Navy Standardizes Command Qualifications

A sailor raises the USS New Hampshire's commissioning pennant
A sailor raises the USS New Hampshire's commissioning pennant

WASHINGTON -- Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, approved an instruction governing the Navy's Command Qualification Program June 4, setting the standards for qualifying and screening Navy commanding officers.

OPNAV Instruction 1412.14 guides officer communities on how to formally establish a written command qualification program and how to formally screen prospective officers for command.

Prior to the release of this instruction, command qualifications were left to the individual officer communities. Following an internal review of the different programs, leadership determined common threads needed for effective command which could be highlighted during a standardized screening and qualification process.

"This program will strengthen the caliber of our leaders and provide for a more ready, capable fleet by ensuring we select the right people for command by adhering to clear, consistent professional qualification standards. This process recognizes each community's unique professional standards, while reinforcing the necessarily high expectations we hold for those in command Navy-wide," explained Adm. John Harvey, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces.

While the instruction primarily provides guidance to community leaders and mandates standards, it also contains some requirements and expectations for prospective commanders. During Command Leadership School (CLS), which is now mandatory, candidates will complete a written examination that covers specific professional knowledge requirements and participate in a 360° assessment of their strengths and weaknesses with the help of certified counselors.

Capt. Michael Slotsky, commanding officer of CLS, explained how the students will be impacted by this training.

"Prospective commanding officers will now demonstrate and reflect in writing how they will apply tenets of good leadership, bedrock principles of authority-responsibility-accountability and Navy Regulations as they prepare for command. Individual student's self-awareness and leader development will also be enhanced through the 360 assessment and coaching they will receive," said Slotsky.

The new instruction also tasks affected officer communities to develop and prescribe a set of professional qualification and oral board standards that reflect the needs of their communities. Once an officer from their community has achieved the knowledge standards required, demonstrates mastery of the required skills, and sits an oral board with officers in command, community leaders will ensure their candidates receive a formal review by an administrative board.

Responsibility will no longer end at the change of command for the out-going commander according to the new instruction. Commanding officers being relieved by their executive officer as part of a community's "fleet up" program will be required to certify, in writing, their executive officer is ready for the demands unique to their command. This letter will be reviewed by their immediate superior in command, who will endorse the certification to the type commander or community leader prior to the executive officer assuming command.

Speaking to the benefits these changes will have for the Fleet, Vice Adm. Richard Hunt, commander, Naval Surface Forces said, "This program puts rigor back into the qualifications and requirements needed so we have our best leaders in command."

To learn more about the standards and requirements for command contained in OPNAV Instruction 1412.14, visit the Navy Personnel Command website at www.npc.navy.mil.

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