Over the past few months, it’s been my good fortune to get out of Washington, D.C. and visit many of you in the Fleet. I had great conversations with Sailors, learned how you are doing, and learned what is on your minds. Most of the questions asked in All Hands Calls concerned the operational tempo of our ships, policies to get more people to sea duty, and the expected future of educational benefits.
First, let’s address operational tempo. Today, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) is steaming through the Indian Ocean on their way to the Arabian Gulf where they will join USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). As our Secretary of Defense told the crew of Stennis before they left, “we are the Nation’s ‘go to’ force to deter aggression and reassure our allies and friends.” World events will sometimes require us to be ready to operate forward and respond to national tasking. We are watching deployment lengths closely and we are tracking your individual tempo, or ITEMPO. It is critical that your command reports your ITEMPO information so we can manage sea duty and deployments at the individual level.
The Chief of Naval Personnel and I want to get ship and sea-shore manning back into balance. We’re doing this via two main ways. First, we’re balancing the force to achieve the right number of Sailors – not undermanned and not overmanned – in each rating. Second, we’re working on the unfilled at-sea billets. Reports from the fleet tell us we are making progress fixing the problem, offering professional and monetary incentives to get the right leaders and the right skills back to sea.
If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend our Chief of Information (CHINFO), Rear Adm. John Kirby’s recent post, “Navy Manning: A Rudder Check”. It’s a good read in capturing where we are and the way ahead.
In recent budgets, there have been some minor changes to tuition assistance. For example, if a Sailor enrolls in a class, yet fails it, the Navy will not pay for that same class again unless the Sailor passes a test proving he/she can pass the class. To qualify for the Navy to pay tuition, the class must be at a school or college that has been approved by the Department of Defense. We have clear data that too many Sailors have been taken advantage of by schools that are more interested in getting Sailors’ (and the government’s) money than in providing a certified and quality education, and helping students graduate. It is in our best interest for Sailors to get higher education and we will continue to help Sailors get a license, certification, or degree, and tuition assistance is a big part of that.
As we go forward you have my commitment to keep you informed. You, your shipmates, our civilian workforce, and our families are the foundation of our Navy – and are the key that makes us the world’s preeminent Navy. Thank you for your service, and I look forward to seeing you in the fleet or hearing from you.
JONATHAN W. GREENERT
Admiral, U.S. Navy