Q&A with New U.S. 5th Fleet Command Master Chief

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs | March 09, 2022

MANAMA, Bahrain --

Master Chief Lateef Compton assumed the role of U.S. 5th Fleet command master chief last week. He recently answered questions about his experience in the Navy and his outlook as he fills his new role.

Q: Why did you join the Navy?
A: I initially wanted to get out of Connecticut and see something different and as a means of taking care of my daughter at the time. I only wanted to join the military for three or four years and get out to be a chef somewhere. I expected the Navy to give me the basic skills and money I needed to go to culinary school. Fast-forward 28 years later and I can see that the Navy gave me an opportunity beyond my expectations and that is the reason why I'm still in today. I have traveled the world to at least 30 different countries and have multiple degrees and certifications all paid for by the Navy. Lastly, my family is well taken care of. So if you were to tell the 18-year-old Lateef Compton from Hartford, Connecticut that he would one day be sitting in the Kingdom of Bahrain with the opportunity to influence thousands, he would say, “no way.”

Q: You’ve been stationed in 5th Fleet before. What was your experience?
A: My first time in 5th Fleet was aboard USS Enterprise in 2003 and then again aboard USS Abraham Lincoln in 2004 – both times supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. I returned to Bahrain in 2009 aboard USS O'Kane, and again in 2017 as the first senior enlisted leader for Combined Maritime Forces. I spent 28 months here establishing the importance of the senior enlisted role for international partners and created the Maritime Security Conference Senior Enlisted Symposium.

Q: Why did you decide to return to Bahrain?
A: This was a great opportunity to come back and work with so many talented Sailors, Marines, Coastguardsmen, Soldiers and international partners. Saying no to this opportunity wasn't an option. Bahrain’s culture is so rich with togetherness and family that I actually missed it when I went back to the United States. You can get so many things accomplished here and everyone is extremely friendly.

Q: As the U.S. 5th Fleet command master chief, what role do you play for military families living in Bahrain?
A: I play a key role to all service members and their families for communication and support services offered at NSA Bahrain. Essentially, I am a family advocate. I am confident that the lines of communication will remain open by being out and about the base, using my AFN radio show as a platform, and by pushing information out to each command’s senior enlisted leader and ombudsman.

Q: What should service members expect from you during your tour?
A: They should expect me to be present and focused on what right looks like for the entire region. I will always be honest with them and have an open mind to suggestions and ideas. I want to be a part of the positive legacy that Bahrain is known for, and by being the 5th Fleet CMC, I will be involved in every part of our mission.