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Thread: The role of the Chief

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    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    The role of the Chief

    I found an interesting article on the role of the Chief and the peceived decline in a Chief's authority. Two quotes:


    "There have been a great many questions, examinations, re-examinations, and discussions of the role of the chief petty officer in the modern Navy. Commanding officers, junior officers, petty officers, and enlisted men are saying that chiefs just aren't what they used to be. The "used-to-be" status referred to is that fabulous position occupied by the chief petty officers in the pre-war Navy wherein the chief's word was law to subordinates and his ability to get things done a trade-mark to his superiors."

    "These characteristics of being a stern disciplinarian, a strong supervisor, an expert in his specialty, and an advocate to higher authority for the men under him are the stuff of which the chief petty officers were made in the pre-war Navy The main substance of the complaint today, both from CPO's and officers, is that these qualities do not manifest themselves so brightly as they did in the times gone by."

    What I found interesting is that the article was written in 1951 for the Naval Institute , it seems that a lot of the same arguments were made 62 years ago that we still hear from some people today.

    The entire article can be found here
    U.S. Naval Institute: http://www.usni.org/magazines/procee...er-modern-navy

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    Senior Member AJBIGJ's Avatar
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    Re: The role of the Chief

    Similar yet different certainly.

    I understand the impetus back then in abstract, it is fairly well known that WWII was infamous for putting a lot of younger sailors into the more advanced ranks. Thus the results are similar, people putting on "Chief" before their thirtieth birthday on occasion, while the cause now in my perspective is that you get a lot of "book smart" individuals who know how to behave advancing quickly whereas back then other metrics were used to allow sailors to rise quickly.

    I think today we face an entirely new dynamic through the introduction of unprecedented information sharing technologies. Some of the disempowerment of the chief is a result of relative youth probably, but quite a bit more due to the fact that the officers even at the very top feel a desire to become involved in much of the minutiae that they hadn't necessarily been concerned with as much in the past. I'm not even necessarily blaming those senior officers, it doesn't take a whole lot to get someone fired from senior leadership positions in the modern Navy. When all that stands between a 5.0 EP Captain and a Star is a YouTube video from half a decade past, there is an urge for maintaining a zero defect mentality where one leaves very little open to chance, because the things that could blow that opportunity away could come from literally anywhere. This attitude trickles down and snowballs onto the heads of the chiefs, and they often go through the experience of "Peter" in "Office Space" where they are answering to literally eight different bosses (or at least eight different individuals that put out a "blast" list of their sailors not doing something they should be doing). As a natural reaction, they often become so very obsessed not to have their area of responsibility "besmirched" by someone who can't make it to a urinalysis, that they lose the ability to devote their time to the traditional roles of deckplate leadership. When an individual as a Chief spends half the time locked to a computer trying to navigate the e-mail minefields that is involved in such, simple math would tell you they would have less time to be the "presence" they would normally be to the young sailors.
    "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first." ~ Thomas Jefferson

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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    Re: The role of the Chief

    I've actually watched this happen. I went to shore duty in 2005, and returned to sea duty in 2009... and I'm watching JO's kicking Chief's asses all over the place. I remember one time when I was at PB4T in the wardroom, and our CHENG - who was a young LT with about five years in sitting in the CMDCM's seat. CMDCM walks in, sees CHENG sitting in his seat... he simply frowns, and goes to sit somewhere else. My DIVO - as well as most DIVOs that I observed at the time - were the ones doing the decision making that was once reserved for Chiefs.

    And what ends up being ignored is the trickle-down effect that this is having on First and Second Classes. A Second Class back in 2002 was actually trusted to make decisions. Let one try to make a decision now - he'll get put in his place. First Classes are doing sweepers now, when it used to only be E4 and below. Chiefs are routinely in working parties, when it used to only be E5 or E4 and below.

    The enlisted don't run the Navy anymore. Officers were once tasked with making the "big picture" decisions, while leaving the deckplate level stuff to Petty Officers. No longer the case.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
    -Rainmaker, referencing black males

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    Senior Member AJBIGJ's Avatar
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    Re: The role of the Chief

    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty Jones View Post
    I've actually watched this happen. I went to shore duty in 2005, and returned to sea duty in 2009... and I'm watching JO's kicking Chief's asses all over the place. I remember one time when I was at PB4T in the wardroom, and our CHENG - who was a young LT with about five years in sitting in the CMDCM's seat. CMDCM walks in, sees CHENG sitting in his seat... he simply frowns, and goes to sit somewhere else. My DIVO - as well as most DIVOs that I observed at the time - were the ones doing the decision making that was once reserved for Chiefs.

