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New chiefs' training focuses on fleet's real-world problems

Jun. 6, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Navy training officials have overhauled the command-delivered Chiefs’ Mess Training courses, offering 22 new topics based on some of the fleet’s hot-button issues, including sexual assault and suicide prevention.

The training isn’t mandatory, but it’s considered essential by senior enlisted leaders, who’ve encouraged commands to hold it at least once a month. All materials are available for download from Navy Knowledge Online.

“This is an opportunity for command master chiefs and their training teams to go into the mess and work on some professional topics,” said Fleet Master Chief (AW/SW) April Beldo, senior enlisted adviser to the chief of naval personnel. “Policy, instructions and guidance often change, and this allows us as chiefs to keep up with our professional development and stay current on issues that we’ll most likely have to communicate to our sailors.”

There’s no set order to the classes; commands can choose what they’ll discuss and when, based on what the command master chief thinks is most relevant to his mess.

“There’s no penalty if a command can’t get to all 22 topics during the next 12 months,” Beldo said. “This is follow-on and sustainment training for our chiefs and messes, and it’s important we take time out to discuss these things and keep ourselves updated and informed.”

The new topic lineup includes command unity, ethics, operational stress control, maintaining standards, mentoring, conflict resolution, character and integrity, professionalism, suicide awareness, bystander intervention, and prevention of sexual assault, sexual harassment and hazing.

Actual fleet case studies

Training scenarios are pulled from actual fleet case studies and designed to “stimulate vigorous discussion” among chiefs, Beldo said. This lets chiefs share their experiences and problem-solving skills throughout the mess, she said.

“This really isn’t training in the classic classroom sense — it’s facilitated rather than taught, and that’s important,” Beldo said. “It’s real-world information chiefs need to know so they can properly deal with these issues with their sailors on the deck plates.”

The training is maintained by the Navy’s Center for Personal and Professional Development, which maintains all command-delivered training in the fleet.

Officials say this training shouldn’t be confused with the Chief Petty Officer Selectee Leadership Course, which is given to chief selectees during their transition into the chiefs’ mess. It’s also separate from Chief Petty Officer Waterfront Training, run by both fleets, during which an entire mess has a one-day offsite training led by facilitators.

Beldo said all of the above programs combine to fill the gap in sailors’ continuum of leadership training between the time they make chief and when they head off to the Senior Enlisted Academy — a gap that, for some, could cover more than a decade.

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