Dear Commanding Officers of the U.S. Navy,

Last August I separated from the Navy after eight years of service and I’d like to take the opportunity to share some insight on two topics in the hopes of making tomorrow better than today.

Insight I

The processes used to gauge and track feedback from junior sailors require fixing.

Too often information that flows up the chain of command is bottlenecked by senior sailors. Though the reasons for this vary, the result is the same: Insufficient intelligence makes its way to commanding officers for them to make cogent and timely personnel and policy decisions.

How do you address that?

Implement a Command Innovation Committee (CIC). The CIC’s purpose would be to “cultivate organizational learning by enabling members to create, acquire, and transfer knowledge” and it’s members would “propose and implement solutions to identified areas of deficiency within the command by coordinating with senior leaders, subject matter experts, program managers, and junior sailors.”

Why is this needed?

The CIC would give junior and senior sailors the opportunity to work side-by-side in finding solutions to a command’s most pressing issues while affording the commanding officer the opportunity to directly interact with CIC members.

A copy of a proposed CIC instruction can be found here.

Insight II

Too many sailors from petty officer first class to command master chief focus their day-to-day activities on administrative matters and spend insufficient time training their junior sailors on matters specific to their ratings.

There is no specific instruction or guidance detailing how much, which kind or when senior sailors should give training to junior sailors.

How do you address that?

Set objective and measurable plans of actions and milestones for senior sailors with regards to training junior sailors in their rating. Ensure senior sailors maintain rating and procedural proficiency through regularly scheduled and graded “spot checks”.

Why is this needed?

As the summer of 2017 taught us, rating proficiency is woefully below par at some commands despite regular inspections and certifications.

An objective and repeatable system for grading senior sailors’ training efforts will go a long way to ensuring knowledge deficiency doesn’t unnecessarily cost sailors’ lives.

During my enlistment I was active with my commands’ leadership, had three op-eds published and I spoke directly to the (previous) vice chief of naval operations, who asked me for my thoughts.

None of this was enough to see any meaningful change so that is why I turn to you, the commanding officers.

By thinking globally and acting locally you can make significant strides to improve mission readiness, safety, and morale.

I look forward to reading about your success stories after your command adapts these suggestions.

Very respectfully,

Patrick Fisher

Patrick Fisher enlisted in the Navy in 2011 and was honorably discharged last August. Rising to electronics technician second class (SW), he served at Task Force 72 Misawa and on board the amphibious warships Ponce and Iwo Jima. His views do not necessarily reflect those of Navy Times or its staffers.

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