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CNO on skipper firings: ‘I'm concerned'

Nov. 16, 2012 - 04:41PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 16, 2012 - 04:41PM  |  
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The Navy's top officer said Friday he was "concerned" by this year's high tally of skipper firings and has ordered officials to examine the cases, signaling renewed attention to the problem.

The Navy has fired 22 commanding officers as of Nov. 16, matching last year's total. Most of these cases stem from misconduct.

"I don't understand why they're misbehaving, and I'm concerned about that, and I'm looking into that, looking into that very hard," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert said during a question and answer session at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. "What we need to do … is one: evaluate our performance in being able to develop and nurture our commanding officers."

The CNO noted that the service last studied its CO reliefs in 2010 and is in the process of implementing the report's recommendations, such as employing more 360-degree reviews for officers and enhancing leadership training. And Greenert mandated screenings for all command billets earlier this year.

Greenert's remarks, his longest on the topic in some time, come as Pentagon brass grapple with a score of general officer scandals that largely turn on bad behavior. All of the service chiefs are gathering to talk ethics next week, in a meeting led by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Greenert said the agenda will cover: "What took place here? What matters? What are the facts involved with this? How do we view ethics, accountability and behavior? And where might there be weaknesses as we look across our four-star ranks?"

Greenert's speech, before 100 or so luncheon guests and reporters, centered on his goals for the Navy over the next year. His top priorities: driving down the number of sexual assaults and suicides; filling gaps at operational commands; and addressing the surging deployment pace. With the Navy retiring the Enterprise, the flattop force is dropping to 10 carriers at a time of high demand.

Deployment lengths aren't getting any shorter, Greenert cautioned.

"Well, I don't think six-month deployments are in the future for, I would say, the next two or three years at least," Greenert said in response to a question about carrier deployments. "We're looking probably at closer to a norm of seven month to seven months and week [cruises] for our carriers."

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