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Editorial: Chiefs deserve details

Aug. 22, 2013 - 05:32PM   |  
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Your top enlisted leader put out a strong warning to chiefs this month — just over a week into the selectee training season:

If new chiefs are not brought onboard professionally, the training can be shut down, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens said in a letter.

Two recent allegations of “hazing” and “inappropriate conduct” prompted Stevens to put training on pause to review the rules for CPO 365 Phase II, formally referred to as chief induction.

Stevens’ efforts to curb hazing-like behavior are right and necessary and driven only by the intention to course correct while still honoring Navy tradition. But there is one shortcoming — a missed opportunity, really, with his message: It contained no information about the alleged incidents.

Were sailors physically or emotionally hurt? How many sailors were hazed? Are the reports credible? Did the incidents really merita fleetwide standdown?

These are fair questions, and ones sailors are asking. Stevens declined to share with Navy Times the anonymous allegations he received via email. The whistle-blowers did not want to reveal their commands. Sources say that both incidents were verbal in nature — profanity and demeaning words were used.

Whatever was involved, explain the unacceptable behavior. Vague guidance leaves too much open to interpretation. The Navy should use the allegations as a teaching moment. Arm chiefs and the rest of the fleet with more specific dos and don’ts. Minimize misunderstanding and confusion, the enemies of effective action and desired results.

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