GROTON, Conn. — The U.S. Navy is looking for ways to adapt its training for millennials, young people raised in a child-centric culture who want and expect nurturing relationships with their bosses, the commanding officer of the submarine school in Groton said Friday.
Navy Capt. Andrew Jarrett, a self-described member of 'Generation X,' said that as commander of the submarine school he has made it a priority to focus on mentoring.
"For millennials, it's very important for them to have a relationship with their boss, just like they had with their parents," Jarrett said during a talk with a submarine veterans' group. "They don't want to be friends but they want you to care about them and give them feedback."
While some see the craving for feedback as a weakness, Jarrett said it could be a benefit if it's embraced by the Navy. He said the chief of naval operations has indicated his office is reviewing changes that may help tailor training for the new generation of sailors and officers.
A 1989 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Jarrett is a career submarine officer who assumed command in July 2013 at the Naval Submarine School, which has a staff of 400 people and about 1,500 students enrolled on a given day. He served previously for four years at the academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he became deputy commandant of midshipmen.
At the sub school, many of the students are enlisted sailors who arrive in their late teens and early 20s. Jarrett said many come from backgrounds with strong family support, and when they arrive in Groton, there's a sense "of 'where's my Navy mom and dad?'"
"That's where we as a submarine force are struggling a bit," said Jarrett, who added that some junior officers have had a hard time adjusting to Navy ways.
More broadly, Jarrett said he has focused on emphasizing ethics at the sub school. In presentations to students, he said he reviews the cases of disgraced officers including Cmdr. Michael P. Ward II, the former commander of a Connecticut-based attack submarine who faked his own death to end an extramarital affair.
"We don't give our kids clear enough messages about right and wrong," he said.