for us, with the increasing role of women, has been a big
driver. We set up virtual commands.
I have a young female lieutenant stationed in the
Seattle area, for example, who works for a staff in
Tennessee, remotely, because she didn’t want to move
from her husband and it was difficult in the housing
market to do that. I have senior captains at Kings Bay, Ga.,
or Pittsburgh who have seniors in high school who are
now working for me remotely. We think that the ability
to work remotely, telework and create a results-oriented
work environment, rather than an attendance environment, is an imperative for us.
VISCONTI This imperative is in line with the thinking
at the very top of our DiversityInc Top 50 Companies
for Diversity list. But the U.S. Navy has linked it to things
such as humanitarian assistance.
VICE ADM. FERGUSON The diversity imperative is
really about building trust where [other nations] can see
the population of America reflected back at them.
For instance, we have an Africa partnership station
where [their] ships are working
with the Navy’s ships. They’re facing significant problems in human
trafficking, narcotics trafficking and
[wanting to] know what’s happening off their shores. So the U.S. Navy
is providing that assistance, and in
order to do that better, we are building trust.
VISCONTI What other lessons do you think the Navy
VICE ADM. FERGUSON We’re completely integrated.
Let me give you examples of initiatives we have. We are
looking at an initiative of integration of the reserve force.
So we’re trying to get, within 72 hours, an individual
who can go from active [duty] to the reserve force, and
then the reserve back to active. [That process had] taken
anywhere up to four months, and now we have got it
down to 18 days. Within the year, I’m trying to get it down
to 72 hours.
Think about it: Life’s emergencies don’t occur on a
schedule. We prefer to think of this not as an off-ramp
from the Navy but as changing lanes. Some people move
in the fast lane and their career supports their goals. But
now I can shift to another lane, to pursue another opportunity, and be in the reserves and continue to serve
We’ve deployed more than 55,000 reserves to the current fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, and you can’t tell the
reserves apart from the active if they do it for a career.
That skill that they build in the private sector, we can
move back and forth. So that’s been an imperative on the
A real turning point for us was the visit of the hospital
ship to Indonesia, following the tsunami that occurred
several years ago. During that event, we saw the public
opinion of the United States change from 70 percent not
liking to 70 percent supporting and being favored in a few
short months. So we’ve sent the hospital ship to South
America, we’ve sent ships around the globe and … we see
America’s Navy as a force for good around the globe.
VISCONTI I think that transition has been really interesting, especially when you think about cell phones
and text messages in many third-world countries where
there’s a leapfrog ability to communicate. So for the Navy
to be showing the flag in a very positive way has unbelievable dividends for the country.
VICE ADM. FERGUSON It’s not just Navy people on
these ships; we partner with non-governmental organiza-
tions like doctor organizations, CARE, HOPE and others
that provide physicians, support, outreach. The ship
pulls in and the lines are thousands of people long to get
medical care, dental exams, eyeglasses and various other
support. It’s a tremendous partner-
ship for us that we think helps to
prevent wars. Because if you can
create economic stability, if you can
create people with a view of taking
care of their health needs and their
family needs, they’ll have a better
view of America as a more stable and
VISCONTI You’ve done some very progressive things in
a very short period of time. Where do you see this going?
VICE ADM. FERGUSON I think what’s next is our
diverse accession planning. We have the highest
number in diversity class at the Military Navy Academy
in our history: 35 percent of the entering freshmen.
At the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, we’re going to be
more than 30 percent of the entering freshmen—and a
great majority of them will study science and math. So
we’re shifting our focus on mentoring and [encouraging]
those who have chosen to serve with us to give them a
vision of a future, to bring their diverse experience to
shape our policies and to make their desire to stay with us
We’re finding that as we bring diverse talent into the
Navy, it is a source of innovation, of new ideas. And if we
can identify those high-performing young people from
diverse backgrounds and, at an early age, bring them
together—a doctor from one community, a surface ship
driver, an aircraft pilot, a submariner—and put them on
active learning on problems … we think that’s the future
for us. That’s where we want to go in the next years to
solve problems. I