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.