Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D. West visited U.S. Navy sailors at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, December 9-10, during a stop on his tour of U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility to interact with sailors and discuss opportunities and policies affecting them.
"What a great group we have down here," West said. "I am very, very impressed."
West, along with Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Force Master Chief Farris Foresman, 5th Fleet Command Master Chief Chuck Clark and Combined Task Force 56 Command Master Chief Terry Molidor, met first with chief petty officers from Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and Camp Lemonnier, December 9, to discuss leadership and answer questions.
MCPON and the master chiefs joined Camp Lemonnier Command Master Chief Loretta Glenn at the Bob Hope Galley December 10 for breakfast with members of the camp's Echo Six enlisted group.
"We discussed career options and the things affecting sailors today," said Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos J. Aviles, assigned to strength management at Camp Lemonnier and a native of Chicago, Ill. "MCPON answered all the questions we had. I can tell he really wanted to be there and made us feel important."
"I feel good about my future in the Navy," Aviles added. "We're headed in the right direction. We are getting good training and guidance."
MCPON also visited Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 to learn more about the Seabees mission in the Horn of Africa, and toured the Port of Djibouti with Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 4.
The highlight of MCPON's visit was the all hands call with more than 700 enlisted and officer Navy personnel in attendance at Camp Lemonnier's Thunder Dome athletic facility.
West remarked on the importance of the work service members do while deployed to the Horn of Africa, pointing out that Djibouti is a main launching port for many U.S. joint forces accomplishments.
"Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are doing an exceptional job and doing what we need to do," he said.
MCPON also discussed current issues concerning careers and leadership, and fielded questions from the audience on topics such as warfare qualifications, training and retention.
Sailors today have more opportunity than ever before, he said.
"All sailors can succeed if they act on opportunities," he said. "Take the challenging billet assignments. Get the training. Take charge and work closely with your command fitness leaders and career counselors to verify your records."
"It's about motivation. You can do anything in the Navy you want to do, all you've got to do is go out there and do it," West added.
"We've got a great Navy. We've got all the greatest technology—the plane, the ships—but all that is technology," he said. "The people are and will continue to be our most important asset."
MCPON then reminded leaders to engage and challenge their people.
"Today's sailors want to be challenged," he said. "Challenges helps sailors grow. Look out for one another—lead with heart."
Finally, West encouraged sailors to recognize the importance of what they are accomplishing in the Horn of Africa.
"You've done so much here," he said. "When you go home you will be able to recall how you helped change people's lives."