The Navy's traditions live on in the hearts of those who serve

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who is listening?

It surprises me, aggravates me, and amazes me that I do not get more replies on some of the topics that I discuss in this forum. The present MCPON prides himself on being 21 st century in his use of the various electronic communications methods. He or his staff must be looking for topics that are out in the blogisphere. I post these to Facebook, I know I have a number of Navy friends there, yet I receive few, if any responses. I expect someone to agree, disagree, or call me a dirty name for some of the things I write. Yet, except for a very few responses, which include my son, nothing. I can only assume that what I am writing is not being read, or that the folks reading what I am saying think I am a nut that has gone over the edge, or that no one really cares anymore.

The first two, I guess I can accept. No one has to ready what I write, and someone could surely think I was a fossil, who was out of touch and a touch crazy. But if the reason I don't receive replies is because no one cares, well that concerns me. I am addressing some real issues. Yes, I write much about my past and the hero's of my past, but they are the one who shaped my beliefs in the Navy. The truth is, I love the United States Navy, I have since 1969! If we have arrived at the point that no one really cares where our Navy is going, we have a problem. Again, I can accept being told that I don't know what I am talking about. I cannot accept the fact that we just don't care about our short comings anymore.

So, which is it? You tell me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The technical gap!

I have written before about the lack of personnel on Navy ships and the lack of creditable training that they receive. The fact is that the talent to do the job, without any help just does not exist anymore! I recently received an email from an independent duty corpsman who was bemoaning the fact that Marines were dieing in the combat zones because the corpsmen in the field just did not have the training and experience to save lives. This is a real tragedy since the independent duty corpsman has been the life saver of Marines and Sailors alike since the Second World War! But, this is only symptomatic of the big problem that exists throughout the Navy. I recently read an article that 's premise was that the Navy was contemplating putting merchant sailors on the ship's of the amphibious Navy. Not all of the billets, but the non-combat jobs. Personnelmen, engineering rates, other non-trigger puller jobs. My first reaction was a long vulgar, diatribe on the lack of intelligence of the Navy's senior management. Then, after cooling down for a couple of days, I thought, this is one way to get qualified professionals back to sea. For a long time, the Navy has used the "Up or Out" idea. If you don't make Senior Chief and have 24 years service, you HAVE to retire, regardless of how good you are at your job! That's just plain stupid! Not everyone can or even wants to be the president of the firm. If a sailor is good at his or her job, is not a disciplinary problem, rotates to sea on time, constantly passes the PRT, WHY would we tell that sailor to go home, when we obliviously need their talent, experience, and skills. So, merchant sailors on Navy ships makes sense. Hell, maybe I will go back to sea, if the Corpsman can stock all my drugs!

But there is another issue to address also. The technical ratings, have a severe deficit in training, experience, and ability. Much of the talent that was in the fleet is now retired. Some of these super techs are now civilians working for the shore establishment of the Navy, doing world wide tech assist, at an alarming rate. Quite a while ago, I was involved in a revolutionary project to establish a remote monitoring program for most of the Navy's high cost systems. The concept was to use existing systems monitoring programs, bounce the change data off the satellite and back to the shore maintenance establishment for monitoring. When a system was near failure, the super techs could tell the ship to replace the components, do the adjustment, or buy a plane ticket to meet the ship if the repair was more than the ship's tech was capable of. Please don't tell me it can't be done, the Marines adopted it, the oil and gas drilling industry has been doing it for 20+ years, and the airlines are doing it. There is a company, headquartered in Denver, named M2M that specializes in this. Ratheon Corporation jumped on the band wagon and now ALL CIWS and RAM systems are remote monitor ready. There is one particular use of this for the U.S. Army that has brought some wonderful data and set up some impressive maintenance successes, not to mention system up time that far exceeds the Navy's for the same system. But the Navy's Engineering Duty Officer program, who are in charge of what goes on Navy ships, is stuck in the "Not invented here" thought process. We can reduce manning on Navy ships, use less experienced, less trained sailors, and still complete our mission while reducing the cost of system's maintenance, if we introduce remote monitoring for most systems and develop replacement data based on usage, equipment performance parameters, and permit the gray beards in the shore establishment to manage this process. If we continue to follow "Not invented here" we will end up with dead sailors and ships on the bottom of the ocean. You figure out the cost! I say my idea is cheaper.

One other point, if they can use robots to do surgery, if the news media can send video reports back to FOX and CNN from anywhere in the world with little more than a cell phone, why can't every corpsman in the field have a satellite phone in his backpack that connects to a doctor? That might save a life or two also.