My trip to CENTCOM was outstanding – all my objectives to get an accurate, in-depth look at the Navy IA experience and see the full array of Navy’s support for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were achieved. I was able to spend Thanksgiving with the best Sailors in the world and see first-hand the impact our Navy is having on our Nation’s efforts in Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, and Djibouti. My next few posts will include portions of my trip. During one stop, I was able to take some questions from some Sailors and Officers stationed in Djibouti. Because I am sure they are not the only ones with these questions and concerns, I told them I would respond to their questions on my blog. Below are their questions and my responses.
Q1) Why can't Reservists extend to fill a valid billet instead of the six-month process of returning to the stateside NMPS to demobilize and then remobilize back to the same place of duty?
A1) Reservists can voluntarily extend beyond 12 months without having to return stateside to demobilize. The only exceptions are Sailors in high-stress missions such as PRTs, Counter IED, and SIGINT. Key to success is making the decision as early as possible in your tour and getting your request quickly to your chain-of-command. Big Navy wants to make sure you have a relief and must assume you are not going to extend (plan for worse case) so once this process gets moving, it’s hard to shut down, especially if you make a last minute decision.
Q2) When can we get a coherent dedicated harbor security force in Djibouti? There was an RFF submitted, what is the status?
A2) Djibouti will not get a Navy Harbor Security Detachment near-term. Demand far outstrips our capacity. All our Harbor Security Detachments are either deployed, preparing to deploy to other missions or in post-deployment dwell. That said, because you are at ground zero for our piracy issues, we will revisit our priorities and our investments.
Q3) Will there be an Selective Reenlistment Bonus for Seabees?
Q4) Why does the process sometimes require an East Coast Sailor (Portsmouth Navy Hospital) to travel to a West Coast NMPS? Seems wasteful with TAD and unnecessary time away from family.
A4) Although I know it may be annoying, the NMPS location is selected to maintain the maximum number of personnel from a common IA mission to create unit cohesion prior to arrival at the IA training site or in theater. Most of the time, the NMPS location is chosen closest to the IA training site unless there isn’t enough capacity, in which case, an alternative site will be chosen.
Q5) Why can't a Reserve Officer on IA qualify for tuition assistance? Apparently, you must be on two-year orders to qualify. Is this policy intended to exclude Reservists on active duty or an oversight?
A5) Tuition Assistance (TA) is available for RC Enlisted Sailors if their orders are for a minimum of 120 days. You are correct, RC Officers on active duty can qualify for TA provided they are ordered to active duty for a minimum of two years. But RC Officers may also qualify for one of the other education benefits programs below:
Q6) What is the status of transitioning RC over to DTS?
A6) Orders generated by Navy Reserve Order Writing System (NROWS) will transition to DTS by this summer. Mobilization and ADSW orders for RC personnel generated in the Navy-Marine Corps Mobilization Processing Systems (NMCMPS) cannot be processed through DTS at this time.
However, to address issues with timeliness of travel claim payment, PSD Bahrain and subordinate PSDs in Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Djibouti recently started processing travel claims for IA members in CENTCOM and HOA.
Q7) Why is it so hard for reservists on IA to extend into sanctuary?
A7) It is currently Navy policy that orders directing members to 18 years of cumulative active duty service will not be issued except in certain limited circumstances. The Navy will only authorize Reserve personnel who possess unique or critical skills to exceed 18 years of active duty service to meet mission requirements.