COMFRC commander emphasizes aircraft maintainers’ importance to readiness goals
As the community’s most senior officer, Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), understands the impact of a strong mentor during times of change.
The current state of our nation’s readiness and directives from the highest-ranking military officials place a significant load on our entire community, he said to more than 50 Aerospace Maintenance Duty Officers (AMDO) during a mentoring event on April 29 held at Oceana Naval Air Station, Virginia, Beach, Virginia.
“You are up to the task,” he added.
AMDOs, also called “green shirts,” are Navy aircraft or equipment maintenance personnel who develop, establish and implement maintenance and material management policies and procedures to support naval aircraft, airborne weapons, attendant systems and related support equipment fleet-wide. Representatives from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77); USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); USS George Washington (CVN 73); Naval Air Systems Command; Commander, Naval Air Forces; Space and Naval Air Warfare Systems Command; and various rotary and fixed wing operational squadrons attended the event.
Zarkowski spoke about the increasing need for maintenance professionals and called attention to the difference between when he was working onboard an aircraft carrier as a junior officer and the current state of affairs.
“Times are different. I was concerned with my five E-2s or my 14 Tomcats, but today we have to adapt and see the full picture,” Zarkowski said. “The standards at all levels are changing—depots, intermediate and operational levels. We have to be comfortable with being challenged,” he said, referring to the Naval Sustainment System (NSS) model implemented to improve naval readiness by focusing on reforms.
NSS addresses all elements of aviation maintenance – people, parts and processes – to make permanent changes that increase aircraft readiness and lethality. NSS uses commercial best practices to achieve the goal of 341 mission capable F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and will be applied across all type/model/series aircraft.
Zarkowski underscored AMDO core values in addition to the morals and ethics of all naval officers as vital to implementation and adaptation to cultural change.
“We’re all being asked to do a lot more, but that’s okay because we learn and adapt quickly, we pick each other up and learn from one another.”
This endorsement from Zarkowski evoked a sense of pride according to Capt. Chris Couch, Commanding Officer, Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic. “Having the Commander of the Fleet Readiness Centers tell you how you are valued in the organization and touch upon his own past experiences brings a higher level of significance to these events.
“When I was a junior officer, I looked to those in positions I aspired to be in one day and wanted to hear what they had to say about their own career paths and lessons learned,” Couch said.
Zarkowski advised operational level junior officers to continue their academic development through participation in a broad spectrum of maintenance/logistics-oriented courses and stressed that continuous learning prepares them for future job assignments. He also asked them to challenge themselves by pursuing the “hard jobs” and to trust the process.
“Keep doing the hard work and the smart work,” he said, “and your efforts will be noticed and rewarded.”