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Adm. Daryl Caudle
Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command
30 March 2023
REMARKS AS DELIVERED Thank you, Darren, for the kind introduction.
Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today and allowing me to kick off our first-ever Resiliency Symposium.
So, let’s start off by seeing who we have here today. Go ahead and raise your hands when I call some of the groups attending:
Deployed Resiliency Counselors?
Embedded Integrated Prevention Coordinators? (Formerly deployed resiliency educators)
Mental Health Resource Providers like: Psychiatrists, Doctors and Medical Professionals, Hospital Corpsmen, or Behavioral Health Techs?
Licensed Clinical Social Workers?
Fleet/Family Support Center and SAIL Reps (Sailor Assistance & Intercept for Life)?
Any other civilian resiliency resource providers like: Navy Expanded Operational Stress Control, Warrior Toughness members, or One Love Escalation workshop team?
As everyone can see, Darren has pulled together a highly talented and diverse mix of military and civilian resiliency experts from across the Navy’s pool of resources, and, in my opinion, the right people who know the challenges our sailors and their families face, both at-sea and at-home.
Resiliency is something I refer to often, and I relate it to everything we do in the Navy, not only for our sailors and our mission, but for our families as well. It’s something I am very passionate about and am committed to getting right, as resiliency forms the foundation of a strong Navy team: the bedrock that underpins every line of effort in every strategy, plan, or policy we implement.
But, before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to thank Capt. Dugan and his team for putting this symposium together. It’s not lost on me how much effort it takes to create such a robust agenda from scratch, so thank you Darren.
Resilient sailors for Vital Missions
You may be asking yourselves, ‘why are we here?’ Why have I asked for the top subject matter experts in all-areas related to Sailor resiliency to take time away from the hospital, clinic, office, and command to come together today?
Simple… To deep dive, to leverage your expertise, and to enable the tremendous network of care-based resources we have available to propose solutions to some of our most pressing problems today:
How do we forge truly resilient sailors?
How do we help them bounce back to keep them in the fight?
How do we get ahead of problems more predictively versus being so reactive?
And, how can we reduce destructive behaviors so we can maximize our readiness?
As you can see, this is a pretty robust request: one that is likely to have more questions than answers. So, you can expect this to be the first of many resiliency symposiums. Like I said before, I am fully committed to getting after this, and I know this is the right group for the job.
For those of you who are unsure of what I do as a Fleet Commander, or what we do exactly at Fleet Forces Command, have no fear; this is a common question.
Across my many hats, I am charged with organizing, training, and equipping a force of over 125,000 sailors and civilians with hundreds of ships, submarines, aircraft, and support facilities that can ultimately prevail in a high-end conflict, while meeting the objectives of our overseas and forward-deployed operational commanders. In short, we protect America from attack and go forward to defend our interests around the world, and, if needed, to fight and win.
Let there be no doubt that our single greatest and enduring competitive advantage against our adversaries is our people. Having resilient, tough sailors is predicated upon their unfettered access to the right level of care and support at the right time.
Providing that level of care and those resources will ultimately forge better warfighters: resilient, tough sailors. And the that way we define ‘resilient’ sailors is: their ability to persevere, adapt, grow, and strengthen in the face of adversity. In that, resilience is a renewable, sustainable resource our Navy needs to generate and maintain readiness. Resilience can be internally developed and groomed. It can also be built and strengthened through external sources. The experts in this room provide that external catalyst for our sailors, and it is an incredibly important job in the world we live in.
As you hear and read about in the news, adversity is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it is likely to become more challenging. The world’s security environment is more tenuous now more than it probably has ever been.
Russia is actively waging a war of ruthless aggression against Ukraine, while year after year deploying its ships and submarines to our coastal waters.
China’s unprecedented proliferation of combat power in the Indo-Pacific, and its continued attack on the international, rules-based order while often invading its neighbor’s territorial waters for economic gain, are an extreme cause for concern.
Aside from operating within this dynamic security environment, the Navy has struggled in many respects to uphold critical standards greatly degrading our sailors’ readiness and quality of life.
Having said that, we have recently made some very tangible improvements to quality of life and quality of service under the CNO’s Get Real and Get Better campaign. This includes investing $258 million into improving conditions for sailors in the shipyard; standing up teams to correct pay issues associated with Sailor moves; and making significant improvements to unaccompanied housing to include creating a simplified problem-reporting system.
While those examples are just the start, there are dozens and dozens of more issues that our sailors have to deal with every day, and, frankly, they can feel like their complaints fall on deaf ears. As we continue to work through these internal issues and face growing external threats to our way of life, it is clear that adversity may be here to stay, and therefore, we must ensure our sailors are resilient and tough.
Now You Know the Why, Here is My Intent
Our sailors thrive when they are challenged, motivated by purpose, and adequately equipped for the missions we task them with. A resilient force reduces the likelihood of destructive behaviors by contributing positively to our sailors’ ability to self-assess and self-correct. Resilience is foundational to the Navy’s commitment to primary prevention measures of leader and peer-to-peer recognition of a problem followed by their combined ability to gather available resources.
With that, the enduring objective of this group is this:
Assist command leadership and their sailors in navigating the available stress, behavioral, and mental health resources in order to provide the right support at the right time.
Specifically, know your strengths, weaknesses, and limitations as subject matter experts and care providers.
Be active coordinators in the community of care made up of those around you.
Create networks of resources to produce a culture of resilient sailors and demand involvement from the commands you support.
This proactive, preventive approach to making a resilient culture relies in part on promoting inclusion, identifying barriers at the individual, group and organizational level and working together to resolve them. I am purposeful when I say
from the commands you support. I know that those command leadership teams are not represented here today, but this is something my team and I address at every Commander’s Training Symposium across the different communities.
Sometimes command teams cannot get past their command’s mission readiness concerns to focus on sailor care, or even care for themselves. Demand involvement from leadership, including the chief and division officer, all the way to the command triad.
We are all aware, much-like the car you used to get here today, that our ships, submarines and aircraft require routine maintenance if they are going to last, right? It is a simple analogy, but the same goes for our people.
You are here today because you are a subject matter expert in your field. You are on the front lines every day forging relationships with your teams, providing counsel and advice in the face of adversity, acting as a first line of defense when crises are just over the horizon or have already happened. Many of you are the first responder on-scene in preventing, mitigating, or addressing stress or mental health issues within your commands. We must ensure each member of the team, their mind, body, and spirit, are not only ready for combat, but ready to rise and face each day. For this reason, ensuring the health, and especially the mental health of our people is paramount.
Let me be crystal clear: the work you all are doing is saving lives. It often prevents sailors from feeling like there is no way out. It helps sailors return to work feeling happier and more fulfilled in their service to our nation. This is critical, not only for our sailors, but for our ability to defend our nation as well, because it is getting significantly harder to recruit and retain our country’s best. Less than 1% of our population volunteer to serve. We have to do whatever it takes to keep experienced, passionate, and resilient sailors, if we are going to be ready for a fight.
Whatever you do after today’s symposium, don’t let this be the end of the conversation. Spend your time networking with your peers. Bring the conversation online and open it to the other fleet concentration areas. I am the one asking, but your sailors, their families, and your country are depending upon you to be all-in on building resiliency. Identify the problems, and propose actionable solutions that Capt. Dugan and his team can bring to me.
I know I am asking a lot of you; you wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think you were the right person for the job. I know you can deliver.
Okay, thank you. Now, what questions do you have for me?
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