About Trevor Knight

Memphis Native. Navy Reservist. Architectural Millwork.

War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges

War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges: This fantastic and timely book investigates our love/hate relationship with War.  Written by a long time war correspondent with a background in theology, Chris Hedges, has put together a book that will challenge any Citizen Sailor to investigate his or her own feelings regarding War in it’s many forms.

Book Review: Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors

Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour by James D. Hornfischer is a must-read for every SWO.

  As the Pacific is beginning to stir with saber rattling from China, Japan, Russia, Iran and India, the pertinence of state on state Naval Warfare takes on new meaning as the cycle of history begins to repeat. Reading this account of events in the Battle Off Samar when an overmatched American light carrier group and its destroyer escorts met a fully formed Japanese Battle Group is enlightening and instructive to those of us who call sea power our profession.

  In one of the last major sea battles in history, Last Stand puts you squarely in the shoes of the decision makers where you can see the real consequences of the hesitation in battle as well as the price of duty.  This is a great opportunity to learn from Japanese and American triumphs and failures.  Hornfischer writes the events so that they read like a novel going to the farthest degree to make all the characters human and personable.  Find it Here on Amazon 

Quick and Dirty: Senior Officer Reserve URL Board Debrief

The information below is from a debrief after a selection board for senior URL reserve officers.  Some helpful takeaways for all of us to remember.  Remember, your record is YOUR responsibility, and if YOU don’t take care of it and make sure its squared away, no one will.  Take time out two or three times a year to audit your record and make sure you’re not missing anything.  It can pay dividends during the board. 
“The Tank” has 6 large screens.  They are arranged as follows:
1st screen: Full length photo. Get it updated.  Be in the proper uniform.  It is amazing how many people get it wrong. Its speaks volumes.
2nd screen is your Officer Summary Record
3rd screen is your history file
Good wickets to have in your history:
  •   DH Billet
  •   O-4 XO Billet
  •   Hardware Billet – having Navy hardware (ie. Riverine boats, testing facilities, etc.) under your care.
  •   OIC Billet as an O-4
  •   O-4 CO Billet
  •   O-5 Major Command Billet
  •   Hard tours are better than Soft Tours – boots on the ground in Afghanistan vs feet wet in Tampa-stan
Screens 4-6 have other relevant material such as:
1) Leadereship Billets
2) Record EP’s Rule – MP’s OK as long as followed by EP’s/Soft breakouts (new guys will get MPs with senior guys ahead retaining EP’s)
3) JPME – this is huge and it makes a big mark in your favor if you have it
4) Masters Degree – even if its not an NPS or War College make sure you enter that info into your record
5) Soft Breakouts – maybe you didnt get the EP because of sheer numbers, but your fitrep can explain that they just ran out of space for you.  
Homesteading – staying in the same unit as an O-5 bouncing from DH to DH roles.  Never progressing upward to XO/CO roles.
Your briefers are your advocate and they make you or break you.  It’s up to you to provide them with the ammo to have enough positive to talk about.  If they don’t have anything to say, then the silence speaks for itself.  
You may be stuck in an admin unit or something totally unrelated from “the pointy end of the spear.” Don’t get frustrated. Take charge of your AOR and make it run the best it can.  Take hard jobs wherever you are to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. Make your above and beyond effort impossible to ignore for the board members.

As always, you have to balance these things with your civilian job and your family.  Remember you get to decide what kind of SWO your going to be, so find the stuff that you can do, and do it well.  If you can’t mobilize and deploy, then work at your home unit and get the academic stuff done.  Support however you can to give yourself the best chances, just realize what the impact is of the choices you’re making.

Personal Fitness Assesment

There are some topics that you’ve just gotta start off with a Skydiving Ninja Kick. Its not really PFA related, but it got your attention didn’t it? Now, on to the topic at hand…

That time is upon us – the PFA (Physical Fitness Assessment) is coming and it’s important for all of us as members of the US Navy to understand this program fully as it directly impacts all of our careers.   


