Admiral Guadagnini talks with Louis Carter about being a Warrior Leader - Best Practice Institute
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Admiral Guadagnini talks with Louis Carter about being a Warrior Leader


The Chief of Naval Air Training, Rear Admiral Mark D. Guadagnini, trains “ultimate ninja warrior leaders.” The training his combat aerial professionals complete is efficient through into book training, real-world skills, and repetition. Guadagnini uses examples from his real life situations to highlight why this training is “100 percent successful.” Guadagnini breaks down his ‘warrior ethos’ into four areas: sense of mission accomplishment, courage of bravery that flows from the sense of mission accomplishment, discipline aggression, and flexibility/ adaptability.

The first warrior ethos is a sense of mission accomplishment. This is the ability to go out under difficult circumstances as a person or with a team and get the mission done, get it done right, and get it done every time. “If the United States military does not accomplish the mission correctly, we [lose the] ability to choose elected officials, the option of sending our children to the schools of our choice, and even simple choices like going to 7-11, Wal-Mart, or Piggly Wiggly to get our coffee.” The American way of life depends on our warriors having the sense of mission accomplishment.

Courage of bravery comes from this sense of mission accomplishment. Courage is “the ability to act, think, and make decisions that will garner a successful outcome despite physical or perceived things that might install fear in a human.”

Because the stakes for America are particularily high, Guadignini said they get their mission done and die trying.

“We train them to win,” Guadagnini said. “You have to determine that you are going to be excellent at what you do. It’s that kind of commitment to excellence that is going to drive your program in the right direction.”


Rear Admiral Mark D. Guadagnini graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980, earning a Bachelor of Science in Economics. After a brief tour with the Navy Fighter Weapons School, he entered flight training, earning his wings in 1982. In June 1983 he went to VA-65, where he made two deployments flying the A-6E Intruder aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).
In July of 1986, Guadagnini attended the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School. After graduation, he served at Strike Aircraft Test Directorate as a project pilot and was the first Navy pilot to fly the A-6F. He returned to USNTPS as a fixed wing performance and flying qualities instructor. After A-6 and F-14 refresher training, he reported to CVW-8 as LSO and Strike Operations Officer. During his tour, CVW-8 performed the shakedown of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and deployed the aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) for combat operations in support of Operations Desert Storm and Provide Comfort. For his efforts he was named COMNAVAIRLANT LSO of the Year in 1991.
In September 1991, he reported to Attack Squadron (VA) 65, serving as the Safety Officer and Maintenance Officer. In May of 1993, he was assigned to the Office of Senator John McCain as a Legislative Fellow. Following his Fellowship, he worked as an aide in BUPERS and at CINCPACFLT.
Guadagnini reported as Executive Officer of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 15 in April 1996 and deployed with CVW-8 in USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67). He assumed command in July 1997 and led the squadron in combat operations as part of Operation Deliberate Force over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Operation Southern Watch over Iraq.
After command, he worked as a liaison between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Congress. In August of 2000, he happily returned to sea duty as Operations Officer, Carrier Group 8, deploying on USS Theodore Roosevelt for Operation Enduring Freedom combat operations. He retuned to combat in 2002 as the DCAG in CVW-17, flying in Operations Enduring Freedom and Southern Watch while deployed aboard USS George Washington. Guadagnini assumed command of CVW-17 on 15 August 2003, deploying aboard USS John F. Kennedy for combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In July of 2005, he reported to Navy Personnel Command as the Division Director for Aviation Officer Distribution.

Guadagnini assumed command as Chief of Naval Air Training August 15, 2007.