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Commanders Business – BWC / BWO Board Questions

BLUF: At its core a BWC / TAO / OOD is a position of trust. Not knowledge, not compantcy, not hard work can replace that trust. I must be able to look you in the eye and know that you will make the right decision on my behalf.

While knowledge is important, trust is even more important. That is why this is really more of a “discussion” than a “board”. I want to walk away trusting my new BWC, and I want my new BWC to walk away trusting me when he/she decides to wake me up at 2:00am

Below are some of my most common BWC questions. These questions are geared toward Mine Countermeasures Staff which has command and control over  US and Coalition Surface Mine Sweepers, Helicopters, and EOD Divers.

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BWC  Board Discussion

Intent of the board: provide me an understanding how how well I trust the oncoming BWC, and how much latitude to give him/her. To have a discussion on my expectations. Understand that this is a position of trust.

No instruction shall take the place of sound judgement.

What are my the wakeup criteria?

One of those criteria were meet. Give me a wakup call.

Desired Response:

  1. To have a discussion about wake up call expectations
  2. Convey you can always call

You are standing watch as BWC during RIMPAC 2018 in building 139. You receive a call from a frantic Canadian diver from a CTU not assigned to us who reports “hey mate, one of your helicopters is operating in the wrong location and just abuut hit my diver”. You look out the window and can visually tell that the helicopter is operating in the proper location.

How do you respond?

Desired response:

  • Quickly acknowledge something is wrong and immediate action is required.
  • Recognize that it does not matter who is wrong (helo or divers) but that the BWC needs to take decisive action.
  • FIRST: Take that decisive action.
  • SECOND: Notify us.

You are standing the midwatch as BWC on watch onboard the USS XXX. At 0400 the XO walks in while doing his rounds. He quickly looks over your plan and says “wow, that does not seem to safe, I really would not do that if I were you”, he shakes his head and walks out.

How do you respond?

Desired response:

  • Quickly acknowledge something is wrong
  • Acknowledge the XO is not in the chain of command; yet his/her opinion as a senior naval officer counts.
  • Quickly be willing to pause operations
  • Quickly be willing to wake us up

It is 2200 and you are BWC during BALTOPS. Over the last three days one of your French ships that you have TACON over has been complaining in their LOGREQ about being low on wine and cheese. The ship CO gives you a ring and reports that he has just worked a deal with his French logistics ship to have a Belgian helicopter conduct a VERTREP to deliver the wine and cheese. The helo will also drop off some parts and conduct a pax transfer.

This VERTREP will not take the French ship of station and is scheduled for 0530 the next morning.

You review the CCIR’s and note that there is no mention of UNREPS in CO’s wakeup criteria.

Desired response:

  • Recognize that although TACON does not include logistic responsibilities, and this is not a CCIR, this is a big deal.
  • Forsee CAPT Cronin’s response if he learned about this at 0600 the next morning.
  • Gather additional information and give us a ring.

Slow motion train wreck: It is the end of a 4 week RIMPAC exercise and everyone has worked hard and is ready to get home. The final ENDEX requirement is mine recovery.  It is Sunday afternoon after the end of exercise party and the dive team had just been recalled to conduct an ordnance recovery in 180 feet of water after the MK-7 sea lions team refused to dive due to an increase in shipping and fishing traffic in that area. It is getting dark, and the weather is kicking up a bit, but still within limits.  Furthermore the dive team’s chief left a day before the exercise ended back to VA Beach as his wife was having a baby, and the team is led by a new ensign. The LPO is a confident 2/c EOD diver and reported to you that he’s done this job thousands of times and that the team is good to go.

In addition the chamber team has already started packing up but they report that in an emergency they can have it ready in about 60 minutes.

(one engine on boat, flat tire on emergency truck, low cylinder pressure, debris on bottom, dive sup prone to seasickness, no radio but working cell phones)

You take a quick look at the risk matrix and see that the dive team is not violating any one item on the matrix. You talk to your EOD rep and there is nothing in any instruction that prevents you from this mine recovery. You call to the EOD unit CDO to verify and the YN1 answers. He reviews the instructions and afferms that you are not in violation of any diving instruction.  You can not get ahold of anyone.

This job needs to be complete tonight as the mines are scheduled for repainting and refurb on monday. Removing the mines is the last item on SMWDC and ADMIRAL Wade’s requirement for ENDEX.

Desired response:

  • Recognize the false sense of urgency.
  • Recognize that no instruction supersedes good judgment.
  • Hold the team at the pier until you get further guidance.

MN1 Smith, your primary MEDAL operator,  shows up dead sick and totally non functional to his 0100 watch. It is a slow night and BMC Jones can very easily cover MN1’s position.  What do you do?

Desired response:

  • Empower you to make good, common sense decisions without always checking with us. This is a position of trust.
  • Acknowledge that I signed the watch bill and that is should not be changed without my approval.

What risk are you willing to accept on your behalf, and what must you push up?

Desired response:

  • Accept risk that will stay at DIV31 level; push up risk that will go outside our lifelines.

How do you balance passing up too much information with too little information?

Naval Officer Board Questions

  • Who is your mentor?
  • What are your reading?
  • Why do you want to get off the CMC track and get on the CO track?
  • As an OIC what would you change about MU-2?
  • What is the most useful criticism you’ve ever received?
  • Of all the work (personal / professional) you have done, where have you been the most successful?
  • What does your selected career path look like?
  • Tell me about a failure
  • What specific strengths did you bring to the table?
  • How have previous jobs prepared you for greater responsibility?
  • Describe your leadership style now, and as an Officer?
  • How would others describe you?
  • How do you balance life and work?
  • Do you consider yourself successful?
  • Ethical decision (right vs right)

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