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Navy’s Top SWO Encourages NPS Students to be Good, Not Lucky

Article By: MC2 Danica M. Sirmans

The Navy’s top Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) spoke to a group of approximately 200 student and staff SWOs during a visit to the Naval Postgraduate School, Nov. 14. Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, assumed his current command in early August, and said he immediately had one priority in mind—warfighting.

“I had the opportunity to be on CNO Greenert’s transition team when I was with Strike Group 11,” said Rowden. “I went back to the Washington Navy Yard for a couple of weeks to work on the Warfighting Team, where we came up with the tenants, ‘Warfighting First, Operate Forward, and Be Ready.’

“I was satisfied with the first tenant, but we were told we needed a couple more. So we came up with two more tenants to support the priority, warfighting,” he added with a smile.

While addressing his priority as commander of the Navy’s surface force, he shed light on what he expects from Sailors, and more specifically, from SWOs.

“I can talk to you about where it is I think we need to go, in what has the potential to be a very bright future,” Rowden said. “But a lot of that future depends on you.”

Rowden shared stories emphasizing the importance of choice, especially with those placed in leadership positions. There are leaders who are willing to roll the dice and hope they get lucky, he explained, and then there are those who demand excellence from themselves, who ensure they are making “good” choices.

 Commander, Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden speaks with Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Surface Warfare Officers in NPS’ Glasgow Hall, Nov. 14. Rowden stressed the importance of warfighting first, and shared his views on the qualities of effective leaders.

“We could try to assess that in a lot of different ways,” Rowden said, “But really, it just comes down to whether we’re trying to be lucky or if we want to be good.”

Rowden continued emphasizing his ideal of warfighting first, at the forefront of his concerns when carrying out his duties and responsibilities.  

“Returning to warfighting first, I’m proud to say to those of you just coming back from the fleet, and to those of you heading back to it … We have a lot of changes and work being done,” said Rowden.  “We’ve re-established the division officer course, and not only has that been stood back up, we’ve also added the advanced division officer course.”

In addition to the division officer and advanced division officer courses, Rowden announced that about $1.2 billion has been budgeted for SWO training relating but not limited to navigation, engineering and intelligence.  The budget makes way for training that would help reduce the expenditures used underway by making better use of time in port.

Closing his session with NPS SWOs, Rowden answered questions on a variety of surface warfare topics before challenging the group to take what they’ve learned back to their classrooms, and ultimately back to the fleet.

Posted November 18, 2014

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