CNO praises IAs, calls for expanded fleet
By Zachary M. Peterson - Staff writerPosted : Sunday Nov 18, 2007 9:33:54 EST
The Navy’s top admiral is putting a premium on the work of sailors on the ground in the Middle East and is pushing for more ships to maintain presence around the globe.
In his first interview since taking over as chief of naval operations at the end of September, Adm. Gary Roughead spoke of the value that having thousands of sailors on the ground in a war zone brings to the fleet.
“For the first time in history, we have more sailors on the ground in the Middle East than we do at sea — 14,000 sailors ashore and about 11,000 at sea,” Roughead said during the interview in his Pentagon office.
In his first month on the job, he unveiled a new maritime strategy, written in concert with the Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and visited sailors in Iraq and Bahrain in a sweeping overview of operations there. The admiral’s own op tempo was made obvious by his office — except for the large paintings that always adorn the CNO’s workspace, the walls were bare.
During his Iraq trip, Roughead said, he had the opportunity to speak to 3,000 to 4,000 sailors on the ground.
Air Force, Army and Marine commanders all noted the strengths of sailors serving as individual augmentees in their units, he said.
“It was interesting to me that when I talked to the Army, Air Force and Marine commanders, when they are referring to U.S. Navy sailors, they refer to them as ‘my sailors,’ ” Roughead said. “And the thing that really struck me were the qualities that they talked about with respect to our sailors — a sense of accountability, the vast range of skills and capabilities that our sailors have, the discipline that they have and the way that we just do our business as sailors; the idea of how you stand a proper watch. That came through loud and clear.”
The admiral disputed the notion that an IA assignment could hurt a sailor’s career.
IA tours are producing sailors who can operate in a joint force — to the betterment of the individual sailor’s career and the Navy, he said. The skills that IA sailors bring to their parent commands are unlike what they could attain on a traditional tour, he said.
“We are becoming a much more capable force — a force that not only understands jointness, but experiences jointness in a very unique way, out there doing it with the other services,” Roughead said.
Further, he said, the new maritime strategy calls for sailors to deploy to areas of the world where the Navy has not traditionally spent much time, such as Africa.
There is more here, including interesting stuff about his plan to expand the Fleet.