Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sub-optimal manning

Some great replies to ADM Harvey's request,
I would like to hear from you regarding the fundamental manpower requirements for your ship, squadron, or unit. What changes would you make to your Officer Distribution Control and Enlisted Data Verification Reports that would better enable you to execute your current operational requirements?
..... over at his blog at CFFCBlog.

You should read it all, but here are two - one by a Surface CDR, one by a Aviation CDR - both just completed their O5 Command tour. First, Surface:
Maintenance actions are being levied on ships that used to be performed by SIMA. Now we have growing ship’s force work lists and reduced manning has forced some CO’s to live with temporary standing orders, departures from specifications in a way that sends a negative message about redundant capability. We have devolved to a philosophy of ‘if the minimum wasn’t good enough, it wouldn’t be the minimum’. Most people don’t seem to understand the need to have redundant features in equipment. Our loss of manpower means that we must rely on our equipment even more and we keep cutting corners. I often found that my maintenance team was perfectly willing to fix something but the operational requirements prevented them from doing their job. Again, a plan AT THE START of the training cycle articulating the risks to the 4-star might be the best way to ensure that all players are aware of the risks.

Finally, I would submit that the current training processes for both enlisted and officers are flawed. My division officers didn’t understand PMS, PQS, admin, supply, etc. All the good things we used to get at SWOSDOC are being levied on the ships. That’s fine when we didn’t compress the training and deployment cycle and reduce the manning. Some of my enlisted technicians never put a wrench to a valve or pushed a button on an actual console until they got on my ship. I would argue that virtual training on a computer IS a necessity but it has to be balanced with real world, hands-on training and the current mantra of ‘you will do that on the ship’ does not work. If you reduce the manning on ships and increase the requirement for self training (and increase maintenance) then you are setting up good Sailors for failure.

I recognize that this is a long way to say “get everyone together at the end of a deployment to plan the next deployment and have the fleet commander certify the plan to the 4-star.” This model could be accomplished without any expense and would allow for increased levels of success and even reduce costs created by last minute pre-deployment requirements “discovered” at the D-90 or D-45 gates.
Second; Aviation.
1. 4 of 8 squadrons in our airwing operated without assigned CMCs in the job. We’ve heard anecdotally that the CMC rate is manned at over 140%. Recommend that sea duty CMC billets be the first CMC billets filled.
3. Fully ‘unmask’ the Individual Augmentees in two ways.
a) Give O5 commanders the ability to “look in the window of the store” at what IA billets are filled, coming around for rotation, and filled by what claimancy. They may be able to offer “right fit” solutions by volunteers within their command before echelons 3/4/5 get tasked, and they can see first hand how IA billets are fair-shared across claimancies. There is currently no visibility to this information at the unit/wing level. If the information were available, it would generate much more collaboration and would put the right Sailors in the jobs with longer lead times to prepare. It would also reduce the odds of losing a Sailor in a critical job just when you need that Sailor most.

b) Reflect clearly in manning documents (and in readiness reports) Sailors who are on IA assignment and therefore unable to fill critical mission roles within the parent unit. Provides accurate readiness reporting.

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