Mano a Mano with the C-N-O

“Inside the Headquarters” sat out while Military Officer sat down with the Chief of Naval Operations.
As a contributing editor for MOAA’s flagship magazine, I had the honor to meet with Adm. Gary Roughead, mano a mano, for a session of questions and answers.

Though it took months to get on the admiral’s packed schedule, his staff, notably deputy public affairs officer Lt. Jessica Gandy, was great to work with. Gandy, who had been a surface warfare officer on an Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, now is learning her public affairs craft at the top.
Before the interview, a friendly and unassuming Roughead greeted me at least twice. Members of his staff made me feel at home. There was an upbeat vibe about the place.

The CNO’s office was unusually plain, not too large, and appeared to be a good place for him to work and meet with small groups. It is not a showplace, which made sense — Liberace he’s not. He seems humble, and I immediately was comfortable with.

We talked away the better part of an hour. I asked questions and he gave answers. I learned much about the man and his Navy. OK, he probably was rehearsed on issues the Navy might see as controversial — the budget, Congress, DDG 1000, aviation, and D-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y. On these he spoke in positive, broad terms. While grilling him on “What were you thinking on a $3 billion ship?!” was doable, we’re not “60 Minutes” and other than serving the interest of a small minority, sacrificing the interview on “wife beating” questions (figurative) seemed unwise. No do-overs.

Overall, Roughead seems to “get it” and understand his Navy. He articulates strategic concepts (as one would hope!) but I am reasonably sure he could walk me through the repair of a gas turbine engine with equal agility.

The CNO is a gracious man. After the interview he offered to entertain follow up questions, which does not happen all the time. Either he felt badly about our not fighting to the death on diversity, or he was pretty sure we are not going to slaughter him on the pages of Military Officer. (Probably the latter.)

I am rather sure he and his staff know about our less-than-flattering blog entries in “Inside the Headquarters,” though the subject never came up.

Thank you, Adm. Roughead. (We will continue to accurately highlight the Navy’s highs and lows at “Inside the Headquarters.”)

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