14 August 2009

Afloat Billet Base

From this blog and others I have monitored, I have seen many comments discussing a variety of issues related to manning of our ships, squadrons, submarines and expeditionary units. I am very aware of the shortages we have in certain communities as well as distribution issues currently being addressed by the Chief of Naval Personnel. I think I have a very good understanding of the history associated with many of these issues, but much of what I’ve read hasn’t dealt with the baseline requirements established in the various afloat billet bases.

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?  Please include in your response the type of ship, squadron, or unit you are referring to so I can put your remarks in their proper context. I would also like to know the rationale for the proposed change. For the purposes of this thread, I am directing this question primarily to those currently in uniform and part of the USFF team.

One note for your consideration – as I have remarked on elsewhere, the resources the nation will be able to devote to the services in the future will not continue the pattern of the past eight years where service budgets and contingency funding steadily increased. Our overall operations tempo, with the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq entering new phases, is likely to remain high. The challenges associated with recapitalizing the Fleet are daunting. Very tough choices lie ahead for us at every level in the chain-of-command.

Accordingly, simply asking for more people won’t work – what we must do is ensure the people we do have are serving where we most need them and that they receive the necessary training en route and on the job once they report aboard. That’s why I’d like to hear from you about the billet base for your unit. All the best, JCHjr


SONAR977 said...


The enlisted billet base has to start with the top because when the young sailor can go entire four year enlistement and not see a Master Chief in his or her own rate we have a problem. Where is the subject matter expertise, why is it not at sea in some capacity. When training dollars translate to OJT, who better to train then the very MASTER CHIEF's who have been there and done that. No disrespect to many of those getting the job done at our fine DESRON's, but that twelve year CPO doesn't hold a candle to most of our MCPO's. In ASW there was a billet base of MCPO, and CPO on some ships. Bring it back put them at DESRON let's stop using the Title X as an excuse when rates don't promote any E-9's and see the promotion of E-8's dwindling. The fleet knows E-9's aren't at sea, the fleet is all so showing you that it's hurting for knowledge and training that some of these very folks at shore duty could bring to the fight. If anything make every DESRON a ASW MCPO billet to start and move on from there.

Our Navy's number one assest is people, second is aircraft carrier's. Optimum manning experiment recommendations removed the life-long tradition of AW's manning the ASW module on CVN's. Not only were they not initially replaced, but training this skill set also went away. Now we have a mixture of the STG/OS rate onboard with no training, NO CPO billeted to be in charge, and new technology. So what happens is, the STG who select the choice of a variety of duty like career sailors are told to are now hamstrung. Officers in charge of the module are looking for some help because they don't have that resident expert CHIEF, and some have never worked with STG's before. Hopefully we can look at this issue before we have CVN in a knife fight with a threat submarine.

One interesting trend i have seen is we normally take our most junior officer and place them as the ASWO on CRUDES ships. ADM, we have to change this mindset and also implement measures to allow stellar enlisted ASW performers to become officers and remain in that area. Our Navy is missing the billet base of career officers at many stops (i.e. IUSS and CVN).

The NAVY push's for NEC based billeting, FIT, Right Sailor, Right Place, Right Time are all good ideas, but this needs to be conveyed to precept of promotion boards, and how we write advancement exams. On the surface side of ASW we are stretching ourselves thin we have "NO" true masters of the very systems we have built. Our distribution system doesn't allow most sailors to stay within that system long enough. We have to start with training, but we have to restructure where our experience personnel are billeted. Have more MCPO's and SCPO's at sea. If you want the best to stay in the NAVY, and help mold the future force, then the very first time STG1 Smith meets a STGCM shouldn't be as a CMC.

HEC said...


Thank you for the opportunity to give you Fleet feedback. I recently completed my airwing squadron command tour. Here are four things I've seen that challenge us wrt manning. Two of these issues relate to IAs, but I think they still fit in the context of achieving proper unit manning with wartime demands and limited funding.

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.

2. Our manpower functions and tripwires don't match our readiness system. A shortfall that might trigger a readiness report did not necessarily have a corresponding action trigger on the manpower side and vice versa. Typically the readiness reporting triggers are a masked in the manpower side by the practice of 1 up/1 down manning. Readiness reporting and manpower should be synchronized, so that if I tell my ISIC that my readiness is degraded due to manpower is agreement/visibility in the N1 shops and Millington. That may be the goal of the QPT system, but we're not there yet.

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.

4. Business rules for IAs have been inconsistent, and have negatively impacted sea going units. The focus has lately been to choose from units who are in the maintenance phase of the cycle. Due to dwell time requirements, sending a Sailor on an IA assignment prior to workups effectively renders that Sailor unavailable for workups AND deployment. Filling IAs during deployment is challenging, but more manageable in the long run because the Sailor can return and dwell during the unit's home cycle.

Thanks again for the opportunity to give you feedback, Admiral. Hope it helps.


ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

Shipmate/HEC, excellent and comprehensive inputs - exactly what I was looking for when I posted my question.

