WASHINGTON (NNS) -- As part of an effort to inform the fleet of key personnel policies, the chief of naval personnel held several all hands calls at Naval Station Mayport and Naval Air Station Jacksonville Aug. 22-23.
During his visit to the region, Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk spoke with Navy leaders and Sailors about Navy's force management initiatives, efforts to improve sea duty manning, and 21st Century Sailor and Marine programs.
"We continue to focus on Warfighting First - we Operate Forward and will continue to Be Ready to meet the nation's call," said Van Buskirk to the audience of Sailors. "To meet these tenets, our people must be deployable, assignable and distributable. Our work is vitally important and I am so very proud of you, our Sailors who continue to make this all happen."
Van Buskirk also discussed how the Navy is addressing the ongoing challenge of filling sea duty gaps following the FY12 Enlisted Retention Board, which reduced overmanning in ratings throughout the Fleet. According to Van Buskirk, the majority of gaps at sea are due to challenges in filling undermanned ratings and Sailors on limited duty, operational deferment, and in training and transit.
"Manning the Fleet is our highest priority, and we must continue to provide our Fleet with qualified, experienced Sailors. Now that we have balanced the overmanned ratings, assigning Sailors to where we need them most is key. The recent manning policies and initiatives are intended to achieve this."
"We are America's away team, and our Navy is in demand," continued Van Buskirk. "With this increased demand for naval forces, there is a renewed need for proper sea duty manning. To meet the most pressing needs of the Fleet, we have worked with Fleet Forces, Pacific Fleet and MCPON to execute short, medium and long term initiatives and policy adjustments to improve sea duty manning."
In early August, Navy introduced several voluntary and involuntary measures intended to reduce gaps at sea. These include changes to detailing through the Career Management System Interactive Detailing (CMS/ID), extension of the Voluntary Sea Duty Program (VSDP), the Limited Directed Detailing Program, the Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Early Return to Sea Program, and expansion of the ratings eligible for Sea Duty Incentive Pay (SDIP).
"These measures aim to manning operational units with qualified Sailors with critical skill sets, ensuring Fleet and operational readiness," said Van Buskirk.
Van Buskirk also emphasized the importance of sea duty and the important role Sailors play in their career management.
"I highly encourage you to be proactive, speak with your chain of command, and consider all the voluntary measures Navy has in place to pursue sea duty. Professionally, volunteering may offer additional training opportunities, and your demonstration of superior performance at sea is the benchmark for top evaluations and advancement."
Van Buskirk also emphasized the importance of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.
"The 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative ensures that you and your families are equipped to meet both the physical and mental challenges of our global mission, and are ready to be Sailors and Navy families," said Van Buskirk.
"In particular, I'd like to highlight the importance of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response as part of the 21st Century initiative," continued Van Buskirk. "As shipmates, we must look out for each other and prevent harm before it occurs. Bystander intervention is key to preventing sexual assault - it's recognizing inappropriate, coercive and harassing behaviors, knowing when to intervene, and then intervening. This is important. I urge you to ask questions and get involved. It is about taking care of you, our Sailors, and about all of us taking care of one another."
Van Buskirk's all hands calls in Navy Region Southeast are part of a series of visits around the Fleet to inform Sailors of key personnel policies affecting their careers.
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