I hope all had a chance to enjoy the holiday period with loved ones and/or with people you enjoy being around. I also hope your batteries have been recharged and you are ready to continue tackling the challenges we face as a community in addition to the challenges of your assigned billet with renewed enthusiasm.
2017 was a busy year that had some long standing projects come to fruition or close to being completed but also a year of significant changes. We changed sponsors from RADM White to RADM Cozad in August. You got a new OCM in May, a new CWO OCM in August and lost the assistant OCM (LT Holly Taylor). I am still answering the phone from individuals looking for LT Taylor validating the impact she made on the fleet during her tenure. The torch was passed to us from those that continuously fought to improve our community and make it "relevant". It is up to us to live up to the lofty expectations of not only the title but of the responsibility of taking care of all LDO/CWOs.
I recently returned from attending the LDO/CWO Board of Directors (BOD) meeting in Pensacola. I am sure there are many in our community that don’t even know we have a BOD or if they are aware of one probably have no idea about what they do. I was once in that category so I thought it would be prudent to share some history and what transpired during our recent BOD.
Prior to 2010 the LDO/CWO community would send their senior leaders (CAPT/CWO5) from each designator to Millington for a Senior Leadership Conference to discuss community matters. Due to fiscal cuts, the Leadership Conference was disbanded and the LDO/CWO BOD was born. The BOD makeup consists of our Silver Eagle (President), Head LDO/CWO OCM (Vice President), SWON, CWO OCM and the NUC OCM. Additional members are senior leaders from each competitive category (surface, sub/nuc, aviation, general line and staff, IWC (CWO5 only due to having no control grade work for LDOs) and special interest (female representation if absent as a senior leader and spec warfare). This makeup ensures equal representation across all Competitive Categories.
Farewell RADM White! Sir, on behalf of all LDOs and CWOs (active and retired) who have had the honor to serve under your leadership, I say thanks for your guidance and support, Fair Winds and Following Seas. Welcome aboard to our new LDO/CWO sponsor, RADM Cozad. We look forward to your assistance and guidance. I had the opportunity to brief RADM Cozad at the end of August. He is a big fan of our community and is genuinely interested in our health and sustainability. He understands the direction we are going with Officer Sustainability Initiative and how that will change the way we promote two years from now. He also understands our current initiatives and challenges in certain designators. My goal is to keep RADM Cozad well informed and involved in shaping our community.
I have been your OCM for the past two months and the first thing I can state is how fortunate we have been to have had CAPT Bill Johnson leading our community for the last three years. There is no playbook or course on how to be an OCM so you have to be ready to instantly jump into high gear and prepare to provide the right answers during briefings to high ranking officials because you may not get a second chance and if you do it will be at the cost of lots of lost time. CAPT Johnson made this difficult task look easy and he fought the tough battles to keep our community prospering and for that we owe him our gratitude.
I recently reached out to our senior leaders (CAPT and CWO5) and gave them my initial thoughts as your new OCM. Here is the shorter version of those letters.
“The LDO/CWO Community is in great shape and we are “RELEVANT” to our line communities. We are very healthy across most of our designators. Our overall manning is 3617 LDOs at 101% and 1711 CWOs at 94% manned. Those are solid numbers! One of the first things I asked when I checked onboard is, “what makes a designator healthy”. You need 72 billets for LDOs and 25 billets for CWOs in order to be able to sporadically make a CAPT and CWO5. The more billets in a designator the more steady state promotions become. Our goal is to have healthy designators across the board and maintain our billet structure as relevant (the right designator and paygrade as required) as we look for opportunities to build new billets.
The thing that amazes me is how long it takes to actually enact change. A good example is our recent win on the initiative that was started seven years ago to establish an Acoustic Warrant Officer Designator in support of the IUSS Community. Starting this upcoming FY we will be accessing four 7280 (this is the former Submarine Electronics designator) applicants to fill these 25 new billets.
