A few weeks ago you may have heard that the Navy announced several new career track options for Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) in an effort to retain only the most talented. In case you didn’t, here is an overview of the many new opportunities that will help SWOs continue their growth and development. These new options are meant to move SWOs away from a linear path to a more flexible, option-based plan that is values-driven and invests more in the SWOs themselves. The intent of the new career tracks is to raise the level of talent in the SWO community and develop future leaders who can think, lead, operate, and win in multiple future environments. Growing Warfare Tactics Instructors is also a priority.
Traditionally, SWOs follow what’s known as a command-at-sea career path. The new career tracks offer opportunities for the early development of skillsets and accruing experience at sea, underscored by opportunities emerging from Sailor 2025 initiatives and supporting the principle of Warfighting First.
- Accelerated Warfighter
- Enhanced Readiness
- Accelerated Skillset Development
- Nuclear Power
Benefits of the new career tracks may also include opportunities to attend fully-funded graduate education at America’s elite institutions without fear of career progression disruption; to take up to three years away from the Navy in the Career Intermission Program; to spend time working at Fortune 500 companies contributing experience to the private sector and capturing key lessons that can be applied in the Navy under the new SECNAV Industry Tour Program (starting in 2016); a restructured bonus proposal that rewards performance; and pro-active outreach to retain the top 50%.
Another benefit is a reinforced and expanded commitment to military spouse co-locations, with spouse co-location being the standard and doing everything possible to co-locate dual military couples of any rank and service.
As part of a cultural shift from retaining the most available officers to retaining the most talented, the Navy is working to replace traditional career advancement zones with weighted milestone achievements to ensure the best officers are promoted regardless of zone placement and prior selection board decisions. This would allow those who are not ready for promotion to continue to serve in same paygrade longer, or for those ready, to advance through the system faster. In addition, selectivity for first look selection to serve as department heads is being lowered to 50-60% by next year. This will ensure future department heads, commanding officers and major commanders will be the best possible.
For more information on the new careers paths check out this handy Surface Warfare Career Chart powerpoint.
For more SWO related news check out the Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Naval Surface Forces, or Surface Warfare Magazine websites.
The 34th annual Surface Line Week (SLW), sponsored by the staff of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, is coming to a close today after starting Aug. 14. SLW is a week-long competition that features a series of activities dedicated to friendly competition in a variety of professional and athletic events. It’s been a San Diego tradition for more than 30 years.
This year’s SLW consists of 17 athletic and 15 professional events culminating in an awards ceremony on Aug. 21, with recognition of the overall winner also announced at the Surface Warrior Ball tomorrow night.
The competition, open to participants from active duty, the Navy Reserve, or other military personnel and government civilians command kicked-off with a golf tournament at Admiral Baker Golf Course.
Other scheduled SLW athletic events include a 5K run, basketball, billiards, bowling, dodge ball, flag football, golf, tennis, volleyball, soccer, racquetball, swimming, push-up and pull-up endurance, and CrossFit. There was also a chili and salsa cook-off.
SLW professional events include photography, cake decorating, a damage control marathon, lathe work, marksmanship, medical diagnosis and stretcher bearer race, rescue swimming, a Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) race, sailing, ship handling, valve packing, visual communications, and welding and cutting.
Thirty-two commands participating have Sailors or civilians participating in the events, which have been chosen to promote camaraderie, team building, and boost morale, while still offering friendly competition along the water front for shore based commands and ships.
Seventy-three years ago during World War II, a tiny coral atoll in the Pacific’s Gilbert Island chain became the site of American troops’ first amphibious attack made from submarines. The raid on Makin Island began August 17, 1942 when 222 Marines from two companies of the 2nd Raider Battalion launched from submarines USS Argonaut (APS 1) and USS Nautilus (SS 168).
Their mission was to destroy the Japanese installations, gain intelligence on the area, take prisoners, and divert Japanese attention and reinforcements from Guadalcanal and Tulagi, where American Marines had landed earlier in the month.
Marine Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson led the men ashore under the cover of night. Notable amongst his troops was his executive officer, Maj. James Roosevelt, the son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, things didn’t exactly go as planned.
