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U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC)

Adm. Daryl Caudle

New York

Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command

  • Well, good morning! Distinguished leaders and guests – welcome, and thank you for joining me aboard the U-S-S WASP for this very special event. And thank you, Brendan, for the kind introduction and for inviting me to preside over today’s ceremony.
  • I’d like to thank CAPT Cooper and the crew of the WASP for all their efforts putting this together. You all crushed Fleet Week New York last week and really put on a great venue this morning. While I enjoy coming to your fine ship every week, I am sure you will be glad to get me out of your hair for a while. I know what it takes to host a change-of-command and 4-Star events – so Bravo Zulu to your entire crew.
  • In all seriousness, it is my great privilege and honor to pay tribute to Brendan McLane today and participate in one of the Navy’s time-honored traditions.
  • Today, you’ll bear witness to the “change of command” in which responsibility, authority, and accountability will pass seamlessly from one highly capable Commander to the other.
  • You will hear the greatest moment in a Commander’s career with the words exchanged – “I relieve you, Sir” and “I stand relieved.”
  • I truly believe that one of the core strengths of our Navy comes in large measure from our adherence to the principles of command. Commanders have a unique responsibility to ensure that our naval forces are fully prepared to compete and deter, as well as fight and win decisively in defense of our nation and our nation’s interests.
  • That responsibility extends not only to our nation’s citizens, but more importantly, directly to our Sailors. It is because of that responsibility, and the commensurate authority granted, that we hold them accountable for the conduct, efficiency, effectiveness, health and welfare of all forces entrusted to them.
  • As I look out into the crowd and see such a vast representation of professional warfighters, friends, allies, and partners fully committed to the cause of promoting peace and security around the world, your presence today is testament to the positive impact of what we can achieve together, and the profound impact Brendan has had not only on our surface fleet, but across the Navy and Joint Force.
  • And so, I am proud to be here speaking this morning, and I would like to thank each and every one of you for attending as well.
************* FAMILY *************
  • Throughout my Navy career, I have found – and I am sure you all would agree – that alongside every successful Sailor is a dedicated Navy spouse and a committed Navy family. None of us got here without support from a hard-working team on the home front.
  • I firmly believe that the strong foundation our families provide at home enables service members to go to sea with confidence and conviction – and it is your strength, love, and determination that make us resilient – resilient enough to endure the long, difficult, and sometimes dangerous days far from home.
  • Because of that, it is important to express our gratitude for what you do each and every day in support of our Sailors, the Navy, and the nation.
  • In doing so, I would like to extend a special welcome to Brendan and Joe’s families.
  • From the Cahill family, we welcome today:
    • His parents, Joe and Julia. His father Joe was also a Surface Warfare Officer and the Commanding Officer of a Swift Boat during Vietnam setting the strong foundation of naval pride and heritage early in his life. His mother Julia was a social worker for about half a century showing Joe that caring for others, especially his Sailors, will always yield remarkable results.
    • Also with us today is Joe’s best friend and wife of almost 28 years, Angela, celebrating their anniversary next Saturday.
    • Joe and Angela are both from Maine and met at the University of Maine where they both attended school.
    • As I understand it, this is Joe and Angela’s first time being stationed in Norfolk. I don’t know how you managed to pull that off for so long, I guess I need to have a word with your detailer, wait – I am your detailer. As you can see from my complexion, I haven’t spent enough time in San Diego – but it is one of Donna’s and my favorite duty stations.
    • All joking aside, we are glad you both are here.
    • And Angela, thank you for your service, and for your continued dedication and selfless commitment alongside Joe. Donna and I are excited for the opportunity to work with you and are looking forward to your continued leadership in support of SURFLANT, Navy spouses and families everywhere.
  • From Brendan’s family, we are joined by:
    • His sister, Katherine McLane, traveling the furthest from Braunfels, Texas.
    • His cousins, Lise (Lee-See) and Gavin Beske from Bethesda, lawyers by trade.
    • Colleen’s sister, Jessica Chrisman coming from Jacksonville, Florida.
    • Colleen’s brother, Charlie and his wife Chrissy Zigmont coming from Tallahassee, Florida.
    • We know how proud Brendan’s parents Gene and Sue are, and want to say hello as they watch back home in New Braunfels, Texas. Their support during Brendan and Colleen’s journey is like no other.
    • Next, Brendan and Colleen’s daughter Sarah McLane.
    • Sarah is a guidance counselor at Shadow Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona. While that already sounds exhausting, it isn’t for Sarah as she is a gifted runner. In 2022, she ran and crushed the Boston Marathon finishing in 3 hours and 3 minutes. Wow! Thank you, Sarah, for running here this week. In all seriousness, your presence here today is one of Brendan’s most treasured moments.
