I’m delighted, honored, and humbled to be the senior submariner on active duty and to be selected as the Naval Submarine League’s banquet speaker, particularly on this occasion-an evening on which we honor the accomplishments and significant contributions of Admiral Bob Long.
My 39 year Navy career reflects the strong influence of Bob Long. He was a mentor and a role model in my early days and he’s now a friend and a confidant. When I commanded my first submarine Bob Long was OP-02 and when I came to Washington after my command at SUBDEVGRU ONE, Admiral Long was Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
He and I later would both hold the job as CINCPAC. In fact, he was president of the Flag Selection Board that selected me for Rear Admiral. See Bob, sometimes you have to live with your mistakes.
When I was asked to return to the Naval Academy as Superintendent in 1994, it was Admiral Bob Long who was instrumental in persuading me to return to the Academy for a second tour, which we both knew would be more difficult than my first.
Bob Long’s leadership and his character have inspired me in many ways. And the success that I might have attained has its roots in the example set by Admiral Bob Long. I’m sure that I’m not the only naval officer here tonight who could say that.
His influence can also be seen in what we have worked to accomplish at the Naval Academy since I returned as Superintendent in 1994. When I began my second tour I knew that I faced a difficult challenge to restore the public’s confidence and the Navy’s confidence in the Academy. When I returned three years ago, I decided to put a heavy focus on character and leadership development. I reflected on what I had learned about leadership in the Submarine Force, and I came up with some obvious elements:
- Integrity. To call a spade a spade. To write the casualty report or the incident report and record the patrol report just the way it happened. To determine the facts and the faults, take responsibility, give credit where it is due, and always do what is right.
- Concern for people. Maybe it’s because our crews are small; maybe it’s because we operate in a most unfriendly environment where, when something goes wrong it always gets worse until the whole crew solves the problem; maybe it’s because we go far forward where no one else can go; with each man’s life depends upon every other man aboard-but whatever it is, we grew up with a submariner’s loyalty, mutual respect and concern for the total person, his family, his career, and his well being, as well as his performance.
- Logical thought process. Asking the right questions, understanding what is really going on and taking appropriate action.
- Technical proficiency. A qualification process that evaluates our competency and requires that we be knowledgeable and that we be capable.
- Intellectual honesty. Making approach and attack decisions based on the best information available. Believing your indications and not indulging in wishful thinking-but always striving for the right answer and having the courage to accept it when it is not the one you would like.
- Tenacity. We couldn’t tum back when on station. There are many sea stories in this room tonight about making things work and never giving up when the going got tough.
With those thoughts in mind, let me tell you a little about the challenges that we faced and how we dealt with them at the Naval Academy.
We knew that before we could address these challenges, we needed to answer an important question if we are to pursue our goals: Have young people and our society changed? The answer is YES. For example, on a regular basis, we hear growing numbers of reports that cheating is now very common in schools. We hear more cases of individuals who choose their actions based on what is legal, as opposed to what is right; they usually do something first and then rationalize their behavior after the fact. We see fewer individuals who demonstrate tolerance, or individuals who have the strength to accept responsibility for others. And there appears to be less peer pressure to do what is right and much more to do your own thing.
I also noticed that the atmosphere, culture if you will, had drifted away from what had always distinguished the Naval Academy from its civilian counterparts in higher education. In fact we had become too civilian.
This was not a good way to buck those adverse trends in society. How did we structure our programs and how did we respond? We took major steps back toward structure, discipline. We reduced privileges. We required leadership by presence and leadership by example. We re-emphasized three levels of responsibility: self, shipmates and the Naval Academy.
Our midshipmen have been challenged to take charge. And we have refocused our emphasis on character development and leadership to help our midshipmen develop their moral muscles. These are some of our initiatives:
- New leadership curriculum. We have thoroughly revamped our leadership curriculum, incorporating the principles I learned in the Submarine Force;
- New ethics course. A three-credit course, “Moral Reasoning for Naval Leaders, 11 provides a weekly lecture by a faculty philosopher and seminars taught by senior officers (0-5 and above) with extensive fleet experience. This course is taken by all midshipmen during their third class (sophomore) year;
- Integrity Development Seminars. During these monthly, small-group meetings of midshipmen divided by company and class into about 250 groups of 15 peers, midshipmen look within themselves to define and clarify their basic moral values and to see why those values are important and how they relate to our profession. Monitoring and guiding the often lively debate are trained midshipmen and staff facilitators. The mids are upperclassmen who are selected by their company officers; staff facilitators are all volunteers, both military and civilian, who represent all communities from around the Yard, including academic faculty, the athletic department, public works and many others;
- Ethics chair. With an endowment provided by the generous support of two donors, in January 1997 we announced the appointment of Professor Nancy Sherman of Georgetown University to the new position of Distinguished Chair of Ethics. She is a world-renowned ethicist who offers her considerable expertise to all of the Naval Academy’s character development efforts;
- Ethics across the curriculum. As a coordinated component of our academic program. we continue our efforts to provide midshipmen with examples and discussions of ethical issues in all academic disciplines, from literature and history to science and engineering. This helps midshipmen to understand that ethical behavior involves every aspect of their personal and professional lives;
- Distinguished Professor of Leadership. With the generous gift from another donor, we established this new position and selected retired Admiral Leon A. Bud Edney. Admiral Edney is focusing his efforts on improvements in how leadership is taught and practiced, both in the Division of Professional Development and in Bancroft Hall (the midshipmen dormitory). He also serves as my special adviser on leadership, teaches core leadership and ethics courses and promotes moral development and leadership education;
- Honor concept and education. We have reaffirmed midshipmen ownership of the Naval Academy’s Honor Concept, and strengthened our efforts to educate all midshipmen about the history, significance and value of our Honor Concept, which truly lies at the core of what it means to be a midshipman;
- Traditional Plebe Summer. With an emphasis on leadership by example, we have returned to a more traditional summer training period for new midshipmen, one that challenges them to reach new heights in physical, intellectual and moral performance, and one that emphasizes the importance of respect for the dignity of others; and
- Company Chief Petty Officers. For the past several years, in addition to a company officer, each one of our 30 companies has been assigned a senior chief petty officer or Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who provides a wealth of first-hand fleet experience to our young officers in training. Our senior chiefs and gunnies are some of the finest the Navy and Marine Corps have to offer; the tremendous value of the knowledge and experience they bring to our midshipmen is hard to measure, but harder to ignore.