First point of business, the Physical Readiness Program is explained in its entirety in OPNAV INSTRUCTION 6110.1J.  1J is the most recent version, but, it is important to note that major revisions do happen and there is some discussion about changing elements of the program as we write this article.  So, a new instruction may be coming.
All elements of the instruction are captured and available for download on the Physical Readiness Program Web Site. The operating guide that you will find there is split into three sections. The first is the Physical Readiness “How to” guide; the Command Fitness and Fitness Enhancement Program guide; and finally, the Physical Readiness Program Nutrition Resource guide.

“All Commanding Officers are responsible and accountable for the physical fitness of their personnel and they shall establish and maintain an effective year round physical readiness program.”  That is right out of the OPNAV instruction and it highlights the importance of physical fitness as it is a requirement for continued naval service.

Here are some technical things to consider – the PFA (Physical Fitness Assessment) is conducted twice a year and it includes a medical screen, a body composition assessment (BCA) and the physical readiness test (PRT).  

Failure to meet the minimum standards of the BCA or the PRT constitute a PFA failure.  PFA failures will impact your Navy career. Sailors who fail to meet PFA standards three times in the most recent 4 year period will be processed for administrative separation.  Think about that, 4 years is 8 PFA’s.  If you fail any three, you run the risk of being separated.

Medical waivers:  Sailors with two consecutive medical waivers or 3 within a 4 year period shall be referred to a military treatment facility for a medical evaluation board.  Results of this medical board will be forwarded to PERS-8 for disposition.  

Prior to taking the PFA, all Sailors shall have a current PHA (Physical Health Assessment) or DHA (Deployment Health Assessment) on file with a completed and valid PARFQ (Physical Activity Risk Factor Questionnaire). 

Late breaking news….NAVADMIN 231/13 released this week states that Sailors now have 45 vice 10 days to complete their PRT after the official BCA.
The PFA is one of those areas that is very easy to overlook, but can have catastrophic consequences on your career. Take it seriously and PT. Join a gym, running club, do CrossFit, beach body workouts, run, swim, bike, skydiving ninja kicks, whatever, but take care of the little stuff and stay in shape. 
You’ll end up living longer and taking more of the Navy’s money in the long run both from promotion and life expectancy. So, if it helps, think of PT as your own little private rebellion to stick it to the Man…after all, turnabout is fair play.

There are more elements to the PFA which we will discuss in the future. As always, please add any questions or comments below.

Joint Professional Military Education Phase I

We all know the career milestone buzzword, JPME-I, but what, actually, does it require?  JPME-I is the completion of three master’s level courses in Joint Maritime Operations, Strategy and War and National Security and Decision Making.  Generally you have to be an O-3 or senior to apply.  We’ll discuss JPME-II and Joint Qualified Officers in other segments.   

A few of my compadres at the NOSC have wondered aloud about JPME I programs and if they are really worthwhile or a giant paperwork drill.  Most of us are caught between RADM Wray’s inputs about what’s important for promotion and You “being your own kind of SWO.”  Clearly, its up to you and how much time you are willing to invest in your reserve career.  However, the AC detailer page lists JPME I as a requirement for O-5’s to complete prior to assuming URL CDR command.  Thus, it isn’t hard to see the SRC leadership follow suit attributing importance to JPME-I completion as a gatekeeper for ascending the ranks.

What has changed are the delivery methods.  No longer do you have to devote a solid eighteen months of time to take orders and go to the Naval War College or any other National Defense University program that requires you to totally interrupt your life.  The residence method is the old-school method, but if you’re interested, it is still available.  There are also four other non-traditional resident opportunities: Fleet Seminar programs, the Web-Enabled Program, the CD-ROM Program and the Operational Support/Reserve Course accelerator option

In-Residence Program:
Time – 18 months
Masters Degree Eligible
If you need to take an extended period, hit the beach at Monterey or hone your sailing skills in Newport then pack your deck shoes and sunscreen (remember your uniform, too).  There are billets available for in-residence programs and RUMINT has it that many billets have gone unfilled over the years. Work with your detailer and see what’s available.

