View Full Version : New Navy secretary is a hands-on leader

01-10-06, 07:30 AM
New Navy secretary is a hands-on leader
January 10,2006

It appears Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter may be taking a hands-on approach to his new job.

As one of many presentations during his Monday visit to Camp Lejeune, Winter was treated to a demonstration of "simunition," paintball-like rounds that allow Marines to train in an almost live-fire environment.

To show how real it was, a Marine squeezed off a burst into a dummy from his simunition-loaded rifle.

"You might want to move the secretary if you do that again," said Maj. Gen Robert Dickerson, who was escorting Winter on his rounds of the base.

Instead, Winter picked up the weapon himself. The clack of rifle fire was greeted with approval and a few 'oohrahs.'

Winter, who was sworn in as the 74th Navy secretary on Jan. 3, came to Camp Lejeune as part of his tour to familiarize himself with the facilities - along with a $125 billion budget and 900,000 people - he will have the job of overseeing. The Lejeune visit was designed to give him a first-hand glimpse at how the Corps is training its leathernecks.

"This is part of my initial orientation to the Department of Navy," Winter said during a brief news conference. "It's very difficult sitting in the Pentagon and taking wonderful Power Point briefings to get an understanding of what's going on.

"One of the first things I wanted to do was come down and see the Marines. They are in the middle of the fight right now."

Winter was taken to the military operations in urban terrain facility, or the MOUT. In a practically complete section of a European-style city, Winter watched as Marines cleared rooms, shooting simunition at two aggressors. He climbed to the top of a hotel and watched as teams of Marine hurdled walls, learned how to approach buildings and received directions from teachers. He later wandered through tunnels built to simulate the cave systems found in the mountains of Afghanistan.

He also received briefings from range control officers aboard the base on just what was being done to upgrade the MOUT, constructed in the late 1980s, and other training ranges to adapt to the wars being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Later, Winter said he was impressed with the way training was being keyed to real situations and the plans to help it continue to evolve.

"One of the things happening right now that is good is we're adapting training to what's going on, on the ground," he said.

Winter said he's very impressed by Camp Lejeune and the scope of the activity that takes place aboard the base. That bodes well for it in the future, he said.

"It will continue to evolve," he said.

Most of all, he said he's impressed by the Marines themselves.

"I'm blown away," he said. "These are great Americans."

Dickerson, who commands Marine Corps Installations East, said he was honored to show Winter the base. He said the visit will help the new secretary understand the chief concerns of the base: to make sure all Marines are properly trained and to improve their quality of life.

"We have to make sure Marines and sailors are fully trained before they walk out the door," Dickerson said. "So Marines can go out of here and get engaged in combat knowing we are taking care of their families."

Winter's daylong tour included a helicopter ride above the base's expansive ranges and breakfast with Marines from the 6th Marine Regiment who had recently returned from Fallujah. He also stopped by the Wounded Warriors Injured-Support Unit and New River Air Station to see the MV-22 Osprey.

Winter comes to the Pentagon from Northrop Grumman, where he served as president of the defense company's mission-systems sector. He replaces Gordon England, who is now serving as deputy defense secretary. Winter, who has a doctorate in physics, last served with the Department of Defense as a program manager with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Contact staff writer Chris Mazzolini at cmazzolini@freedomenc.com or at 353-1171, Ext. 229.