Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert, left, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens, right, took questions from sailors Oct. 8 during an online all-hands meeting. (Screengrab)
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Your top officer and top enlisted sailor conducted a worldwide all-hands meeting Tuesday afternoon via the Internet.
The lively hour of questions and answers attracted thousands of viewers, peaking at about 6,500 early in the broadcast.
Here are some of the highlights from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens:
■ Greenert is “generally happy” with the enlisted and officer evaluation system. That being said, he told sailors it’s important that the evals are “truthful” and “objective.” There has been a habit to use evals to “make people feel good,” Greenert said, and means leaving a sailor’s career fully in the hands of the board.
■ There are no big changes expected for the next season of CPO 365, Stevens said. CPO 365 is the training program for petty officers first class who are preparing to become chiefs. This year marked some big changes, including the end of the term “induction” and a crackdown on misbehavior associated with the training season.
■ Deployments for fiscal 2014, according to Greenert should hold to about 7½ to eight months for carrier strike groups; seven months for destroyers and amphibs, and six months for submarines.
■ Despite the stress of budget cuts and long deployments, the service isn’t losing too many sailors, Stevens said. “Our numbers for retention show us right now that we are getting it pretty close to right.”
■ There is no truth to rumors in the fleet that reductions are coming to your retirement pay. While the Defense Department is considering overhauling the retirement system, Greenert told sailors not to worry. “If you wear a uniform today, that is your retirement system — the one you joined up [for].”
■ MCPON recognizes that crossdecking sailors has been “disruptive” and that the fleet is working to “prevent this from being an issue in the future.”
■ A sailor asked about extending service lives of Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, and Greenert agreed that the ship is a “workhorse” and “perfect for counternarcotics.” However, the future is the littoral combat ship. The frigates are becoming obsolete and too expensive to maintain, CNO said.
■ There are 40 new ships under contract for construction, Greenert said, and new ships will have to keep coming, “no matter what” the budget situation is. In the face of budget cuts, the question is how many ships the service will lose to retirement.
■ When asked about adding female enlisted sailors to submarines, CNO said, “We’re going to do this.” It’s just going to take time — a plan for integration is expected in March 2015.
■ One sailor asked about tuition assistance. MCPON explained the program is down during the government shutdown, but sailors who signed up before shutdown will still get cash.
■ Another sailor (politely) took CNO to task for not mentioning Navy Expeditionary Combat Commandin his long-term Navigation Plan. CNO apologized and said those sailors “are an important part of what we need to do.”
■A zero-defect culture is “creeping through our Navy right now,”one sailor said. In other words, one mistake can kill a career, and this mentality has “chiefs and junior officers constantly looking over their shoulders.”
After hearing out this sailor’s concerns, Greenert disagreed the service would not accept an occasional mistake. He said he’s personally reviewed promotion packets and he’s often seen a stellar officer with a blemish on his record. In most cases, this officer is promoted.
MCPON said that standards are high and that there must be a distinction made between flaws and “fatal flaws” to a career.
■ The Navy will increase its ships in the western Pacific from 50 today to 60 in the coming years.
■ When asked about the body and weight standards, MCPON said no changes are in the works and that the tape test is “fairly accurate.” That being said, officials will continue to review the physical fitness assessment as a whole.
■ When asked about new uniforms, MCPON said a decision on introducing a lightweight, more comfortable Type INavy Working Uniform to the fleet could be mere months away.
■ There are no plans to have active-duty service members fill civilian billets, Greenert said, when questioned by a sailor who said many duties regularly performed by civilians were taken over by sailors during the furlough and following budget-related layoffs.
■ Finally, a sailor suggested seeking reservists who could mobilize for one year out of every five years and fill what might be called an individual augmentee billet for the fleet. Greenert said that this “might be a viable program and worthy of a look.”