31 March 2010

Doing Less, But Not Doing Anything Less Well

Please consider the following comment posted on a private forum re: my post on Commander’s Guidance. I want to share this openly on my blog as I believe the author’s comment reinforces why it is important that we consciously address the impact on our ships of a steadily increasing operational demand and just as steadily increasing pressure on the resources that sustain our forces.

"While the mantra “fewer resources mean that there are things we will do less, but not less well” resonates, there is a fundamental disconnect between that phrase and the reality of what it takes to meet an increased COCOM demand signal while still training our Sailors correctly to perform the missions that a COCOM expects a ship to show up able to do.
If OPTEMPO is up and going up, and resources are scant, reducing the number of missions that a ship needs to train for will create the whitespace needed.
But if the OPTEMPO is up and going up, and resources are scant, reducing the number of training repetitions while not reducing the number of missions that ship needs to train for will create chaos.
Example: Right now a BMD DDG needs to train for 23 missions. Which is the priority? From my time at TYCOM and NFC it seems that there is no priority call either from the COCOMs or 4 star resource providers. A BMD ship still needs to do its MOB-E, ATFP, VBSS, 3M, AAW, Strike, NSFS, EW, ASW, MOB-D, FSO, NAV, Helo Aviation, CCC, Intel, Seamanship, and SAR.
Of course some of those mission areas enable others. But we man our ships like we have already prioritized, but we haven’t. And now the onus is on the COs to decide what they needed to spend their time and manning on.
And then the Navy swoops in, picks up on whatever area was deprioritized and blames the CO.
Not right answer.
We violating the 10/10/80 rule. The rule states that 10% of your people will fail no matter what you do, 10% will succeed no matter what you do, and 80% will succeed with a little guidance and adequate support.
It seems like we are asking all our people to be in that 10% that succeeds no matter what we as a Navy do."

In my guidance I talk about the reality that while fewer resources will lead us to do less, we are not free to do anything less well. Couple that with my direction that we must hold the line on our standards – they never change, regardless of resources – and our only option is to prioritize requirements. Accordingly, I directed my Commanders to ruthlessly prioritize their requirements to achieve assigned missions with their available resources.

This guidance reflects what I believe to be the situation today and is the fundamental reality we will continue to face in the future.

The example in the comment above illustrates what we see when a ship is not adequately resourced to man, train and equip for all potential missions, yet is still expected to achieve them.

Expecting a ship to meet every mission requirement while providing only 70% of the resources necessary is not setting the conditions for success. The CO is placed in an untenable situation; we set the ship and her crew up for future failure. Ultimately, it is my responsibility, working through the chain-of-command, to balance the resources I provide to our ships, squadrons and submarines with the missions I expect those units to be able to perform.

But…our COs also have an obligation to seek the truth and act on it - to honestly assess their ship, take appropriate action, and forward their findings and recommendations up the chain-of-command for the betterment of the force. This feedback is absolutely critical. Decision-making and directing action (command) only achieves the desired outcome if there is a properly functioning feedback loop (control). We have occasionally disassociated command from control with often devastating effects that are difficult to recover from, even over a long period of time.

So we have to ensure we establish an honest flow of communication through the chain-of-command; indeed, it is critical we do this. It is not about whining up or down the chain-of-command – that is, simply complaining about problems without offering any solutions; it is about effective leadership in a culture where we work together to continually improve our ships, our squadrons, and our submarines.

The first step in improving performance is being honest about current performance – we must have the courage to “commit” truth with each other and then go where the facts lead us, while we balance the expectations of our force with the resources we provide the force.
All the best, JCHjr


BostonMaggie said...

OK, this is a little bit of BostonMaggie nonsense, but I can't resist. You are a finalist in the voting for "Best Navy Blog" at Milblogging.com. The award will be given out next weekend at the Milblog Conference.

Out of all Navy blogs, you finished in the top 5.
Voting ends Wednesday at midnight.

Congratulations! It might be silly, but in the blog world you need to be noticed to have an impact. This proves you have an impact.

Anonymous said...

Fleet Deployment Model. At the USFF All Hands, ADM Harvey reaffirmed that the budget constrained reality we are facing will only deepen in the near term. In a prior life, I also worked in a budget shop at the Echelon 2 level and agree with his observations. The Navy, by virtue of it's mission, is an expensive enterprise and we are being called to do more and more. Even a flat budget makes our mission unsustainable as our assets age and require recapitalization at future, increasing rates.

One of my observations is that ships roughly fall into two categories, the ones who not only survive a 6 month deployment, but actually become more reliable as they stay underway, and those who need a little more help to stay in formation, to put it nicely. It's rather unquantifiable and a vessel's material condition can change significantly in a short time and change it's status.

