Outgoing commander of Navy Personnel Command, Rear Adm. Alvin "Bull" Holsey receives the Distinguished Service Medal from Vice Adm. Rick Cheeseman, the Chief of Naval Personnel, during a ceremony held at the Pat Thompson Conference Center at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tennessee. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jared Catlett.
At one of the US Navy’s most important commands, Bull is giving way to Mouse.
On Thursday, Dec. 15, in Millington, Tennessee, Rear Adm. Michael Wayne “Mouse” Baze took the helm of Navy Personnel Command, replacing Rear Adm. Alvin “Bull” Holsey. Originally from Fort Valley, Georgia, Holsey is slated to pick up his third star and become the deputy commander of Florida-based US Southern Command.
Both are career naval helicopter pilots who were selected to lead more than 2,000 sailors, Department of Defense civilian employees, and contractors through tumultuous times, including rapid technological changes designed to move the Navy’s human resources into the 21st century.
Holsey, 57, took command in Millington nearly two years ago, amid a global COVID-19 pandemic, which complicated the way the Navy runs selection boards, cuts orders, and processes personnel changes.
Rear Adm. Wayne Baze salutes Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Rick Cheeseman as he relieves Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey as the commander of Navy Personnel Command, at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tennessee, on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jared Catlett.
“You have embraced all that I have asked of you, focused our efforts on what mattered most, and reimagined what talent management looks like for our Navy’s future,” Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Rick Cheeseman told Holsey at the change of command ceremony. “You executed both deliberate planning and crisis action planning when it came to modernization of our pay and personnel systems with a clear-eyed understanding of where we are and where we need to be. We’re on a good path, and we have you to thank for it.”
The former commander of the “Easy Riders” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 37 and the amphibious warship Makin Island, Holsey had a guiding principle at Navy Personnel Command: “The Sailor Wins Today.”
His mantra was designed to remind staffers that shipmates and their families should always come first. His goal was to trim the time sailors had to wait to get HR problems fixed, while speeding important funds to them, like PCS travel claim reimbursements.
Driven by Performance-to-Plan data, Holsey’s initiatives helped streamline the posting and processing of non-deployable sailors, including those on limited duty, personnel who are pregnant or who just delivered babies, and disabled troops exiting the sea service.
Rear Adm. Wayne Baze (left) and Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey cut the ceremonial cake following their Dec. 15, 2022, change of command ceremony at Millington, Tennessee. Baze will now helm Navy Personnel Command. US Navy photo by Denise Keen.
That helped a growing Navy overcome a personnel crunch, punctuated by the critical need to fill supervisory billets at sea.
Holsey’s Senior Enlisted Optimization summits and Senior Enlisted Advance to Position Advancement Selection Boards helped identify talent gaps on warships and crucial shore commands, and filled them by advancing or cross-decking the right personnel for the jobs.
And his team spearheaded the use of artificial intelligence to quickly prep selection boards to screen candidates for their higher responsibilities.
“When I took command, I asked for only one thing: your personal best, and you delivered time and time again,” Holsey told the Millington audience. “’The Sailor Wins Today’ because you believe our sailors deserve the best. We don’t do our jobs for thanks. We do it because we believe in our shipmates. Don’t stop believing you can make a difference.”
A San Antonio native, Baze, 55, arrives at Naval Personnel Command after leading the San Diego-based Expeditionary Strike Group 3.
Rear Adm. Wayne Baze addresses an audience shortly after taking the helm of Navy Personnel Command on Dec. 15, 2022, in Millington, Tennessee. US avy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jared Catlett.
He previously commanded the “Wolfpack" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 45 and the amphibious warship America.
But it’s not his first brush with HR.
Baze served as deputy director for the Aviation Distribution and Head Air Combat Placement Officer at Navy Personnel Command from 2010 to 2012.
Four years later, he became the director of Aviation Warfare Distribution in Millington.
“We always talk about the stuff we need to win in combat, but I think we often gloss over our true superpower, and it’s people,” Baze to the audience. “The days our military enjoyed numerical and technological advantages are passing us. What’s going to make the difference in the future … is going to be our people. We at NPC are trusted with the careers and the lives of our nation’s finest. We won’t ever let the exigencies of the moment let us forget that our true strength comes from our people and our connectedness to one another.”
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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