Command Master Chief Bret Levinton, a Lincoln City native, wanted to see the world.
Now, 22 years later and half a world away at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain, Levinton serves as the leading-edge of the Navy the Nation Needs.
“We have a high rate of turn-over and we have the highest operational tempo in the Navy,” Levinton said.
Levinton, a 1996 graduate of Taft High School, is a command master chief at NSA Bahrain, forward-deployed to the Arabian Gulf region in the Navy’s U.S. 5th Fleet.
“Command Master Chiefs are the senior enlisted advisors to their commander or commanding officer,” Levinton said. “We provide input to the formulation, implementation and execution of policies concerning morale, welfare, job satisfaction, discipline, family support and training for all sailors.”
Levinton credits success in Bahrain, and in the Navy, to many of the lessons learned in Lincoln City.
“You have to learn to settle your differences and work together as a team,” Levinton said. “It's what the Navy is all about, putting away your differences for the greater good."
U.S. 5th Fleet directs naval operations to ensure maritime security and stability in the Central Region, which connects the Mediterranean Sea and Pacific Ocean through the western Indian Ocean. They work with partner nations to ensure freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in international waterways.
NSA Bahrain enables the forward operations and responsiveness of U.S. 5th Fleet and allied forces in support of Navy Region Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia's mission to provide services to the fleet, warfighter and family.
“My job is to advise the commander and help integrate his philosophies, while accomplishing our mission in the 5th Fleet,” Levinton said.
The Navy’s U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of ocean and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. This expanse, comprised of 20 countries, includes three critical choke points; the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
“I’m incredibly proud to serve with each of our Sailors, Coastguardsmen and Marines forward-deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations,” said Rear Admiral Paul Schlise, deputy commander for NAVCENT/ U.S. 5th Fleet. “They represent the very best of our country and serve as volunteers in a complex and dynamic region that’s vital to our security. I am honored to work alongside these warriors.”
“The ships we have in Bahrain are different than any other ships in our Navy,” Levinton said. “They are older ships with small crews, but it is much more like a family environment then I have ever seen.”
Serving in the Navy means Levinton is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Levinton is most proud of becoming tactical action officer qualified on the Nimitz during the 2013 deployment.
“I am proud of this because it is a big responsibility, tactical action officers fight the ship and have full weapons and aircraft release authority,” Levinton said.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Levinton and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing the Navy the nation needs.
“Being in the Navy means I'm surrounded by people every day that make the impossible possible,” Levinton said. “I'm truly amazed at the talent of our junior sailors and that I get to be part of this family.”