As we approach the 2020 holiday season, I’m reminded every day of the extraordinary achievements of our Force – despite the fact that COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives. I am honored and humbled to lead such a tough, resilient and high-performing team during this important time.
We all need time to reflect, reset, refocus and reconnect. Like many of you, I am looking forward to the upcoming holiday season, and to spending time with family and friends. However, remaining ready for our primary mission — providing strategic depth to the Navy, Marine Corps and Joint forces in an era of Great Power Competition — requires us to remain vigilant. Your safety, and that of your family, is obviously our focus, and we will still be rallying against the pandemic throughout the holidays. We cannot let down our guard.
Factor CDC guidance into your holiday plans. I trust you and your leaders to familiarize yourself with local COVID-19 mitigation guidance and military health protection conditions, which may mean you simply should not travel to see family members, or limit the number of people at your holiday gatherings. I realize this may add complexity to an already stressful time. I ask that you continue to stay focused and remain patient as COVID vaccines are making great progress.
Particularly during the holiday season, treat liberty like a mission. We all must be safe, and I have learned over the years that holiday safety is the by-product of a good plan. I have also learned those who fail to plan expose themselves to the greatest risk of injury, usually by falling into the trap of compounding bad decisions. Leaders, I expect you to ensure your Sailors have a plan, and the right resources to execute those plans.
For those who are traveling, allow yourself enough time to get to your destination on time, ensure you exercise moderation in the use of alcohol, and know who to call if you find yourself in an unexpected situation.
The holidays can also be a lonely time, particularly given the impact of COVID-19 on the past year. Now, more than ever, I ask you to keep your antennae up for signals that your Shipmates may need some affirmation or someone to talk to. Please stay connected to your shipmates both in your workplaces and throughout the Navy. For those away from families, a phone call or email goes a long way toward fostering camaraderie and kinship. These are the hallmarks of a world-class team.
This holiday will likely be unlike any other in recent memory. That said, I have confidence in your resiliency. You’ve found ways to maintain your readiness and training throughout this unusual time, including innovative virtual drills; you’ve adapted new technologies to keep channels of communication strong; and many of you deployed on short notice early in the pandemic to care for your fellow citizens and support our Navy away from your families, at your own personal risk. There are many more examples — please know I’m impressed every day by our collective strength.
I wish each of you and your families a safe and happy holiday season. Because of you, our Force is strong. We are the premier fighting force in the world, and there is much to be done in 2021 to ensure our maritime primacy well into the future. Recharge your batteries so you can return in the new year energized to contribute to our strategic, operational and tactical transformation.
I am honored to serve with each of you.
Happy Holidays, Shipmates,
Vice Adm. John B. Mustin sends