One sailor says many of the Navy's personnel-records issues stem from more civilians and fewer sailors in personnel support detachments. Here, sailors at PSD Balboa, Calif., digitize records in 2010. (MC1 Anastasia Puscian / Navy)
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Seven suggestions that pit sailor against sailor, enlisted against officer or command against rank-and-file:
1. Put sailors back in personnel support detachments
■ Point: “The lack of military personnel at PSD results in decreased accountability and a loss of shipmates taking care of shipmates,” wrote one sailor, whose idea received 456 votes.
■ Counterpoint: Many countered that civilian workers at PSDs are helpful — and many are veterans. It would also require a substantially higher number of personnel specialists to plus up PSDs around the fleet.
■ The last word: “I am definitely tired of dealing with civilians at PSD that lack customer service etiquette; do not understand that sometimes things happen out of our control, however we are here to assist sailors; that pay issues need to be fixed immediately; on and on and on,” wrote one personnel specialist who did not provide name or rank. “I deal with PSD each week and have never been so disappointed at the Navy for removing us PSs from there.”
2. Overhaul uniform matters
■ Point: “I know [Task Force Uniform] spent five years designing, testing, fitting and distributing a group of uniforms that everyone in the fleet hates,” wrote one sailor. “My argument is, What the heck was TFU testing? ... Why is there such an issue now with fit, fire and wear?”
■ Counterpoint: Task Force Uniform led the uniform revamp that introduced the PT uniform and the blue-and-gray Navy working uniform, which are now overseen by the Uniform Matters office. The Navy has invested tens of millions of dollars in developing and fielding these uniforms, and some sailors say they like them. Still, votes to “Scrap” TFU received 489 votes.
■ The last word: “NWUs are only OK if you are stationed somewhere cold, where they are amazing,” one sailor said. “If you are somewhere hot, they are absolutely miserable.”
3. Cut back diversity events
■ Point: “The diversity of our force is a force multiplier, but who is saying we should take a full day and celebrate a sliver of our society?” commented one officer on the suggestion that the Navy scrap its participation in dozens of diversity conferences, as well as diversity awards. These ideas garnered 480 votes.
■ Counterpoint: “Some sailors are from a ethnically homogenous area and do not get an opportunity to learn about or interact with other cultures,” replied one unnamed person, who said this outreach makes for a “stronger team.” Another inquired that, if these diversity events are no longer needed, then why is so much of the Navy’s leadership white and male?
■ The last word: “There is a perception that if the [Command Managed Equal Opportunity manager], or the ‘Heritage Committee’ do not put on a big show for the ‘major’ months, ... then we don’t care or truly embrace diversity,” another sailor replied.
4. Dump pointless training
■ Point: “There are too many mandatory training requirements that are only ‘check in the box’ in nature,” wrote one unnamed person. “This [sexual assault prevention and response] Stand Down is just another example. Not that it’s all bad, but when you have 99 other training requirements, then have SAPR L, SAPR F, SAPR GMT and then SAPR SD. Really?!?!?!”
■ Counterpoint: The Navy requires sailors to sit through a lot of routine training sessions, and if you view these as needless, then you may be part of the problem.
■ The last word: “Not every adverse behavior or aberrant act requires a specific training module for risk mitigation,” commented one reservist on the suggestion that received 158 votes. “We need to expect more of our officers and sailors in the way of common sense.”
5. Mentoring shouldn't be a program
■ Point: “When did we lose the accountability of our leaders in mentoring sailors?” asked one unnamed person in a suggestion that received 277 votes. “Why is it necessary to create a program/binder/spreadsheet/agreement between the protégé and mentor to track sailors’ career goals?”
■ Counterpoint: The goal of the program is to invest time and attention in a sailor’s development, although no commenters arose in defense of it.
■ The last word: “The spirit of the program is good,” said one aviation sailor. “Its execution is a waste.”
6. Smoke-free fleet
■ Point: “Smoking wastes countless hours and billions of dollars in future healthcare costs,” wrote an anonymous person in an idea that got just 55 votes. “The submarine force was able to successfully eliminate smoking in 2011, and it is time for the rest of the fleet to follow suit.”
■ Counterpoint: “If we are to become more restrictive in the name of health, why stop there?” replied another person. “Take vending machines stocked with junk food off of ships. Take cakes and cookies off of the menu.”
■ The last word: “Smoking pits on the carriers fill the P-ways with second-hand smoke,” replied one sailor. “Many squadron and ship work spaces are located there, so they have no choice but to suffer through it.”
7. MIA: 'Killer instinct'
■ Point: “There are so many administrative requirements that it’s ridiculous to think we’re still a warship,” wrote one surface warfare officer. “I serve aboard an O-6 commanded ship, and we have to request permission via a lengthy [message] to execute a 9mm weapons shoot — in open ocean.”
■ Counterpoint: Messages such as this are used to inform other ships of a live-fire exercise. No one countered the officer’s central point, which garnered 113 votes and was tagged with the keywords, “Mother may I?”
■ The last word: “Leadership at all levels and across the entire spectrum of the Navy has become so afraid of any potentially bad publicity that they’ve taken authority away from our front line leaders,” responded another officer.