Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Friday, July 01, 2011

"The Charge Of Command"

Check out this letter the CNO sent to all Prospective Commanding Officers last month (and which I assume will be part of all future PCO training). Excerpts:
There are two accountability standards that we use to measure officers in Command. The first is the standard for measuring criminal behavior. This standard belongs to the courts and uses rules of evidence and procedure to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, whether a violation of a specific criminal code has occurred. The second accountability standard is trust. Our Navy's decentralized command and control structure is built on trust. Without trust, we cannot delegate authority. Without authority, we cannot fulfill our responsibilities. Therefore, without the delegation of authority, we simply cannot effectively operate our Navy. Trust is a fundamental building block of our command and control structure and our ability to achieve mission success.
As a Commanding Officer, you must build trust with those Officers and Sailors under your command. You build trust through your character and in your actions which demonstrate professional competence, judgment, good sense, and respect for those you lead. This trust can only be built through personal interaction on a daily basis at every level in your chain-of-command. Human interaction remains the dominant factor in leading Sailors; do not fall prey to the belief that a variety of contact through electronic media can substitute in a meaningful way for the direct contact afforded by daily Quarters, Officer’s Call or similar “face—to—face” leadership opportunities.
Once built, that trust is sustained by personal accountability — accountability to those same standards to which you hold those you lead. When trust and accountability are institutionalized in the routine of a command, the result is long—term success. When accountability is not enforced, the command and control structure, which is held together by trust, falls apart and the command eventually fails.
So what do you think? What upgrades would you make to the CNO's directive to PCOs?


Anonymous 3383 said...

Except for the opening- I might prefer referring to operational competence rather than mentioning criminal acts- it reads as good, common sense that somehow isn't so common.

Happy 4th, y'all!

7/01/2011 7:23 PM

Blogger SubIconoclast said...

This isn't entirely new, except that CNO finally bottom-lines it. ADM Harvey has been reinforcing the responsibility-authority-accountability relationship for some time now. The distinction between professional and criminal accountability was a central component of the recent SAN ANTONIO DFC discussion. Interesting to see ADM Roughead pick up this missive right at the tail end of his tenure, but make no mistake: this push is ADM Harvey's all the way (I'm guessing with quiet but firm support from ADM Donald as well).

Now when are the FOGOs going to start training their staffs (even including some post-command types) on lines of authority, and stop the endless stream of illegitimate "tasking" coming from anywhere other than ISIC? Last time I checked, N1/N4/N6 types on Group, TYCOM, or OPNAV staffs appear nowhere in my chain of command -- yet the Admirals appear happy to dilute the authority of Major Commanders by constantly releasing messages that bypass ISIC in tasking operational units directly in a cumulatively incoherent fashion.

Until the Flags finally demand discipline from their own staffs, they're going to have a hard time establishing what exactly Afloat Command truly means. Staff discipline and respect for operational lines of authority are what I'd like to see added to the recipe.

7/01/2011 7:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work for a Stockdale Award recipient. We do all the things laid out in the message. We start each day with a khaki call followed by divisional quarters. We all walk out of the room with a united front and execute the plan of the day. I wish I could have experienced this 15-20 years ago.

7/01/2011 8:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has competency fallen so far to justify shotgunning pathetic memos like this?

7/01/2011 9:52 PM

Anonymous above it all said...

In the officer ranks, without a doubt.

7/01/2011 10:17 PM

Anonymous Curtis said...

I will find trust in my chain of command when the leaders responsible for the LPD 17 acceptance and LCS acceptance are held accountable, hung drawn and quartered publicly. It is one thing to hold CO accountable but includes an incredible number of EDO, Acquisition Command and Program Managers who managed programs into total unmitigated disasters.

subiconconoclast reminds me of FBE Echo planning and a mean little USMC LTCOL who raved at me and the 3rd Fleet rep in one conference and demanded that we tell him just who the hell we worked for? He was going over our heads! He was going to rat us out. Who tasked us!!!!!???? We started out trying to explain TYCOMs and ISICs/overlap of same, numbered FLT as OPCON, total and completely seperate ADCON and how any was potentially free to invite me and my organization to do something each of the others had first right of refusal, all would squabble over who was going to pay for it and how the only time we dealt with the actual flag 00 at any of those organizations was when they called the boss on the carpet. Used to get calls from another numbered fleet staff located overseas asking if we could get one of our units over there in say 4 days? Sure, they'd follow up with the request but we'd start the swirl sure and certain that in these cases nobody would stand in the way and money would be found.
Now later that turned into CFFC actual showing up one after another and they'd look at our tasked units and deployed units and plaintively ask, who ordered this? Where's the DEPORDs and we'd point to those that we had and explain that nobody knew mission creep like we did and this sort of thing just kept happening. 45 minute briefings would last 3 hours before they'd leave shaking their heads but nothing changed, just more mission creep because nobody would say no to that fleet. They never ever called out our east coast counterparts because they had this thing laughingly called a chain of command which was in fact spring loaded to say no. It would take a few days to a week to get the powerpoint briefs together for 2nd Fleet, NECC, CFFC get on their schedules to brief them, after approval, get into JFCC and get their buy in and then generate the various PLANORDS, WARNORDS DEPORDS etc so maybe 2 or 4 months later. It was painful to watch.

