JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) Adm. John Harvey Jr. and USFFC Fleet Master Chief FLTCM(AW/NAC) Mike Stevens conducted a town hall meeting Feb. 15 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville with leaders from the station and tenant commands.
Topics of discussion included leadership, trust, standards and training.
"Today, my focus is on you, our deckplate leaders - which is where I always say, 'the rubber meets the road' - and the chain of command looks to you to carry out the orders, uphold the standards and make the training real," said Harvey to the standing-room-only crowd in the Patrol Squadron Thirty auditorium.
"I read the overnight reports concerning the 135,000 people who work for me - and like any large organization, we have some issues that detract from where we need to be. Whether you're a maintainer, pilot, aircrew or NFO (naval flight officer), the most important question at the end of the day is how well did you lead the people who were placed in your charge," he continued.
With more than 39 years of naval service, Harvey reminded the audience that the fundamental elements of leadership haven't changed much since the founding of America's Navy in 1775.
"Trust is the glue that holds everything together. It means, that at the moment of truth, you will do the right thing according to Navy standards, whether people are or are not watching you. There are three primary reasons why you must earn the trust of your people in uniform," Harvey said. "First, is your professional competence. Next is your practical wisdom - I call it common sense - on when to follow rules to the letter or write a new rulebook according to the situation. And third, is your respect for those you lead. Just like you, today's young Sailors raised their right hands to take the oath to 'protect and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies' with no conditions. And, we reaffirm that oath at every promotion ceremony.
Harvey continued, "We talk a lot about the importance of standards and consistently enforcing them. Each is time tested and combat proven to drive how we operate, maintain, inspect and certify commands in every community. At the practical level, standards are about a Sailor knowing something is not right - and then doing something about it - because problems will not fix themselves. That's why deckplate leaders must develop smart, 'self-correcting' Sailors who solve problems before they become major issues. When you look at successful squadrons and ships like our Battle 'E' winners, you see that they not only meet standards, but more likely, they raise the bar for trust and training within their unit."
Harvey also addressed what he called the increasing levels of "uncertainty" surrounding today's Navy.
"We've seen it by going through the involuntary separation process known as ERB (Enlisted Retention Board). Naturally, retained Sailors are looking at each other and wondering, 'Who's next? And what's next?' There's additional uncertainty about pay scales, retirement benefits and our force structure," Harvey said. "So, I urge you to keep your Sailors focused on what they can control - work hard, get qualified, build trust and stay out of trouble."
Stevens relieved one point of uncertainty when he announced there would be no ERB in FY 13 or FY 14. He also spoke of chiefs' messes taking advantage of training to polish their leadership and communication skills.
"It's important for senior enlisted to reenergize their focus on CPO responsibilities, team building and leader development. Key elements include: teamwork within the mess; communication with the wardroom; how chiefs can mentor junior officers; and how chiefs are managing key personnel programs," explained Stevens.
After the town hall meeting, Harvey's group visited the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70 "Spartans," Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11 Mobile Tactical Operations Center, the P-8A Integrated Training Center and the Patrol Squadron 10 "Red Lancers." Harvey and Stevens also dined with command master chiefs at the NAS Jacksonville Flight Line Café.
U.S. Fleet Forces Command supports both the chief of naval operations (CNO) and combatant commanders worldwide by providing responsive, relevant, sustainable Naval forces that are ready for tasking. Additionally, USFFC serves as the CNO's designated executive agent for Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection, Individual Augmentees and Sea Basing.