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Speeches
U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC)

Adm. Daryl Caudle

NORFOLK, Va.

Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command

29 September 2023  
  • Alright, well good afternoon everyone. What a wonderful day.
  • I know M-C-C Brooks said we are going to do this uncovered but I only get to wear this like 30 minutes every year, and I will not be denied my 30 minutes.
  • This is all about getting this cover, and I’m proud of it too, so anyway, you’re going to have to bear with me and see me in it.
  • So anyway thanks again M-C-C Brooks for the introduction.
  • I want to start by repeating something Fleet Perryman said in his remarks last year because it was so insightful and resonates so loud and clear.
  • “From this day forward, you will be somebody’s first Chief,” a leader who makes a profound impact on a Sailor’s career, you will be responsible for the next generation of Sailors and the continued success of our Navy – think about that statement – There is no better mission statement I can give, but I will do my best during my remarks.
  • I am grateful and deeply honored for the opportunity to speak today at the Chief Petty Officer Pinning. Thank you all for coming and allowing me to spend some time with you this afternoon.
  • My wife Donna and I are very glad you were all able to take time out of your busy schedules to be here with us – I know for certain that Chief season, while rewarding, is extremely demanding on the members, spouses, significant others, and families.
  • It is a remarkable achievement, and truly a time to celebrate the years of hard work and dedication it took to successfully navigate the long deployments, those sleepless nights in which the Captain needed your impressive technical expertise, the never-ending cycle of completing rigorous maintenance requirements, all of which have culminated in the skills and mastery that have made you a subject matter expert in your field and capable of leading the next generation of Sailors to achieve mission success.
  • I would also like to recognize the entire Chiefs’ Mess of Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, for their tireless efforts over the last few months in ensuring today’s celebration instills the pride, excitement, and reverence it deserves. Thank you to the Mess for putting in the work, day in and day out to make this culminating event an extraordinary success. You have set the example and show adherence to the credo “Once a Chief, always a Chief.”
  • Today and the weeks leading up to this pinning ceremony, you went through a challenging process of being selected, tested, and accepted. You have faced challenges and been pushed to the limit. Like many things in life – especially in the Navy – we must recognize that none of us got here without support from a hard-working team on the home front.
  • And so, I want to echo what was said earlier and agree that all of you…moms, dads, brothers, sisters, spouses, significant others, friends, shipmates and mentors…through your steadfast support and efforts over the course of those challenging years and in these last culminating weeks, you have served as the anchor for these Selects, holding them steady as the tide rises and falls around them.
  • 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 makes us resilient – resilient enough to endure the long, difficult, and sometimes dangerous days far from home.
  • Because of that, Donna and I would like to thank you all for what you have done, and just as importantly, for what you will do in support of our Sailors, our Navy, and our great Nation.
  • So thank you to all of our Navy spouses, for our children, and for all of our Navy families, how about one more round of applause for them?
********************* SELECTED *********************
  • It’s truly exciting to see everyone gathered here today at the Joint Forces Staff College to witness what many view as the crowning achievement of a Sailor’s career – pinning on the fouled anchors and placing the coveted Khaki Combination Cover on a new Chief Petty Officer.
  • The first use of the term “Chief” was on June 1, 1776 but it wasn’t until 1893 that the Navy established the pay grade of Chief Petty Officer.
  • The original rating badge had three chevrons, an eagle and three arcs or rockers. It was the basis for today’s CPO chevron, which has a single rocker and became official in 1894. The fouled anchor was first used as a cap device with the Chief Petty Officer uniform in 1905 and became an official part of the CPO uniform as a collar device in 1959.
  • And so, I want to congratulate the 46 Chief-Selects here before me on your selection to become a Chief Petty Officer.
  • Each of these Sailors you see before you today were compared against their peers – we searched for those who were already working at the next level, those demonstrating strong leadership skills, and those who have mastered their trade while also developing these same attributes in the Sailors they lead.
  • On average across all ratings, it takes around 13 years of dedicated naval service for a Sailor to progress from Apprentice to Journeyman to Master – some less, some more, but that’s what it takes.