*Disclaimer: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You’re a SWO. You know this.  The Navy will take back its pound of flesh as it sees fit, when it sees fit.  Be advised that the AC detailers clearly state that per Title 10, the National Defense Universities may require a follow-on Joint Tour upon graduation.  I’m just making sure your eyes are wide open before you pull the trigger.

Time – 2-3 years
Masters Degree Eligible if accepted to Graduate Program with additional requirements

Fleet Seminar programs are essentially the JPME curriculum delivered at a fleet concentration area.  As an example, NSA Midsouth (Millington) has one for the all the folks at PERS and CNRC to complete their milestone check-in-the-box and other places are listed here.  As a quick rule of thumb, if its got a full sized NEX, Commissary and Navy College Office, you can probably get your JPME I done there, just inquire at the local Navy College office.  To complete the program, you have to complete 102 weekly 3-hour sessions in each of the three areas listed in the introduction.  

This is best suited for those who work near a base and want to complete in a classroom environment with a live instructor.  It will take longer than the other options, but can also land you a master’s degree from the Naval War College if you work it right and take additional courses.  If you don’t already have an advanced degree, this is also a nice to have for promotion.   

Time 15-18 months
No Available Masters Eligibility
Web Enabled Programs are a great resource and limit the amount of unnecessary Navy nonsense that you have to endure to complete your JPME-I.  If you’ve taken a distance learning course for a graduate or undergraduate degree in the last few years, this will have a familiar feel.  There are readings which you are required to post on and then group sessions that require you to participate on “the online.”  As the term “Web Enabled” would imply, you have to have access to a reliable high speed internet connection to interface with your professor and cohort.  
The professors are generally flexible if you have an unpredictable work life, and they will work with you around your schedule.  Be proactive, communicate often and demonstrate to them that you are serious about getting this done.  Remember, many of the Naval War College professors are retired or former military personnel who wanted to continue to serve their country as civilians training the next generations of military leadership.  They’ve been there and they know what life is like juggling a profession, family etc. and they want you to succeed.
Time 12 months
No Available Masters
*Must not have reliable internet for the Web Enable Program:
The CD-ROM program is the oldest version of correspondence learning.  They send you the textbooks.  You teach yourself the material. Write the papers.  Send it back with three cereal box tops and in 3-6 weeks they’ll mail you a JPME-I Certificate and a magic decoder ring.  Way over simplified and dated? Yes (people born after 1985 totally missed the “box tops” comment).  But you understand the basic concept.  
NWC would prefer that you participate and interact with professors and other students.  You’ll probably learn more that way, BUT if your civilian job finds you afloat on a barge in the middle of a large inland waterway (north of the Huey P. Long Bridge) without even a cellphone signa,l then this could work for you.  Again, communication is key.  You’re not all alone, Advisors are happy to help straighten out rough spots so that you can move on to completion.  The time requirement is estimated at 4-6 hours per week.  Courses are accredited up to four graduate credits which can be accepted by many civilian universities.  

Operational Support/Reserve Course.  I’ll be honest, it took me a little while to figure out whhat we were advertising here. This option allows you to complete portions of the  JPME phases while in Newport for 12 days.  You can complete all of the  Strategy and War requirement,  50% of the Theater Decision Making and only 30% of the Joint Military Operations portion.  Each course is offered once per year and  requires board selection.  Lets do more paperwork to do less paperwork…Yippee! But, it could be a good way to knock out big chunks of JPME-I if you’ve got the flexibility I’m your civilian life.

