Category Archives: Guest Speakers

General Born Talk

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On 21 March 2018, the midshipmen of the Boston NROTC Consortium were visited by the distinguished Brigadier General and former Dean of the Air Force Academy, Dana H. Born (USAF Retired). Currently the Co-Director of the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership and a member of the Council on foreign Relations, was able to articulate complex and innovative ways of thinking about leadership.

General Born surprised many midshipmen by being vulnerable and honest about her transformative experiences and challenges throughout her life that define her leadership style today. This vulnerability, General Born expressed, was essential to developing authentic leadership—the creation of which is no easy task. First and foremost, one must be able to clearly analyze their own way of life to learn who they truly are. Comparing one’s authentic self with the image they project in positions of leadership then calls for the sacrificing of actions or life styles which are detrimental to the true self. Acknowledging these shortcomings and this vulnerability takes courage.

In highly competitive environments, both from within the chain of command and at Harvard, General Born has found that the key to being an effective leader is being an authentic leader rather than a conforming leader. It is easy to chase a persona or style of leadership dishonest to our true selves in competitive environments to fit in with our peers or meet the expectations of a preconceived notion of the quintessential leader. Whether we acknowledge it or not, at some point along our formation all of us may experience the allure of inauthentic leadership, and General Born’s session and the reflective exercises that accompanied it have given the Battalion the skills to effectively engage these questions now and during our service as naval officers.

General Born followed up her talk with the entire battalion with a breakout session with the female midshipmen. This took the form of an informal question-answer discussion in which she was able to share even more about her own experience with the military and how it has affected her personal life. Since the chance to hear from such a high-ranking female leader is so rare, it was a fantastic opportunity for the female midshipmen in the battalion to hear from someone who has had such a successful career be willing to talk about anything they asked. We look forward to following in General Born’s footsteps as we go on to enter the fleet.

Written by MIDN 4/C Barry and MIDN 1/C Lennert

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Senior Enlisted Panel

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On Wednesday, February 28th, the midshipmen of the Boston NROTC Consortium were given the unique opportunity to hear from members of the Marine Corps and Navy’s senior enlisted community. Due to the efforts of AMOI SSgt Patrick Gartland, midshipmen were able to ask serious questions and receive candid answers from HMCS Baldwin and CMC Gray of the USS Constitution, as well as SgtMaj Colwell of Recruiting Station Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

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As midshipmen, it can be overwhelming to think of all of the potential situations that we may find ourselves in upon commission into the fleet or Marine Corps. The importance of devoting oneself to self-improvement was emphasized multiple times during the dialogue between the midshipmen and the senior enlisted panel. Serious attention must be given to developing our leadership techniques, and a huge aspect of this is forming a healthy relationship with the NCOs we work alongside.

Leaders, whether they be commissioned or not, must give due diligence to the complexity of the situations they find themselves in. It was made evidently clear that instances of sexual harassment, hazing, and discrimination demand swift and firm action on all levels. But other problems that may arise, such as looking after your sailors and marines’ personal well-being or setting up your men and women for success in their career pipeline, require flexibility, understanding, and accessibility. The experiences of the senior enlisted panel with regards to these tough and intricate dilemmas were frank and extremely insightful for the next generation of officers in our service.

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While there are exceptions to every trend, it was made clear that midshipmen can and should expect the very best from their future NCOs. Senior enlisted do not want to see Ensigns or Lieutenants fail, they want to see them grow into the leaders they believe they may become. The ideal dynamic is to have both Officer and NCO keep each other on their toes, holding each other accountable, sharing experience and expertise, and providing each other with the tools and support to succeed and serve their sailors and marines. This is only possible through trusting one another and having the shared mentality that “your mistake is my mistake.”

Here lies the key distinction between Authority and Leadership. Authority is given, leadership is developed over time through experience. The practice of good leadership should not be limited to those in the uppermost levels of command, it needs to be a part of every action from Colonels and Captains to Privates and Seaman Recruits ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­—not to exclude midshipman. The Battalion expresses its gratitude to SSgt Gartland for organizing this event, and to HMCS Baldwin, CMC Gray, and SgtMaj Baldwin for taking the time to create the next generation of leaders of the naval service.

