16 February 2010

Commander's Guidance


Two weeks ago, I released my US Fleet Forces Commander’s Guidance. My guidance reflects what I have learned and how I believe we must proceed to ensure we continue to deliver forces ready for tasking today, sustain those forces into the future, and deploy Sailors who are confident in their abilities to execute their missions.

The purpose of my Commander’s Guidance is to deliver my estimate of the situation, guiding principles, and strategic intent. In addition to my guidance, I have also identified areas that require significant attention and immediate action. My specific direction for these areas will be delivered in the form of SERIALs. My first two SERIALs are “Anti-Terrorism / Force Protection” and “Command and Control.” All of these documents are posted on this website and are available for your review.

In executing my guidance, I have directed my staff to provide me with vigorous feedback - I ask that you do the same. Your observations, insights and comments will provide me an additional assessment to ensure the actions we take have the effects we intend. All the best, JCHjr.




Off the cuff with a cursory read: excellent, I get it. If I were in Command I know I could follow through on your guidance.

My first question:
What does FLTCM Howard have to say to the Chief's Mess?
With them, is the spark to the your fuel.

So much potential, Sir. Whomever in your staff is responsible for the prose contained in this, I'll help write their Award.

YN2(SW) Battle Yeoman




At random, with no prior notice, with the utmost secrecy. Have your AT/FP Officer go to a Ship with a M16 or M9 with a laser designator attached (like the Army uses for training purposes) give it to the watch and have them shoot at a target at an interval they could conceivably have to be effective at. Record the results without the name of the Command. Look at the results and you will have a gouge, an important gouge on our ability to defend ourselves.

If there is a way to talk about this on the high side?

YN2(SW) Battle Yeoman

Old Guy said...

Finally - some clear, unambiguous direction. Thank you. This is something that I can read, understand, and respond to with a sincere "aye aye". Next step is execution, and that is up to people like me.

Honest Sailor said...

Inspiring Commander’s Guidance. I would implore you to have your CO’s set the standard in realistic and meaningful terms. Tactics that are tried, true, and tested need to be learned by every member of the crew. We have history on our side because as you know history repeats itself. It repeats itself in the successes and the failures.

Blanket standards are not effective in some areas, especially body fat. Some of our warriors are physical specimens who make roman warriors look like sissies and some of warriors are mental specimens who make Einstein look like a 5th grader. What is the quickest way to get booted out of the Navy or be terminal in a pay grade? Besides a UCMJ conviction or NJP it is body fat standards. No regard to tactical proficiency, Commanding Officer’s recommendation, mission accomplishment, or to physical fitness score, you will be a civilian if not meeting height/weight standard. You will be discharged. Do not misunderstand my commitment to physical fitness; I am a huge proponent of being physically fit. I wish I could PT two hours a day. Fact is that my lifestyle, my family, and work demands put more focus on NON-PT issues. But I understand the guidance and direction of the Navy so I do put more focus on those standards that will affect my sailor’s careers which is, unfortunately physical fitness standards. I have seen many fine sailors whose jobs that did not require peak physical performance or required body fat composition to do their job get booted. Some of these jobs were computer related, admin related, or tactics related. I do not care the body composition of the person releasing the aircraft safe for flight, or TAO fighting the ship; I care that he/she knows their job. Normally they are the ones on the job early in the morning, late at night doing what needs to be
done, working 18 hours a day.

My issue is we spend way too much time on the being the poster child looking good and much less of our time focusing our priorities on what has made the Navy great. We are a Navy of the world, people from different countries, different ethnic backgrounds, different cultures that we claim to treat equally…as long as you are not over PFT standards. Do not even get me started about gays in the military. I am not against it, but until we are co-ed you will have to have separate berthing; or like my recommendation for women/gays, make an entire boat women/gay and then there is no need to reconfigure the ship for separate berthing or heads.

