Va. - Dennis McLaughlin retired from the Department of Defense Senior Executive
Service during a ceremony held at a command he considers the "crown jewel" of
Navy Warfare Centers, April 1.
– Technical Director for Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division
(NSWCDD) since October 2013 – described his tenure at NSWCDD as "the capstone
to my career" in his last letter to the command’s workforce prior to his
has been a tremendous experience," McLaughlin told more than 6,000 employees,
comprising government civilians, defense contractors, and military personnel. “Dahlgren
is often called 'The Crown Jewel' of the Warfare Centers - and for good
reason! Our long history of success is
well known throughout the Navy."
led the command’s widespread technical efforts impacting a myriad of Navy and
joint programs including – to name just a few – Aegis Ballistic Missile
Defense; Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Warfare Defense; Cyber Warfare;
Homeland Security and Defense; Combat Systems; Radar and Distribution Systems;
Directed Energy from Electromagnetic Railgun to the Laser Weapons System; and
the weaponization of Surface and Air Unmanned Systems.
course, I have only touched the wave tops of all the interesting work we do
here," McLaughlin wrote. "There is a lot more - far more than I could describe
in a simple message. It's all good and
all highly valued. A prime example of this is the ground breaking we just had
for our new SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile) facility, laying the
foundation for the future of Dahlgren. Dahlgren Division has a bright future,
and you are all a key part in shaping it."
led the command’s research, development, test, evaluation, analysis, systems
engineering, integration, and certification of complex naval combat, sensor,
weapon, and strategic systems associated with surface warfare as well as
homeland and force protection.
proud to have worked here,” McLaughlin continued. "I'm particularly proud of
the smart, hardworking and innovative Dahlgren people that make our Navy the
best in the world. Our people are the
intellectual capital the Navy looks to in order to solve issues facing war
fighters. Over the past few years, I have had the privilege and honor of
getting to know you and to hopefully help you in your journey. If it wasn't for
all of you, we could not turn ships into warships. You have my admiration and
heartfelt thanks for a job well done."
interview prior to his departure, McLaughlin reflected on the top three
highlights of his civil service career: his leadership impact as NSWCDD’s
technical director; his work on the open architecture design for the Navy's
Virginia class submarine; and his founding of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)
Wounded Warrior Program.
design of the Virginia Class Combat System is something that I did with a small
team of folks," said McLaughlin, who wrote the specification and led the design
team for the submarine's combat control system. It was the first such
structural design for a U.S. Navy vessel. "At the time, we didn’t realize it
but now it’s clear that we had a huge impact on how U.S. submarine service will
operate and fight their ships."
in the Navy's Disabled Veteran Outreach efforts, he served as the director of
NAVSEA’s Wounded Warrior Program.
have seen firsthand the benefits of hiring disabled veterans," said McLaughlin.
“Since, I started that program, somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 wounded
warriors have come in to service in the Navy. In some cases, it really made a
difference to have a job and participate. Former service members have a lot of
pride and they understand teamwork. They want to be part of a team and they
don’t want handouts.”
words of advice does McLaughlin have for his (yet to be selected) successor?
on technical excellence," McLaughlin advised. "That’s our reputation and our
future. We are technically excellent and people recognize that, but to stay on
top we’ve got to continue to focus on it."
and NSWCDD Commanding Officer Brian Durant also provided guidance related to
the command’s technical excellence and its core capability to deliver
integrated solutions through innovation and systems engineering in a document
called the NSWCDD 2015-2020 Strategic Plan.
emphasis is placed on technical opportunities in emerging warfare areas aligned
with our core capability to deliver integrated solutions through innovation and
systems engineering," they advised. "The thrusts we are pursuing build off our
science and engineering foundation and are envisioned to become an integral
part of our core technical expertise in the future. Over the next five years,
we will lead electric weapons design, development and integration; institutionalize
mission engineering and analysis; and incorporate cyber warfare engineering in
our naval systems.
commissioned as a Navy officer in 1980, held a variety of positions on active
duty and as a reservist before he retired as a Captain. In 2004, McLaughlin was
appointed to the Senior Executive Service.
to his NSWCDD technical director position, McLaughlin served as NSWC Indian
Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division technical director, directing
a workforce of more than 1,700 employees, while providing technical capability
in energetics and explosive ordnance disposal technology for all Navy warfare