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Faces of Training Featured

During Military Appreciation Month, our editorial team is speaking with military heroes who have served our country and continue to support the military in their current efforts. We highlight the lessons they’ve learned along the way, and their vision of the future of military training.

Military training, especially as the battlefield becomes more connected, cannot simply be about building the technical competencies of personnel. The amount of technical proficiencies that the warfighter must master to do his or her part requires continuous learning to keep up with the pace of technology and to further their own careers.

However, as important as this education is, it cannot be forgotten that the military enterprise also relies on Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines being able to rely on each other, and lead one another, working together to accomplish the mission objective.

And because of that, it is also true that the military requires an impressive set of soft skills from their personnel, alongside the nuts and bolts skills of one’s occupational specialty or rating, not the least of which are the leadership skills necessary to effectively lead and manage their fellow servicemembers.

This combination of hard and soft skill training was, in fact, a big reason why Mike Stevens, the 13th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) and current National Executive Director of the Navy League of the United States, joined the service in which he would spend the next 30 years.

“I felt a call to serve in the military since I was a young child,” he recalled in a recent Military Appreciation Month interview. .

Alongside that calling, MCPON Stevens knew that serving would give him technical proficiencies that would last a lifetime and, he said, “the Navy could provide me the opportunity to better develop myself as a leader.”

And certainly, MCPON Stevens is an exceptional example of how the Navy gives its sailors the opportunity to learn and lead.

As the most senior enlisted member of the Navy and a senior advisor to the Chiefs of Naval Operations and Naval Personnel, MCPON Stevens spent four years representing the interests of thousands of his fellow sailors at the highest level of the Navy, working to more effectively prepare Sailors for duty. During his tenure, he was a driving force for improving the experience of his fellow sailors, including efforts to professionalize the service and expand leadership training for senior enlisted members.

Moreover, MCPON Stevens has been able to take what he trained for as a Navy leader and translate it into an impactful civilian career.

“Without question, 98 percent of what I learned about leadership and people in the Navy was immediately transferable,” he remarked, and “the learned ability to acquire and apply knowledge at a rapid pace is something the Navy instilled in me from day one, and I use this daily in my civilian profession.”

And in this profession, as the national executive director of the 37,000-member strong Navy League, MCPON Stevens continues to lead the Navy community and the defense community at large. Under his leadership, the Navy League provides programs for sea service personnel and their families and a forum for the services and their industry partners to come together and innovate in service of tomorrow’s naval warfighter.

The Navy, MCPON Stevens said, “took me on a life’s journey that I could never have imagined.”

However, he also looks to the future of where the maritime services need to go to prepare for the next generation fight, and what skill sets they need to cultivate and which domains they need to meet

“The innovation that will be required to maintain superiority will grow exponentially. We will need to recruit and retain people who can operate at the highest levels in this modern and complex environment. Certainly, our ability to maintain superiority in the cyber and space domains will require the most immediate response.”

To learn more about the MCPON Stevens and The Navy League, click HERE.

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