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More on deployability, employability

Last week, FLTCM (SS/SW) R. D. West addressed the recently announced changes to the Navy’s focus on the deployability and employability of our units.  I would like to echo his comments and further explain how these changes will affect you and your families.

First, it’s important to understand the history that led to these changes and why these decisions were made.  The original PERSTEMPO instruction was written in 1985 within the context of the Cold War requirements.  Prior to the instruction, nine month at sea and multiple deployments during an at-sea tours were common. 

The 1985 PERSTEMPO instruction set the framework for more than a decade of steady six-month deployments and a predictable rotation policy.

During the 1990s, the increased demand by Combatant Commanders for Navy capabilities made it more difficult to maintain predictable deployment cycles.  After September 11, 2001, those demands increased even more and sticking with a static six-month deployment model from 20 years ago no longer made sense. 

As an example, in 2005 the Navy held to past policy and ended up executing a 26 percent increase in presence to meet the needs of the Combatant Commanders.  These changes were short notice and created instability in Sailors lives.

Now, more than ever, the Nation needs the capabilities that you have been trained to carry out and each day we spend training at sea is important.  The training conducted during each of the phases of the Employment Cycle allow us to advance into the next phase and ultimately provide a combat capable unit ready for future missions. 

There may be times when we are called on to deploy on short notice during that window of availability.  But that will only be when Combatant Commanders require the unique capabilities that we bring to a mission, which could include missions in support of our own citizens, at home

You may have heard that the Navy will do more seven month deployments.  This is true, but only when it is necessary for commands with a single deployment within an Employment cycle. 

If multiple deployments are required within an Employment cycle, the maximum planned length limit will be six months.  In either case, deployments will not be routinely scheduled for longer than six months.  I would ask you to remember that there are other services, as well as our Sailors serving IA missions, who deploy for a year at a time.

The potential for increased time at sea is to be balanced with more time at home. In a recent message (NAVADM 051/07), the CNO, Adm. Mike Mullen, wrote that “While we increased the time available fro employment in support of the nation’s Combatant Commanders, I want our Sailors to understand that we have carefully considered the potential for personnel impacts.  The new plan will better account for deployed time and preserves the traditional 50 percent time-in-homeport.

We are a nation at war and this more flexible schedule and responsive surge capability is vital to the Nation and our Navy. 

Shipmates, we live in an unpredictable world and your service is valued, as are the sacrifices of your families while you are away.  Our nation depends upon young men and women who are willing to volunteer to serve their country.

If you have any questions on the Navy’s new operational focus, don’t hesitate to talk to your Chiefs, your Command Master Chief or others in your command’ leadership. 

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