Once topside the men, known as “Carlson’s Raiders,” were met with gale force winds and rough seas. While making their way to the beach many of their small boat engines were drowned out by the bad weather, and the men had to paddle them to shore. As the Raiders arrived, they spotted a small boat and a large transport ship in the waters nearby. Using only radios to relay communications and compass readings from Carlson, Nautilus fired her 6-inch guns into the night and was able to sink both vessels.
Despite all this, the men were able to remain undetected until landing on the beach. Shortly after landing, an accidental burst of gunfire from one of the men’s rifles announced their arrival. Within 20 minutes the fighting began. As the mission unfolded, the men faced-off against everything from heavy sniper fire, tanks, and machine guns, to flamethrowers and aerial bombing from at least 12 aircraft. But they were able to evade the threat and eliminate the enemy.
After several attempts the men were able to pass the breakers August 18 and make their way aboard the submarines, which immediately steamed to Pearl Harbor. An accurate account of the men couldn’t be made until they reached Hawaii. There it was revealed 30 of Carlson’s Raider’s hadn’t returned.
It was eventually determined that seven drowned, 14 were killed by Japanese forces, and nine were unaccounted for. It was later discovered those nine were somehow marooned on the island. With help from sympathetic locals they evaded Japanese forces for some time but were eventually caught and taken to Kwajalein where they were beheaded.
While there has been some debate about the success of the mission objectives, it was at the time considered both a success and a morale raiser for the troops, as well as a sign to the world that the U.S. was gaining control of the war.
The will and determination of Carlson’s Raiders left a lasting impression and less than two years later the Casablanca-class escort carrier USS Makin Island (CVE 93) was commissioned. Although the original Makin Island was decommissioned in 1946, the gritty, fighting spirit of her namesake Raiders is carried on in the present USS Makin Island (LHD 8), an amphibious assault ship.
USS Makin Island is currently undergoing a scheduled phased maintenance availability in preparation for its next deployment. For more information check out USS Makin Island.
Littoral Combat Ship Primer, Part 2
Last week we covered some basic facts about the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) platform and after finding out what littoral means you may have found yourself wondering, “But what does an LCS really do?”
It would seem that the shortest, possibly the best direct answer is, a lot. With that said, let’s look more closely what LCSs do and the mission packages that give them such versatility.
Both LCS variants can operate in a wide-range of environments- from open oceans to coastal waters- because they have a unique open-architecture design. Their seaframes can be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads, called mission modules. Those modules include mission systems and support equipment that can be changed out quickly. Combine these modules with a crew detachment and the platforms’ ability to support aviation assets and they become complete mission packages. They’re then able to conduct freedom of navigation operations, theater security cooperation operations, maritime law enforcement operations, maritime counter-piracy operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, search and rescue operations, maritime domain awareness patrols, and maritime security operations. And that’s all in addition to their primary Mine Counter Measures (MCM), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Surface Warfare (SUW) missions.
With the SUW Mission Package (SUW MP) an LCS can provide the capability to detect, classify, track, and engage multiple groups of small boats, and it can be configured with the Maritime Security Module for Maritime Interdiction Operations, as well as Visit, Board, Search and Seizure for drug and counter piracy operations. The LCSs speed, SUW MP capabilities, and manned and unmanned aviation assets, work together to extend the ship’s surveillance and attack potential.
The LCSs MCM MP provides mine detection, neutralization, and mine sweeping by utilizing both manned and unmanned vehicles, and can support joint operations conducted ahead of, or concurrent with, power projection forces.
Lastly the LCSs ASW MP is designed to provide ASW capabilities while operating in either deep or shallow littoral water environments. Operating in conjunction with other fleet assets makes it a force multiplier that specializes in providing first response littoral ASW capabilities. That includes ASW prosecution in shallow waters, barrier operations/sustainment of secure maneuver area, direct support to a carrier strike group, an expeditionary strike group, an amphibious ready group, a surface action group, or maritime prepositioning forces in a littoral environment. As well as the ability to act as a high value unit escort, and offer operational deception. With the versatility to carry out so many different missions, the ship of the future is here!
If you’d like to learn more about what the fleet’s LCSs are up to check out the the USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), PCU Milwaukee (LCS 5), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Coronado (LCS 4), or PCU Jackson (LCS 6).
PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 25, 2014) The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) provides a sea-going platform for a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter from U.S. Army 25th Combat Aviation Brigade to conduct deck landing qualifications off the coast of Hawaii. Fort Worth departed its homeport of San Diego Nov. 17 for a 16-month rotational deployment to Southeast Asia in support of the Navy’s strategic rebalance to the Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos/Released)
Littoral Combat Ship Primer, Part 1
It seems everyone is interested in the U.S. Navy’s new warship platform, Littoral Combat Ships, or LCS, but how much do you really know about them aside from how sleek and futuristic they look? You may wonder, “What is littoral?” Well, littoral is a coastal region or shore and today we’ll look at how the LCS is versatile enough to be as well suited for those areas as it is for open-ocean operations.
Creation of the LCS platform was spurred after the end of the Cold War, Operation DESERT STORM, fleet experiments, analytic studies and war games made it clear that the Navy needed a new class of small, fast, agile, shallow-draft ships designed to operate in congested near-shore regions. The Navy announced it would meet that need by building a new generation of ships and thus, the LCS class was born.
The LCS type consists of two variants; the Freedom variant is a steel semi-planing monohull ship that is designated with odd-numbered hulls and the Independence variant is an aluminum stabilized slender trimaran ship that is designated with even-numbered hulls. [See graphic].
These small, fast, reconfigurable, and agile ships are designed as focused-mission, modular platforms able to defeat asymmetric “anti-access” threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft, like small boats, found in littoral areas.
While LCSs are smaller than frigates, they’re larger and more potential capabilities than Coastal Patrol Ships or Mine Countermeasure Ships. In fact, the Freedom variant is just 387.6 feet long with a draft of 14.1 feet and are capable of speeds of over 40 knots, while the Independent variant is just as fast at 418.6 feet long with a 14.4 foot draft. Their shallow draft means they can access more ports and waters than any other combatant, and their speed makes them capable of quick positioning in any theater. They’re perfect for building and strengthening maritime partnerships by training and operating with smaller, regional navies, as well as entering previously inaccessible, shallow-water foreign ports. That also means operational commanders will have an ideal asset available for Theater Security Cooperation tasking, freeing up large surface combatants to carry out other missions.
Since LCSs are meant to project a forward presence, half of the LCS fleet will be deployed at all times. This is possible through the 3:2:1 concept: there are 3 rotating crews, 2 rotating ships, and 1 ship deployed at all times. The 3:2:1 concept provides twice the forward presence over other surface combatants. LCSs also have the ability to deploy independently as theater-based ships, capable of changing primary missions through modular mission packages.
Currently, USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) is on a 16-month deployment and has already seen three crew rotations.
Join us again next week as we look at the various mission packages the LCS can support and find out more about its missions.
PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 22, 2013) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) is underway conducting sea trials off the coast of Southern California. Freedom, the lead ship of the Freedom variant of LCS, is expected to deploy to Southeast Asia this spring. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James R. Evans/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (July 18, 2013) The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) demonstrates its maneuvering capabilities in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young/Released)
If you have ever toured a U.S. Navy warship then you’ve been lucky enough to get an idea of the versatility, force and power these ships and their Sailors offer the country. They are a sovereign piece of America wherever they go and have the ability to be where it matters, when it matters. It has been said that with great power there must also come great responsibility. (This phrase will also sound familiar to you Spiderman fans out there).
The Navy undoubtedly has great power, but we – fortunately – are not alone in the great responsibility of keeping peace around the world. Through various exercises with countries around the world, our Navy works tirelessly with our allies to make our ties stronger and the world safer. Here are some of the major exercises that Surface Forces, Pacific Fleet ships participate in, along with an explanation of each exercise’s goal.
CARAT: Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) is an annual, nine-country bilateral naval exercise series between the U.S. Navy and Marines and militaries forces from Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Timor Leste. It’s designed to enhance maritime security skills and operational cohesiveness among participating forces. Vietnam participates in a CARAT-like exchange event called Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) Vietnam. . CARAT 2015 spans from Feb. 1 to Nov. 10.
Talisman Sabre: Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 is a biennial training activity aimed at improving and maintaining a high-level of Australian and U.S. combat readiness and interoperability. Talisman Sabre is a U.S. and Australian-led Combined Task Force operation preparing our militaries for crisis action planning and execution of contingency operations. This year’s exercise included participation by more than 33,000 U.S. and Australian personnel, along with 21 ships, three submarines, and more than 200 aircraft; other U.S. agencies that participated included the U.S. State Department, Justice Department, USDA, FBI, USAID and the American Red Cross. Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 lasted from July 4 until July 19.
