle. Importantly, ships that are able to demonstrate proficiency and meet standards during Certification Events (CEs) will certify when they meet those standards, vice the time-based, lock-step compliance method of the Surface Force Readiness Manual (SFRM). Ship COs who build a culture of excellence within their crews and certify earlier, will get the remaining time of the Basic Phase as their own, to further build upon their culture of excellence and warfighting ethos.
Another example of building a culture of excellence is the establishment of the Maritime Skills Training Centers (MSTC) in Norfolk and San Diego – the centers of excellence for navigation, seamanship and shiphandling. The MSTCs will enable surface warfare officers to receive robust training, a fourfold increase in simulation hours and training, to ensure mariner skills excellence is developed throughout their career. Brown also laid out how the new policies with regard to surface warfare officer qualification, department head selection, maintenance and CASREP correction, and the Surface Warfare Officer Career Path and Training Continuum focus on excellence.
Brown emphasized that the TYCOMs and Navy leadership are committed to building a culture of excellence, and have enacted and revised polices to support that effort, but to be truly successful, ships must also shift their mindset from compliance to excellence.
Brown ended the CTS with a review of the Commander, U. S. Pacific Fleet’s Commander’s Guidance and an in-depth discussion on warfighting. “We build and maintain our ships to be ready to go forward, fight, win and come home. That’s why we exist – make sure your crews know that’s why we exist and tell them to be ready to fight.” Citing the Battles of Guadalcanal, Cape St. George and Leyte Gulf, Brown highlighted the absolute necessity to drive towards excellence in all that we do, so that we are ready to fight and win as we did during those trying times.
“Be bold, but don’t be rash. Manage your risk. And remember, as the CO goes, so goes the ship!” Brown stated closing out the CTS.
This was CNSP’s first CTS since Brown assumed command in January. He plans to host another CTS in the Spring of 2019, following the 31st annual Surface Navy Association (SNA) National Symposium, but he wants the conversation to continue between now and then.
“I don’t want the discussion to end. I want to hear from you. We are here to help you do your jobs. We can set up the environment for you to be successful, but you have to command.”