Enforce job accomplishment and tactically acumen like you enforce PFT standards. Set standards, grade performance. Again, people are what is getting the job done. Evaluations and FITREPS are the gauge of your people. Too bad that one check mark (PFT failure) can erase their entire evaluation. Skippers know their people and will make the tough decision to discharge a person that is either that non-physically fit or not tactically proficient. Put commanding officers in charge of enforcing the standards and/or making waivers available if needed, not BUPERS.

You have a tough job; I admire your effort to get honest and direct feedback. Also, please do not do what Battle Yeoman suggests… we might be at PT or worse yet not know our tactics for a suprise inspection.

Retired Classmate said...

Easy to read guidance, getting to the goals is the challenge. Continued funding constraints and increasing committments means defining the areas that get less, as always. As sailor billets ashore disappear there is an ever increasing trend to increase the civilian staffs, but some of those increases are in areas that one should question the value added to the warfighting effort. Example, an RMC with 1000 personnel 7 years ago had no "lean experts". Today with less than 180 active duty, they now have a staff of "lean experts" (4-6) headed by a GS-14 and the repair capability is only 5-10% of it's former intermediate maintenance capability of 7 years ago. The creeping trend to build a civilian empire that only about 20% actually interact on ships to assist in the repair of equipment and train sailors isn't the direction of increasing support to help under trained sailors. Check the "overhead" staff on the shore facilities and there will perhaps be some significant savings avail able to help our sailors at Sea. Civilians now command a larger share of the Navy budget than our active duty forces. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...


A couple of quick notes on your C2 Serial:
1. Your discussion of "decentralized command and control," has stimulated some lively debate in the office. The final draft of the new NDP 1, NAVAL WARFARE, states that experience has led the naval services to the use of centralized planning and decentralized execution as a staple of C2 in the maritime domain. I would be interested in more of you thoughts on decentralized C2. It may be a necessity in some comms-limited scenarios.
2. I believe that pushing "responsibility and authority to the lowest practical level," has been overdone in the Navy (we don't always apply a test for what's practical) and is one reason we don't always do so well at the basics.
Thanks for the opportunity to comment!

Navy Helper said...


My comments relate to both IA Support and your Command and Control guidance, so I will respond in both blog spots.

Based on comments I have received from officers and enlisted involved in the care and support of reservists on Medical Hold, I think you need to take a close look at the command chains and leadership responsible for the Medical Hold and Line of Duty programs.

From their perspectives, the command relationships are not inline with the conditions you indicate are needed for success. Reservists need to navigate across Navy Medicine, Navy Personnel and the Navy Reserve commands in order to get healed and go home. Which command ultimately controls the process?

Next week an article will be published showing that the Navy is returning injured sailors back to their commands as fit when they are not. The sailors are then administratively separated when they cannot meet readiness standards.

That would indicate a breakdown in the fit for duty determination which is owned by Personnel Command. Or is it a failure of the part of the Medical command? Are doctors finding patients fit for duty prematurely or are medical bureaucrats overriding the treating physicians?

Look to the command confusion and lack of oversight to find the answer. The process currently in place is not effective, unambiguous or hierarchical. It will not ask for feedback and deflects all negative criticism.

It took me years to realize that the continuing problems with these programs lie in the lack of direct oversight and accountability. Those missing elements are one reason why this process the costs exceed the benefits.

Waiting months for appointments and care costs money. The wrong diagnosis and treatment costs money. Patient dumping might save the Navy money but those decisions just push the costs downstream and burden the VA and other federal agencies.

I'm not sure why no one in Fleet Forces Command has responded to my emails regarding the concerns with medical hold and more importantly my email last year regarding the increase in phone calls and emails regarding suicide concerns.

Would the information be better received if it came from someone in uniform?


Patty Hicks

Anonymous said...


