Sunday, February 5, 2012

CNO course ahead...and my predictions

The CNO posted an article titled "Sailing the course we're on" here:

http://cno.navylive.dodlive.mil/2012/02/03/sailing-the-course-we%E2%80%99re-on/

A couple of thoughts:

- Ship numbers will stay the same or go down, while deployment lengths will go up. I argue that deployment lengths have been up for some time now, we've just lied about the numbers. Every person I've talked to (which is a lot, both ships and submarines) has had their 6 month deployment extended. So I'm not sure that this is a huge change, but rather that we're now writing it down on paper.

- We're getting a pay raise, yet we have jobs and are better paid than most Americans. For now, the American people haven't seemed to put two and two together to realize that many folks in the Armed Services are probably overpaid for their output of work, likely because of the wars. This may change if we don't have severe conflict over the next few years.

- Retirement. The old plan is going away. That's been out for a while. The reason is that it is too expensive. The new plan will be spun as being "more fair" to younger enlisted and officers that get out early. Actually, I think this is a complete fallacy. In the first 4-5 years of a sailor's life, they will spend 2-3 years of that in training. The Navy dumps a LOT of money into them to get them spun up on a job. At the end of their first enlistment (or EAOS for officers) a sailor is at his or her maximum civilian recruiting potential. That person is young, smart, has most of their life sorted out, and if done right, has little to no debt. Civilian head hunters love these folks, and if they leave, I don't think the Navy really gets it's full investment back in return.
 Contrast this with a 20 year retiree. He or she has been deployed on numerous "6 month" deployments, qualified multiple stations, stayed up late or done work on multiple weekends and holidays, all for set pay. The Navy has gotten a lot out of that person in terms of time and talent. I fail to see how it's fair to cut a benefit for this person and give it to someone who has milked the Navy for free training money and then leaves.

- Early retirement. I see a note about future cuts. The Navy is going to continue to get slimmer, and will cut it's officer and enlisted manning as needed. Unless you wear stars on your shoulders, you stand the chance of going home. To me, this means two things:

1. No matter what rate or specialty, you need to stay competitive. This is going to hit communities like nuclear and cryptologic operators the hardest, because they are used to being able to hang around and promoted fairly push-button. I see this being slowly eroded in the future. Degrees, schools, training, sea time...it's all going to matter. Luckily, if you read this blog, you'll find those hidden opportunities and make the most of your time, keeping you competitive.

2. Going home is going to be a quicker process. Already, officers that put in for retirement will almost always get it. Sadly, I think the future will hold closer to the zero-defect mentality as it becomes harder and harder to rise above your peers. For leadership, the good news is that you'll be able to get rid of your bad people quickly (and you should!). It also means, sadly, that unless it's really early in their career, messing up will seriously impact your ability to promote.

The Navy's future is bright. There will always be a need for the Navy, and for the talented sailors that work in it. We're going to do better than the Army, who is set to shed a LOT of people in the near future. However, the times ahead will be rough. People are going to have to pay attention to maximizing their time while in the service, or else they risk being sent home early. The days of push button promotions and massive bonuses are going to wind down pretty quickly. Get prepared now!

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