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Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations, talks to more than 400 officers and enlisted sailors in Naples, Italy, Thursday. Mullen and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa Jr. traveled to several sites in the Middle East and Africa, visiting with sailors.
Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations, talks to more than 400 officers and enlisted sailors in Naples, Italy, Thursday. Mullen and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa Jr. traveled to several sites in the Middle East and Africa, visiting with sailors. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)
Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations, talks to more than 400 officers and enlisted sailors in Naples, Italy, Thursday. Mullen and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa Jr. traveled to several sites in the Middle East and Africa, visiting with sailors.
Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations, talks to more than 400 officers and enlisted sailors in Naples, Italy, Thursday. Mullen and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa Jr. traveled to several sites in the Middle East and Africa, visiting with sailors. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa Jr., talks to officers and enlisted sailors during a stop in Naples, Italy.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa Jr., talks to officers and enlisted sailors during a stop in Naples, Italy. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — A year-old Navy requirement that senior enlisted sailors have a college degree to be promoted could meet an early demise — or at least a make-over.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa Jr. is considering revamping a program strongly advocated by his predecessor. Last year, in a move to build a better educated force, Master Chief Terry Scott signed off on a plan that would require, by fiscal 2011, sailors seeking advancement to senior chief petty officer to have an associate’s degree or equivalent, as long as the certification was relevant to their Navy job.

Talk of nixing the requirement sounded like the Navy might be abandoning its commitment to educating its sailors, a chagrined Petty Officer 1st Class Jedidiah Yisrael said Thursday during an impromptu all-hands meeting with Campa and Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations.

“I believe in education. … I believe in the value of it, and I believe it unlocks the potential of the enlisted force,” Campa said in a let-me-set-the-record straight tone.

“What concerns me about that is leaving a good deckplate leader behind,” he continued. “An individual who is out there, working hard, rogering up for these deployments, these IAs (individual augmentee jobs), leading sailors to success, and because of our pace of operations … not being looked at by a selection board.

“We value education. Do I value it over deckplate leadership I expect from the chiefs? I think it complements that. It makes them more effective.”

For more than an hour Thursday, Mullen and Campa answered questions from a few of the more than 400 officer and enlisted sailors who attended the spontaneous meeting. During a pit stop on their way home from a weeklong visit in the Middle East and Horn of Africa, Mullen and Campa met with sailors to hear what’s on their minds.

Other topics included incentives for individual augmentees sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, involuntary recalls of naval reservists, improved single sailor programs, the White House’s recent sign-off to create an Africa Command, and sought-after jobs in the Navy.

Mullen lauded the creation of U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, as smart, but cautioned planners to steer clear of mirroring existing world commands.

“It’s a huge [continent] with a couple of hundred million people. It has extremes in terms of disease and famine, as well as extremes in terms of resources … and governments that clearly, in many cases, are not as focused on solving problems as they could be or as the international community would like them to be,” Mullen said.

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