Article and Photo by MIDN 4/C Barry

Admiral Harris Speaks to BU-MIT NROTC Midshipmen

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By Midshipman 4th Class Zach Litwin, BU-MIT NROTC

BOSTON (Apr. 28, 2015)—“Attention on deck! Admiral Harris on deck. Good morning, sir.” This week, Midshipmen from Boston Consortium NROTC unit received a visit from Admiral Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Admiral addressed the 1/C as well as a number of other Midshipmen and Unit Staff.

A visit from an Admiral is a rare occasion in any forum, so those who attended were fortunate to have such an amazing opportunity in a small-group setting. Admiral Harris has 41 years of training and operational experience. He graduated the United States Naval Academy in 1978 and became a naval flight officer. In addition to his strong educational background, Admiral Harris has significant and diverse operational and staff experiences upon which he based his remarks and advice to the Midshipmen and Staff.

In his address, the Admiral strongly urged those present to “be the best that you can be wherever you go” because much can be learned from every experience. He stressed that mentors and a positive attitude are of great value when planning and completing difficult assignments and added that “you can’t say ‘thank you’ enough.”

When discussing his philosophy for leadership and training, the Admiral focused on balancing priorities and maximizing the two vectors of mission success: “smarts” and “motivation.”

One of the Midshipmen asked “What can Midshipmen do during their time in NROTC to prepare themselves for their future careers in the Navy?” Admiral Harris responded, “I think you can learn how to work together” and stressed that teamwork involves both receiving and giving help.

“It’s a team sport, and you’re going to have to carry each other,” said Harris.

The Admiral went on to further discuss the important role of diversity in the Navy and its positive effects on teams and organizations. He emphasized that today’s diverse Navy represents impressive improvements from the past but reminded the Midshipmen that more work lies ahead.

When asked about the visit, MIDN 1/C Klatt from MIT commented, “Admiral Harris gave us a lot of advice, and I think everyone in attendance benefited greatly from his visit.”

While the Boston Consortium is lucky to have access to excellent guest speakers from many different backgrounds, the BU and MIT Midshipmen and Staff were especially grateful for this extraordinary in-person visit by one of the nation’s highest ranking and most experienced military officers.

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A Glimpse at Special Warfare

This week the Boston NROTC Consortium was lucky enough to be visited by three US Navy SEALs.  Here for much more than a small talk at lab for those interested, this opportunity was absolutely invaluable.  The three SEALs came and proctored a PST, which is the Physical Screening Test, for the SEAL candidates hoping to put together a package to send to the selection boards hoping to be selected for mini BUD/S.  For the rest of the MIDN not currently applying for mini BUD/S, it was an eye opening experience towards the process and the test itself.

For the candidates, their Tuesday started at the Case Pool at 0700 for a 500 yd swim, then they headed off to the BU Track and Tennis Center for the remainder of the test.  They continued with pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and a 1.5 mile run to finish the morning off.  They then headed back to the BU unit offices for individual interviews with the SEAL/S.  A social was held later that day at Cornwall’s for anyone in the battalion that was interested in meeting them.  Thankfully, for those who were not able to make it to the social, the SEALs came and spoke at the Battalion lab the next morning.

LT Ize-Iyamu spoke on the training necessary and the path that SEAL candidates take on their 67 week journey to become US Navy SEALs.  Then, Senior Chief Newbold spoke on what it takes to be a SEAL and what the MIDN can do to be the best they can be in their respective communities in the Navy.  Captain Morrison, USN, Ret. spoke on the application process as well as how it was changing currently for those applying to BUD/S.  He also shared what he learned after 30 years of being on SEAL teams, leading SEAL teams, as well as boat crews, and imparted one piece to the MIDN which was reiterated multiple times.  “Do the best you can do.  Grow where you’re planted, and you will blossom.”  Before the SEALs departed, they spoke once more with the candidate on preparation for the PST in the future as well as answering any lingering questions.  The visit was highly appreciated, and valued even more, and for the interested MIDN, the opportunity was the beginning of a long road of arduous preparation.  For anyone else, it was a look at a highly popular, yet little known group of elitists.  Go Navy!

By MIDN Bourget