In November 2008 then-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead approved and issued the first Navy Ethos. It was the culmination of months of Web-based surveys and interviews that sought to fulfill his earlier guidance, directing development of a “warrior ethos.” The Navy’s explanation of the Ethos is that it “identifies the distinguishing character, culture, or beliefs of a group or institution” and is “designed to communicate a set of beliefs appropriate and important to the more than 400,000 military and 180,000 civilian personnel who share a common bond of service in the Navy, regardless of background, personal experience, or position.” When the Ethos made its debut it was met with significant resistance and derision. More than four years later, it is hardly ever referred to in daily naval discourse, and a review of official Navy correspondence found it mentioned only cursorily in top-level CNO guidance.
Though not for lack of effort, the Navy’s organizational identity is shadowy at best. Here’s how its culture could readily be imbued with more spirit.
By Captain Michael Junge, U.S. Navy