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March 3, 2011
NEWSon show JUDGING THE DISTANCE:
CPO Jason Rowe, HMAS
Ballarat's "Buffer", assesses how
far away HMAS Parramatta is in
preparation for a towing exercise
during Exercise Triton Storm.
Photo: ABIS Dove Smithett
NAVY'S "Green Team" is history since
COMTRAIN's training and assessment
organisation stepped into DPNUs
alongside the rest of the Fleet.
However, the phrase "Green Team"
is still feared by some junior members
of the Fleet and respected by all. Sea
Training Group (STG) is focused on pro-
viding the best possible support to COs
to ensure all of Navy's Fleet units are
prepared for required tasking.
Commander Sea Training -- Major
Fleet Units is CMDR John Cowan. CMDR
Cowan spent 20 years in the Canadian
Navy before transferring to the RAN in
1996. He has held senior training and
command positions and was awarded the
Conspicuous Service Cross in the 2011
Australia Day Honours List.
Navy News caught up with him
during Exercise Triton Storm and asked
him about STG, the RAN and his career
How would you describe your career
An absolute blast! There have been a lot
of challenges and a lot of rewards. The
positive aspects of my career far out-
weigh the negative.
What is the most important decision
you have made in your naval career?
That's easy. In 1996 my wife and I decid-
ed to have a 'mid-life adventure' instead
of a 'mid-life crisis' and migrated to
Australia from Canada. We hit the ground
running and haven't looked back.
So 20 years in the Canadian Navy and
15 years in the RAN -- what are the key
differences between the two?
In Australia we have the ubiquitous
"Bloggs" (as in Joe) -- in the Canadian
Navy they have "Bloggins"! In fact there
are far more similarities than differences.
How has training changed over your
time in the RAN?
We have become far more concerned
with providing individuals with tailored
opportunities to improve any shortcom-
ings they have. Certainly in STG we
dedicate considerable time and energy
to bring individual sailors and officers up
to required standards instead of simply
writing them off as training failures. Our
aim is to ensure that all individuals are
capable of making their full contribution
to the teams they are part of and that
their positions demand.
Do other navies have their versions
of the "Green Team" or is it unique to
Most navies have an equivalent of our
STG. In fact we have several members of
the RAN serving on exchange with our
sister organisation in the Royal Navy.
From your experience, where are the
most easily avoidable training and
Firstly, become fully competent in the
skills of your category or primary quali-
fication. Learn the fundamentals of your
profession. Also, take the time to develop
effective and efficient communication
skills so you can put your skills to best
use within a team environment.
If you had any advice to give to a young
sailor or officer just starting out in their
career, what would it be?
When you set out to eat an elephant take
small bites and chew well. Persevere with
all the challenges you are faced with by
breaking problems down into manage-
able tasks. Before you know it, you will
have achieved far more than you ever
thought was possible.
Sea Training Group,
passionate about the Fleet
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