WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) Gregory J. Slavonic completed his first overseas trip in the position meeting with personnel, leaders and dignitaries in Djibouti, Bahrain and Italy.
"As a former reservist myself, I was grateful for the opportunity to conduct this trip with the commander of our Navy Reserve Force,” he said referring to Vice Adm. Luke McCollum, chief of Naval Reserve, who accompanied him during the trip.
“In my first overseas trip in this position, I greatly appreciated meeting our hardworking men and women as well as their families in Italy, Bahrain, and Djibouti. The work they do every day is of strategic significance and I was honored to have the chance to meet with them during this trip,” Slavonic said in Washington upon his return.
The tour started in Djibouti where Slavonic, McCollum and Navy Reserve Force Master Chief Chris D. Kotz visited the East African base Feb. 2-4. Camp Lemonnier, home to more than 900 forward-deployed Sailors; two-thirds of whom are Navy Reservists.
Slavonic, who was sworn in to his current position, June 11 last year, attended the 77th Annual Seabee Ball Official Ceremony; a few all-hands calls at the base; and had meals with Sailors and Marines. In an all-hands call, he said he joined the Navy in 1971 enlisting as a seaman recruit and spent most of his 34-year career as a reservist, retiring at the rank of rear admiral.
In Bahrain, Slavonic visited the crews of USS Monsoon (PC 4) and USS Gladiator (MCM 11) as well as the Department of Defense Dependents School (DODDS). He also took time to visit with active duty and reserve sailors on their experiences while deployed.
Cdr. Terrence Jones, the total force, manpower, manning and personnel director for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command explained in Bahrain the importance of the Navy reserve.
“The reserve component of the U.S. Navy is a crucial for maritime superiority,” said Jones. “Without the reserves, success in forward-deployed locations would be a daunting task. The active, reserve, and Department of Defense (DoD) civilian components of a forward-deployed location work together like a three-legged stool. If you take one leg away, the whole mission is affected.”
Slavonic’s visit in Italy began with a meeting with Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, to discuss the region as well as personnel matters.
He also visited the US Navy Hospital in Naples, Italy where he met with family members, patients, and medical staff.
Capt. Richard Knittig, commander, US Navy Hospital, Naples Italy expressed how honored they were to host the assistant secretary.
“Our role in the medical field is to keep warfighters in the fight. Having Secretary Slavonic talk with our Corpsmen and providers re-instills the importance of that mission,” he said.
Hospital staff was equally excited to have a visit with an assistant secretary of the Navy.
“He took such a genuine interest in who we are as professionals,” Lt. Jessica Tate, a pediatric nurse within Medical Home Port, said. “He asked us all where we were from and where we went to school; I could tell he really cares about people.”
Lt. j.g. Haley Huff shared her sentiments.
“Secretary Slavonic was so personable,” Huff said. “He even noticed my bull JG collar device. It was great to see the head of manpower at our deck plate.”
Hospitalman Jonathan Cancino said this was his first command out of corps school.
“Having an assistant secretary walk through our halls and talk to us is definitely a memorable experience,” he said.
Slavonic said he was appreciative of the feedback and discussions he had with the staff at the hospital and at the bases concerning personnel matters. Having discussions like these first hand allowed him to hear from the source if there are any concerns, he said.