  • After amassing the requisite technical knowledge from the various classrooms, performing hundreds of hours of maintenance, leading junior Sailors in a work center or division, they must pass the E-7 Rating Exam – just to become eligible for the Chief Petty Officer Selection Board.
  • This Board is comprised of three Flag Officers, a Force Master Chief, dozens of Command Master Chiefs, and every individual Rating is represented by Master Chiefs and Senior Chiefs who critically review and vote on the nearly 18,000 records before selecting about 5,500 Sailors or about 31%.  
  • Each of you here today navigated your own unique path of service – and along that path you have forged a chain of knowledge, experience, and sage counsel that is represented by the Anchors you will soon wear. “Navy Chief, Navy Pride” – your unity as a Mess will only improve upon the proud legacy of those that came before you. And as you have done so far in your careers, you will be responsible for preparing the next generation of Sailors to one day be called ‘the Chief.’
********************* TESTED *********************
  • It should be obvious by my remarks already, that the selection to Chief Petty Officer is an incredible honor and achievement. The training season that followed the announcement of the board selection results were certainly challenging and exhausting; and was intended to test your resolve. This test will be one of the most rewarding and memorable periods of your career.
  • While your careers have been impressive, you are now the embodiment of professional excellence and outstanding leadership, and Sailors will find when they don’t know the answer – “Ask the Chief” has been and will always be the first thought when tough questions need hard answers.
  • For this reason, Chief Season, while rewarding, is extremely demanding. The strain that was placed on you and your loved ones was purposefully designed and meaningful.
  • Specifically, this critical leadership course and the associated team-building events were paramount to preparing you and your families for your future life as a Chief Petty Officer.
  • Up early, home late – becoming a Chief Petty Officer requires the utmost commitment and dedication to duty and service, only achievable with immense support from family and friends. You learned to count on each other, rely on each other, and succeed with each other.
  • Because of your distinction, we expect – no, we demand – much from you.
  • Today, you will be welcomed into a brotherhood and sisterhood of fellow Chiefs.
  • That is appropriate, because the Chief Petty Officer title comes with responsibilities and privileges that are quite unique in our armed forces. For a Navy Chief is much more than just a non-commissioned officer. Much more. The khaki uniform and the combination cover are symbols of that difference.
********************* ACCEPTED *********************
  • Now that you wear khaki, and have been accepted by your peers, those Sailors and families that you serve will make assumptions based on the title “Chief” that you are a fountain of wisdom, an ambassador of good will, the absolute technical authority, and the North Star of their moral compass.
  • The qualities, responsibilities, and demeanor expected of every Chief who earns the title were not directed by higher authority, but forged by your predecessors over time. And since 1893, those who wear the fouled anchors have selflessly borne the burden of others to make our Navy more effective and more lethal, and our families stronger and better prepared.
  • While you benefit from that proud legacy, as you step into the Chiefs’ Mess, you must also add to it.
  • We celebrate today’s occasion because it is a momentous achievement in a Sailor’s career, shared equally by all of your families and friends who took part in the triumphs and tribulations along the way, and worthy of this commemoration.
******************* TAKE CHARGE *******************
  • However, it is critical to your future success, and further to that of the Navy and the Nation, that you fully understand that making Chief is not an end-state.
  • It is, in all manner of the term, a ‘new beginning’ on your journey as a leader within our great Navy.
  • For 248 years, our Navy has stood the watch along our coasts, upon distance seas, and upon foreign shores to protect America from attack and to preserve our nation’s strategic interests around the world.
  • To answer this charge, our Fleets constantly maintain, train, and equip combat-ready naval forces able to maneuver into harm’s way, to deter, defend, and if necessary, to fight and win decisively whenever and wherever we are called.
  • In preparing for that mission, our Navy, our Sailors, and our families will absolutely need your best – not only when we are blessed with fair winds and following seas, but when the storms on the horizon close swiftly upon us and without warning.
  • In today’s context, imagine that you and your shipmates are conducting routine peacetime operations in one moment, and suddenly in the next, you find yourself manning Battle Stations and damage control lockers, maneuvering and fighting against an aggressive, committed adversary intent on destroying your ship.
