Navy personnel officials received approval for a $257 million plus-up from Congress that they say will allow the service to beginning cutting more orders — some as much as six months out.
“Sailors can expect to start seeing large batches of orders being released over the next several weeks,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel. “Our focus remains on manning the fleet, and taking care of sailors and their families.”
“We’ve been able to issue approximately 9,000 orders using the reprogrammed funds,” he said, “and have issued [Category] 1-3 orders through November to date. Before the fiscal year ends, we are aiming to have issued PCS orders with as much lead times as possible — our goal is six months.”
That’s a four-month increase over what sailors have been given this fiscal year.
It’s a situation that has drawn the ire of sailors and was beginning to cause readiness issues. In response, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SG/IW) Steven Giordano brought the issue to the attention of Congress in March.
“When the lead times are short notice this becomes an increased stressor in their family’s lives and households,” said Giordano. ”This places a significant distraction on our sailors and may negatively impact our competitive edge in our continuous efforts to maintain maritime superiority.”
Christensen said that he was unaware of where the Navy reprogrammed the money from, only that it was identified by the Navy as excess funds elsewhere. To use the money for personnel moves required the approval of the secretary of the Navy and the Department of Defense, as well as a final sign-off by Congress.
Starting July 5, most sailors nearing the end of their current assignment will receive a letter of intent, or LOI in Navy-speak, that will enable them to begin the PCS process, set up their household goods shipment and complete other required screenings before they receive their official PCS orders.
“We’re grateful to Congress for approving the Navy’s PCS reprogramming request, which will help extend PCS lead times for our sailors,” Christensen said.
“We realize that shortened PCS lead times have reduced the time individuals need to prepare for their moves, which has consequently burdened our sailors and their families. Going forward, we remain committed to providing sailors with as much PCS lead time as possible.”