The big upcoming change/goal in our community is the way we are proposing to promote in FY21 that has gotten the most attention, the Revised Competitive category (RCC) promotion plan or as most ofus know it, promote by Enterprise. I was a detailer in 2008 when this initiative was first discussed and I was against it from the start. Why would I want to change a system that benefits me? My designator has always promoted well against others. Does that keep the community relevant? The answer is and has always been no. With RCC, our chances of getting the right LDO/CWO designator selected are exponentially higher with equal and in some cases better individual opportunity. When you do the math, the picture is much clearer than what I can articulate. Overall, this change will make us more “RELEVANT” and provide better support to our line communities with the right paygrade in the right designator. NAVADMIN 157/17 has been released changing LDO and CWO Officer Summary Groups on 1 Oct 2017, to reflect the five (Aviation, Surface, NUC/Sub, General line/staff and IWC) proposed promotion categories.
NEW EAGLES - Please join us in congratulating our newest group of LDO Captains: CDRs – Matthew Arnold, Robert Bailey, William Bell, Ed Callahan, David Dwyer, Morris Oxendine, John Popham, Jeff Sandin and Anthony Taranto.***
Changes at the Top, Our Silver Eagle and SWON have both held turnovers. Please join us in extending our gratitude to Captain Dan Henderson and CWO5 Dan Kissel for their dedication and leadership over the past several years. With this turnover we have eliminated the requirement to have the first name DAN and our new leaders are Captain Pierre Fuller and CWO5 Anthony “Tony” Diaz.
Talent Management (RCC) update. We continue to move forward with efforts to provide a more technically focused force. Expectations are that FY-18 will begin changes to LDO and CWO Officer Summary Groups in preparation for future changes to competitive categories for promotion.
First of all Congrats to the new LDO (274) and CWO (196) Selects. This is always a special time of the year as we all know the LDO and CWO results are the first of a long board season. The biggest thing you can do is prepare yourselves for the next level and PAY-IT-FORWARD. Share your knowledge and it’s never too early to pave the way for your relief. BZ!!!!
The anxiety is always high this time of the year. We just rolled back from the holidays and move right into the board season. We have taken several calls from officers frustrated that they were either in or below zone. Some folks just want a little more time and others just can't wait. In preparation for the board season LT Holly Taylor has put out a lot of good gouge on various subjects. The range from how to update your record to how to read a zone list which have all been posted on Facebook page and will be on our website. These articles were generated from questions from the fleet. If you are curious JUST ASK.
In our travels, questions about mentorship come up quite often. We are seeing a very large population at our briefs of Third and Second Class Petty Officers. That is where mentorship is exceling right now. The difficulties we are seeing on the road have more to do with the mentorship of the senior First Class and Chief Petty Officers. We have to be consistent on our mentorship across all pay grades.
I would submit that mentoring a Third Class on the “way ahead” is way different than mentoring an 11+ year First Class. Obviously one has years to formulate their path and the other has already formed a culture of success, or not, in their path. Be sure you know the difference. Understand if you have a 12 year First Class or 18 year Senior Chief you really have 2 years at best to guide them through the process.
Mentoring and Counseling happens 7 days a week and 365 days out of the year. It is imperative that we
are honest, sincere and to the point. We will undoubtedly fail our shipmates if we say what they want to
hear versus what is realistic.
No limitation on Above Zone (AZ) selections. If an individual has time to zone a second
time and is on course be careful what you say. The LDO AZ results this year showed 0
CAPTs, 11 CDRs and 12 LCDRs. The CWO AZ results this year showed 4 CWO5s and 15
CWO4s. AZ selections have increased over the years but have always existed. The board
guidance is BEST and FULLY QUALIFIED. That’s been the rules forever.
Board results out this time of the year are both exciting and disappointing. The advice we provide our
officers has to be timely and correct. When we provide Failure of Selection (FOS) counseling keep it
simple and find out what they are missing or the commonalities in all the selects. If you have any
questions about advising an officer…Call their respective detailers. The detailers are their career
counselors and have the most current
Commissioning, Change of Commands and Retirements
A commissioning ceremony is a time honored tradition regardless of commissioning source. It's an opportunity to visit with a newly commissioned officer as well as their respective families. The family is so proud and it's a great mentoring opportunity on Day 1 Hour 1. If ever you lose faith in what drove you to get a commission…attend a commissioning ceremony.
