Merger planning continues to move forward and we are on track to meet our objective of a fully consolidated staff by 1 October 2011. There have been several significant changes since I last posted about the merger, so I want to provide you an update here and make sure you’re aware of the latest decisions I’ve made and the actions we’re taking.
Organizational Leads (DCOMs and ED)
At the Fleet Forces town halls I conducted in March, I talked about the need to reorient the merged staff to be more operationally focused and downward-looking - an absolute necessity as we assume the missions, functions and tasks (MFTs) of SECOND Fleet. Achieving this transformation will be a challenge as we have historically centered on our man, train and equip responsibilities with a decidedly upward look towards OPNAV. Moreover, I am also concerned about effectively managing the bandwidth of my executive leadership team, given the expanded responsibilities of the merged staff.
It was for these reasons that I approved the establishment of two DCOM billets, the 3-Star DCOM for Fleet and Joint Operations (DCOM-FJO) and the 2-Star DCOM for Fleet Management/Chief of Staff (DCOM-FM/COS). These two individuals will report directly to me for their respective portfolios. Recognizing the significant increase in direct report subordinate commands, I will also dual-hat the DCOM-FJO as Commander, Task Force 20 (CTF 20), with delegated command responsibilities for SECOND Fleet's subordinate commands (CSFTL, 4 x CSG, ESG-2) and SECOND Fleet’s existing Task Forces and Task Groups. With this new construct and the expanded responsibilities, I expect the 3-Star Deputy will not have the bandwidth to represent me at 3 and 4 Star OPNAV forums.
To address this issue, I have broadened the Executive Director's portfolio, making him my primary interface for 3 Star USFF-OPNAV resources and readiness communications, a function currently performed by VADM Daly. Mr. Honecker will be my primary voice up-echelon, and will direct a Fleet Resources and Readiness Integration team comprised of experienced personnel from across the staff. Mr. Honecker will be responsible for resource and readiness integration, with a primary focus on execution year and execution year plus 1 budget planning. Mr. Honecker will also continue to lead the FIEP decision-making forum, and will remain responsible for the CNO Monthly Readiness Report, the annual BSO-60 Readiness Plan and the annual Integrated Fleet Readiness Plan. Mr. Honecker's new Fleet Resources and Readiness team will become operational on 6 June with the transfer of personnel and billets identified from N1, N40 and N7. This step will enable us to start the implementation of the new Fleet Management structure by establishing the N41, N43, N46, N7, and Fleet Safety and Command Services Special Assistants as direct reports to the DCOM at the same time. The DCOM for Fleet Management/Chief of Staff title will become official on or about 10 Jun.
Early Staff Realignments
As I mentioned above, we have already started moving out on the execution phase of the staff consolidation by initiating several early merger tasks. In addition to Mr. Honecker’s new Fleet Resources and Readiness team and the initial changes to the Fleet Management reorg, earlier this month we assumed responsibility for SECOND Fleet's AT/FP mission, and transferred all seven SECOND Fleet personnel to USFF N3AT as part of that process. I've also authorized the early transfer of SECOND Fleet’s Special Access Program (SAP) and Special Technical Operations (STO) responsibilities, equipment and personnel in early June. STO responsibilities transfer must be worked through JFCOM and the Joint Staff, and it clearly makes sense to do this now as JFCOM becomes more focused on disestablishment.
Additionally, I've approved the early transfer of SECOND Fleet’s N8/N9 functions and personnel by 15 July 2011. VADM Holloway and I remain aligned in accelerating more functions and personnel shifts prior to the Aug-Sep timeframe to better position our staffs for the 1 October merger.
Merged Staff Functional Test (MSFT)
The MSFT is a significant event in the USFF/SECOND Fleet merger and will provide an opportunity to exercise some of the major functions of the merged staff and gather lessons learned that we will use to refine our organizational construct and staff processes.
The MSFT will be executed in two parts, using the merged staff's draft MFTs, SORM, OPORD revisions, battle rhythm and briefing templates.
MSFT Part I (13-17 June) will focus on normal day-to-day operations. On Monday of that week, personnel from both USFF and SECOND Fleet will come together at USFF HQ to commence battle rhythm preps. Execution of the merged staff battle rhythm will commence with the Commander’s Update Brief (CUB) at 0730 on Tuesday, 18 June, and continue for the remainder of the week. VADM Holloway will act as the Deputy Commander for Fleet and Joint Operations (DCOM-FJO) and Commander, Task Force 20 (a responsibility he currently holds) so that we can benefit from his perspective as a standing Numbered Fleet Commander.
MSFT Part II (27 June-1 July) will focus on merged staff operations in a crisis situation. The merged staff will form up again on Monday of that week and quickly transition to crisis ops in response to a simulated hurricane scenario. This scenario will be internal to the staff and drive us to execute a Continuity of Operations exercise (COOP-EX). The COOP-EX builds on our previous Richmond event last fall and will be executed as part of the MSFT to ensure we are developing a COOP capability commensurate with the merged staff's broader set of responsibilities.
To prepare the staff for the MSFT and beyond, RDML Craig will hold town hall training sessions the week prior to MSFT Part I in order to discuss expectations and synchronizing events that align the three elements of the staff (Fleet & Joint Operations, Fleet Management, and Fleet Resources and Readiness Integration). A second series of town hall training sessions will take place the week prior to MSFT Part II, to shift focus on COOP-EX execution and logistics.
With your focus and commitment to this very significant effort I remain confident we will carry out the merger with zero risk to operations. Your thoughts and perspectives are important to me so I encourage each of you to stay engaged and provide feedback through your chain of command, here on the blog, or directly to RDML Craig.
All the best, JCHjr