Apparently, not all National Defense Universities were created equal. “Distance Learning through the Air University Air Command And Staff College (AU ACSC) is accredited for JPME I, however DISTANCE LEARNING THROUGH THE AIR WAR COLLEGE (the Air Force Senior College) IS NOT ACCREDITED FOR JPME I!!!” (Direct quote from the NPC public page on education)

Bottom Line: You can complete JPME-I via distance through the USAF, but choose wisely.   Leave it to the Army Air Corps to have a JPME-I look alike program from the local greenskeeper’s career college.  I’m sorry, but an airbus driver who hits a sand wedge out of a bunker into the air, rolls it across a green and into a water hazard does not qualify for completion of JPME-I. Is the Air Force even Constitutional?

I digress.  

In Conclusion

Congratulations you made it to the end! the gist of this article is that JPME-I is going to become an evermore important element of your promotion package, so you should look into each of these options and decide which is the best for you, your family and civilian career.  Remember that it is your career and that no one will manage it but you.  If you have any amplifying information, or have a personal experience about completing JPME-I that you feel is worth hearing about. Please leave a comment.


RADM Wray’s Pointers on Career Management

RADM Wray, the senior RC SWO also provided his input to “Be Your Own Kind of SWO”
  • Seek hard jobs and do well
  • Get a mentor or two. Be a mentor
  • Key in on 1 or 2 of the 4 primary career paths.  Include OLW if possible (he’s kicking the podium, here…pay attention)
  • Get your JPME done early
  • Whenever possible get NOBC’s and AQD’s
  • Command as early and as often as possible
  • Serve on Boards.  First as a staffer then as a member
  • Do worthwhile MOB’s if possible. But perform and standout
  • Break out in a pack. Soft Breakouts work too
  • Serve on a policy board.
  • Master the art and science of FITREPs
  • Add value all the time. Ask your boss: how can I add more?
  • Study your craft. Read books, Proceedings, Navy Times. Be Fluent
  • Pace yourself.  Maintain balance between Navy, work and family.
The comment that we should “be our own kind of SWO” speaks to the flexible nature and needs of the individuals that make up the SRC.  Not everyone will want to do everything that’s required to make O-6, and that’s ok. Individuals need to factor in their families, civilian employees, etc.  Life balance remains the cornerstone required to have a successful career. At whatever level you decide to participate, you can still contribute value to the Navy and receive a fulfilling experience while serving.

SWO Reserve Component Issues: Career Path

While the Surface Reserve Component (SRC) Career Path is not nearly as entrenched as our AC counterparts, the senior SRC leadership has constructed a generic model of things that correlate to successful SRC career management.  We all arrive at 1115 as an O-3 with DIVO experience under our belts. As it happens, O-3 is the first pay grade where we get a shot at command.  As with the AC, apply for command early and often, this is the best way to move up in the SRC ranks.  As you continue on, apply for Navy Officer Billet Codes (NOBC’s – ie. OPS, Traino, XO, etc.)  and Additional Qualification Designator’s (AQD’s) to demonstrate proficiency and skill in the broad reaches of the SRC.

One of the most important things that you can do as a SRC JO is to find a good mentor.  Someone who can help you navigate your transition from AC to RC.  We cannot overstress the importance of linking up with someone who has been down the road before you, who can tell you where the hazards are and how to avoid them.  There is a developing mentor network through the reserve component with over 100 Captains as well as regional lead mentors and deputies.  Each NOSC should have a senior SWO that is reaching out to all the JO’s.  On the Navy Reserve Homeport private side there is a community dedicated to the SRC.  Remember, this is your career and no one will manage it for you.  If you’re not getting the help you need then you’ll have to go get it from somewhere else.   

While these are good general tips, there are some specifics that you can hone in on to achieve that will increase your chances of moving on up in the SRC community.