  • With that image set firmly in your mind, I’d pose a question for each of you to consider as you lead Sailors into an uncertain future:
    • Will you and your team be trained, poised, and focused – ready to take a direct hit, swiftly repair battle damage, train sights on the enemy and bring ordnance down on them with devastating lethality?
  • If my 38 years of service has taught me anything, it is this – regardless the environment, the mission, the situation, or the problem – you must face every facet of your life with the same grit, tenacity, and toughness as our Naval heroes who have come before us.
  • As Chief Petty Officers you’re never a victim – you are solution providers and problem solvers – and you draw strength and confidence from the wake of those that have gone before you. You must now pass that along in your charge.
  • As we have done throughout our Nation’s proud history, our Navy will be ready, and if called upon – to fight and win our nation’s wars – and to be ready, we will rely on the strength and resilience of our Chief Petty Officer’s Mess. So, to those who will soon be our newest members of this Mess: Take Charge:
    • Be Deckplate Leaders: Chiefs are visible leaders who set the tone. With eyes on target -  know the mission, know your equipment, know your Sailors, and develop them beyond their expectations as a team and not as individuals.
    • Be Institutional and Technical Experts: Chiefs are the experts in their field. Use your experience and technical knowledge to produce a well-trained enlisted and officer team. Technical excellence does not come from guessing, dead reckoning, or Kentucky windage – it comes from the highest level of knowledge and rigor.
    • Be Professionals: Chiefs will actively teach, uphold, and enforce standards. Measure yourselves by the success of your Sailors and their professionalism. Remain invested in the Navy through self-motivated military and academic education and training and provide proactive solutions that are well founded, thoroughly considered, and linked to mission accomplishment.
    • Uphold Character: Chiefs abide by an uncompromising code of integrity, take full responsibility for their actions and keep their word.  If you don’t know – say so, and then go find out with urgency. This will set a positive tone for the Command, unify the Mess, and create esprit de corps.
    • Be Loyal: Chiefs remember that loyalty must be demonstrated to seniors, peers, and subordinates alike, and that it must never be blind. Few things are more important than people who have the moral courage to question the appropriate direction in which an organization is headed and then the strength to support when the final decision is made.
    • Communicate Transparently: Chiefs encourage open and frank dialogue, listen to Sailors and energize the communication flow up and down the chain of command. This will increase unit efficiency, readiness and mutual respect.
    • Expand your Legacy: Chiefs have a proud heritage, which defines your past and guides your future. Chiefs use heritage to connect Sailors to their past, teach values and enhance pride in service to our country. Our Navy has an extraordinary history past built on fearless heroes – ensure your Sailors know and understand that history.
  • As you begin your careers as new Chief Petty Officers, I urge you to strive with revitalized dedication to instill the legacy of our Navy’s courageous warfighters into the Sailors you lead – because the confidence, competence, and character that effort evokes will permeate throughout all aspects of their lives.
  • Those Sailors are our greatest competitive advantage we have over any adversary, hands down, no exception. As such, we owe it to them, to their families, and to our Navy to help forge them into the best person, the best Sailor, and the best warfighter they can be.
  • Be enthusiastic, be passionate, and most importantly, be there for them.
******************* CLOSING *******************
  • In closing, while you take time to celebrate with your family and friends, I encourage you to take time to reflect upon all the Sailors, Chiefs, Officers and teammates who have offered their hand in support throughout your careers.
  • Take those experiences – the good, and yes even the ones that pushed you to your limits – and realize that each of you have something unique and special to provide the next generation of Sailors.
  • And always remember that earning your anchors today is but one step of your journey, not the destination. Your life, your legacy, your future as a Navy Chief starts today.
  • The energy emanating from you is palpable – I can see it on your faces. I know that you’re eagerly ready to accept the challenges ahead and will ensure your Sailors continue to be tough, resilient, and resourceful – ready to fight, take a hit, get up, and win decisively.
  • So, congratulations!  You’ve earned it. Celebrate together – because when you return to your sailors as a Chief Petty Officer, they will be ready to get after it.
  • Make us proud. Thank you.

 
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