SEVENTH Fleet must be deliberately innovative

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SEVENTH Fleet must be deliberately innovative

by: Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin | .
Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet | .
published: January 28, 2017

Men and Women of the Seventh Fleet,

The Seventh Fleet is the forward deployed operational arm of the United States Navy in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Our ability to maintain security in this diverse and rapidly changing region requires that we maintain advantage over any would-be adversary.

In guiding the Seventh Fleet, one of my four pillars of excellence is "innovation". The Navy has a long tradition of innovation, and the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, in particular, has driven innovation for decades. Yet we have, in some ways, become a victim of our own success.

We often assume we can easily maintain the same maritime superiority we have enjoyed since the end of WWII. However, for the first time since that war, we face the reality that we may compete with maritime adversaries who are close to parity with our own forces.

We have built a culture of excellence in the Navy by implementing a system of efficiency, safety, and process improvement that has reduced injuries to the force and protected our military assets. However, this system’s rigidity also sometimes creates barriers to innovation.

Fortunately, we own the system and that means we have the power to change it. Without the ability to rapidly implement change, we will fall behind our adversaries, and in warfare, if we fall behind, we lose.

We must resolve to protect the safety of our Sailors and Marine and the large investments we make in our naval platforms while carving out sandboxes of innovation that will allow us to quickly develop, test, and implement new concepts, policies, and technology.

Innovation will require us to take a hard look at how we evaluate risk. When innovating, failure is often a part of the process. If we are going to fail, we must be able fail early, fail cheap, and learn always. We must celebrate and share our successes and even our failures openly.

Innovation is not just needed in today’s Navy, it is required. We all share the responsibility to think creatively about how to solve the problems we face and innovate faster than our adversaries.

We need to build a culture of innovation into our organization at all levels, from the Sailors and Marines on the deckplates, to our senior leaders, and our civilian workforce. We cannot sit back and simply hope for innovation to happen.

SEVENTH Fleet must deliberately innovative.

So you must be deliberate innovators.

Signed,

VADM Joseph Aucoin

Commander, SEVENTH FLEET

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