JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
It was once called initiation.
Through the years, initiation became induction, induction became transition, and now, transition has become CPO 365.
CPO 365 is a year-round training initiative Chief Petty Officer messes (associations) throughout the Navy conduct to prepare all first class petty officers (E-6) to become chiefs (E-7). Introduced in 2010 under former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West, CPO 365 includes two phases, the first of which continues year around.
"As soon as we pin anchors on our new chiefs in September at the end of Phase Two, we roll right back into Phase One," said Master Chief Robert Bostic, Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston command master chief. "Year round training in the form of Phase One provides us the opportunity to work with our first classes and prepare them for the additional responsibilities they will assume once they put on their chief's anchors."
At Joint Base Charleston, CPO 365 is a joint effort of the LowCountry CPO Association, made up of chiefs from the Naval Support Activity Charleston, the Naval Health Clinic Charleston, the Naval Consolidated Brig and the Naval Munitions Command.
Seasoned chief petty officers guide all four commands' first class petty officers through a variety of subjects, from leadership training to personal appearance and physical fitness, as well as Navy culture and history. But, while the chiefs are there to guide and keep the discussions lively, the training itself is conducted by the first classes.
"My job is coordinating with the first classes who will actually do the teaching and training," said Senior Chief Petty Officer John Infante, NHCC Clinical Support services and CPO 365 coordinator. "We (the chiefs) supplement their training with our knowledge, challenging the first classes with hypothetical situations based on our real life experiences."
Petty Officer First Class Ryan Kinder, Naval Support Activity Administration leading petty officer said, "This training gives us a lot of insight into different methods of leadership. By interacting with the chiefs, we gain a greater understanding of what the Navy's expectations are for us once we put on khakis."
Phase One training lasts throughout the year and runs concurrent with Phase Two training which begins when the selectees are announced. Phase Two concludes with the chief petty officer pinning ceremony in September, a period of about six weeks. Many of the Phase Two training requirements are restricted to the actual chief selectees, but non-selectees take part in as much of the training as possible.
Phase Two still contains some similarities to the old initiations as they once were. Chief Petty Officer Charge Books, which require selectees to seek out chief petty officers for their advice, and a robust physical training program are two holdovers from the old days, but Phase Two also implements a capstone exercise to get the selectees to focus on teamwork and resilience.
Prior to CPO 365, the Navy did not have a standardized training syllabus in place to train new chief petty officers. Individual chief's messes would often base their training on years of tradition and "the way it was always done." And while much of that tradition is time-honored and still relevant today, many of the taskings once assigned to chief selectees served little purpose and have now been eliminated.
"Today's CPO training is not much different than it was in years' past when it comes to the actual business of leadership training," said Bostic. "You have to read and understand the guidance put out by the MCPON. We are still training chiefs and providing them with the tools they will need to be successful deckplate leaders ... we're just doing it smarter and with a purpose or meaning to everything we do."
"We take this training very seriously," said Master Chief Petty Officer Joseph Gardner, Naval Support Activity command master chief. "All of us wearing chief's anchors know the importance of this program and as chiefs, we feel a very strong obligation to ensure the young men and women we are training today are going to be worthy of their anchors when they put them on."