USA: Chief of Naval Operations Visits Naval Air Station Whidbey Island
The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert visited Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island to speak with Sailors and answer questions Aug. 7.
The CNO addressed Sailors assigned to Whidbey Island’s Electronic Attack and Reconnaissance squadrons and tenant commands during an all hands call held at the Sky Warrior Theater on the Naval Air Station.
Greenert also toured the base’s squadrons and facilities, meeting with Sailors along the way, before the all hands call. He spoke on a variety of topics impacting the NAS and the Pacific Northwest region as a whole, including the Navy’s recent strategic rebalance focusing on the Asia-Pacific Region.
“The Pacific Northwest has been a big part of the Navy for decades and will continue to be a big part of the future as we rebalance our forces to the Pacific,” said Greenert.
Greenert discussed how the job of Whidbey Island’s Electronic Attack, Marine Patrol and Reconnaissance squadrons would be impacted by the recent rebalance and other operations taking place around the world.
“The job that the [EA-18G] Growlers and [EA-6B] Prowlers do here will definitely increase in importance,” he said. “Not only in the Pacific, but around the world the need for air wings and especially electronic attack, both expeditionary and those associated with the carrier air wing are in high demand.”
Greenert explained after the all hands call that for carrier based units the optempo in the near term will be a reflection of the carrier airwing, and in the longer term it will stabilize pending any real world events. Greenert also emphasized he would make it a priority to maintain a good “home tempo, enabling Sailors to rest between deployments.
“My guideline is that 50 percent of the time [Sailors] are at home,” said Greenert. “Rest and training are also priorities.”
Greenert also addressed the introduction of a new aircraft to Whidbey Island’s ranks, the P-8A Poseidon.
“We stand by the record of decision to move squadrons of P-8s to Whidbey Island and are currently working on plans to do so,” said Greenert.
The CNO also addressed a wide range of issues from new deployment lengths for carriers, new technologies, global policy issues, budgetary concerns, perform to serve, suicide prevention, and sexual assault awareness and prevention.
Greenert answered questions directly from attending Sailors both during and immediately after the all hands call concluded.
“Sometimes being out here on an island in the Puget Sound makes us feel somewhat isolated as a Naval Air Base, so having an opportunity for the CNO to answer our specific questions is a really big deal,” said Chief (Select) Aviation Maintenanceman (AW/SW) Leticia Sarns, who asked the CNO a question during the all hands call. “It makes me feel informed, and like I have a voice, and a say in the Navy as a whole, and that is a great feeling.”
Greenert also reenlisted 10 Sailors at the all hands call.
“It’s a great honor to be reenlisted by the Chief of Naval Operations,” said Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class (NAC/AW) Shayn Maag, one of the reenlisted Sailors. “It’s not something you see every day, and it’s something I will never forget.”
Whidbey Island was the final stop of the CNO’s tour of the Pacific Northwest conducting community, industry and fleet engagement meetings. Greenert also visited Seattle for the Seattle Seafair summer celebration and spoke to Sailors at Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton during the tour.
At the end of his visit to Whidbey, Greenert expressed how happy he was to visit the area and to meet with the Sailors of the Pacific Northwest.
“I’d like to thank the folks up here at Whidbey Island, both the families supporting the Sailors stationed here and the Sailors stationed here,” said Greenert. “What you do is incredibly important and will increase in importance in the years ahead as we rebalance to the Pacific.”
Naval Today Staff, August 9, 2012; Image: US Navy