With most of the Navy’s strategic focus shifting to the Pacific as well as Southwest Asia, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s happening in Med, said the Navy’s personnel boss amid a four-day tour through Italy and Sicily to meet with sailors. top uniformed personnel officer, currently on a quick, four-day visit to Italy and Sicily. 

"It’s real eye opening to see just how operationally focused this region is right now with all that’s going on," said Vice Adm. Bill Moran, the chief of naval personnel, in a Wednesday n Oct. 14 phone interview from Naples.

Moran arrived Tuesday and was given briefed on what’s going on in the region and spent Wednesday at all hands calls, before heading to today spent today making all hands calls around the Naples area. Tomorrow he heads to Sigonella, Sicily on Thursday. to spend time with sailors and commanders there. 

"The operational tempo out here reminds me a lot of my days out here as a junior officer, deployed to Sigonella," Moran said. "It was high then and we're back to that and then some, now — for a lot of reasons — Russia and Syria, East Med., West Med. There just an awful lot going on out here."

Moran says that operational tempo prompted many questions from sailors that, comes with an associated focus because many of the questions he was fielding from sailors, he said, weren’t "in my lane as CNP." 

"A lot of my questions have been focused on staffing levels, he said. "Over the years, I think we stripped away a lot of the staff support out here at 6th Fleet — and for good reasons at the time."

Moran says he doesn’t set decideon staffing levels, he’s the guy who fills existing billets around the Navy. But he says he'll relay their concerns to his peers and bosses. — but he says the concerns are valid and he’ll  pass them along to his bosses.

Moran said the morale seemed to be good, but said they're concerned about the But, he says, sailors don’t only have their eyes the Sixth Fleet AOR — they’re also concerned about the looming threats of budget woes from Washington, including a continuing resolution (a stopgap measure that continues government spending at current levels) and the possibility of another round of sequestration (which lobs off all Pentagon spending above a mandated cap.) and what that might mean to them. 

He described the "tone and morale" he's finding among the ranks as "good."

"There are some concerns over the CR and what the impact might be to them, such as [personnel change of station] moves for folks coming here and for folks here at the end of their tours heading back," Moran said.

"Under CR rules, we are on a spending plan by law that only lets us spend money month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter," he said. "Longer lead times on household goods and PCS money is harder to do."

"[The CR] will also effect our ability to write checks for [selective re-enlistment bonuses], if that continues on beyond Jan. 1," he said.

Moran says a NavAdmin will bear released soon discussing The Navy is prepping to release its contingency plans for re-up bonuses. CNP’s contingency plans for the bonuses. 

"It lays out how we will prioritize SRB payments If we run out of money the first couple months here of the quarter," he said.  "We're seeing indications that we might have to restrict some of the funding for new contracts."

Priority for available funds are available will go first for anniversary payments, owed to sailors already on SRB contracts. For new re-up contracts, priority is expected to go to sailors nearing their end of service dates. As far as new contracts, those who are reaching their end of service dates also be a priority. 

Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.

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