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A Senior Enlisted Professional Development Opportunity

by ETCM David Belisle, Electronic Systems Support Unit Seattle

"I made senior chief! Now what?" For senior and master chief petty officers, two optional senior enlisted academies are available to prepare them for their additional responsibilities: the Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, and the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, R.I. I applied for the Navy program and became a member of class 121 in November 2005. For senior and master chiefs, here are four reasons to apply to the Navy's program:

The Navy Senior Enlisted Academy opened its doors in 1981 with a mission to meet the educational needs of senior and master chief petty officers in their expanded leadership roles. SKCM Guy Sommerdorf became the first Coast Guard member to graduate from the academy in 1990. Since then, 57 more Coast Guard senior and master chiefs have joined the academy's alumni. From deck to overhead, the academy displays the legacies and honors from each class, including a library devoted to military heritage. The building itself is named after Medal of Honor winner Chief Petty Officer Peter Tomich, who valiantly gave his life for others at Pearl Harbor. 

Our curriculum included leadership and management, law, ethics, communications, national security affairs, military heritage and physical fitness. Our guest speakers included experts in a wide variety of relevant subjects. Some of their presentations were profoundly influential, such as one we received from former POW Porter Halyburton. Class 121's diversity brought more to our learning environment than all of our books combined.

Our special events included a trip to the USS Constitution, a formal dining-in and our graduation ceremony. On graduation day, we presented our legacy gift to the academy: mounted crossed cutlasses that were actually used aboard the USS Constitution, with the quote, "Remember who fights the ship!"

This academy gave me a fresh perspective on our alliance with our sister services and a broader awareness of "joint" in the Coast Guard's defense and security strategy for the 21st century. Simply stated, strengthened partnerships provide immediate options for our commander-in-chief and our nation when needed. 

Our heritage as a seagoing service is highly valued at the academy. I received many compliments on our service's response to Hurricane Katrina and other Coast Guard missions. I truly felt honored and privileged to represent the Coast Guard and join some of our nation's finest sailors, soldiers and airmen, as well as a sailor from the New Zealand Navy. 

For more information, see the academy's Web site: For application procedures, see ALCOAST 598/05.

Leadership competencies addressed: "Self Awareness and Learning," "Effective Communications," "Influencing Others" and "Respect for Others and Diversity Management."

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Last Modified 9/19/2013