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Analysis Of Leadership Of Elmo Zumwalt – Admiral In The United States Navy

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Throughout all of history, leadership has been a strong tool for implementing change within both our military and country. Whether it has been for extirpating societal patterns, modernizing what is said to be the norm or implementing policies, a lot of these results comes down to who is in command. Often times, the changes that each leader make can have long lasting impressions on the world. Admiral Elmo Zumwalt has been recognized as a significant leader in both our military and our country. Admiral Zumwalt filled a pivotal role as our country’s Chief of Naval Operations, the highest position in the United States Navy. Zumwalt is a notable leader for his efforts in transforming the Navy post-Vietnam through promoting inclusiveness and reestablishing the importance of the submarine community.

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One way in particular that Zumwalt changed our Navy is the effect he had on the submarine community. A legendary veteran of two wars, Zumwalt served as commander of US Naval Forces in Vietnam and at the age of 49, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt became the youngest Chief of Naval Operations. When reflecting upon his career, Admiral Zumwalt recalls, “ it amuses me a little that I am known mostly as the CNO who allowed sailors to grow beards, wear mod clothes, and drive motorcycles. In truth, I spent almost all of my time pondering upon and seeking to make a contribution to American society with respect to the U.S Soviet maritime, strategic arms limitation, navy modernization, and a number of other matters that most people would agree have more bearing on the fate of the nation that what a sailor wears to dinner”. Zumwalt is more commonly known for the changes he made that favored the “common” sailor. However; Zumwalt is responsible for making huge contributions to America’s wartime readiness. Zumwalts tour as the CNO was a monumental tour in our nation’s history. Zumwalt saw as his job to make sure the navy remained a capable and fighting navy. He wanted to ensure that our Navy stood prepared to encountering the soviet threat. In addition to making sure the Navy was maintaining its mission, he made sure that this was still a top priority. As a result of his priorities, he was able to push programs that have still continued to affect our military and it’s warfighting readiness.. When Zumwalt took over as CNO, America’s military had stopped building SSBN (fleet ballistic missile submarines) and there were talks of preventing the modernization of the existing SSBN. Admiral Zumwalt strongly believed that SSBN were a vital aspect of our Navy and he believed that stopped production of them would hinder our Navy as we were losing a crucial piece of our nation’s defense. His response to this issue was to give his full support and emphasis on the development of newer models of SSBN. As a result of this, the Ohio-class submarines came into effect and were specifically managed, designed, and modernized. Their emphasis was for stealth, long patrol, and increasing the weapons on board. After being commissioned in 1981, all 18 of the Ohio-class are still remaining in service and submarines play a vital role in our military’s national defense and offense. Submarines are a critical piece in our Navy and are always serving our military. Admiral Zumwalt’s decision to establish and ensure this community helped further develop our wartime readiness which we still rely on heavily today.

Quite possibly the greatest impact Admiral had on the Navy was the effect and development he had on the culture at large. When Admiral Zumwalt took over as CNO, he was looking at a “Navy whose abilities were decaying as the world’s rival navy was rising”. In order to reshape the Navy, Zuwmalt took initiative in unorthodox ways. Zumwalt aimed his focus on redefining the norms of our Navy and challenging what had been generally accepted for quite some time. His aim was to essentially catch the navy up with the rest of the country and mainly other services in regards to equality and opportunity for the sailors. Zumwalt began this approach by a sequence of what is known as “Z-grams”. His aim of these initiatives was to bring a divided navy closer together and prepare them for the new millennium. Zumwalt’s passion for implementing dramatic changes in the way the Navy treated its uniformed men and women caught President Nixon’s eye. He was selected in 1970 by President Nixon out of over 33 senior admirals. Once selected, Zumwalt made his promises actuality as he fought for the rights of Navy men and women. One policy that implemented a monumental change is known as the Z-116. This policy emphasized the importance of equal opportunities and rights for women in the Navy. It allowed a way for women to enter restricted line communities, assignments on ships and opened ratings for enlisted women. Zumwalt promoted the first female and first African-American offers to flag rank in the Navy. He established a policy which allowed females to become Aviators in the Navy, and he opened up ratings for filipino sailors. Each of these policies changed the lives of those at the time, opening up a door of opportunities which weren’t available before. By implementing these policies, Zumwalt was able to install changes that still greatly affect our Navy today. Zumwalt started the trend of fully integrating women into our navy and the effects can be seen today as women are now able to fill in rankings that they wouldn’t have been able to without the policies and efforts of Zumwalt.

Zumwalt is revered as a trailblazer. He is someone who is remembered for reforming our navy and military at large. He challenged ideas and patterns which ultimately led to a change that our country so desperately needed. The positive and clear effects of Admirals Zumwalt’s leadership were seen throughout his administration but more specifically directly after. When Zumwalt assumed his position as CNO in 1970, enlisted rates were quite low. America had just finished a war that left a distaste in many of the enlisted. At the end of Zumalts four years, the re-enlisted rates had tripled. Admiral Zumalt led is regarded as “ a maverick with the courage of a lion.” Admiral Zumwalt filled the role that our country so desperately needed at the time. He knew the importance of ensuring our wartime readiness and he also knew that in order to improve our Navy, he had to improve the conditions of those who made it up. Admiral Zumwalt fully emulates all the characteristics of a leader and we still see the positive results of his administration in our world today.

09 March 2021

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