11 September 2009

Fleet Training Effectiveness

SONAR977 asked:  "I see a lot of posts on the blog concerning training. What is USFF doing to hold warfare enterprises accountable for training of sailors while approving acquisitions? There are too many systems in fleet use at the tip of the spear which have no formal training for the operator. If the sailors can not operate systems properly, because they have not been trained, lack functional training equipment, or opportunities to realistically practice skills learned we have failed as leaders."

I agree with SONAR977 that it is imperative that our Sailors are properly trained and know how to operate and maintain their systems. I see at least three areas that need to be addressed. First, when we purchase a new platform or system, we must include the training requirements (including resources and manpower) at the beginning of the process and not at the end. Second, many of our decisions over the past 7-8 years have assumed that technology solutions such as Computer Based Training would increase our training efficiency. Now that we have a few years of experience, I believe it is time to assess whether our assumptions match our experiences and address the deltas. Third, I have heard from many COs, XOs, and CMCs that FIT is a significant issue. Sailors are arriving to the ship without the proper training, and then the ship is forced to spend their resources to train the Sailor and live with less manpower.

If you have read my previous posts or some of the articles on my Thinking Corner, you should have a sense by now that I am very much focused on ensuring we provide forces ready for tasking to fight the wars we are in, and properly maintain our forces so that we can fight today's wars, tomorrow. A critical element is effectiveness. Effective people, through proper training and leadership, operating effective platforms through proper maintenance and modernization. The challenge is achieving this mission without more people or more resources. What are training areas that you think need to be addressed and what solutions do you recommend in our current environment?


Edward Gohring said...

ADM, sorry sit, just getting back in the saddle, glad to try this forum, and still digesting some of the comments. I think the acquisition commnity truly wants to provide for the correct training (Ed's opinion), but we always find cost saving efforts throughout a programs life, and training is always viewed as a bill payer. I think a review of our "roots", what were the original training requirement evisioned by the PM when we fielded SQQ-89, AEGIS, Tomahawk, MK 160 etc, how have we eroded into those original design requirements, and how many of the Fleet training requirements were never properly documented, i.e. man day per sailor to train in a deployment cycle, but just "waved away" with FTG now ATG will train - and no resources allocated or aligned.

Again, learning the blog thing, think it's very powerfull and trying to learn.



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

Ed, very glad to have you back in the saddle and you are always welcome here. I hope you get a chance to come down and visit; I'd love to see you and talk in far more detail about the training issues in the FC pipeline and sustaining our Aegis expertise.
You are absolutely right about the importance of recovering, and validating, the original training requirements and then applying the necessaary resources to deliver the validated requirements.
Thanks for your comment and my very best to you, JCHjr

Warrant Diver said...


IRT Computer Based Training, many of us in the Fleet knew within months of it's implementation that it wasn't working as advertised. So with that in mind, one possible solution is that when a new program or system is fielded with required training, it should be monitored (and not by the organization responsible for its development) at the fleet level, its shortcomings fed back to the training organization, until it is deemed effective by the ISIC or TYCOM.
We all have this responsibility anyway, but I mean that it should be written into the contract or MOAs and become a measured part of the program.

Hoo Yah Deep Sea

Heretic said...

Admiral, the USN currently has a rare opportunity to learn a great deal about ASW and the capabilities of modern conventional SSPs.

Stealthy Italian submarine will train with U.S. Navy
The ITS Scire is paying a visit to Mayport to take part in a Joint Task Force Exercise.


Admiral, if you were not already aware/interested in this situation/opportunity, may I ask that you (and your staff) pay particular attention to the exercises the ITS Scire is going to be engaging in with the USN ... both from a tactics/strategy and manpower/resources angle at seeing what the ITS Scire is capable of doing (and the havoc she is capable of creating in an opposing force!). This boat is no powerpoint presentation, it's REAL.

Also, if you're going to be monitoring these wargames, may I suggest looking at the ITS Scire class of boats (Type 212? 214?) as a potential escort sub for screening amphibious assets of the USMC (in lieu of a vastly more expensive SSN-774 boat)? How does such an SSP boat perform in the MIW role, particularly in littoral/shallow waters? What are its intelligence gathering capabilities? Can it be used to insert and retrieve special forces squads from a hostile shoreline?

