Washington, DC - Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens released this week another episode of "Conversation with a Shipmate" further discussing the Navy's commitment to ethics.
The allegations of cheating at the Naval Nuclear Training Command has spurred a reexamination of ethical behavior and integrity across the military.
The alleged cheating incident is not a reflection of the thousands of professional Sailors who operate daily with honor and integrity, Greenert stated in the video.
"I do believe we have an ethics problem, but I don't believe we have an epidemic or that we're reeling out of control when it comes to ethical behavior of our Sailors," said Greenert. "There are hundreds and thousands of Sailors and Civilians who are doing a magnificent job in the Navy."
The Navy tracks all incidents concerning behavior issues. Statistics show that conduct has gotten better over the last five years, said Greenert.
Greenert announced in his interview that he would take action to make these numbers more transparent to Sailors so they can see for themselves how violations are being handled and stress the important nature of policing ourselves.
Greenert stressed this is the discussion that needs to be ongoing across the Navy.
Talking about ethics and integrity should be a part of a command's daily dialogue, Greenert stated.
"Any junior Sailor, if they are wondering about a difficult decision should ask the Chief. Junior officers should ask their senior officers," said Greenert. "Captains should be having these conversations on the bridge, every day."
Leadership also has to be approachable, so that people can report issues when they see them, said Greenert.
"Understand that everyone is human, leaders should anticipate mistakes," said Greenert. "Leadership has to be open to self-correction."
It's not always easy for someone to address an ethical dilemma when they see it, said MCPON Stevens.
"It's often a close friend or shipmate that is out of control," said Stevens. "How you address it is important."
Both MCPON Stevens and the CNO pointed out that there is the impression that each instance of wrongdoing reaches the highest levels of the Navy, when in fact a majority of these issues involving a violation of integrity can simply be handled at the lowest levels.
This is the benefit of our military chain of command.
Sailors should discuss the problem with someone they trust and make a plan to handle the situation at the lowest level if possible, said Stevens.
"We all have anxieties about 'turning each other in'," said Greenert. But most minor ethical violations can be handled at lower levels before situations become egregious, Greenert stated.
"That's the beauty of our military culture, you can handle these issues in a chain of command," said Greenert. "The sooner the better."
Integrity is the foundation of our military and trust is the essence of what we're about, said Greenert.
"If we lose our trust, and we don't have that integrity," said Greenert, "when does it stop? How do you know that those little choices you make aren't the ones that make the difference?"
Secretary of Defense Hagel last month announced two separate reviews of the Nuclear Enterprise that will look at both the managerial aspect and personnel accountability and health of the force to examine where there may be potential gaps in our application of training and execution.
"Our profession is inherently dangerous," said Stevens. "We have to have absolute unquestionable trust in the people we're around. One mistake can mean you aren't coming home."
It's not just something that we talk about; it's something that we all should live, said Stevens.
To watch the whole conversation go to this link: