Oklahoma native and Navy’s Manpower Head met with personnel in his first overseas trip
WASHINGTON (NNS) — Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), Oklahoman Gregory J. Slavonic completed his first overseas trip in the position, meeting with personnel, leaders and dignitaries in Djibouti, Bahrain and Italy.
As Manpower Head, Slavonic is responsible for the overall supervision and oversight of manpower and reserve component affairs of the Department of the Navy, including the development of programs and policy related to military personnel (active, reserve, retired), their family members, and the civilian workforce; the tracking of the contractor workforce; and, the oversight of Human Resources systems within the Department.
“As a former reservist myself, I was grateful for the opportunity to conduct this trip with the commander of our Navy Reserve Force,” he said referring to Vice Adm. Luke McCollum, chief of Naval Reserve, who accompanied him during the trip.
“In my first overseas trip in this position, I greatly appreciated meeting our hardworking men and women as well as their families in Italy, Bahrain, and Djibouti. The work they do every day is of strategic significance and I was honored to have the chance to meet with them during this trip,” Slavonic said in Washington upon his return.
The tour started in Djibouti where Slavonic, McCollum and Navy Reserve Force Master Chief Chris D. Kotz visited the East African base, Camp Lemonnier, home to more than 900 forward-deployed Sailors, two-thirds of whom are Navy Reservists.
Slavonic attended the 77th Annual Seabee Ball Official Ceremony, a few all-hands calls at the base, and had meals with Sailors and Marines.
Slavonic, who was sworn in to his current position June 11 last year, said he joined the Navy in 1971, enlisting as a seaman recruit and spent most of his 34-year career as a reservist, retiring at the rank of rear admiral.
During his Navy career, he held four command assignments, served in combat deployments to Vietnam, Operation Desert Shield/Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was awarded numerous decorations including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Presidential Unit Citation, and Combat Action Ribbon.
In Bahrain, Slavonic visited the crews of USS Monsoon and USS Gladiator as well as the Department of Defense Dependents School.
He also took time to visit with active duty and reserve sailors on their experiences while deployed.
Slavonic’s visit in Italy began with a meeting with Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, to discuss the region as well as personnel matters.
He also visited the US Navy Hospital in Naples, Italy where he met with family members, patients, and medical staff.
Capt. Richard Knittig, commander of the US Navy Hospital in Naples, Italy expressed how honored they were to host the assistant secretary.
“Our role in the medical field is to keep warfighters in the fight. Having Secretary Slavonic talk with our Corpsmen and providers re-instills the importance of that mission,” Knittig said.
Hospital staff was equally excited to have a visit with an assistant secretary of the Navy.
“He took such a genuine interest in who we are as professionals,” Lt. Jessica Tate, a pediatric nurse within Medical Home Port, said. “He asked us all where we were from and where we went to school; I could tell he really cares about people.”
“Secretary Slavonic was so personable,” Lt. j.g. Haley Huff said. “He even noticed my bull JG collar device. It was great to see the head of manpower at our deck plate.”
Hospitalman Jonathan Cancino said this was his first command out of corps school.
“Having an assistant secretary walk through our halls and talk to us is definitely a memorable experience,” Cancino said.
Slavonic said he was appreciative of the feedback and discussions he had with the staff at the hospital and at the bases concerning personnel matters. Having discussions like these first hand allowed him to hear from the source if there are any concerns, he said.
Slavonic earned a B.S. from Oklahoma State University and M.Ed. from the University of Central Oklahoma, where he was recognized with a Distinguished Alumni Award.