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Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (CNE-CNA), and CNE-CNA Fleet Master Chief Derrick “Wally” Walters spoke with Midshipmen at the University of Southern California (USC) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) over a video chat, April 23.
The call was an opportunity for future leaders of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to learn about Naval operations from the top admiral in Europe and Africa and his senior enlisted advisor.
“This command represents 93 countries, 23 percent of the world’s population, and 20 million square nautical miles of ocean from the North Pole to the Cape of Good Hope,” said Foggo. “We support three combatant commands out here: Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.”
Foggo gave a presentation on CNE-CNA missions and operations and how CNE-A plays a key role in the Great Power Competition outlined in the National Defense Strategy.
“I knew 6th Fleet was pretty active, but not to the extent that Adm. Foggo told us about,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Madeleine Nations. “Recently, our Naval Science Lab has been hosting very senior Navy and Marine Corps officers to show us what life and leadership is like at the top. Last week we had the opportunity to talk to Retired Gen. James Mattis, and this week was Adm. Foggo.”
During the call, Foggo talked about the eight bases he leads between Europe and Africa that are strategically placed to meet the mission of the Navy, which put a heavy emphasis on deterrence.
“Deterrence is our business out here, and while the coronavirus has been going on, some adversaries have tried to take advantage of us, thinking there is some kind of crack in our armor,” said Foggo. “There is not.”
At one point during the discussion, Nations said that Foggo described CNE-A as the most kinetic area of responsibility across the entire maritime environment. Just prior in the week, the Navy had destroyers operating in the Baltic Sea and Black Sea and P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft patrolling the Mediterranean Sea.
The discussion wasn’t only for Foggo to share experiences from his naval career but also to offer the midshipmen a chance to ask questions. One midshipman asked Foggo about the Navy’s 30-year ship building plan and where he thought the ships should be stationed.
“With four destroyers as part of the forward deployed naval forces here, we are able to have two of them deploy at the same time. One in maintenance, one conducting training, and two on patrol,” said Foggo. “To deploy from the U.S., you need four to make one: one in maintenance, one in training, one underway, and one on mission.”
There are four multi-mission Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers currently stationed in Rota, Spain. These ships provide critical forward presence in the European and African theaters for security cooperation, maritime security, and crisis response.
Another midshipman asked Walters about some of the problems he faced as a senior enlisted leader with junior officers.
“As the command master chief of a SEAL team, one of our biggest problems was that because the business that we are in, we value experience,” said Walters. “When you have that junior officer getting put in a new platoon, that information and experience are power.”
Walters discussed the importance of senior enlisted mentorship in a junior officer’s career, stressing that regardless of experience level, you are a leader and have to take charge.
“Regardless of what they do or don’t know, there are other qualities of leadership,” said Walters. “It’s vitally important that these junior officers take ownership and lead their people.”
Even in these trying times, conversations like these are important for the next generation of military leaders.
"As a Midshipmen during this global crisis our future in the Naval service can seem uncertain,” said Midshipman 1st Class Anthony Pedreira, the USC NROTC Battalion commanding officer. “Having Adm. Foggo, someone who is combating the crisis at the highest level, come to our Naval Science Lab and speak about what the future looks like for the United States Navy reminds us that by keeping the faith in our shipmates and ourselves, as generations of Sailors and Marines have proven, no crisis is insurmountable."
Nations echoed Pedreira's sentiment and was thankful for the time both leaders spent with the midshipmen.
“I appreciate that Adm. Foggo and Fleet Master Chief Walters took the time out of their day to talk to us,” said Nations. “It was a remarkable discussion and one that we will remember as a highlight of our time in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps.”
CNE-CNA/C6F, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests, security and stability in Europe and Africa.