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NAVCENT Commander: ‘Be a Sentinel’ Against Online Harassment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Victoria Kinney, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command | March 20, 2017

MANAMA, Bahrain— The commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) expects the military and civilian personnel under his charge to be “sentinels” guarding against harassing and degrading online behavior of Sailors and Marines, and to not tolerate those who do.


At an all-hands call with the NAVCENT staff March 16, Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan discussed the recent Chief of Naval Operations message directing all commanders to take action to actively prevent malign behavior on social media.


Recent incidents involving Marines and Sailors sharing lewd photographs of female service members, as well as posting personally identifiable information, has spurred leaders fleetwide to personally address the situation with their troops.


“I depend on everyone to be a sentinel,” Donegan said. “We have to trust each other to be successful in our jobs and the first way to lose that trust is to demean someone in some way, shape or fashion. In our support of combat operations, we have to be at the top of our game, and we have no room to get it wrong. Our behavioral standards must have the same high bar.


“If you’re online and you come across something that’s demeaning to our fellow Sailors and Marines you need to let somebody know. Turning your head the other way will not let us get past this problem,” he said.


Command Master Chief James Honea, U.S. 5th Fleet Master Chief, shared those sentiments, likening trust to being ready for combat.


“You have to have a special trust amongst team members,” he said. “There is an unspoken bond that we all share when we are about to enter combat together. When we betray that trust or we break those bonds by stealing the dignity of others in this way we can’t stand for it. They should find their way out of our Navy.”

Victims of social media harassment should seek help through their chain of command.


U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility encompasses about 2.5 million square miles and includes the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, and parts of the Indian Ocean. The area is comprised of 27 countries, includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.