Forget the latest hand-held gadgets or weapon systems. Bold, aggressive leadership by petty officers is the key to the Navy's success in fighting the global war on terrorism.
I served as an enlisted sailor for nearly 12 years before receiving my commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. In the transition from the Navy to the Marine Corps, I've learned many lessons on leadership and differences in the organizational structures between the two branches of the Department of the Navy. The most significant difference is the role of noncommissioned officers. The typical corporal in the Marine Corps has as much, if not more, decision-making ability, accountability for personnel in his charge, and more hands-on leadership tasks than I ever had as a junior first-class petty officer. The vast majority of daily supervisory tasks were accomplished by the leading petty officer (most often the senior first-class petty officer who was passed over for chief many times) or the leading chief petty officer. These tasks could (and should) have been carried out by the third-class petty officers who were hungry for leadership responsibility and the chance to exercise the "officer" portion of petty officer.