Thursday, August 27, 2009

Less work - more life ..... no balance for the fleet

The quote earlier this AM about the Navy's failure to fill the gaps in the manning document due to IA's brought to my nogg'n a very touchy subject, and an article in NavyTimes about it on my desk.
... pregnancy in the ranks is rising—especially among those in deploying units. That’s because the service does track—as a group—female sailors who have been sent to shore duty after their 20th week of pregnancy or those on an “operational deferment”—the guaranteed time the Navy gives women while they recover from childbirth.

These women are put on shore duty during their 12 months of deferment, then return to sea duty.

The Navy increased this deferment time in June 2007 from four to 12 months. As a result, the number of women leaving deploying units to have children has increased steadily from 1,770 in June 2006 to 3,125 as of Aug. 1. Junior enlisted women make up the bulk of those redirected to shore duty. Sailors in grades E-3 through E-5 account for 2,852 of the 3,125.
Just like the fact that it is complete professional malpractice that almost eight years into the war, that we still put Commanding Officers on the spot because Big Navy DOES NOT have a system to,
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
Likewise we do not adequately address pregnancy.

Early on in the article, this brought a chuckle.
Pregnancy in the Navy is on the rise—but exactly how much isn’t exactly clear. That’s because the Navy says it doesn’t have the means to track exact pregnancy statistics servicewide.
Of course it doesn't - institutionally we are terrified of even discussing it. One of the greatest secrets held at the Strike Group Commander level is the pregnancy rate. Oh, and don't dare ask how many are single.

We also lie to ourselves and our Sailors,
‘The Navy strongly believes that having children and a career in the Navy don’t have to be at odds,” she said.
Lack of clear conversation.

Anyone who has children knows that having them, except for very rare cases, is at odds. You can make it work, but it is very hard and requires a great partner that is also willing to make sacrifices. That is, of course, unless you have a stay at home Dad or spend almost all your career on shore duty. Otherwise, if you are in a warfare area - someone else is raising your kids for you. Fact.

You cannot do both well (see
Jack Welsh). That is especially true if you want to have more than one child and/or are a single parent.

Fair? Life isn't fair .... but the most valuable and precious thing you will ever have in what little time you have on this earth are your children. Full stop.

This is not an anti-woman thing; this is about mature people talking bluntly with each other. Some of the best leaders on the Enlisted side of the house I have known have been female. Here, I think, is one.
A senior enlisted woman from the destroyer Ross said her ship was having an epidemic of pregnancies in the crew, with 15 women becoming pregnant in the past year among a female population that averaged 36 over the same period of time.

Another said that she’s seen too many women elect to get pregnant to avoid making deployments of six months or longer—swapping that for an 18- to 21-year commitment to raise a child. Another said she still sees too many young male sailors eyeing newly reporting female sailors as targets of opportunity more than shipmates. More counseling in responsible behavior, she said, was needed immediately after these young sailors get to their command.
Have a few of them with "high demand, low density" NECC and you are in a pickle.

There is also a background story that isn't talked about much. A big tragedy I have had to deal with too often. A young woman joins the Navy at 18. Gets pregnant by her 19th birthday and MILPERSMAN's her way out and winds up back with her parents with a child by age 20 having done nothing for 2 years. She won't identify the father because he is a married E5 with two kids, etc.

How do you address that? Tough. We don't address it enough with our Sailors, I think. I always get a kick (not in a happy way) out of the expression on the face of that E4 when I tell him how much money we are going to take out of his paycheck for the next 18 years. Then he tells me another female E2 is pregnant by him .... and I tell him the new number.

People are mammals. You need to find a way to get the higher brain functions to override the lower brain functions - then you might get some success.

Oh, before I leave - let me put a wobble on this mindless spin.
“We see a decline in pregnancy rates on ships where there is a strong presence of females in leadership roles at the command,” she (Stephanie Miller, head of women’s policy for Chief of Naval Personnel ) said. “It’s only been 15 years or so since the combat exclusion was lifted, and it’s taken time to grow these women.”
Bravo Sierra. Many parts of the Navy have had women fully integrated from day one. Heck, as a LTJG, the best Senior Chief I had the honor to serve with was a female - and she was more of a mean old goat than her Master Chief husband - and she was worth her substantial weight in gold. (BTW, some of you who deployed with the USS EISENHOWER on her first girl-boy-girl-boy cruise know who I am talking about)

That, Stephanie is a bogus excuse. You are right about the leadership - but like all leadership, you have to grow the right ones. The Oprahesque stuff we are putting out there does not work in the fleet except for those hot-house flowers who spend their career on shore duty.

Anyway, women having children will always, thank goodness, be with us. If Big Navy wants to have a high percentage of females in its ranks, it better find a better way of dealing with it.

Let me offer some help; the servicemembers need to find ways to adjust to the requirements of the armed service, not the other way around.

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