Monday, March 31, 2014

Conflict Management: Resolving Issues at the Lowest Level


I can’t say it enough: your hard work and professionalism shines in every job you do. Carrying the burden of balancing family responsibilities, civilian career and your service can be extremely challenging and stressful, yet you are unwavering in your commitment and continue to amaze me and make me very proud. But, if you’re having issues with another Shipmate’s treatment, or behavior toward you or others, don’t let that add to your stress. Know that your leadership has the authority, experience and my support to address problems as they occur. So this month I want to stress the importance of using your chain of command to resolve issues at the lowest level possible.

All too often, we find out that if a Sailor with a grievance had used their chain of command as the first means toward conflict resolution, the problem could have been dealt with satisfactorily and swiftly. But effective problem resolution can only happen when the command is aware there’s a problem and they are given all the information.

While part of the burden lies with the Sailor to use the chain of command, the other part rests on leadership to encourage open communication and feedback. If you’re in a leadership position, it is important for you to communicate down to the deckplates the commitment the chain of command has to resolving issues when they arise. Honesty across the board, even if the message is undesirable, allows leadership and their Sailors assigned to identify and resolve potential issues as they arise.

Of course, for the few issues that can’t be resolved using the chain of command, the Office of Inspector General (IG) is in place to address allegations of gross fraud, waste, and mismanagement. However, a majority of complaints to CNRF IG would have been better and more quickly resolved though established processes using the chain of command. Every service member has the right to talk to the IG and CNRF IG is committed to helping Sailors resolve their concerns, to include educating them on the resources available to them.

If you’re struggling to resolve a conflict within your unit or command, talk to your leadership or your mentor. Let them listen, provide valuable guidance, and empower you with the tools to aide you in resolving your conflict. To keep our Force strong and effective, from the CO to the LPO, you must take care of your people. And to that end, remind yourself to listen and approach each day and situation with honor and professionalism so your Sailors know that they can approach you with an issue and trust you’re there for them.

As always, I appreciate all you do. Keep up the good work!



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Happy 99th Birthday, Navy Reserve!

On March 3, we celebrated the 99th anniversary of the Navy Reserve. This is a celebration of you and all of the Reserve Sailors who have served in the past.

While Congressional legislation established the Navy Reserve on March 3, 1915, its roots stretch back to the days before the Revolution when in 1775 the citizens of Machias, Maine commandeered the schooner Unity and engaged the British warship HMS Margaretta in close quarters combat, forcing her to surrender. However it was during the Spanish-American War when the nation recognized a need for an organized Navy Reserve. Ships were becoming more advanced and a better trained seaman was required than what was currently being filled by the state naval militias.

The legislation of 1915 enabled the Navy to provide a group of trained personnel during the initial stages of the U.S.'s involvement in WWI through the establishment of the Naval Reserve Force. Believe it or not, by the end of WWII, almost 90% of naval personnel were Reserve Sailors, thanks to Naval Aviation Cadet (NAVCAD) and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC).

Reserve Sailors were recalled to active duty during the Korean War to man ships mothballed after WWII. Some were 100% manned by Reserve Sailors, as were some carrier air groups. Subsequently, more than 50% of the "brown water"  Navy during Vietnam were Reserve Sailors ... and volunteers.

As you can see, you have always been more than a force in Reserve. You are an integral part of naval operations. Reserve Sailors have always been fully integrated - you are not just weekend warriors. Since 2001, more than 70,000 Reserve Sailors have mobilized to support joint missions around the globe.  Be it strategic placement within the 5th Fleet AOR, leading humanitarian missions or boots on the ground while filling critical IA billets; your Honor, Courage and Commitment are a reflection of a strong Navy Reserve.

I am extremely proud of each and every one of you. Through your outstanding efforts and perseverance, and by carrying on the traditions of the Reserve Sailors who have gone before you, you continue to remind us all that the Navy cannot operate without a strong Navy Reserve.