SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Surface Forces Readiness Manual (SFRM) became the new standard of Surface Forces readiness when it was signed into policy at Commander, Naval Surface Forces headquarters March 9.
Adm. John Harvey, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, presided over the ceremony, during which Vice Adm. Richard Hunt, commander, Naval Surface Forces, and Rear Adm. David Thomas, commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, officially endorsed the policy.
"The Surface Forces Readiness Manual is a standard of preparation for forward operation," said Harvey. "This is a flexible plan that reacts to 'real world' capabilities to produce 'real world' fleet readiness, and represents a philosophical construct that will drive us into the future."
The SFRM, which replaces the Surface Forces Training Manual, is designed to integrate material assessments and maintenance actions with training, maximizing each ship's readiness posture. Unlike the training-focused Training Manual, the SFRM encompasses readiness across what is referred to as the 'PESTO' pillars - personnel, equipment, supply, training, and ordnance - throughout all phases of the Fleet Readiness Training Plan (FRTP).
"An initiative of this scope is a great achievement that has been a long time in coming, and reflects the commitment of our waterfront leadership," said Hunt. "I believe that the SFRM strategy will produce ships and crews better prepared to execute our Surface Warfare tasking, meet operational commitments, and enable ships to reach their expected service life. This directly supports the CNO's tenets - warfighting first, operate forward, and be ready."
SFRM guidance outlines a standard, predictable path to readiness. A sequenced, "building block" approach emphasizes consistent material assessment standards and simple shipboard reporting across all functional areas. Supporting instructions provide detailed process information to allow for execution throughout all phases of training, including exit criteria to move to the next phase.
Surface ships will progress through eight steps to achieve and sustain peak readiness, more broadly categorized as maintenance preparation, maintenance and training. Maintenance preparation encompasses material assessment and correction of critical material issues, self-assessment and external organization validation, and necessary preparations and training to commence required maintenance. Training includes at the unit level, necessary to maneuver and tactically employ weapons and sensors; the group level, at which prioritized, integrated multi-platform events occur and the ability to integrate into a carrier strike group or amphibious ready group is developed; and sustainment training that occurs prior to, during, and post-deployment to uphold established levels of proficiency. Various assessments and certifications are synchronized and aligned to optimize a ship's progress through the established path to readiness.
The SFRM outlines an "educate, train, assess, certify" approach to crew training. External trainers will train the watchstanders; after watch teams have demonstrated proficiency, they will proceed to the mission area qualification event. Once trained, the responsibility for maintaining proficiency falls to each ship's training team.
SFRM development began with a training pilot program, conducted on 35 ships on both coasts over approximately a year.
"The SFRM formally adopts into policy those significant improvements developed and tested during our year-long Training Pilot, improvements that are producing better trained ships in less time," said Capt. Terry Mosher, commodore, Afloat Training Group (ATG), U.S. Atlantic Fleet. "The SFRM synchronizes all of the maintenance and training provided to a ship into a single, coherent plan which will improve a ship's ability to prepare for the variety of maintenance and training periods throughout the cycle."
In conjunction with the training pilot feedback on the draft SFRM was solicited from fleet stakeholders, including all commanding officers. More than 600 comments leaders at every level.
"The SFRM is arriving in the fleet at just the right time," said Cmdr. Drew Carlson, commanding officer, USS Higgins (DDG 76). "Past training manuals only provided guidance on how to conduct basic phase training. The SFRM now gives ships a roadmap for the entire FRTP including maintenance, basic phase training, integrated training and sustainment training. It takes all aspects of a ship's life into account."
"As the first Pacific ship to go through the certification verification outlined in the new SFRM, Higgins has been able to tailor the training cycle according to the operational needs of the ship and the fleet," said Carlson. "It has been a win-win situation for both the ship and the Afloat Training Group. I am excited about the flexibility that the SFRM gives us to focus primarily on areas that require improvement, rather than following a generic training plan."
A phased waterfront rollout plan tailored to each fleet concentration area will be announced later this spring, with ATGs reaching out to each commanding officer to provide specific ship execution guidance.
"Transitioning ships to this new SFRM methodology takes coordination," said Capt. David Matawitz, commodore, Afloat Training Group, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "We're not just throwing a switch. ATG has developed a plan with the type commanders to transition each ship over to the new program based on where they are in the FRTP, operational schedules and the recommendation of the ship. We will ensure that every ship transitions smoothly with no impact to readiness."
"We will transition ships when it makes the most sense and when it will be the least disruptive," Mosher said. "Ships will begin transitioning in early June and the last ships should be cut over by the fall."
While the SFRM applies to ships throughout the fleet, the Littoral combat ship program, naval beach groups, tactical air squadrons, and fleet surgical teams are governed by separate instruction.
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