Perspective: The ?State? of Seabees in NSU

April 23, 2012 | By darylsmith
By Rear Adm. David M. Boone, CEC, USN Director, Shore Readiness, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Fleet Readiness and Logistics) [caption id="attachment_1554" align="alignleft" width="163" caption="Rear Adm. David M. Boone, CEC, USN"]
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I ve known about the Naval Support Unit (NSU) for most of my career, but it wasn t until a recent trip to Frankfurt, Germany, that I had direct interface with the Seabees who support this mission. I wanted to share my observations and perhaps offer some thoughts at the end.

The Seabees of NSU work in many different countries throughout the world not just at the embassies, but also at consulates and other facilities supported by the Department of State. What is interesting is that many of the Seabees are in very small groups or on their own for most of the year living in faraway places without much traditional base support. They work within an unfamiliar Department of State system which at times is challenging to deal with coming from our Navy structure. They are thrust into surviving in a foreign country without the benefit of understanding language or culture often working with local nationals to get things done overcoming difficult obstacles that would be considered easy in the U.S.

So why pursue a tour with NSU First, think about the mission. The mission of our embassies is to enable diplomacy. That may sound trite or unimportant, but it s diplomacy that needs to happen to prevent us from going to war. What could be more important And our Seabees play an integral role in enabling that mission to succeed.

At the tactical level, the Seabees of NSU travel throughout the world. They utilize their ingenuity, creativity and leadership to get the mission accomplished. They become more confident, capable and self reliant about their own abilities you can see the difference in a Seabee coming to the end of his NSU tour as compared to a newbie just getting indoctrinated. You can see it in their eyes!

The families of these Seabees are also impressive. Many of the kids go to top international schools, learn their host nation s language and excel when they return to the U.S. The spouses adapt and overcome often living off of the economy without familiar infrastructure support. They learn to thrive in unfamiliar circumstances and become more capable themselves.

Teamwork and camaraderie are also most impressive at the regional level. When these Seabees get together, they are clearly friends, teammates supporting each other and caring about one another and it isn t just the Seabees, it s their spouses, too. They will often travel with their families on leave to other countries hosted by one of the other NSU members. They really are family and would do anything to help each other out.

So, here s my advice for all NSU Seabees. Even though you may be isolated for periods of time and work may be challenging, realize what an incredible opportunity you are having for both you and your family. Adapt and overcome utilize your skills as a Seabee. That includes the Leadership To Do what I call the 3 Cs Communicate, Collaborate, Coordinate with all your stakeholders. Integrate into your host nation s culture and language discover their history, heritage and wonderful values every country offers unique aspects to the world a different way to think about our existence. A person once told me that you know you think in a different language when you dream in that language not many people ever achieve that!

I m most impressed with all of you I m proud of your work and your role as our ambassadors to the many countries where the United States has diplomatic interests. Thanks for what you and your families are doing. Make your NSU experience an incredible one. Ooh-rah Seabees!