I will dig into your responses and be back to you.

Again, thanks for the time you took to give me such thoughtful answers to my question. All the best, JCHjr

xformed said...


Got a thing or two on my plate today, but over a decade ago, a CNSL Team stood at the foot of the brow of "my" (I was XO) ship, to assess how we were doing in PQS. It was the morning after IOWA had her accident. We did OK, for an FFG running SNAPII, which...none of the inspection teams wanted to use, so it was all on paper in our "minimum manned" world. I'd had enough at that point and spent the rest of my career, with CO/OICs who indulged me in taking the time out of the process to document the quals, to turn the time back to the crews for real time in training. It worked. The MILCAP for the "big picture" was on file at CNSL, but I personally wrote the program to run on a Z-248 to track PQS (and just about all the management functions at all levels to the CO) and distroed it (to 120 units from MCMs to CVNs). The "beach" had no money to do anything other than breath life into SNAP, so upgrades to meet the new requirements after IOWA were out of the question.

I battled for years while running the CSAs for CNSL to get the CSNL Staff to see they were killing the crews with paperwork. Near the end of my time there, CAPT MEssina all of a sudden got it and things began to change. Then LT Terry Mosier was on USS BARRY (DDG-52) and became my partner in crime making the Windows based version, as he had Windows and a network to develop on.

My long term idea was to connect all the many databases, ashore and afloat, to "fuze" the info and, essentially, be able to write a watch bill for operations, knowing who was qualified for what. That would have integrated the MTP matrix with the specifics assigned by the WQ&S Bill, with the EDVR and ODCRs, the NEC lists and the PQS/EHPQCP requirements. It's all just database management, but...when you can train, while the computers manage the tedious look ups of prerequisites, and if they qualed aboard that unit (vice a prior one), you can attain results. USS STUMP said so in their reviews.

I regularly worked with PQSDEVGRU, that being a key database issue, to accumulate the database of all watchstations published, and all past history we could find. Prereqs were all listed, and cold be connected for adequacy/applicability.

I retired in July 96, and the SNAP people had gotten funding, so they tossed me over the side and went back to "upgrading" SNAP to SNAP III. My opinion: They were using 20 year old mindsets at that point and really weren't interested in bringing in the deckplate experts to make sure they could handle the coding.

I don't know what has transpired since, but, if the same basic systems/programs are used, the process remains the same. I even discussed a methodology of having the work of the Training POs Monday morning being filtered right to the CNO's desk, to assess Navy Wide readiness with a PhD who worked for CNET. The communications links were in place then.

As far as the Sub/Air Navy, I think when you break down the core elements (sailor/training/unit/billet/watch assignments/duties), then all you have to do is fit in the specific training/qual program to make it show how things are going, be it NATOPS or other programs. They all just show who's trained to do the job.

I doubt the files are around, but we are the same year group range, so if you ran across "TAMP" or "COMPASS" in your 1990-1996 years...it was Terry and I trying to solve a significant time eating problem.

If you're open to some old history with possible current application, I can put some of the concept back together for you in SEPCOR. Email is there if you need it.

Narutofan said...


Welcome to USFF.

Want to ensure from a civilian perspective (with the current rumors) that potential of a hostile work environment is not true.

1. In regards to civilian employment do you prescribe to Federal Law concerning the amount of time that a civilian can be worked per day and per week/pay period?

2. What is the Command's policy in regard to fair and equitable compensation for work that exceeds Federal hour guidelines? Is there a written policy that applies fairly across the directorates?

3. Current rumors in your command are that 6 day work weeks will become the norm--any truth to the rumor?

4. Since you have relegatedthe senior civilian to a subordinate role--who will represent civilian issues to you?

5. Are you aware that deep dives on Saturday are not supported by all--for some it is either a day of worship, time we devote to volunteer organizations, or merely time we need to recap home life after 9-12 hours at the command?

6. Are you aware that many key civilian personnel are planning to/are leaving/have left because of the current/perceived work environment.

7. Would you support Union representation at USFF to ensure civilian workers are treated fairly?

Random DivO said...


Thank you for the opportunity to opine. While I am only a humble LTJG, I can offer a few inputs within the framework given that I feel can help things. These suggestions are somewhat tailored to a CRUDES background, since my service so far has only been on destroyers. However, I am sure that there is applicability fleet wide.

1. More schools prior to reporting aboard. For example, CTRs require about six schools for the C2W warfare area, all of which take about a week. Could these not be rolled into one course done prior to reporting aboard the ship? Manhours are one of the most precious resources aboard ship, and often rapidly stretched out by competing needs. Reducing this load from the ship will enable them to meet some of the other demands placed upon them. Also, tailor more needs to the ships receiving them. No AEGIS Computers, Networks, and Terminals NEC holder should go on to a CEC-equipped sh
ip without the CEC NEC. There are countless examples of this that could be found fleet wide.

