Thursday, November 29, 2012

On Force Reductions

Today’s ALLNAVRESFOR message laying out the reduction in NECC/Seabee forces over the next few years is pretty specific in terms of the how and why this decision was made, but I want to give everyone my perspective as well. Whenever there are significant changes to the force I find that people may try to read things into the situation that aren’t necessarily there, so I want to take this opportunity to explain some of the why and wherefore and also to take any questions you might have.

First, this is just our part in a DoD-wide effort to shape to a post-OCO environment.  The fiscal reality of our current economy mandates action.  All the services are trying to figure out how to meet national security requirements while staying within the top line.  One of the many efforts Navy is taking is to reduce the Reserve force by about 6,000 Sailors by fiscal year 2016.

So that’s the situation, and from there Navy had any number of options to determine which billets from which communities would be impacted. We went through an exhaustive review of our current force, assessing not only current demand, but gauging our future requirements as well. What we found was that with the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown of our efforts in Afghanistan, our expeditionary forces are larger than required for peacetime operations. Navy Seabees will take the brunt of this reduction as a result of this decreased demand for reconstruction abroad, but the remaining Seabee force will be large enough and capable enough to continue their critical mission.

More importantly, even though many of their billets are going away, the Sailors are not. We are going to first reevaluate the current assignment of Sailors to Seabee units and then distribute the right Sailors to the right units. To do that we’re going to conduct a force-wide reassignment of all SELRES Naval Construction Forces Seabee billets.   

This is where I’m going to plug FleetRIDE.  This is a great program for all Sailors to use, if only to see what’s out there and alternatives to their current career track.  FleetRIDE will be especially effective for Seabees.  It’s a career management tool that brings the Sailor, career counselor and ECM together to match the right Sailor with the right career.

This will be a challenging time for many, but know that we’re committed to our Sailors and their careers. I wanted to give you my perspective, and hope that you will follow suit and provide comments or questions here. 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Preventive Maintenance

I'd like first to say that I hope you and your families are safe and well in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, or the Superstorm of 2012.  My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who suffered in this storm.  I also want to thank and give credit to all our Sailors who have mobilized within the past week to assist in efforts to help the citizens in those areas affected.  You are truly a credit to our service and we wish you the best of luck as you step up to help those in need.

This brings me to the topic I want to write about this week.  Readiness - specifically, being ready to respond "Anytime, Anywhere".  For example, some of our Sailors in the Northeast assigned to NOSC Schenectady, New York were called up not by the Navy Reserve but by the New York Naval Militia to respond within 24 hours of Sandy's landfall to assist with recovery efforts on Long Island.  24 hours.  Think about that.  Our Sailors were ready to go at a moment's notice.  They were medically cleared and physically capable of answering the call.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, but it focuses on the ways we keep our Sailors and Marines in a high state of readiness and ensure they are able meet the demands of our combat missions and the roles that support them.   One of the key components to this initiative is Personal Fitness.

We need our Sailors to be healthy, both mentally and physically.  I am well aware of the challenges you face juggling family life, civilian jobs and military obligations.  For those on active duty or mobilized, PT is an obligation and one supported by their Navy command, but in the civilian sector most likely it is not the same.  You don't have free nutrition workshops that you can attend during office hours or a gym facility nearby which is free of charge.  Throw in the commute, homework and dinner with the family, the nightly bedtime story for the kids and before you know it, its 9 p.m.  You meet with your fellow Sailors two days a month, two weeks a year, but we expect you to be physically fit all year round.  It is definitely a challenge.

So how do YOU do it? I want to hear the ways you maintain your fitness level and fit it all in, given this challenging environment. How do you stay motivated and what advice would you give to your fellow Sailors to keep our Force ready to go at a moment's notice?

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!