Navy Tackles Destructive Behavior in New All-Hands Training

Sailors assigned to USS Nimitz (CVN 68) prepare to heave around on a line on the ship's fantail as the ship departs Naval Air Station North Island. (U.S. Navy /Seaman Weston A. Mohr)
Sailors assigned to USS Nimitz (CVN 68) prepare to heave around on a line on the ship's fantail as the ship departs Naval Air Station North Island. (U.S. Navy /Seaman Weston A. Mohr)

The Navy has hit on a new training formula that seems to work: video vignettes with high production values, followed by guided discussion.

On the heels of last year's release of "Chart the Course," an all-hands training following the same format and focused on ethics -- with an emphasis on sexual assault prevention, the Navy on Thursday released "Full Speed Ahead," another video-based training addressing common destructive behaviors and the service's values.

"This all started back with sexual assault prevention efforts. We've opened up that aperture to all destructive behaviors," Cmdr. Tracy Less, the lead for both training programs, told Military.com. "We've really checked that box of awareness. Now we're moving into actionable."

Full Speed Ahead centers on four video vignettes, each related to one of the four "core attributes" that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson highlighted as the Navy's guiding principles when he took the post in 2015: integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness.

The protagonist in each vignette is Petty Officer Erica Walsh, a sailor who was a victim of sexual assault early in her career but opted to continue in the Navy and is now rising through the ranks while assigned to a ship.

In one scenario, she's challenged to confront a peer who is drinking underage; in another, she faces a subordinate who appears to be contemplating suicide. In one vignette, she stays silent while her shop cuts corners with safety checks, then must face the consequences.

After each vignette, a shorter video features sailors from various ranks discussing what the attributes mean to them.

Unlike the previous "Chart the Course" training, the discussion groups around these videos will consist of sailors from all paygrades, instead of just peer groups, Less said. The discussion leaders on the mobile training teams will come from middle ranks -- E-5 to O-4 -- in order to keep the mix of ranks from hindering open conversation.

"They have the largest sphere of influence, so they can link up, link down the chain of command," Less said of the leaders.

All sailors will participate in the training in groups of 30 or fewer by the end of this year, according to a Navy announcement about the new training initiative.

While it's difficult to quantify the impact of the training format introduced last year, Less said she's heard positive feedback from sailors about its interactive style and problem-solving elements.

"It's not just 'talking at you' type of training. It's interactive, and it's allowing sailors to come up with solutions," she said. "Everybody's got skin in the game. That's what's so unique and different about this. We really are changing the norm."

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@HopeSeck.

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