Society has changed. What we are doing is truly counterculture. Yet we will not accept changes in our society as an excuse. We will persevere in our efforts to build ethical foundations and mold the character of our young men and women. We have confidence we can do it. To help focus those efforts, we established guiding principles for the Naval Academy. From highest to lowest, we try to live by them every day. I would like to share them with you.
1. Uphold the standards of the Naval Academy. All of us must accept responsibility and accountability for performing our duties in accordance with our high standards.
2. Be a person of integrity. Each of us should be an example for others around us. When a person consistently does the right thing. it has a powerful effect on influencing the behavior of others.
3. Lead by example (meet the standard to which you are holding others). As with our midshipmen, each of us should hold ourselves to the same or higher standards to which we hold our subordinates.
4. Strive for excellence without arrogance. Excellence with a dose of humility conveys our respect for those around us; others will always recognize excellence in action.
5. Do your best. This is our minimum requirement. We should never be satisfied with less than the best in everything we do.
6. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. The Navy’s and the Naval Academy’s greatest asset is its people. Treat each other well. lookout for each other, take care of each other and we can. together, achieve great things.
7. Tolerate honest mistakes from people who are doing their best. None of us has yet achieved perfection, so it is important to accept honest mistakes from those who are applying their talents and energies to the best of their ability.
8. Seek the truth. Rumors and unverified anecdotes undermine the bonds of a community; always seek the truth, whenever you can, from those who are in a position to know.
9. Speak well of others. Gossip undermines our trust in each other. Gossip or speaking ill of others demonstrates a genuine lack of respect for others in our community.
10. Keep a sense of humor and be able to laugh at yourself. I’ll save the best for last. There is little doubt that the work we do here at the Naval Academy is challenging, because the standards we set for ourselves are so high. Yet it is crucial that we be able to keep it in perspective and maintain our sense of humor. And being able to laugh at yourself in- creases the likelihood that when you achieve excellence, it will be without arrogance.
Our goal is to make both the officer and midshipman chain of command work by enhancing mutual trust, respect and good two-way communications. When we do. we will achieve greater success in providing the Naval service with the finest leaders as we enter the 21st century and begin our next 150 years. This is what Americans expect of us. and we will give them no less.
We recently conducted a survey of the entire Brigade; we found that the midshipmen were very proud of our Naval Academy. They believe in what we’re doing and think it should be tough. They are committed. They believe we have a clear vision of where we’re going. They support our honor concept and our character development and leadership programs. Bottom line: We made it more difficult; morale went up.
This past year has been the best year, across the board, in my six years as Superintendent. We feel very good about where we are. Measure us by the quality of our graduates, not those being thrown out. And. by the way. 109 of those outstanding graduates are en route to our Submarine Force.
My vision for the Naval Academy is to continue to refine the programs I have outlined for you here tonight. Given continuing support, our initiatives and others hold the promise of a Naval Academy of the 21st century that will continue to earn respect and admiration of all Americans and provide them with what they expect-the highest quality leaders for our Naval service and our nation. This is what Americans expect, and we will give you no less.
So again I would like to recognize Admiral Bob Long for the standards he set and achieved during his career. the wisdom he imparted, the leadership he demonstrated, and the friendship and guidance he so freely offered.
I know I speak for the entire submarine community – operators, their family members, builders, suppliers, and just plain supporters of this very special community – when I say. “Admiral, you have our deepest gratitude and respect for your countless contributions, leadership, vision and spirit.” Those of us who wear – or who have ever worn – the dolphins which indicate membership in this community, do so with an even deeper sense of pride knowing that you have been, and will always be, a role model and influence on all of us. You have set the standards, Sir, and we are all grateful for your strong influence. We are committed to building on your foundation.
To the Naval Submarine League, thank you for inviting me to tonight’s event and for making me a part of your salute to Admiral Bob Long. I am truly honored.