Multi-Sail: Exercise Multi-Sail is an annual DESRON 15 led exercise that features U.S. assets and personnel, as well as ships and personnel from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. It’s designed to assess combat systems, improve teamwork and increase warfighting capabilities in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility, an area which encompasses more than 48 million square miles. Multi-Sail 2015 took place from March 22 to June 1.
Foal Eagle: Exercise Foal Eagle is a series of separate but inter-related joint and combined field training exercises conducted by Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea components spanning ground, air, naval, expeditionary, and special operations. The exercises includes both U.S. and Republic Of Korea forces. Exercise Foal Eagle 2015 began March 4 and lasted until March 15.
In addition to combat interoperability focused training, these exercises also often include events to practice interoperability and skills training in preparation for future humanitarian aid/disaster relief (HA-DR) responses in the region. Pacific Partnership is an annual, dedicated humanitarian and civic assistance mission designed to strengthen regional relationships and increase interoperability between the U.S., partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations thus ensuring the international community is better prepared to work together as a coordinated HA-DR team. Pacific Partnership 2015 began in early June and will last about four months.
For more information check out this Surface Forces, Pacific Fleet training and initiatives page.
PACIFIC OCEAN, (June 18, 2006) USS Cowpens (CG 63) (foreground) is followed by USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) and USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199) during a photo exercise to kick off Exercise Valiant Shield 2006. The Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group is currently participating in Valiant Shield 2006, the largest joint exercise in recent exercise Valiant Shield. Held in the Guam operating area June 19-23, the exercise involves 28 Naval vessels including three carrier strike groups. Nearly 300 aircraft and approximately 22,000 service members from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard are also participating in the exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Nicholas A. Galladora/Released)
“Your careers will be defined by flexibility, transparency, and choice…”
“Whether we are talking about systems and tactics in the digital age or personnel management, we must evolve to meet the needs of the future battle space and the needs of our people. Today we shift from ‘what-ifs’ to ‘what’s next’…”
U.S. Naval Academy Address
May 12, 2015
By Capt. Brad Cooper, Surface Warfare Officer Lead Detailer, PERS-41
Today, the Surface Warfare community is going active and shifting into “what’s next”… we are launching the new “SWO Career Chart.” Click here to check it out!
Here are 12 things you should know:
1) WE HAVE EYE-WATERING TALENT in SURFACE WARFARE. Today, we are stepping out strongly… LEADING the Navy and, for that matter, the entire U.S. military… in a priority effort to retain that talent.
2) WHAT’S NEW?… an OPTION-BASED, FLEXIBLE, AGILE, CAREER underscored by OPPORTUNITIES emerging from Sailor 2025 initiatives: a restructured bonus proposal that REWARDS PERFORMANCE; and pro-active OUTREACH to RETAIN TALENT. Junior officers and their families have different tracks on the SWO career chart available to them. This effort builds on current policies that have served us well.
— Under our new approach, Commanding Officers (CO’s) and Junior Officers (JO’s) are more empowered to influence the future and leverage new opportunities in graduate education, personal growth and career flexibility.
— Among the new options: going to Naval Postgraduate School after the First Division Officer tour… earning a Master’s degree in a skillset we value… then returning to sea for a Second Division Officer tour… then to Department Head School.
3) THIS IS ABOUT WARFIGHTING FIRST. Enabled through: a focus on our people; recognition of superior performance; development of skillsets early; and accruing experience at sea (we refer to this as: WUK – “Water Under the Keel”). Investing in and retaining our most talented officers is critical to operating, fighting and winning in tomorrow’s complex environments… and we’re backing up words with action. Growing Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTIs) is a priority. This program will continue to expand under Navy Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) leadership.
4) MYTH-BUSTER ON JO RETENTION… BLUF: We are retaining sufficient numbers of SWO JO’s to meet our Department Head billet demand and we’ve done it for four consecutive year groups … and on track for a fifth! On the waterfront, you see the positive effect of this every day. Kudos across the board to everybody who has invested their energy into getting us where we are today… and now… it’s time to raise the talent bar of those leading at sea even higher !!
5) And so… WE ARE CHANGING A CULTURAL MINDSET. Away from …”retaining the most willing” … and toward … “retaining the most talented.” This is a BIG DEAL!