I am a Chief Hospital Corpsman! As a Chief, I am Sailor focused! As a Corpsman, I am patient focused! With a heavy heart, I have to say -- The way the Navy is treating Navy Reservists is deplorable. I believe that Patty Hicks is on point. She expressed eerily the incredible frustration that I am feeling. As a Chief, the Navy relies on me to fight for my Sailors. As a Corpsman, the Navy and the Marine Corps rely on me to medically assist and treat Sailors and Marines. As a Chief, I rely on the leadership to provide me the tools needed to do my job. I don’t feel that this is the case. It should not be a struggle when I, as a Chief, try to help my Reserve Sailors that have raised their hand to go in harm’s way. I am having severe challenges to retain my Reservists in the Navy – they feel that the Navy is failing them. The reality is, when Reservists come back from mobilization they are treated as second class citizens. These Reservists served in the most difficult jobs with honor, and when they come back through the NMPS sites, and if they are having issues, it is a struggle for them to get the care they truly deserve. Why should they have to fight to get the care they need? Why are Reservists treated like malingerers? Why are Mobilized Reservists treated differently than Active Duty members? With regards to Reserve Corpsman it is even more sensitive – and the NMPS sites and Naval Operation Support Commands are failing us Corpsman. Why are my Navy Corpsman being sent off of orders and still require care? Our Navy Corpsman take care of everyone… Who takes care of them? Admiral – it is not too late - the power is in your hands to make it right. You speak about Command and Control – and I believe you. Let’s create a true unified Command and Control of all Navy Wounded, Ill and Injured. If you need a model, just take a look at the Wounded Warrior Regiment. The Marine Corps gets it. SAFE HARBOR is something – but it is not the Wounded Warrior Regiment. SAFE HARBOR does not have command and control of all Wounded, Ill, and Injured Navy Reservists. The Wounded Warrior Regiment does! The Marine Corps has the formula. The Navy can too.


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

Ms. Hicks,

I regret that you and the Sailors that you mention had difficulty getting in contact with someone from my Command. I will review this to determine what happened and why. All the best, JCHjr.

HM2(FMF) said...

In 2005 I was sent along with 24 other HMs from Naval Hospital Great Lakes to 3rd BN 25th Marines out of Ohio. I received my purple heart during that tour. I left active in December of 2006, volunteering from the IRR to deploy again in 2007.

Upon return from this deployment, I wished nothing more than to fade back into the IRR waiting out my remaining 10 months until my EAOS. While in the process of trying to leave the active reserve I was found to have an injury I had incurred on deployment...something I knew about, but was happy to take care of on my own. At the behest of my command, I was looked at and found to have had several issues from my first deployment which were never properly tested for, most notably brain MRI irregularities secondary to a massive blast trauma. At this point I was left on drilling reserve status, and told to get all nessicary information for an LOD package. LOD vs Med Hold issues aside, this became my living nightmare.

As i was being treated for an orthopedic knee injury, and tested for a TBI (I was still being treated for other injuries for which I currently am rated at 30% disabled for) I found out, through a friend, that I had been Admin seperated!

I was told by my NOSC that the LOD package for my knee would be routed but not to submit the information about TBI until after. My NOSC, instead of routing my LOD package, instead routed an Admin Sep package for PRT failures, as I had ran neither the fall PRT (I had just returned from IRaq with a knee injury), or the Spring PFT (I was never informed of).

My NOSC Admin Sep'd me within 4 months of my EAOS after serving honorably, voluntarily, in a combat zone twice. NO notification, NO warning. Upon later pressing, senior enlisted members on my behalf were told that attempts were made numerous times to contact me, which was a bold face lie seeing as how my unit LPO was my neighbor, and even he knew nothing about it. I was so disgusted that the Navy would do that to me, I did not even bother to fight it. I was realized however, that in fighting this, I would be helping other, junior sailors, and so I submitted a package to the BCNR.

To surmise, I was Admin Sep'd while being activly treated for injuries sustained in COMBAT. This was done within 4 months of my EAOS when all I wanted was to slip back into the IRR peacefully.

If the NOSC did not wish to keep me on Med Hold or LOD, they could have simply let my clock run out, instead going out of their way to submit an Admin Sep. It seems a bit on the vehement side.

