ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy's top personnel professional held an all hands call at the Pentagon, Sept. 19, to discuss the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative and to give Sailors and Marines an update on other important personnel issues.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Juan M. Garcia explained the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative. He said it takes all the existing personnel support programs, along with a handful of new ones, and puts them all under the umbrella of 21st Century Sailor and Marine.
The initiative is based on five key areas: physical fitness, inclusion, safety, readiness, and continuum of service.
The physical fitness umbrella covers nutrition and workout programs. Inclusion programs aim to increase diversity in the Navy. Safety programs are focused on things like motorcycle safety and preventing sexual assaults. Some of the goals of the readiness programs are to prevent suicides and curb alcohol and drug abuse. The continuum of service programs offer different paths to serve the Department of the Navy (DON) as an active duty Sailor, a reservist, or a DON civilian.
Garcia also gave the audience an update on personnel issues like enlisted retention boards (ERB), the relief of commanding officers, force size, tuition assistance, and compensation.
Garcia said the Navy had to conduct ERBs because record retention levels led to severely over-manned rates. The secretary said the chief of naval operations decided take a look across all personnel in the 31 most-over-manned rates. The result was that about 2,900 Sailors were asked to transition to careers outside of active duty service.
"This was designed as a one-time evolution only," Garcia said. "There won't be another ERB this year. There won't be an ERB next year. No plans for an ERB again."
Looking at the early data, Garcia said it appears as if the ERBs have worked as planned. He said advancement rates are up and approved Perform to Serve applications are up, too.
The secretary also addressed the number of commanding officers (CO) relieved of command.
"CO reliefs. There's been some attention on this. There is a lot of blogosphere activity," Garcia said. "I just offer this: at any given time there [are] about 1,500 command pins across the fleet ... and 98 percent of those folks will complete that command tour under the incredibly robust and demanding level of accountability we require in this business. I'd put that number up against any business, any industry in the world."
The assistant secretary put out some important information about compensation and the possibility of a budget sequestration. He asked leadership to pass on the message that service member pay and benefits are fenced off from the possible sequestration budget cuts.
Garcia said the Navy is also looking at ways to change its retirement program, and it may one day move to a 401(k)-style program. Regardless of what the DON decides to do about retirement packages, Garcia said it won't affect today's Sailors and Marines.
"If you're in a uniform now, if you're on active duty now, if you stood on yellow footprints, you're grandfathered into the existing military retirement system and will have access to it," Garcia said.
Healthcare changes have also been proposed for working-age retirees. The details of the changes are still being worked out, but Garcia said those changes won't affect the healthcare that today's uniformed personnel or their families receive.
For more information on the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, visit: www.21stcentury.navy.mil.