Admiral, there is an opportunity to LEARN here ... let us not squander it. Pay close attention to the "Bang for Buck" the ITS Scire offers the Italian Navy ... and then think of what you could do with 40+ of these SSP boats supporting the USN's amphibious "gator" fleet, thus freeing up the SSNs for other duties.

Shipmate said...

Having just finished one heck of a challenging 05 command tour, I will echo here what I have said in other posts: we have many Sailors who show up to the ship and that is the location where they actually put a wrench to a valve, a meter to a circuit card, or a pipe to wrench.

There IS a place for computer based training. We can get the basics out of the way. However, there is no substitute for live training. I had one of my JO's in a simulator doing a RAS and the young officer said "can I go to the bathroom?" ... this illustrates the fact that the officer didn't understand that in the north Atlantic, at night and with a miserable sea state, you just don't go to the "bathroom". To be fair, the officer did understand how to drive but didn't put it all together until we got to go along side and then she "got it" (even understood to go to the head before going along side!).

The problem is one of balancing the needs of the individual to get basic concepts down (very effectively done in CBT) and then getting experience to actually perform the job. I think a 70/30 mix is an intuitive starting point but I have nothing other than a gut feeling about the ratio.

Now, with respect to analysis of what we are producing in terms of combat capability (that is, focus on the team's effort to fight and win), I have recently become enamored with Tactical Readiness Assessment Measurements (TACRAM) and Readiness Effectiveness Measuring. SWDG and Dahlgren, CSCS and others are working to build an analysis process that actually defines readiness in real time. Dahlgren is doing some fine work with this and has linked individual performance to the Kill chain, NTA, NMETLs, etc. I would offer that time getting to understand these processes would be well spent.

Lastly, I believe that we may have cut to close to the bone in our manning cuts. We have to look at what we levied on the ships when we made these cuts. And especially what we did to our training and analysis communities when we got rid of manpower. ATG needs more people. Ships are still required to do all certification requirements in every area even if some will not be used on their deployment. The reduction in manpower, the loss of training resources and the increased demand signal for our services have combined in a way that is very difficult for ship's and battle groups to fully exercise their training responsibilities and we sometimes end up with people saying “if the minimum wasn’t good enough, it would be the minimum” – not the kind of attitude you need to fight and win a war.

Again, thanks for allowing input in this forum.

Very respectfully,


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

Shipmate, I'm glad to see we agree on many of the fundamental issues you've raised in your post. The issue for me is where we strike the appropriate balance between individual computer-based (CBT) and hands-on training and unit-level underway and synthetic training.

Now that we have several years of run-time with all we have done on CBT, we can review the results and see where any chnages need to be made. And as we make the changes, it's also important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. For me, its important to get the most out of individual CBT wherever appropriate, use a blended solution (experienced instructor guiding a small group using CBT as well) where it fits the task and ensure the right level of hands-on is available whenever necessary.

As far as manning goes, as I have discussed elsewhere, I don't believe we will see any increase in Navy-wide endstrength in the near- or mid-term. This fact will drive us to re-examine the fundamentals of how we are doing business today and associated manpower impacts at every level of Fleet operations, what readiness levels we intend to maintain and how long we intend to maintain them at both unit and CSG/ARG levels.

I'm not familiar with TACRAM - please send me more info on that analytical process.
Congratulations on completing your command tour! All the best, JCHjr

Shipmate said...


Well, you can't blame a guy for trying to push the manning issue!

TACRAM is an assessment measurement process which addresses the gap that exists between ship's tactical readiness once certified and tactical proficiency expected by numbered Fleet CDRs. It fits in nicely with the July 09 USFFC/CPF guidance for the numbered fleets to have an understanding of readiness irrespective of the unit certification status. This process can be used in any phase of the training continuum.

TACRAM was originally developed by SWDG (and they are still very active in developing the concept). The idea is to use objective criteria based on tactical performance and is link to NTA, NMETL, while being fully grounded in approved TTP. It is a tool for Fleet wide usage and can be used to evaluate the individual as well as the platform/unit level in any warfare area. The SWDG website (on high side) has links to the TACBUL and the details of the process.

