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NSWG-4 Commands at Stennis Space Center hold Chief “pinning” Ceremony

by Story by Angela Fry, Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School
21 October 2022 U.S. Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Group 4 commands, located at the John C. Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi, recently recognized seven chief petty officers (CPO) in a formal pinning ceremony witnessed by a gathering of family, friends, command leadership, and teammates.

The ceremony is a time-honored U.S. Navy (USN) tradition that has been performed for more than 100 years. The pinning ceremony is described as the most significant transition that enlisted U.S. Sailors will ever make in their military careers.

In remarks as keynote speaker to the newly promoted CPOs, retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Eric Shuman stressed how reputations precede and the importance of credibility throughout their careers.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” explained the 23-year Navy veteran, who recently retired from Special Boat Team (SBT) 22 as a special warfare combatant-craft crewman (SWCC) operator. “No one can be a truly great leader unless they really care about the success of the team. You learn that in NSW. You learn that in selection.”

The process and transition to the rank of CPO ensure that this promotion is not focused on individual accomplishment but anchored in the institutional strengths of the Navy. During the ceremony, which was held along the banks of the Pearl River, the chiefs were pinned with gold fouled anchors that represent their new rank, culminating years of training, assignments, and deployments away from their families.

While all branches of armed forces within the U.S. military utilize noncommissioned and commissioned officers, the Navy is the only armed force that has the rank equivalent to the USN bureau appointed CPO, which is what makes this milestone in a Sailor’s career even more distinctive. Although the pay grade of the CPO is equivalent to those of the same rank in other services, the Navy is unique in that it confers more authority and responsibility on the chief, while demanding more performance and results than any of the other services. The USN "chief" is required to be a fountain of wisdom, the ambassador of good will, the authority on personnel relations, as well as the technical expert within their field.

NSW commands located at the Stennis Space Center consist of the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS), SBT-22, and NSWG-4 Training Detachment Stennis. The three NSW commands are situated on the NSW Western Maneuver Area Training Range, which is composed of some of the finest riverine and littoral training areas in the world.

NAVSCIATTS is a security cooperation schoolhouse operating under NSW in support of Foreign Security Assistance and geographic combatant commanders’ theater security cooperation priorities. SBT-22’s mission is to organize, mentor, train, and equip NSW personnel to conduct the full spectrum of special operations in riverine and coastal environments to support fleet and joint commanders worldwide. Det. Stennis provides training for more than 250 deploying SWCC operators yearly from NSW’s three SBTs located in Virginia Beach, Virginia; Coronado, California; and the Stennis Space Center.