I remember the old DESRON and we had the maintenance DESRON the ASW Readiness DESRON, admin DESRON, deployable DESRON staffs and then much later they they came up with CLASSRONs and individual ships could find truly weird crap going on. For instance we were in DESRON 5 out of the yards but we embarked DESRON 7 and after them DESRON 23 because it was San Diego and those staffs didn't have any office space and had to embark on somebody to get desks.

Sub guys have clearly worked out real chains of command but the rest of us continue with illusions that provide some employment for lots of admirals and staffers.

Real leaders hold everybody to the same standard. They don't say the rules only apply to some and ignore the rest.

7/02/2011 1:04 AM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Ernie King has a phrase that described this: 'orders to follow orders.'

He didn't much like such things.

7/02/2011 4:49 AM

Blogger Chap said...

And the Duck for the win. I'd also quibble about the tendency in the front office to Capitalize all Nouns like we're speaking German or something.

7/02/2011 7:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I work for a Stockdale Award recipient. We do all the things laid out in the message. We start each day with a khaki call followed by divisional quarters. We all walk out of the room with a united front and execute the plan of the day. I wish I could have experienced this 15-20 years ago."

It is actually scary to read this sort of question is when did this ever stop?

7/02/2011 8:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I think if someone is good at being in command of ships, then they should do it more than once.

Unfortunately, everybody is reaching for that "golden ring" and are in and out of command so fast, you would almost never know they were there.

Every change of command has the outgoing CO saying this was the "pinnacle of career", "his greatest achievement", etc. etc. Well, let him command another boat! Fire the bad ones and keep the good. My last boat, during a four and half year tour, I had 3 CO's and 4 XO's. It was like a factory. All of them did the minimum tour and kept on moving through the pipeline.

7/02/2011 8:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never been on a ship where this did not happen, every day, when in port. I am surprised to find that any ship abandoned traditional officer/LPO call every morning.

Shore commands? Maybe once a week...

7/02/2011 8:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did PCO's make it this far without already knowing the contents of the letter?

It's funny that the CNO says " not fall prey to the belief that a variety of contact through electronic media can substitute in a meaningful way for the direct contact..." and then sends it out as a memo!

If want to have a direct influence on PCO's...sit everyone of them down in front of you and tell them exactly what your expectations are. Sometimes we call this a "come to jesus" meeting.

7/02/2011 9:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After Officers' call on the tender, I (xO) would grab one Division Officer and go to Quarters with him. Worked very well - they never knew who it would be, so they all were ready.

7/02/2011 9:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me clarify my previous comment. I work for a Stockdale recipient. I've been in the navy for 26 years and since the time that I have been in a leadership role, I have striven to follow the points laid out in The Charge of Command.

I started on submarines in 1987 and served on several boats in good and bad command climates. There were people who made bad commands tolerable and in the good commands, the CO/XO/COB would seek out these people and develop them. In 2000, I went LDO and started serving on carriers. The person I would work for on a carrier was a post command (DDG/FFG) Commander or Captain. Working directly for a post CO trying to screen for a major command (CG) taught me a lot about differences in how leaders lead. Unfortunately as an officer, this is the first command where I've been stationed that has actually mentored me from the standpoint of being a commanding officer. That has really opened my eyes beyond the blinders of a career in nuclear power. I wish I had been exposed to this kind of one on one mentoring earlier in my career. I'm a better naval officer for the experience.

7/02/2011 9:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How did PCO's make it this far without already knowing the contents of the letter?"

You're right, this should not be the first time they're exposed to this type of admonition. But it does need to be repeated. Without repetition, it gets diluted by everything else. Repitition is reinforcement.

7/04/2011 10:17 AM

Anonymous ssnret said...

This is the belief that needs to be pushed as far down the COC as possible. As I read it, I thought "This would be a good Welcome Aboard speech for XO's to give to ALL officers and COB's to CPO's at every checkin." Anonymous at 10:17 said "repetition is reinforcement." and that is exactly right. If every leader reads this out loud and takes it onboard maybe there would be fewer firings. Just saying.

7/04/2011 3:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ernie King? Really? The Duck never misses an opportunity to drop a name or make one familiar.

7/07/2011 1:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ 7/07/2011 1:07 PM Anonymous said..."Ernie King? Really? The Duck never misses an opportunity to drop a name or make one familiar."

Maybe he does know them all. Maybe he is right or wrong. Either way, you and a couple of other pond scum pole-sucking idiots never ever waste an opportunity to fill the space of this blog with personal attacks on the Duck. Argue with him...challenge him out (I have) but keep the personal attacks for your boyfriends!

Blog on Duck!

7/07/2011 3:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personal attacks? Pond sucking pole smokers? Boyfriends? Take your meds anon, read all the posts again and then tell us which one was the most extreme, off topic and irrational.

Ding, Ding, yes, you are the winner.

7/10/2011 4:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...another anti-Ducky idiot heard from...or probably the same one. Love it...go hang around perez please...

7/11/2011 11:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The decision to select you for Command was not made lightly; you were selected based on your demonstrated successful past performance and a determination by Senior Officers..."

...yet seniors seem quick to throw them under the bus and forget their successful past. (CAPT Honors). How 'bout going to bat for your peeps instead, since they were selected based on successful past performance, etc, etc...

10/22/2012 3:55 PM


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