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Understanding The Structure of The United States Navy

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Structural Organization of the Navy
    Communication Barriers
    Communication Missteps
  3. Conclusion


The United States Navy is a large organization with a worldwide presence, including international bases in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Japan and Australia, among other places. In additional to these permanent multinational commands, many naval organizations frequently travel abroad on a temporary basis. Throughout the course of this paper, I will discuss the structural organization of the United States Navy and how the Navy monitors its employees stationed or deployed overseas; additionally, this paper will discuss what communication barriers may arise between employees stationed overseas and reference a couple communication missteps that I experienced in my time working for the United States Navy.

The Structural Organization of the Navy

The structural organization of the United States Navy is a complicated hierarchy consisting of four main bodies: the Office of the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OpNav), Operating Forces and Shore Establishment. For the purpose of international management of employees, this paper will focus on the Operating Forces component; the Operating Forces consists of eight separatecomponents: Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (Sixth Fleet), Pacific Fleet (Seventh Fleet), U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (Fifth Fleet), U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (Fourth Fleet), U.S. Fleet Cyber Command (Tenth Fleet), U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command and the U.S. Navy Reserves.

For the most part, each of these Operating Forces is specific to certain geographical areas around the world, if a ship or shore station is located in said geographical area, then that ship or shore station falls under that Operating Force. (A ship stationed in Japan, or a shore station located in Japan, for example, would fall under the command of the Pacific Fleet). Each ship or shore station has a Commanding Officer who reports to the Commander in his or her Operating Force, who reports to the Chief of Naval Operations.

Communication Barriers

With such a wide array of personal covering vast distances and locations, communication barriers arise, in part, due to cultural differences. Commanding Officers of an Operating Force may not always know the current climate of a foreign country, but are still in charge of making up rules specific to the area and ultimately enforcing them against personal who break them. In regards to culture, the Navy is like any other business in that cultural differences are one of the top hindrances in developing and maintaining an international business presence.If a Sailor has an incident overseas, it creates a tension between nations and many times the host country will move to have the Navy ousted. (Xiaoyan& Lan, 2013 p. 118).

An international level communication barrier occurred while I was on deployment in the Middle East, our ship stopped for a port call in Salalah, Oman during Ramadan and senior Commanders from the United States put out guidelines of what we could and could not do during fasting hours and prayer times, by what they perceived was right and wrong according to cultural values, including prohibiting our crew to go into mosques. Oman, however, happens to be a more progressive country than our Commander’s gave it credit for, and, as many of us inquired from the locals, the majority of mosques have no issue with non-Muslims visiting as they are respectful and no issue with non-Muslims wandering around during time of prayers, again, as long as they are respectful.

While this example may not have wide spread, or catastrophic consequences, many people from our ship missed out on experiences that they may never have the opportunity to experience again. Many of the decisions made regarding the Middle East are centralized, the rules that apply in an area with a higher risk of danger, also apply to areas where the risk of danger is quite low. Higher Commanders outside our immediate area made the call, but should they have let Commanders who were in the area, or knew the area, they might have made a different decision; this decision was effected by the national culture of the Commanders back home, where all parts of the Middle East are lumped together.

Communication Missteps

A communication misstep can occur between different areas of a multinational business for varying reasons such as, cultural misunderstanding, a language barrier and differing laws and rules in regards to employment; a cultural barrier can be any act that impedes a cross-cultural interaction. (Rozkwitalska, 2013).

While Navy bases and ships may not employ locals for military purposes, they do however employ them in supporting roles, such as running the commissaries and exchanges in Japan. Additionally, the Navy has to negotiate with local governments on matters such as land use and environmental concerns stemming from ships using the local waters. There are many cultural barriers to overcome when communicating business concerns; Americans are used to being more direct and think of conflict as inevitable, whereas Japanese citizens consider being direct as sloppy and consider any conflict as a major negative and should always be avoided; with these cultural barriers, communication missteps can be either verbally spoken or body language. (Western Washington University, 2011).


The United States Navy is a multinational organization, employing bases in numerous areas outside the United States, as well as employing locals to support their overseas operations. The Navy monitors its’ overseas operations by using Operating Force Commanders who are in charge of certain geographical areas around the world. Communication barriers and missteps may occur due to cultural differences, notably the language barrier and how one culture may perceive other cultures.

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Understanding the Structure of the United States Navy. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from
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