2. In close relation to the comment from SONAR, make ASWO a second-tour DivO for CRUDES units. This gives the advantage of placing a more senior officer. In addition, it would give WEPS dept on CRUDES units a second tour DivO, which every other DEPT has (I know that technically, WEPS dept doesn't exist, but it generally has not been erased on most ships).

These conclude my inputs for now. Thank you again sir.

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

Random Div(O), never apologize for being a LTJG! Thanks for taking the time to give me your comments. All the best, JCHjr

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

For Narutofan - thanks very much for giving me an opportunity to dispel some of the rumors you are referring to in your post.

I feel I've gotten off to a strong start with the Total Force team here at Fleet Forces; I'm also very desirous of keeping it going and clearing up any misperceptions that may exist.

A couple of questions you asked required some fact-checking so I'm doing that now, but I will have a detailed reply to all your questions posted by close-of-business today.

I will also forward my response via an "All-Hands" e-mail to the team here at USFFC to help get the straight gouge out to everyone.

As always, it's best to ask the questions and get the answers than worry about things which shouldn't be worried about and could end up getting in the way of us working together as a team to do the Fleet's business. All the best, JCHjr

SailorsFirst said...


Is it possible to have too much leadership? On www.navy.mil today there are 285 ships in the Navy.

On the same site, there are a total of 715 flag/SES personnel listed. We can put a flag officer and an SES on every ship in the Navy and still have some left over. Of course this leaves out the fact that some of the Navy is not ships (Naval Aviation, NECC, et al) but 285 to 715 is still quite the ratio...

I tend to agree with the earlier comments on where are the Master Chiefs? Is it because the Navy did a "Top 6 Realignment" of the enlisted force and not a "Top 6 Realignment" of the officer corps?

Mid-South Sailor said...

As we like to say in Millington, there is a much greater "appetite" for control grade officers than there is a true "requirement." Likewise, our billet base focuses more on delivering collar devices and not competitive. The CNP directed POM12 OPA reshaping initiative will be the single most important initiative in which any of us working within Navy Total Force will take part. No one is questioning the legitimacy of the afloat billet base numbers (paygrade maybe), as the larger challenges lie in our investment in JOs to grow into control grade "requirements," as well as getting the paygrade inflation on the joint side under control. BSOs need to take a step back and understand that the aggregation of their small billet increases wreaks havoc on community health and ultimately Fleet Readiness.

Jose Castilla III said...


Thank you for giving all sailors the opportunity to share concerns with and offer suggestions directly to you. I work as a senior Navy diver at a submarine maintenance facility; this is my second tour at a ship husbandry command. I’ve also spent time in SPECWAR and was the command diving officer in GTMO for three years. There’s been a lot of discussion lately regarding the effects of Lean Manning on our fleet, including a story in the 19 October issue of Navy Times (Sailor Shortage).

While there is definitely a shortage of sailors available to operate and fix things, there is on the other hand, no shortage of sailors and civilians optimizing, “Leaning”, and clocking the production hours of the shore based portion of our diminished ranks. And there is no shortage of those employed in the realm financial accountability. Why the lack of parity? My guess is somewhere along the road Navy Leaders became enamored with the charismatic business and industry leaders they’d met along the Capstone & Keystone circuit and decided to infused our big picture with an emulation of large Fortune 500 companies. Yes those same Fortune 500 companies at the root of what President George Bush accurately termed an economic hangover. And his description could not have been more precise as we watched most of those companies clamor for and receive hair of the dog bail out money. But who watches these bean counters? They are, after all, a tangible tax on the very budget and manpower pool they’re charged with optimizing.

How effective is a costly process improvement mechanism that has a disincentive to include itself in its efforts? And how will we ever know when we’ve reached the point of diminishing returns with our financial accountability and manpower optimization mechanisms? I suggest we use the same methods for controlling theses efforts as would be appropriate for any Quality Control program.

I’d like to propose a paradigm that reduces the cost of optimizing manpower and improving financial accountability in much the same way as a Quality Control Program is controlled - by careful adjustment of the amount of samples taken. I assert we are currently in a state of over analysis of worker productivity and possess an over blown financial accountability infrastructure. Given my assertion, how do we swing the pendulum the other way and use the savings to employ more operators and fixers (more working sailors)?

1) Wherever it is occurring, stop clocking the military member’s every waking hour. Instead invoke an hours sampling plan that balances the cost of obtaining such information against its usefulness.

2) Use only efficiency experts (Industrial Engineers) for Lean analysis. Hiring an amateur for process improvement is like hiring a chiropractor to perform heart surgery - inadequate yet still expensive.

3) Better examine the cost of our financial accountability infrastructure and adjust it to equal less than the expected loss to fraud with out it in place. Remember, even without all those comptrollers and bean counters we’d still have a Navy overwhelmingly full of sailors who care about Uncle Sam’s money and provide good stewardship.

Are we a fighting force or an accounting firm? I say it’s time to get the bean counters in check and step back from the precipice of having paperwork become the mission.

Very Respectfully,
NDC(DSW) Jose Castilla III
Groton, CT