DVIDS – News – SWO Boss Focuses on Sailor Impact and Culture to Improve Surface Force Mastery

Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener spoke to an audience gathered at the Surface Marine Association Waterfront Conference to highlight the importance of leadership and the vital role sailors play in building a solid culture that anchors surface strength.

During his address, Kitchener emphasized the impact of skill and ships that are led by confident yet humble leaders.

“Our sailors are capable of overcoming any obstacle with the right leadership, the right training and the right tools,” Kitchener said. “We demand competence and we only achieve it by training our sailors into crews who are confident, tested and able to adapt as a team to the most difficult situations.”

Kitchener noted two recent examples of USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) operating in support of NATO in the North Atlantic and USS Mustin (DDG 89) operating in the South China Sea, explaining how the training and skill allowed these crews to perform well in harsh conditions and austere environments.

“These sailors demonstrated ingenuity, interoperability and tactical expertise, but for them it was little more than doing their job,” Kitchener said. “They knew what they were doing. Those events, those decisions, those Marines define Surface Force. That’s who we are, bold, professional fighters.

Kitchener stressed that the goal is for each ship to operate at a high level of competence. To that end, Kitchener said Surface Force must reduce variance through standardization, trust, transparency, consistent learning, and a culture of safety.

“It takes leaders to do this,” Kitchener said. “To demand honest discussions about risk and preparation, especially when it feels most uncomfortable, and to receive the information without adding undue stress or urgency.”

The goal, Kitchener noted, is to improve combat readiness.

“Our job is to create that environment and those teams across the Surface Force by developing and refining the character, skill, and connectivity essential to the success and, most importantly, the victory of tomorrow’s combat.”

Kitchener said the Surface Force has invested heavily in learning and providing proficiency tools since the 2017 collisions and the major fire aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in 2020. The Navy opened new seafarer skills training centres; in San Diego and Norfolk, installed dozens of ship handling simulators, advanced damage control conversations and provided new electronic classrooms in all fleet concentration areas. These initiatives are having a noticeable effect.

But Kitchener warned that the programs are only as effective as the people running them.

“It’s our leaders, our mentors, our shipmates who are hungry to learn and have the ability to recognize when tactics aren’t working and reevaluate them,” Kitchener said. “They have to use every challenge or mistake as an opportunity for development – personal and professional. No one is infallible and we have to humble ourselves, throughout our careers, to keep learning.

Kitchener ended his remarks by highlighting the impact of sailors.

“When Sailors are surrounded by peers and commanders who appreciate their contributions and help them as they struggle, their growth is exponential,” Kitchener said. “We must also commit to improving ourselves, reducing the gaps we see in our strength, developing the character of our leaders, and changing the culture of learning in our community. Don’t get me wrong, we’re making progress because it’s the right thing to do. More importantly, it improves our combat readiness. This allows us to produce more ready-to-use ships, outfitted with crews of sailors that will give pause to any opponent who plans to test us today, tomorrow, or in the future.

Date taken: 05.09.2022
Date posted: 05.09.2022 18:26
Story ID: 420308
Location: Virginia, United States

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