This seems like a pretty straightforward question but really how do you prepare? Every seasoned O6/O5/O4/W5 will steer you center of the channel BUT some go at 10 KTs, 15 KTs and yes 350KTs. If you’re a guy or gal that moves at 350 KTs you might want to start earlier so you don’t miss something. Is one approach better than the other? I can tell you that there is NO big secret BUT many common items to look at. While discussing this I will use the FY16 LCDR Line results, but this is applicable to all boards. And a big thing to remember is that we are all really good, but we all end up in the CRUNCH!!!
What are Off Ramp Communities and why do we have them?
In 2010 during the LDO Officer Sustainability Initiative (OSI) it was determined LDOs in the IDC and Supply communities would off-ramp to respective Restricted Line (RL) Communities. The desired end state was to create stable RL and Staff Corps communities through the accession of LDOs and transition to the RL and Staff designators. This created a more diversified control grade inventory, while simultaneously eliminating inventory to billet mismatches.
I've been asked several times: "How to transition to the wardroom?" First, and foremost there is no simple answer because no two LDO's or CWO's backgrounds are the same. So I will focus on some simple rules that I've either been taught or have learned over the years.
The last several months we have traveled to Naples, Bahrain, Jacksonville, Mayport, Kings Bay and culminated with a Board of Directors (BOD) Leadership
Off-site in Pensacola. A common concern throughout our travels was the future of Naval Security Forces (NSF) and their new career path. If you are a Security LDO or CWO (6490/7491), any and all changes or modifications to your career path will be promulgated via Navy Message or NAVADMIN. A future career path brief was provided for situational awareness and should be viewed as such. The problem with running ahead of any official guidance is you may be working off DRAFT #1 or #21. Either way you may not have the whole picture; so while providing mentorship to future Mustangs we need to be current. The FY-17 Active Duty LDO and CWO In-service Procurement Board NAVADMIN is 156/15 (DTG 061959Z JUL 15). It is prudent that we understand our current requirements.
Well the OCM shop has been on the road quite a bit this last 2 months. We’ve had an opportunity to meet solid candidates and constituents alike. It is truly the best part of the job. Remember for our briefs it’s about who shows up and more importantly who doesn’t. This is the biggest problem I see on our visits. Over these trips there are two trips that stand out.
If you mentored a Sailor that was not selected let’s provide some solid feedback and get them back in the game for this year. In a recent trip to Guam/Hawaii, I was refreshed to see a lot of E-5’s at our recruiting briefs. It’s not too early to start preparing our reliefs. Unfortunately, many of them did not have active mentors which got resolved before we left both islands. PLEASE… get the word out that spouses are encouraged to attend either the recruiting or Community Retention/Career Management briefs. We had several spouses attend in Hawaii and I’m absolutely positive it was beneficial to their families. If POC’s in geographical areas desire a spouse brief after normal work hours let us know. We will accommodate.
Since becoming the OCM, I have had the opportunity to visit many ships, regions, and installations. During those visits I have had similar conversations over and over with senior leaders, both within and outside our community. The main topic of discussion is Mustang Pride?
The professionalism on display by LDOs and CWOs around the Navy would make anyone proud to be a Mustang. That’s the good, but let me share the bad. Have you heard or ever said, "I did it the hard way, I earned it"? Over the years I have come to appreciate how shortsighted it is to make this statement or include it in commissioning, promotion, or retirement programs.
Here’s why: The odds are that the senior officers you pay your respects to every day with a "Yes, Sir" or "Yes, Ma’am" kind of thinks they earned it as well. Your pride may be well-deserved, but if it places you above others it’s probably something you should revisit.
August was a busy month and we found ourselves on the road for several days as we continued to provide the road show community and applicant briefs to those commands that requested our presence. We attended the SEAL conference in San Diego to discuss the CWO SEAL community future and we had a great visit. We also traveled all the way to Guam to visit the base and submarine tenders, and received a great showing and support while there. We had to rush back to Millington to prepare and brief the Chief of Naval Personnel, VADM Van Buskirk, on the LDO & CWO Sustainability Initiative on 27 September. The CNP was very receptive to the work being done and has asked for further follow-up by the N13 (RADM Kurta) and NPC (RADM Covell) to the Enterprise Flag Officers and their manpower shops on where we are headed with the correcting of our pyramids and building a more viable and sustainable LDO & CWO community.