    • Thank you for your understanding, courage, and commitment to a life of service. I know it has not always been easy, and not one that you chose for yourself, but you have grown up to be a strong, proud, determined woman and I know your experiences will serve you well into your bright future.
    • Last, but certainly not least, we are most grateful to welcome Brendan’s most staunch supporter and spouse, Colleen. She rightfully deserves a tremendous amount of credit and thanks for managing the McLane household so effortlessly, and for raising such a wonderful daughter.
    • Colleen and Brendan met on a blind date in 1996 – and for anyone who remembers life before the world wide web, there was no internet stalking – this was a true shot in the dark.
    • They got married in 1999 recently celebrating their 24th year of marriage. I am excited to see what you all do for your 25th on the West Coast!
    • Throughout those years, she dedicated herself not only to her family, but to her career as a successful Professional Practice Manager at Ponte Vedra Medical Center.
    • Through her volunteer work, she has been a profound ambassador for the Navy and the nation.  By fulfilling unique roles in the development and enrichment of Navy families, as well as improved partnerships within the community, her dedication has made a long lasting, positive impact on our Navy writ large.
    • This tour, she has spent her time as a contributing member of the Anchor Scholarship Fund and Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society, as well as guiding the Norfolk Surface Officer’s Spouse Association.
    • Colleen, your service is the epitome of what it means to be a Navy spouse.  You are the embodiment of grace, kindness, and selfless service. I believe I can speak for everyone when I say, the Navy (and Brendan) are better because of your leadership and dedication.
    • How about a warm round of applause for Brendan and Colleen, for their children, and for all of our Navy families!
************* EXCELLENCE *************
  • As a career submariner, it is devastating to admit this out loud, but, the first thing that comes to mind when the word “Navy” is mentioned is an Arleigh Burke Class Guided Missile Destroyer. If it is not abundantly clear to you that our Surface Navy is our center of gravity, look at our impressive Chain of Command – Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs… SWO, C-N-O… SWO, Vice C-N-O… SWO. My Deputy Commander… SWO.
  • The combat power that our Navy projects each day is inextricably tied to our Surface Forces and the warriors onboard who deploy around the world.
  • Brendan, you’ve truly been an outstanding commander at a pivotal time for our Navy and our nation, and you’ve made us all proud during your tenure as SURFLANT.
  • As a career Surface Warfare Officer, you know all too well the strategic competitors that we face across all domains, and that the current security environment is more challenging and more volatile than we’ve ever experienced in our careers.  You also recognize the hard truth that we may find ourselves in conflict with a peer competitor with little or no notice.
  • SURFLANT is a command like no other. While you wear the Type Commander hat responsible for organizing, training and equipping the Atlantic surface fleet – you also get the joy of working by, with and through the operational chains-of-command alongside the Carrier Strike Groups and Task Forces. You can finally take a breath after walking that tightrope! At least for a few weeks.
  • Seriously, if there is anything Brendan is most tired of hearing me say, it is that Command and Control has to be crystal clear – overlapping C2 is ineffective and dangerous - “when everyone is in-charge, no one is in charge.”
  • The work VADM Kitchener and you have put in to generating mission capable, combat ships with lethal weapons systems and highly trained crews is proof that our Surface Fleet is absolutely ready to take the fight to the enemy and own the maritime, project combat power worldwide, and enable all domain warfare from the seabed to space – hands down, no exception.
  • Living up to this heavy task, I am most excited about the work you have contributed to the Surface Maintenance Groups using SURFRON 14 as the example. Brendan is handpicking the team here in the Norfolk area to have a clear, concise line of communication from a sequential Major Commander to the AMPHIBs and CRUDES in the maintenance and basic phases. I have no doubt that your efforts will improve readiness amongst the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet surface combatants.
  • These are the bold actions we need to take if we are going to Get Real and Get Better, and even more important - to Be Ready.
  • And not only are you preparing ships for combat operations, you know what truly matters. Our people:
    • As a practitioner of the warrior-scholar mindset, your value of and support to educational programs like Ready Relevant Learning, Basic Division Officer Courses, Officer of the Deck phased training, and expanding the capacity of our local engineering programs have set the tactical landscape for the Fleet for generations.
    • Additionally, your support and engagement with the Naval War College brings an unprecedented high level of education to the Joint Forces on what the Navy can do for them.
  • Thank you for making us all better warfighters.
    • You found many of the personnel and Quality of Service initiatives to be so vitally important that you carved time out of your busy schedule to personally visit your commands in Poland, Romania, Bahrain, Gaeta, Souda Bay and Rota in order to ensure they received your Commander’s Intent loud and clear.
  • Thank you for devotion to our Sailors.
    • You dive deep into the force and provide mentorship and accountability at the deckplate level. You personally hold Junior Officer Training Symposiums and Chief’s Mess visits to hear the unfiltered barriers our Fleet and our Sailors are facing.
