The Navy has a brand new prime enlisted sailor after Grasp Chief Petty Officer of the Navy James Honea took over for now-retired Grasp Chief Russell Smith on Thursday.
The change not solely marks the beginning of Honea’s time period as the ocean service’s sixteenth senior enlisted adviser but in addition a shift in priorities for the enlisted group.
In a video posted Monday, Honea advised sailors that his “prime precedence will likely be you and your households” earlier than acknowledging that the Navy has “to be higher at investing in you and assembly your wants.”
The remarks function a shift from what Smith advised sailors within the final months of his service, when he described being pretty powerless to alter their dwelling circumstances and advised that sailors be taught to deal with hardships.
In an announcement, the Navy praised Smith’s service, saying that he instituted “an up to date management growth profession path, revised the command grasp chief instruction, and the Sailor of the Yr program.”
Smith had served because the grasp chief petty officer of the Navy since 2018.
“Extra importantly, he tirelessly advocated coverage and program enhancements for the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program in addition to elevated Sailor entry for psychological well being care,” the assertion added.
Nevertheless, in 2022, Smith generated headlines for controversial statements and an inspector common investigation.
In April, Navy.com broke the information that the plane USS George Washington was experiencing a staggering cluster of suicides that sailors attributed largely to poor dwelling circumstances and arduous work schedules. Lower than per week later, Smith visited the ship yard to talk to the crew.
When a sailor requested the then-top enlisted sailor about these dwelling circumstances, Smith stated that the Navy “most likely may have accomplished higher to handle your expectations coming in right here.”
“I hear your issues and it’s best to at all times increase them, however you’ve to take action with cheap expectations after which understanding what … what that is like,” Smith went on to inform the crew.
‘What you are not doing is sleeping in a foxhole like a Marine could be doing.”
The remarks not solely struck the sailors on the ship as callous however resonated with the fleet as a complete. Navy teams on social media ran with the concept that the service’s prime sailor advised the fleet to decrease their requirements.
After the feedback turned public, Smith’s workplace pushed again by noting the grasp chief by no means stated the phrases “decrease your requirements” and even launched a transcript of the dialog. Nevertheless, the phrase continues to crop up in on-line conversations months later.
Days after Smith made these feedback, the Navy introduced it was transferring all of the sailors dwelling aboard the George Washington — a serious level of stress and frustration — off the ship.
Smith additionally handled an inspector common investigation, first reported in February by Navy Occasions, although the main points of that investigation have been by no means made public. The information drew comparisons to Smith’s predecessor, Grasp Chief Steven Giordano, who retired early after reviews surfaced of his personal inspector common investigation that was wanting into allegations that he bullied subordinates and mistreated his workers. A number of of the allegations in opposition to Giordano have been later substantiated.
Navy spokeswoman Lt. Alyson Fingers, advised Navy.com that Smith “retired honorably with no pending antagonistic or reportable issues.”
In the meantime, Honea seems to be setting his sights on shifting the narrative and notion junior sailors have of the workplace.
In a Saturday publish on Fb, Honea’s workplace famous that “he will likely be making his method across the fleet to debate and work with Sailors to get after his prime priorities.” In his remarks on Thursday, Honea advised the gang assembled for the change of workplace that “you possibly can depend upon us to battle for you,” as he regarded to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday.
Gilday is the Navy’s prime officer.
Though the publish of grasp chief petty officer of the Navy exists largely to advise “the CNO [and] the Chief of Naval Personnel in issues coping with enlisted personnel and their households,” the sailors who maintain the publish are sometimes capable of spotlight and advocate for adjustments. Most notably, they’re able to voice issues or points on to prime officers and Congress — one thing no common sailor can do.
Gilday, in his personal remarks Thursday, stated that Honea “brings the precise sort of skilled expertise we’d like for this immense duty.”
“I’ve stated it earlier than: He is acquired saltwater operating by way of his veins,” Gilday stated, earlier than alluding to Honea’s job when first joined the Navy — boatswain’s mate.
In accordance with the service report supplied by the Navy, Honea enlisted in 1987 and has served on 5 ships, together with the now destroyed USS Bonhomme Richard. He additionally had postings from Newport, Rhode Island, and Norfolk, Virginia, to San Diego, California, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Earlier than changing into the grasp chief petty officer of the Navy, Honea served because the senior enlisted chief for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
— Konstantin Toropin may be reached at email@example.com. Observe him on Twitter @ktoropin.
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