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Nobody Asked Me But…Embrace the Challenge

By Lieutenant Daniel P. "Skip" Shaw, U.S. Navy

Where Is the Adventure?

Look at our mission profiles. Bosnia. The Arabian Gulf. Korea. Somalia. From the Norfolk waterfront to the Sea of Japan, we are engaged. Wake up to the facts. We are more relevant than at any time in the past 50 years. Say to me that you cannot find the adventure and I'll say you have shortchanged yourself by focusing on minutiae that have little to do with what we do and who we are as a Navy.

Where is the adventure? It's on the bridge at night in the Strait of Messina; it's off the coast of Kuwait, working up as part of a joint task force exercise. Is it easy? No. Does it come at a high price in terms of work and personal commitment? Yes. And it should. On board a cruiser launching missiles or an amphibious ship launching the landing force are but two places where you can find the adventure. I have done both and I will tell you that it is there for those who want to take it.

Today, we deploy to more places and have more meaningful missions than ever before. The adventure is right in front of us. All we have to do is reach out and embrace the challenge. This point was brought home to me during a recent shipyard period. My ship was behind in the schedule, my troops needed to train, but the spaces were not ready. The crew could have used this as an excuse for inaction. We could have justified not being ready; we could have changed the schedule. Instead, they came to me with a plan for developing a mock training facility. Using sheets for bulkheads, tape on the floor, chem lights, a smoke machine, and a lot of sound-powered telephones, my damage control team developed a training facility that allowed us to be fully up to speed for our light-off assessment. We received the highest possible evaluation and we learned something: the adventure is in making your work meaningful, in rising to the challenge and overcoming obstacles. The journey is a great adventure, and it can provide a sense of accomplishment.

We junior officers must embrace our traditional roles as leaders, mentors, managers, and keepers of tradition. This is not an easy task. Indeed, it is far easier to throw up our hands and focus on the negative. For those who take the latter approach, the Navy is only a job, and not a very fulfilling one at that. For those who "get it," this profession provides opportunities for growth, excitement, and personal reward, as well as meaningful service to the nation.

Lieutenant Shaw is commanding officer of the USS Thunderbolt (PC-12).


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Conferences and Events

Maritime Security Dialogue

Wed, 2016-11-02

You are cordially invited to: The Role of Space in Maritime Operations A discussion with RADM(SEL) Christian "Boris"...

Defense Forum Washington 2016

WEST 2017

San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

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