  • Thank you for your leadership and mentorship.
  • Your singular drive for excellence and efficiency, along with your exemplary leadership, were absolutely essential in advancing the SURFLANT team into what we see here today – a forward leaning, highly trained, adaptive team of steely-eyed warfighters.
  • Over the last two years, you’ve inspired everyone you’ve encountered to elevate their performance using your passion for what you do, and the profound expertise you’ve formed through years of experience and hard work – and the results speak for themselves.
  • In response to the Russian Invasion into Ukraine, you were forward-leaning - identifying platforms and Sailors that we could quickly provide once we received NAVEUR’s request for forces.
  • Thank you for your vision, planning, and execution.
  • Looking at the totality of your achievements these last two years and your resume, it is easy to see why you’ve been so successful – specifically, you always kept our Sailors, active and reserve, civilian shipmates, and their families – at the forefront of your efforts.
  • You never wavered from your commitment to providing them everything they needed to remain lethal and ready. You are a true servant leader and a great role-model to our Sailors, and to us all.
  • On a personal note, it has truly been an honor to serve with you. You are a consummate warfighter, and a deep thinker. It is abundantly clear that your unmatched vision, innovation, and even more impressive, execution, at all levels of command have made our Surface Forces, our Navy and our nation stronger.
************* INCOMING COMMANDER *************
  • Joe, Donna and I are excited to have you and Angela join the team here in Norfolk, and I am confident you are the right leader at the right time to partner with Brendan to take our surface fleet to even greater heights.
  • Your previous assignments as the Commander, Carrier Strike Group FIFTEEN where you conducted advanced and integrated training enabling deploying Strike Groups to operate in integrated, joint and coalition environments ready for major combat operations as well as your role in developing Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities as part of the OPNAV N9 team prepared you for the challenges you will face as the next Commander of Naval Surface Forces Atlantic.
  • As I tell all of my commanders, read, or reread, and live by Admiral Rickover’s eight principles as the authority, responsibility, and accountability now go to you. 
  • I’ll give you the same advice I give every commander I’ve been fortunate enough to lead.  You’re in charge – take charge.  Lead boldly with grit, tenacity, and innovation.
  • View all missions through the lens of warfighting.  Be ready, and if called to arms, ensure we’re ready to fight and win decisively!
  • You will encounter challenging problems, but you’re never a victim – problem admiration must transition quickly and efficiently to problem solving.  You’re a solution provider.  And, when you need help – ask.
  • I look forward to following SURFLANT’s continued successes.
************* STAFF *************
  • Now, let me shift my attention to the staff. My message to you is this: the work you do is vital to the Navy’s ability to maneuver and operate effectively at sea, in the littorals, and in any environment – so be ruthless in your assessments – lead, innovate, and then execute aggressively.
  • I say this because warfare is a fiercely competitive endeavor, and combat is one of the most challenging environments one can endure.
  • The challenge for the Surface Navy today is to take new technologies and merge them into a way that gives the United States the tactical advantage over our adversaries while maintaining a balance between building ships that are modernized, sustained, surge ready, and deployment certified.
  • As General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says:
    • "And to achieve this, we must operate seamlessly [across] our joint force… On Day 1 of the next war, we must be fully integrated and able to maneuver through space and time in a fast-paced, high-tech, rapidly changing environment, [while] remaining invisible and in a constant state of movement. And [if we] do that, we might prevail. But, more importantly, to do that, if your enemy knows it, you'll deter… [and] prevent war."
  • Keep SURFLANT and all of its tenant commands focused, keep the O-F-R-P cycle churning, so that our Surface Fleet is always at the ready – as we get our ships and crews underway and sail towards an uncertain future; it is our duty to ensure we are prepared to close, engage, and defeat any challenge that may meet their course. 
  • Together, as an integrated, all-domain combat team, we will be victorious through leadership, toughness, and warfighting mastery. To do that, it is imperative that our warfighters are given maximum opportunity to train and operate their weapons systems and equipment safely, effectively with unmatched precision.
************* CLOSING *************
  • Brendan and Colleen, once again, I am confident I speak for everyone here when I say we are sad to see you go… I couldn’t imagine a more dedicated and capable Officer to lead as SWO BOSS at Naval Surface Forces in San Diego.
  • You’ve both have given so much of yourselves to SURFLANT, your Sailors and the Flag Community here in Norfolk. We will miss you on the East Coast and we will strive to embody the principles of grace, humility, and excellence from the standard you both have set.
  • Have no doubt, as you head West, you leave behind a remarkable legacy of operational excellence, of unmatched vision, and of sage counsel – all of which the Fleet and SURFLANT will benefit for years to come.
  • Donna and I wish you both the very best of luck in your future endeavors.  Thank you for all you have done for our Sailors, for our Navy, and for our nation – and may you always find fair winds and following seas.
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