Here are the problems I see sir, and that I hope can be resolved. As green side members of the larger Navy family, we are an unknown quanity. The NMPC sites rush us through with threats of "you will be stuck at 29 Palms/Camp Lejeune for medical care if you put anything on your medical exam forms". I have witnessed this and had my Marines tell me this on numerous occasions. Using the threat of not going home after a tour of duty in Iraq as a way to clear the books goes beyond deplorable and borders on gross dishonorable conduct.

Second, the NOSC have no clue how to incorporate us. With all of our particular issues, and the fact we are visible to them only on paper, the NOSC needs to do a better job of communicating with the green side command (no notification was given to my LPO, LCPO, Admin Chief or CO on the green side).

Third, accountability. When confronted with the facts of my situation and request for submission to the BCNR, the NOSC CO's only excuse for his actions was that "the Medical LPO never told me about this". If a CO's ONLY visibility on his sailors is the spoken word of one person, then he is sorely in need of retraining in leadership.

In closing, in a Navy where we tout Honor, Courage and Commitment as our core values, we need to try harder to apply that to doing what is right for our sailors, not just what looks good on their readiness reports. The Reserve component deserves better than what the Navy has given them.

- Semper Fi

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

HM2(FMF), I take it from your write-up that you are currently separated from the Navy Reserve and are using this opportunity to inform me about problems you experienced at the de-mob processing site, at your NOSC wrt the admin sep action, and the lack of accountability you perceive in how the entire process was handled by your NOSC CO.
Certainly, submitting the BCNR package is the right way to go to correct the injustices you feel you suffered and I wish you well with that process.
Without more of the details, it's difficult to zero-in on a particular target. All I can do is tell you that I work these issues, generally on a larger scale, with VADM Debbink - he is deeply engaged on all of them since he took the watch as the Chief of our Navy Reserve.
My belief is that we get it right far more than we get it wrong, but I know we have work to do across the board and we will stay at it.
Thanks for writing to me and giving me your feedback. All the best, JCHjr

Anonymous said...

Hearing HM2's story is very concerning. Admiral, has there been a task force to investigate these allegations on how Reservists are being medically treated? The fitness of the Military is reliant on the dedication of the Reserves. These wars have shattered the records in the amount of Reserves serving since the instituting of the draft. From a non-strategic personnel/bean counter stand point I can see why Reservists are being released from orders that quickly. However, has the socioeconomic implications been taken into account? What is the burdern on the VA? What is the burden on the families? Are we in danger of creating another group of homless veterans? I don't know the answers - but I'm sure there are smart people out there that can seriously need to come together and investigate. Does congress have to get involved?

Navy Veteran

Combat2College said...


I am responding to your blog from the perspective of being mobilized at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) from 2005 – 2009, perfecting the Marine Reserve Medical Hold and Line of Duty Program, and Plank Owner of the Wounded Warrior Regiment.

I enjoyed reading your Commanders Guidance, and believe that your blogging initiative is very progressive, helpful, and crucial with narrowing the informational gap. Thank you.

I have read your response to HM2, and Ms. Hicks. We do have many dedicated individuals in the Navy that are caring, compassionate, and want to do the right thing for mobilized Reservists. However I also believe that we do have some that unintentionally treat Reservists with policy, thus hurting Sailors. It seems that HM2 was unintentionally treated with policy, or else he would have never been administratively separated with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and other debilitating orthopedic issues. As leaders, we have a responsibility to ensure that this does not happen again to any Reservist.

As we continue to rely on more Sailors to serve with other services in an Individual Augmentee status, it is imperative that we screen them thoroughly when they return. For example, does the separation checklist include a full Traumatic Brain Injury and Mental Health screening?

Additionally, I believe that some policies written pre 2001 (some post 2001), are not Sailor (and Reserve) Centric anymore. This is due to the progression in the Navy’s mission, and the large amount of Individual Augmentees and Reservists that are being deployed.

I look forward to continue following your blogs. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Very respectfully,

HMC Lee Becker
Washington, DC