    And what ends up being ignored is the trickle-down effect that this is having on First and Second Classes. A Second Class back in 2002 was actually trusted to make decisions. Let one try to make a decision now - he'll get put in his place. First Classes are doing sweepers now, when it used to only be E4 and below. Chiefs are routinely in working parties, when it used to only be E5 or E4 and below.

    The enlisted don't run the Navy anymore. Officers were once tasked with making the "big picture" decisions, while leaving the deckplate level stuff to Petty Officers. No longer the case.
    I would say it's more the "elephant in the room" than actually being ignored, but other than that I think you're right, if we paired the expected leadership from an E-3 in the USMC you generally don't see much until E-5/E-6 in the USN comparatively, at least from my experience.
    "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first." ~ Thomas Jefferson

    It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.
    James Madison

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    Re: The role of the Chief

    I recall seeing that article as well, and also covering that concept during my initiation several years ago.

    With regard to WWII, yes a lot of folks moved up quickly, perhaps too quickly, because of the rapid build-up to wage war, and there were not enough of the guys that had been there, done that to help get them up to speed. Then, a lot of them stuck around as the older folks who were ready to retire but couldn't due to the war finally went out the door, taking with them the knowledge of how to lead and get the job done.

    Later on, we saw the "shake and bake" non-commissioned officers that had the smarts for their rating, MOS, what have you, but had not learned how to manage their personnel and resources, and more importantly, how to lead their subordinates. In all honesty, in some cases the opportunities are not there for them to learn to lead, with the result that all of a sudden they are a First Class, SSGT, what have you and are in front of their subordinates, they get eaten alive.

    I myself have seen things go from a situation where folks generally understood:

    1. What they can make a decision on and carry it out without getting permission first.
    2. Realizing what they can make a decision on, but they should sit down with the LPO and Chief and brief them on what happened and what they did to fix the issue in case they get asked about it later on.
    3. Where you need to bump it up to to the next level for a decision, and you had best have a plan with a couple of alternatives available to deal with it.

    To the point where we are getting scared of our shadows.

    Rant over - I think I need to get back on my meds.

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    Re: The role of the Chief

    I have seen the decline in the statues of Chiefs, but I attribute it to a couple of things. First, it's hard to take serious a Chief who made it in eight years. I know this is not an everyday occurrence, but it happens. Someone with over fourteen years in and now some with barely eight comes in like he owns the place doesn't help. Second, we have become such a CYA and political correct entity, that leaders are scared to lead with a strong hand in fear of getting fired. We need to go back to the days were we can yell at Sailors and make them do EMI in public to set the standard for all to see. And third, we need to see the Chief on the deck plates, leading people, not sitting in the goat locker expecting the everyone else to be taking care of issues. I have heard many times that the Chief should be sitting in the goat locker while the first class handles everything. This is such a coup out answer for someone not doing their job. You are the Chief, get out there and lead! Don't expect someone to do it for you.

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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    Re: The role of the Chief

    Quote Originally Posted by WINTHORP1 View Post
    First, it's hard to take serious a Chief who made it in eight years. I know this is not an everyday occurrence, but it happens.
    Aren't you a bubblehead? I thought 8-year Chiefs were the norm for you guys?
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
    -Rainmaker, referencing black males

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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    Re: The role of the Chief

    Sandsjames put it pretty good in another thread - senior leadership probably made the enlisted advancement point system favor the fast-trackers over the experienced, because inexperienced senior enlisted are easier for officers to push around and manipulate.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
    -Rainmaker, referencing black males

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    Senior Member AJBIGJ's Avatar
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    Re: The role of the Chief

    Unfortunately, what we see is the results of all of this public outcry for political correctness in the various armed services. Even now, it comes to the point where sailors on restriction do not get their military ID taken from them or have to wear "restricted" badges because it is considered too "demeaning". I don't see this going away any times soon either, not while "sexual assaults in the military" make someone's headlines every other week.
    "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first." ~ Thomas Jefferson

    It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.
    James Madison

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    Senior Member BURAWSKI's Avatar
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    Re: The role of the Chief

    It is pretty common in the Nuclear Power Program. I've seen chiefs make it in under 7 years; master chief in 14.

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