  • Within 5 years of Affiliating:
    • Complete Appropriate Specialty Qualifications / Apply for NOBC/AQD’s
    • Take hard jobs, break out in traffic
    • Complete Advanced Officer Leadership Course (AOLC)
    • Complete Navy Reserve Unit Management Seminar (NRUMS)
    • Complete JPME I
    • Complete Advanced Degree
    • Serve as Assistant Recorder on a Promotion or Apply Board
    • Compete for Command at EVERY opportunity

  • First 3 Years as an O-5
    • Complete appropriate specialty qualifications
    • Take hard jobs and break out in traffic
    • Complete Senior Officer Leadership Course (SOLC)
    • Complete AJPME/JPME II
    • Serve as a recorder or Member of a Promotion or Apply Board
    • Apply for Navy Reserve Advanced Management Seminar (NRAMS)
    • Compete for Command at EVERY opportunity

  • Nice to Have’s
    • Gain hardware unit experience
    • Complete Martime Staff Operators Course
    • Complete Advanced Specialty Courses
    • Obtain your Joint Qualification
    • Realize that cross-specialty opportunities exist at both the O-4 and O-5 levels

As always, if you’ve got gouge or have learned from experience how to accomplish these things efficiently please feel free to share with the group.  

The Quick and Dirty on the Four Paths to Success in the SWO ReserveComponent

The Quick and Dirty on the Four Paths to Success in the SWO Reserve Component:
Why you care: 

The AC SWO career path is clear.  We can all quote it from memory.  DIVO Tours, Shore Tour, DH, O-4 Command, Joint Tour, O-5 XO-CO Fleet Up, Major Staff Tour, Major Command, etc.   Now you’re an RC SWO.  Unless you live near a Fleet Concentration, you’re alone  and unafraid.  Unless you’re activated, you haven’t been near anything haze gray in years.  There aren’t reserve ships anymore and unless you’re going to forego a civilian career and be a professional reservist, the career path is clear as mud.  
Fortunately, the Senior RC SWO’s recognized that and have spent three years hammering it out so that you can have a framework of milestones while you manage both your reserve and civilian career paths.  The items listed below are career tracks or specialty career paths.  There are four of them and in this post, we’ll touch on who they are and what they do.  Follow on posts will go further in depth on their details.  Since you now have a clearer idea of the RC SWO force structure, you can set about figuring out where you want to fit in and how to get there from here.
What they are:
  1. Naval Expeditionary Combatant Command:  provides rapid deployable and agile expeditionary forces, made up of active duty and reserve mission specialists, to warfare commanders in support of maritime security operations around the globe.  This is for all you SWO’s that initially thought about being Marines, but hated yelling Oorah all the time and wearing the high and tight.  Commands include:
    1. Coastal Riverine Force
    2. Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command
    3. Navy Construction Force (Seabees)
    4. EOD Groups 1 and 2
    5. Navy Expeditionary Intelligence Command
    6. Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group
    7. Expeditionary Combat Readiness Command  

  • Military Sealift Command: Support our nation by delivering supplies and conducting specialized missions across the world’s oceans.  This is for all you SWO’s who thought that the active Navy didn’t provide you with enough opportunities to be at sea and wanted to prove to SUPPO that you can do his job better than he ever could.  Commands include:
  1. Cargo Afloat Rig Teams
  2. Expeditionary Port Units  
  3. TRANSCOM Detachment
  4. MSC Training Group
  5. MSC HQ

  • Operational Level of War: focused on delivering Surface Warfare Officers to the fleet and Combatant Commands who are skilled in operations and operational planning and able to apply maritime power effectively throughout the full spectrum of military operations.  For all you Alfred Thayer Mahan wannabe’s.  Commands include:  
  1. Numbered Fleets
  2. Navy Information Operations Command
  3. Combined Task Forces/Carrier Strike Groups/Expeditionary Strike Groups
  4. Commander Naval Forces Korea/Commander Naval Forces Japan

  • Surface Specialty: provides strategic reserve surface warriors for fleet and waterfront support missions. For all you SWO’s who are in withdrawal for a good old Surface Navy fix. We have three flavors: small boy, amphibious, and bird farm.  Commands include:
  1. Littoral Combat Ship
  2. Beach Group
  3. Surface Readiness
If you’ve got great gouge or experience please share at http://www.swotivater.blogspot.com  Any comments and criticism of the information are greatly appreciated so that we can build a better resource for everyone to benefit from.