Sailor 2025

Welcome to the New Year!  For those of you that have been paying attention, the CNO has released his strategic guidance, “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority”.  What is very evident in this document is the lack of rhetoric related to “winning the war of terrorism”, defeating Communism or any other such bellicose statements.  Rather, it is a document that appears to take one step back, review the global landscape and assess the Navy’s role in shaping it.  
In a Globalized world where individuals are connected via various elements of the Global Information system, news travels fast and an idea can catch fire in an instant.  In this document, Admiral Richardson, recognizes that his Sailors and Officers are part of this global network.  The “new” generation of Sailors and Officers has instant access to information and global social networks.  This is both a curse and a blessing.  Sailors and Officers can be more informed about issues, potentially.  On the negative side, these same individuals can transmit information or ideas that may be counter to wearing the Uniform.  Social media and the military is an interesting topic and it deserves its own discussion.

Back to the CNO’s guidance and one of the many important topics mentioned within this document.  Sailor 2025, or the Navy’s Talent Management initiatives covers a wide range of separate lines of effort that are all designed to improve the Navy’s ability to recruit, develop and retain the best talent for the future.  In particular, these Talent Management initiatives recognize that even with the best tools in the world, if we don’t have the “right” people working with them, it will make very little difference.  

To recruit, develop and retain the right people, the Navy has embarked on its most ambitious series of personnel changes in decades.  These efforts, for organizational purposes, are separated into the 3 broad headings, each of which is chaired by an Admiral.  The three pillars are Personnel Systems Modernization, Ready Relevant Learning and Enriched Culture.  

Of particular note is the Personnel Systems Modernization Pillar as it covers a number of related initiatives designed to broaden opportunity, update antiquated personnel systems and provide greater career flexibility.  Among the early roll-outs are the Secretary of the Navy’s Tours with Industry, Fleet Scholars Education Program and CIP (Career Intermission Program).  Tours with Industry places top performing Enlisted personnel and Officers with a sponsoring organization for 11 months, during which they will immerse themselves in the sponsoring corporations culture.  Currently, the Navy has 5 Officers with the program, 3 with Amazon and 2 with FedEx.  Next year, they program is expanding to 34 Officers and Enlisted.  Fleet Scholars will place up to 30 Officers with a top University of their choice to earn a graduate degree.  Currently, 3 are involved with the program.  The Career Intermission Program allows Sailors to take time away from their Navy career to pursue and individual goal or to facilitate family planning.  The Navy will be expanding this program with the hopes that more will be able to take advantage of this great opportunity.
For the first time in many decades, money, technology and leadership are aligning to make significant improvements to the Navy’s talent management efforts.  Understanding that people are the Navy’s greatest asset has facilitated a true effort at making wholesale changes in hopes of becoming an employer of choice for generations to come.  These are exciting times and the Navy that our children will enjoy will most likely be very different than our Navy.


A Fabian Career Strategy – The Long Way Around

During the Second Punic War, the Romans, under the leadership of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, were pitted against the great general, Hannibal, and his Carthaginian army.  Rather than risk his army in a direct frontal assault against the legendary skill of Hannibal, Fabius, decided to wage a war of attrition.  Fabius understood that as long as Hannibal’s army was in the field, he had the advantage of time and access to resources.  Hannibal was not so fortunate.  Fabius would go on to be victorious and the rest, they say, is history.  
As an O4, I could at least make 20.  In that sense, I had time, but not much.  Like all strategy, it’s a balance between risk and reward.  For myself, I did my best to balance work, family and the Reserves.  Not everyone is so fortunate.  Although I joke that I outlasted the promotion board, there was solid performance in good billets behind it. (Even Fabius made the calculated offensive strike).   I did take longer to promote because I was a SWO in many HR type billets.  My ride towards O5 was anything, but conventional.  So, for those who feel they are up against a glass ceiling, take heart as your time may well come.
SWOTIVATION 
  What have I learned?  Well, as a warfare qualified officer, warfare qualified billets are best to propel your career.  If they are non-warfare type billets, do your best to ensure they are either CO/XO or OIC type-billets.  Demonstrate leadership in challenging positions when possible and be sure to highlight your leadership experiences on a letter to the board.  Yes, write a letter to the board.    
For most of us, the board will be made up of a bunch of fellow officers that do not know us and we don’t know them.  One of them will be handed your electronic record and asked, in 30 seconds or less, to explain why you deserve the next highest rank.  Without a letter, they do not know you.  They do not have any reason to support your advancement other than what they see on paper.  For many of us, especially those outside of a fleet concentration area, there may not be a whole lot of sexy warfare qualified type jobs in which we can excel.  Consequently, you need to use your letter to highlight what you have done that can be considered valuable to the Navy, to the Reserves and your warfare community.  I did not write one for years and when I finally did, I had success.  
Finally, be involved in your local Reserve community.  Become valuable to your NOSC, to your unit and to your peers.  Understand that good work is hard to hide and that will certainly help your chances.  Additionally, as you become more involved, you will find that your time in the Reserves is more rewarding.  (I can always peruse the end of the internet on my own time!)  
SWOTIVATION 2
I cannot guarantee that any of these things will cause you to promote, but, you will have a more interesting time in the Reserves.  Who knows, the stories built upon being actively involved may make all the time and effort worth it.  Remember, there were many active elements of Fabian’s strategy.