Leadership: September 21, 2004

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In the last 19 months, the U.S. Navy has dismissed 28 ship captains. In comparison, during the previous fifteen years, only eight were dismissed. The main reason for the sudden increase in dismissals is the higher standards imposed by the current head of the navy, Chief of Naval Operations Vern Clark. He has implemented many long overdue reforms, and holding ship captains to a higher standard is one of them.

Admiral Clark has become the most popular of the current service chiefs, even though he was appointed by Bill Clinton (in July, 2000.) Clinton had a reputation, somewhat justified, of appointing senior officers who were more into sensitivity and peacekeeping than, say, getting down and dirty and winning battles. Clark is the only service chief, of the current generation, to be offered a third term and is said to be a leading candidate to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. 

Clark is seen by many who work with him as an "iron-fist in velvet glove" type of guy. Hes been open to lots of new ideas, especially ones that will make the fleet more effective, and the sailors happier. Holding ship captains more accountable has come under some criticism, because in several cases, some conditions that were beyond the captains control (like lack of money), but  contributed to poor performance and the relief of the skipper. However,  the old salts dont complain as much, feeling that many captains have been getting away with poor performance in the least decade or so. At sea, and in port, the captain has enormous power. Clark wants to encourage them to use it more. Clark also wants to make it clear that zipper control problems (taking sexual advantage of the female sailors who now serve on all ships) are an important issue for ship captains, and the crews the captains control as well. Several captains have been relieved because of zipper control issues. 

 


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