Since there are only six weeks from the time chief petty officer (CPO) selection results are announced and the time the first class petty officers (FCPO) put on their chief anchors, there is a compressed timeframe to train and prepare selectees for this new, important leadership role. This prompted Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/SW) Rick D. West to implement a program known as “CPO 365” – a year round, three-phase training cycle with the goal of molding FCPO’s into Navy chiefs.
In the words of West, “Every first class petty officer is a prospective chief petty officer,” which requires the chiefs, at all commands, to mold their future peers into Navy chiefs in anticipation of their selection and with enthusiasm.
The chiefs of Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic (NCTAMS LANT) took this message to heart and creatively and aggressively implemented CPO 365. Overseen by Command Master Chief David Byrd and led by Chief Electronics Technician April Childers, NCTAMS LANT’s chiefs included other commands in their training as well, working closely with Chief Information Systems Technician (SW) Tiffany Croshaw from NCTAMS LANT’s Navy/Marine Corps Internet (NMCI) Detachment and Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Jason Rufa (SW/AW) from Navy Cyber Forces. The synergy of combined Chief’s Messes provides better leadership training for all the first class Sailors. It also enables FCPO’s from all commands to be mentored by others in their technical field that they might not otherwise do on a personal level, but will need in order to effectively lead as chiefs.
Specific training activities in Phases 1 and 2 range from classroom lectures and discussions on character and loyalty, to group physical training and Physical Fitness Assessments and participation in community relief (COMREL) opportunities. The COMREL opportunities included organizing food drives and other essentials for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and visiting ill veterans at the VA hospital in Hampton. These activities occur at a rate of one to two per week.
Once those portions are completed, CPO selectees continue their training in Phase 3. It is in this phase that future chiefs make the final transition to Navy chief and proudly don the coveted anchors.
The result is a threefold success: The newest Navy chiefs are better prepared to hit the deckplates running as leaders who have been trained to be chiefs; the COMREL activities display to the public that the Navy’s commitment to service doesn’t stop when the workplace is left, and the cadre of FCPO’s has a stronger foundation for future growth and to be more effective in their current day-to-day leadership responsibilities.