Military News

Monday, May 18, 2015

VCNO Speaks About Diversity at Military Institute in Singapore

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh, Commander, Task Force 73 Public Affairs

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- The U.S. Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) spoke to military officers at Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College at the Singapore Armed Forces Technical Military Institute (SAFTI), May 18, about the value of a diverse work force and the challenges in developing one.

Adm. Michelle Howard delivered her remarks at SAFTI's request for its distinguished speakers program. Like many militaries in the region, the SAF is exploring ways to enhance diversity among its ranks.

During Howard's presentation she highlighted changing demographics, emphasized strong diversity in the work force and gave leadership advice using examples from her own career and recent academic studies.

"Sometimes we can't see outside our framework," said Howard, "and that's why we get surprised. So you have to deal with slow change and then you have to be positioned for surprise and so the question is as a leader, and an officer, how do you manage to get ready for both?

More than 100 military officers across all branches and nine countries attended the program. The program has been part of the college's educational platform since 1997 and was created to broaden and enrich the learning experiences of all officers in attendance. Howard emphasized that the number one career developmental milestone for future military leaders is access to positive role models.

"Having positive role models is really important to each of us and our ability to grow up in an organization. ...So that when we as officers see positive role models, that is a leadership icon for us to look up to and to say I can do that."

The first female four-star admiral, Adm. Michelle Howard assumed office as VCNO last year. Howard has long been an advocate of diversity in the Navy.

"Dr. Linus Pauling says that in life you can't [just] get a good idea. The best way to get a good idea is to generate a lot of ideas and grab the best one. And if you don't have diversity in perspective it is very hard to generate a lot of different ideas in order to figure out what the best one is."

She highlighted how well the U.S. military is doing to narrow the gender gap and noted the Navy's integration of women serving on submarines and current studies on incorporating women into combat roles.

Following the joint session, Howard took questions and engaged in a dialogue with military personnel attending the conference. The discussion touched on leadership, recruiting a diverse work force, retention and family.

Howard is visiting Singapore as part of the Lion City's International Maritime Defense Exhibition (IMDEX) Asia. Later in the week, she will meet with counterparts from several international navies and speak at the International Maritimes Security Conference (IMSC) and Asia-Pacific Submarine Conference (APSC).

IMDEX is the Asia Pacific's premier international maritime defense show. In its 10th iteration, the biennial conference will host an exhibition, strategic conferences and warships display. U.S. units participating in the conference include the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) and the fast-attack submarine USS Pasadena (SSN 752).

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