My proposal is not unprecedented, but it is sweeping. I propose that ships be evaluated and pulled from their deployed locations based on material readiness and not crew rotation. Crew manning should be managed like SSBN crews with A and B crews which meet face to face, perform a passdown and demonstration and then shake hands and go their ways. One vessel, two crews, maximum asset underway time. Crews are homeported - vessels are not. Homeports are heavily invested in training infrastructure, but not necessarily marine support infrastructure meaning a crew concentration area does not need to be located at a traditional naval base. Crews train together, crews and staffs train together, then they marry up with their vessels via air transport to the ship's location, and the ships rendezvous to commence their mission. People stay home. Ships stay underway except when they're pulled for maintenance. More minor maintenance would need to be accomplished in Intermediate Maintenance Availabilities.

This proposal is sweeping, because it requires a fundamental shift in maintenance, supply, and training to support a vessel who would, ideally, make fewer un-required maintenance stops and it would minimize the 3-5 week transits required to gets vessels on station. Transits are negative return areas in most aspects - they cost money for fuel and food, they cause wear on components for which you are not realizing a mission return on investment, and the manpower is not optimally productive.

Anonymous said...

Anti-Piracy Tactics. The world's Navies are being called to protect sea commerce from pirates. Unfortunately, we can not mandate a change in civil commerce practice, but we are becoming a safety net and are bearing the costs. As such, we have become a silent partner to industry. Commercial traffic on the Eastern side of "The Horn" practices the age old and time honored tradition of point to point navigation. When the vessels are transiting East of Madagascar, they are generally navigating the strait between Madagascar and the African continent and their courses puts them within strike distance of pirates operating in small vessels from Somalia. My proposal is to attempt to lobby the shipping providers to change their standard shipping lanes by a few degrees to the South of the strait in order to put more sea room between them and the pirate havens. Pirates would have to move closer to the course correction point to effect a rendezvous which would narrow their area of operation to a more manageable and reactable size.

The commercial sector seems more amenable to paying for piracy insurance than taking basic preventative measures. If there is a way to convince the insurance companies to require a minor shift in standard operations, our mission would likely evaporate because the open ocean transits for small boats would be too great and their ability to accurately predict a random, open ocean rendezvous would be greatly diminished.

Anonymous said...

Piracy countermeasures. To be frank, I don't understand how a small, open boat of gun toting thugs physically manages to gain the decks of commercial transports to effect a hijacking. That said, and recognizing the super vessels have become increasingly automated and lightly crewed, I feel the best defense for our massive commercial bretheren are remotely operable, directional, high volume water cannons to flood and sink pirate vessels as they come alongside. At the very least it would make boarding a nearly impossible task. Not stopping and repeated close-in course corrections would be good too.

Battle Yeoman said...

I saw a ship at the Water Front at NOB once that looked more beaten and less maintained than any I have seen before or since. I was told, that ship was a test model for hot-swapping crews.

I don't like the idea of having a large robust forward deployed fleet swapping crews. That ship is MINE and a lady, I share her with none!

While I hesitate to suggest we take a page from the Royal Navy due to where they find themselves and their state of ship building and readiness. I still have to acknowledge the fact that they have been through a multitude of budget swings. Most notably during the age of Sail. While it is not completely applicable to today where we can't just grab sailors from merchantmen and impress them onto warships. There still must be a way to 'lay up' components of our Navy that can free up resources to be used elsewhere.

However, I just cannot shake the notion that it will be innovative training of our Sailors that will lead to the most dividends and free up more resources.

Just to hit on the piracy comments real quick:
It will never go away as long as they know that once their AK-47s are pointed at that crew that they've won and they only need to wait for their money.

The Captain of any merchant vessel needs to be empowered to risk the crews life in consenting to being rescued, as well as the ship's owner consenting to risking the cargo being lost during rescue. Have this decided before they get underway. retake vessels for a year or so, and the incentive and their only leverage in all this is gone. We win.

Arleigh said...

Admiral, I have been reading and agreeing with you for a while. I think what the original poster that you cited was crying out for is leadership--someone to confront civillian political appointees and elected officials with the reality they are putting us in. Someone needs to stand up and say "enough!" We SWOs would consume a bottle of scotch and tap our own veins before we said we're out of fuel.....

Anonymous said...

We have always looked at completing the mission, some juggle the many balls better than others. A current example of process over action is the CVN movement to Mayport, timelines are being stretched because of budget constraints yet facilities exist (maintenance) to accomodate the requirement to have such a building in place before the proposed CVN moves. During your recent visit to Mayport you probably saw a great maintenance facility, but it's machinery is encased in bubble wrap, just waiting to be manned and put to work again. The huge SIMA building could more than accomodate the need to support CVN maintenance, but "the Plan" calls for a dedicated CVN maintenance facility...again process vice common sense. You have a building with minimum use and you need a building to support a ship in the future. The planners at Navsea and at CNAL need to take a reasonable approach and use a perfectly good building to support the 'planned move'. Once again, it's not in the plan/process, so we can't use it?