6) “SAILOR 2025” INITIATIVES ARE CRITICAL ENABLERS TO RETAINING OUR BEST PEOPLE. These new initiatives:
— GROW WARRIOR-SCHOLARS. We embrace every opportunity to send our most talented officers to study at America’s most prestigious academic institutions (we’re not just talking about this, we’re doing it — the first officer begins his Masters Degree program at Yale University this Fall). Guidance is forthcoming for those officers who want to compete and start studies in the Fall of 2016! Starting in 2016, we will send officers to learn and contribute at Fortune 500 companies throughout our country under the new SECNAV Industry Tour Program.
— INSTITUTE MORE ADAPTIVE WORKFORCE POLICIES. We will lead the Navy in supporting officers’ desire to take a career intermission for up to 3 years as a means to pursue personal interests, then return to our Navy and serve even stronger than before. We are firmly committed to military spouse co-location as the standard – not the exception. Our commitment to our people is further reinforced by the recent Maternity Leave policy expansion from 6 to 18 weeks.
7) TALENTED DEPARTMENT HEADS ARE DIFFERENCE-MAKERS… so we are raising the bar on what it takes to serve as a Department Head at sea. For the last 20 years, we had little-to-no selectivity. This year, we increased Department Head selectivity by lowering the selection rate to 80%. In 2016, we expect the screening rate for first look to be 50-60%. By doing so, we will clearly select our BEST junior officers to serve as future Department Heads, Commanding Officers and Major Commanders.
8) WE ARE CHANGING THE SWO JO BONUS MODEL. SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE IS WHAT COUNTS — and WE WILL REWARD IT. This is not about money … we know that talented officers don’t stay for the money… this is about recognizing and rewarding performance. Once approved, a new JO bonus structure will provide First Look-Department Head screened officers with the opportunity for up to $105,000 in bonuses ($30,000 above the existing bonus, which will continue) to serve two Department Head tours or through their tenth year of commissioned service, whichever is later. The new bonus proposal will pay officers sooner in exchange for signing up earlier. Officers who successfully screen on ensuing looks will also be eligible for bonuses above today’s $75,000 package rates, but at an incrementally reduced rate.
9) LAUNCHING A DELIBERATE OUTREACH INITIATIVE … we’ve modeled the talent and performance of our JOs using a simple formula that weighs FITREPs and qualifications. We know who the top 50% of performers are. In the coming weeks, we will be communicating with CO’s and JO’s… starting with Year Group 2012 … and targeting the top 50% of that year group. The goal is simple: retain our TOP TALENT!
10) POSITIONING FOR THE FUTURE. Positive changes to the statutory board process are on the horizon and new “market based” detailing pilots have been approved. Our career chart positions us to embrace these changes to the benefit of our people. Specifically, we are:
— Working to replace traditional zones to ensure the best officers are promoted regardless of zone placement and prior selection board decisions.
— Supporting legislation that would eliminate officer management by year group to ensure performance determines timeline and eligibility for promotion and leadership assignments. The legislation would allow those who are not ready for promotion to continue to serve in the same paygrade longer, or for those ready, to advance through the system faster.
11) STRAIGHT TALK: SUBSTANDARD PERFORMANCE DOESN’T CUT IT. We’ll put a rocket on the backs of our best performers … and propel those officers to new heights as those officers achieve their absolute maximum potential…. but … we will no longer accept substandard performers in Surface Warfare. The last Department Head board de-screened 39 officers whose performance did not warrant serving at sea as a Department Head. Starting w/Year Group 2012 officers, we will reach out to the bottom 10% of officers by communicating to them via their Commanding Officers. This communication will serve notice that substandard performance is not acceptable … that it’s time to step up your game… or step out of Surface Warfare. No apologies here. We need TALENT leading our Sailors at sea.
12) We are GOING GLOBAL! In the coming weeks, we will travel to every Fleet Concentration area, Newport and Washington, D.C to brief this plan. The plan will also be briefed at the U.S. Naval Academy and to every NROTC unit in America starting this Fall. We will also pursue opportunities to virtually connect with SWOs serving throughout the country in locations and assignments not listed above.
“What’s next?…” the time is right now! I am excited for our future and I know you are, as well!
#DoGreatThings! … #MakeUsProud!