For the last 10 or so years, Brad Randall has had the opportunity to move from command position to command position in service to the Navy and the Nation. Many servicemembers know the honor of command and the humility that must guide them as they balance risk and the outcomes of their Team. 

While in command, leaders don’t necessarily have the time or bandwidth to watch and learn from senior leaders senior about how they lead. Fortunately, a fringe benefit of staff tours is leaders have the opportunity to be led and to learn what inspires them to evolve and be their best. As Brad looks back, he realizes that he is fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from some of the best. 

Back in 2015 and 2016, while Brad was the Operations Officer for Naval Special Warfare Command, the Admiral in command led his community through empathy and understanding. He consistently weighed the opportunities of the command’s success against the long-term impacts (physical and mental) on the people who would bear the burden of that journey.

Next, Brad was deployed forward, commanding SOF in Iraq. His immediate senior in command was an Air Force one star. His senior always looked first at how he could empower his subordinate commands to execute his intent, vice trying to grab the helm and driving the command himself. Brad and his team felt like the senior in command trusted them implicitly and gave them the freedom to operate at speed. When teams feel trusted by their commander, they want to succeed not only for the mission but to validate and re-enforce that trust.

After Iraq, Brad came back to a staff tour where the Admiral in command of Naval Special Warfare was working hard to assess a culture that had drifted after 18 years of sustained combat and was working to set a course correction towards a culture that is grounded by the core values that servicemembers are sworn to uphold. 

In 2020, Brad was back in command and was empowered by an Admiral that was not afraid of making bold changes to the status quo in order to improve mission outcomes across both training and operations and to divest capacity to invest in capability. Not easy changes to make in a culture where activity vice potential is rewarded. 

Movement to the E Ring in the Pentagon

In April of 2022, Brad found himself at an interview for the Vice Chief of Naval Operations to be his Executive Assistant. He had absolutely no idea what he was getting into but was reminded by a mentor that challenges create growth, and if he was not moving forward, he was moving backward, so he was all in. 

The Old Goat

As fate would have it, Brad was selected to the E ring of the Pentagon to work for VCNO Bill Lescher. Admiral Lescher has the distinct honor of holding several Old Guy awards for the Navy. Admiral Lescher has been a pilot longer than any other Naval Aviator, so he was the Golden Eagle. As he is a helo driver, he was also the keeper of the Golden Helix as the longest-serving rotary wing pilot. Finally, he was the Old Goat, which is the title given to the longest-serving Naval Officer from the United States Naval Academy.  In this last month of his 42 years of active-duty service, has passed all these awards to other “old” flag officer icons that continue to lead the Navy from both the National Capitol Region and Combatant Commands on the edge of the empire. 

Change of Office

Tomorrow morning Admiral Bill Lescher will go over the rail towards retirement. The incoming Vice Chief will bring new insights, different perspectives, and complementary approaches to executive leadership… The Navy, and its leaders, will continue to evolve. But the Old Goat that Brad knew will be out of the Navy. What won’t leave is his legacy. It is a legacy of getting real and understanding one’s own weakness. A legacy of getting better where leaders focus on the problems that matter the most. A legacy of open and transparent communication designed to build trust and develop learning teams.

Old GOAT.… he left the Navy in a better place. 

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