The folks at CSCS Dahlgren have taken the TACRAM model and developed a kill chain based training/assessment process for individual watch standers and watch teams. This has the advantage of using a synthetic environment, analytical measures, NO additional manpower and appears to be a great blend of CBT, synthetic modeling and training supervision. This is, I believe, what you are looking for with respect to synthetic training. To be sure, there are lots of challenges with this process, but it does point to a methodology which would help determine how much CBT/Synthetic training and how much live-fire (range time at sea) is needed.

Now this begs the question how do you evaluate the at-sea events and that is most likely a subject for another blog. We have to be passionate about dispassionate analysis of our at-sea events. Did the missile hit the target? Did the gun weapons system function properly? Was command and control used effectively? These types of questions are only answered in the final and most difficult environment – at sea! CSFTL/CSFTP, the TACRAGRU teams, ATG and SWDG all have various ways of assessing and examining at-sea performance (C2X, FST-J, CCRs, SHAREM, MIREM and SURFREM). Some are focused on reaching certification and some are focused on process management free of certification. In the end, whatever we come up with for live training needs to be accompanied by the most dispassionate (just-the-facts) kind of analysis which can be used by all parties.

Admiral, again, I appreciate your willingness to engage at this level in this type of forum. Frankly, I have never been a "blogger" but this has enabled me to get some ideas on the table. I am mindful that there are very good staff people working to answer these questions through the traditional channels. So, I am providing free advice and I can assure you there are plenty of people who will tell you it is worth what you are paying for it!

Very respectfully,


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

Shipmate, it is precisely this type of exchange which makes the USFFC blog experience worthwhile for me. Thanks very much for participating. All the best, JCHjr

Robert Johnson said...

As an idea to support training: Consider increasing training capabilities by taking advantage of civilian auxiliary resources like the Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary. The USAF uses CAP for operational Homeland Security and DEA work as well as air intercept training and now predator related training. I.E. CAP also works with the Coast Guard/DoHS patroling Long Island Sound and NASA security for shuttle launches. CAP for one, is now part of the USAF Holmes Center and oriented to training ROTC, Officer Candidates and more. They are also great promoters of military service through their youth cadet programs - for all services. Since the members are very motivated, many times x-service members, are not paid and will work (MOU) in cooperation with any service, they can free up money and human resources for other service activities. They are force multipliers and they want to help.

Ken Linville said...

I say this with all due respect for the jobs our CLASSRON's do, but perhaps its time to weigh the value of the products they produce against what we lost when we transferred billets from the ATG's, PHIBGRU's and TYCOM's to stand them up. The basic phase of the FRTP is where we need the most work at present (at least in my warfare area of expertise), and the ISIC, ATG and the TYCOM have big roles to play in each unit's success (along with the unit). If that's not a possibility, perhaps we could come up with a role for the CLASSRON's to play in the basic phase.

xformed said...

"CSFTL/CSFTP, the TACRAGRU teams, ATG and SWDG all have various ways of assessing and examining at-sea performance (C2X, FST-J, CCRs, SHAREM, MIREM and SURFREM). Some are focused on reaching certification and some are focused on process management free of certification. In the end, whatever we come up with for live training needs to be accompanied by the most dispassionate (just-the-facts) kind of analysis which can be used by all parties." - Shipmate

I saw the best ships saw everything as a stepping stone to readiness at the tip of the spear. The rest of the ships, each and every visit/assist/training/cert was but a check in the block to not screw up...not a part of the larger picture. Mindset. Can't train or regulate to that.

Sounds like the same hair pull needs to begin again. Not fun, but necessary. In 93, I was one who was in the CSMTT that transitioned into the CSTG/ATG world. We did have big meetings where players being blended together (in my world, FTG/FTU/CSMTT) where all our "stuff" got laid out on the table and compared to what was in the MTP and various other training requirements pubs. From that grew a streamlined TSTA map. Not easy, some rice bowls busted, but the essentials emerged, and the duplication dropped away (since it became pretty apparent where it was by actual function). End result: Less events for the ships, but when they happened, not duplicated.

In my reading over the years, it sounds like bloat has re-entered the system, but I am far enough removed, I may be wrong. I do see what I consider anecdotal evidence in the blogs of those who are AD (or were until most recently).

My input: Put some smart people in a room and revisit where things need to go and how can that be done better. Back to basics (in how to train the ships). Worked for Vince Lombardi.

CLASSRONS? Sounds like the do what was done by ATG/TYCOM/plain old "RONs." The ATG was to reduce the manpower and still have effective training.