Surface warriors aspire to command ships, not serve as department heads. Department heads are sometimes viewed as the Navy's middle managers, a prejudice with consequences that do not serve the Navy well. First, the job's reputation drives some great young leaders to look for challenges beyond the Navy. Second, this attitude undervalues the tour, which provides commanding officers their longest and most substantive at-sea leadership opportunity prior to taking command. From my conversations with aviators and submariners, I sense that these middle-management perceptions persist in other line communities as well.
So You Want to Be a Department Head?
By Lieutenant Commander Fred W. Kacher, USN