Prospective Commanding Officers Course

Our Prospective Commanding Officers Course is a designed for Commanders and Captains en route to their first Command tour. It focuses on communication skills, self-awareness, ethical standards, teamwork, and command climate to increase overall Command Triad effectiveness.
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General Information


Command selected Commanders and Captains enroute to their first Command tour.

Location & Duration

The Prospective Commanding Officers Course is two weeks long and taught at the Naval Leadership and Ethics Center in Newport, RI. It is offered approximately 12 times annually. Please see class schedule below for more information.

Learning Format

The course is conducted in a classroom format. Please see pre-reading assignments below and be prepared to engage in class-wide discussions on the material.


Completion of the Prospective Commanding Officers Course is a prerequisite for assuming Command.

Program Structure

Core Objectives

Apply teamwork, communication, and alignment

Required | Objectives
Apply teamwork, communication, and alignment to increase overall Triad effectiveness.

Describe the responsibility, authority and accountability

Required | Objectives
Describe the responsibility, authority and accountability of the Commanding Officer to set and maintain the highest standards consistent with Navy Core Values.

Explain professional and personal expectations

Required | Objectives
Explain professional and personal expectations of the Commanding Officer charged with accomplishing the mission and setting high individual moral and ethical standards.

Develop teamwork

Required | Objectives
Develop teamwork to build a command climate that fosters esprit de corps, positive influence, commitment and collaboration.

Develop effective communication skills

Required | Objectives
Develop effective communication skills for use with individuals, teams, command and their families in order to maintain a positive command climate.

Develop self-awareness skills

Required | Objectives
Develop self-awareness skills in order to work successfully with others across various leadership and communication styles.

Create a command philosophy

Required | Objectives
Create a command philosophy to increase alignment and communicate expectations for the command.

Key Supporting Objectives

Triad Effectiveness

Required | Objectives
1. Describe how the Command Triad influences overall command effectiveness.
2. Describe how teamwork, communication, and alignment support Triad effectiveness.
3. Explain how the actions of the Triad influence Sailors within the command.
4. Describe and apply process of Assess, Decide, Implement and Assure to command decision making.
5. Explain the leadership responsibilities of the Triad in the decision-making process during times of combat and crisis.

Responsibility, Accountability and Authority (RA&A)

Required | Objectives
1. Describe responsibility, authority and accountability as it relates to the Commanding Officer.
2. Review "The Charge of Command" Memorandum and describe its relation to RA&A.
3. Describe how the role of Commanding Officer differs from previous roles in terms of visibility, relationships and responsibilities.
4. Define the requirement for Exemplary Conduct as outlined by Navy Regulations Art 1131.
5. Apply responsibilities, authority and accountability of a Commanding Officer within a case study scenario.
6. Describe the Navy’s development of Sailors at RTC and initial pipeline training, and through continued Sailorization while attached to a command.

Ethical Standards and Professionalism

Required | Objectives
1. Describe how adherence to the Navy Core Values and Navy Ethos reinforce ethical behavior and standards within the command.
2. Demonstrate ability to translate key concepts to the command.
3. Describe lessons learned from the Bathsheba Syndrome reading.
4. Reflect on potential ethical dilemmas faced by Commanding Officers.
5. Identify ways to overcome temptations and potential negative influences.
6. Relate the Exemplary Conduct Statute to maintaining high ethical standards.
7. Identify the Triad’s responsibility to maintain a satisfactory state of mental and physical (resilience) wellbeing of themselves and their personnel given operational stress factors.

Command Climate

Required | Objectives
1. Describe the characteristics of a positive command climate and the impact on morale and the command’s mission.
2. Determine how to assess a command climate using Navy standards.
3. Describe the core elements of prevention and response within the SAPR program and the critical need to address sexual assault within Navy Commands.
4. Apply communication skills that motivate and inspire people.
5. List actions that foster an atmosphere of inclusiveness and mutual respect.
6. Identify resources and tools available to shape behavior in support of good order and discipline.
7. Describe the impact of Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP) to the individual, command and command families.


Required | Objectives
1. Describe foundational programs that support Sailor and command success.
2. Apply communication skills necessary to reveal issues, concerns and solve problems.
3. Determine how customs and traditions impact the mission, climate and good order and discipline within the command.
4. Describe the requirements, customs and traditions of the Change of Command Ceremony.
5. Identify methods and resources for enhancing communications both internal and external to the command.
6. Describe how information will be communicated with the Ombudsman and family members.
7. Build teamwork, alignment and communication with the Ombudsman, Family Readiness Group and Command Support Team to enhance mission readiness.

Leader Development and Self-Awareness

Required | Objectives
1. Identify leader development opportunities to enhance self-awareness and overall leadership effectiveness given a review of 360 feedback results with a certified coach.
2. Describe the characteristics of an individual MBTI personality type to enhance leader effectiveness.
3. Describe how to lead diverse MBTI personality types profiles.

Command Philosophy and Vision

Required | Objectives
1. Explore the Commanding Officer’s role and responsibilities to develop and foster a command climate that supports the vision and the success of the command.
2. Develop a command philosophy.

Incoming Students

Contact Information

Naval Leadership and Ethics Center

More Information

These articles provide in depth discussions and examination of commands and their organizational frameworks to help the command triad better lead their commands to superior performance.

Prepare for your arrival at NLEC

Pre-Reading Assignments

Be prepared to engage in class-wide discussions on the material, readings are linked to the most up to date references. Periodic changes are distributed via Navy Administration (NAVADMIN) or All Navy (ALNAV) messages. Navy SORM 3.1.1 and 2 the Commanding Officer and Executive Officer plus 5.1.47 is a required reading for officers.

Navy SORM (Required)
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Reference Materials

Alumni Documents

The following content is reference material related to the Major Command, Commanding Officer, Officer in Charge, Executive Officer and Command Master Chief / Chief of the Boat courses.

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