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Talking with Sailors

Your Questions Answered

CNP Answers Your Questions from World-Wide All Hands Call

Earlier this month Fleet Master Chief April Beldo and I had the chance to talk to Sailors at our first digital all hands call. To those who participated and dialed in, thank you.

We received an enormous response from the fleet, and as promised, here are answers to the questions we couldn't get to during our allotted time. We encourage you to keep sending us your feedback.

First, I have one correction. During our all hands call, a Sailor from San Diego asked, "I read that the Good Conduct Award will no longer count for points on advancement exams?" To set the record straight, this is something we are still considering. We recognize that most Sailors competitive for advancement have this award, and removing its point value opens up space for high-performing Sailors to stand out. This of course calls into question the value of the Good Conduct Medal, since removal from consideration would in effect mean that all have received it. At this stage a decision on the matter has not been reached, but we will notify the Fleet if a change is made.

Below are the first ten questions from our all hands call, answered here for greater clarity:

Q1: Command Senior Chief (CSC) Rate - Gunner's Mate Senior Chief Asa Worcester asks: "When Fleet Master Chief Beldo and the leadership mess meet again later this year to discuss the Command Senior Chief rate, when do you think the implementation would happen? When the initiative was tabled last year, a lot of potential candidates decided not to apply."

A: For the CSC, timing dictated that other issues be addressed first. My highest priority is to fill critical gaps at sea, particularly in our E7 to E9 ranks. Once we stabilize mission readiness challenges, we will reassess implementation of a CSC rating.

Q2: Bahrain Imminent Danger Pay (IDP) - "Sir, I'm Chief Petty Officer Daniel Mennuto from Naval Support Activity Bahrain. My question for you is, since we are losing imminent danger pay, should Sailors anticipate losing the benefit of the Savings Deposit Program (SDP), Funded Environmental Morale Leave (FEML), and Rest and Recuperation (R&R) Leave?"

A: The only benefit affected by the loss of IDP is IDP itself. Bahrain is not eligible for R&R since Bahrain is not a dependent restricted area. SDP will remain in place because it is based on being in a combat zone, and Bahrain will remain a combat zone until the President rescinds the Executive Order. FEML is not tied to either IDP or combat zone status. Bahrain remains a FEML location, but its recertification is overdue.

Q3: Imminent Danger Pay and Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) - "Sir, I'm Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Brison stationed at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, and my question for you is, with Bahrain losing imminent danger pay and having no commissary, should Sailors here see an increase in COLA pay?"

A: IDP also does not influence COLA determinations. COLA helps maintain purchasing power to enable service members to purchase an equivalent amount of similar goods and services overseas as stateside. The availability of a commissary is taken into account when the Department of Defense calculates COLA, so that has already been considered in Bahrain's current COLA.

Q4. Family Separation Allowance (FSA) - "Hello sir, I'm Aviation Support Equipment Technician 1st Class Brauny Aguediaz from North Burgan, N. J., currently deployed aboard USS Bataan. My question is, do you see any changes in family separation pay, such as a pro-rated daily rate instead of 30 consecutive days?"

A: Nothing is currently in the works for changes to the criteria for receiving FSA. However, the ongoing Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission is reviewing all elements of pay. The Commission's study and recommendations could potentially result in changes to any pay or allowance.

Q5. Environmental Morale Leave (EML) - "Sir, I am Seaman Recruit French stationed at Diego Garcia. Is there any chance of getting EML leave for Sailors stationed aboard Diego Garcia?"

A: Environmental Morale Leave is already authorized on Diego Garcia. EML makes use of DOD-owned or controlled military airlift to further annual leave objectives. The Combatant Commander designates EML duty locations and destinations. This is chargeable leave.

Q6. Navy Reserves - Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Luis Rodriguez asked "Sir, I was just wondering what the future of the Navy Reserves is. Is it going to expand, is it going to shrink? Any comments on that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you."

A: On any given day nearly 25 percent of the Navy Reserve is providing operational support to the active component. So, the Navy Reserve is a critical element of our Nation's defense; however, it is difficult to predict the size of the Force as mission areas and requirements have a huge effect on such numbers.

Q7. Uniforms - "Hello sir, I'm Fire Controlman 2nd Class Samuel Johnson. I was wondering if you could tell me about a plan for the military to go to a standard uniform across all branches and if that may happen."

A: There are no plans in action to create a standard uniform for all services.

Q8. Uniforms - Seaman Black asks "Sir, I've heard scuttlebutt about a fleet-wide switch to a new Navy Working Uniform (NWU) or at least to the type 3's. Is this true, and if so what is the timeline?"

A: The NWU Type I is here to stay. In fact, this spring we will be testing a lightweight version of the NWU Type I for warmer climates. The NWU Type II and Type III will remain as issued items when serving in specific units only.

Q9. Uniforms - Another question from social media asks, "Are there any ideas on changing the enlisted male dress blue uniform, E1-E6?

A: Yes, an improved male E1-E6 Service Dress Blue uniform has been approved for Fleet introduction and will replace the existing jumper-style Service Dress Blue for E1-E6 males. Design changes include a side zipper on the jumper and center front hidden trouser zipper to facilitate ease in donning and removing. The traditional 13 buttons are cosmetically attached and non-functional. The uniform introduction date is still being determined, but is expected to commence at Navy Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes no later than Oct. 1, 2016.

Q10. Natural Hair Grooming Regulations - Seaman Sallad Cyrstal and IC3 Shakeriya Johnson, wrote to ask "Are there are any plans to update or review the grooming standards with regard to natural hair?

A: Yes, we are currently reviewing grooming standards to more properly address these and other issues relating to female hair styles. Currently natural hair is authorized without a bun, but it still must conform to the 2-inch regulation