JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
On September 16, 2016 the United States Navy will continue one of its most revered traditions - the Pinning Ceremony for new Chief Petty Officers. This event is the culmination of months of intense training and indoctrination which began in earnest with the announcement of this year's Chief selectees. In addition to fulfilling their normal duties, each selectee will be mentored extensively by current Chiefs. The mentoring begins the selectees' transition to their new roles and in learning exactly what will be expected of them in their new positions.
The training is conducted in two phases:
Phase I - CPO 365 Phase I is mandatory for all First Class Petty Officers. Regardless of time-in-rate or board eligibility. According to the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Guidance Memorandum #2016-01, "The intent of Phase I is to strengthen a Sailors' foundation of leadership, management and technical capability through interactive, scenario-based, professional development and the shared experiences of CPOs. Done correctly, the result is a more confident, competent and effective leader."
According to the MCPON Memo, it also continues on saying that Phase II effectively integrates Chief Selects into the network of the CPO community. It cites that Phase II instills the values, beliefs and expectations required to contribute effectively and successfully within the CPO community. Also part of Phase II is the Chief Community Challenge which "tests the team/individual toughness and resilience of the Chief Select(s), evaluates performance and provides feedback to cultivate a culture of humility, trust and loyalty across the Navy."
For CPOs and Selectees, Phase II will contain the "same time-honored traditions we have embraced for years, including CPO Charge Books, meet-and-greets and a capstone event focused on the critical relevance of teamwork, toughness and resilience," according to the memo.
I am in charge of this year's Phase II training for selectees at Joint Base Charleston. To be a Chief is both a high privilege and a daunting responsibility. We are assumed to be 'the' subject matter experts within our job ratings and we are also expected to be everyday leaders earning the respect and loyalty of the Sailors with whom we serve. Chief Petty Officers make the Navy work.
To prepare the selectees, I recall with them the history of Chief Petty Officers who earned the Medal of Honor - our nation's highest recognition for bravery and valor. My personal favorite is Chief Waterman, Oscar V. Peterson, who served aboard the oiler USS NEOSHO during the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942. After Neosho was struck by Japanese drive bombers, Chief Peterson led a team of Sailors into the smoldering lower decks. Despite suffering severe burns that later proved fatal, he kept his ship afloat long enough to save her crew.
You don't become that kind of Chief overnight. You begin as a Seaman Recruit, carry out the orders of your supervisors, master your rating and always strive to improve. Then, with time and experience, you find within yourself the confidence, courage and the selflessness to lead others in the defense of freedom.
This year's Chief's Indoctrination will be conducted under the strict guidelines put in place by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy recognizing the dignity and self-worth of all selectees. Phase II also emphasizes the professional conduct of the Chiefs' community in fulfilling this time-honored tradition. "Your leadership, commitment and energy are the fuel for this process," stated MCPON Michael D. Stevens. "They will keep this distinguished institution vibrant and meaningful."