I read an OPNAV today, stating a new policy that takes sailors from shore duty, early, before their rotation date, to man ships that are deploying. This is not a new concept. We have done this before with mixed success. This time, the Navy will provide monetary remuneration based on the number of months the shore tour is cut short. So at least the sailor is compensated in some manner. But cutting shore duty short is not the answer.
First, ships need to be fully manned not only for deployments but also through the training work ups before the deployment. Since the administration has decided to cut military manning and since the same suits, in uniform and in $5000 Brooks Brother's suits, have decided to reduce the fleet to the smallest size since after World War One, our ships are being deployed more often, for longer, and with less turn around since World War Two. We need to rethink the utilization of the most precious and expensive capitol investment in our Navy, the American Blue Jacket.
I propose we return to the Seava/Shorva process of detailing. Under this process, ships were always manned first. Sailors were only assigned to shore duty after all ships were fully manned. Second, I recommend we do away with all shore duty assignments with the exception of in rate instructors, recruiters, and Recruit Company Commanders. All other shore duty assignments can be handled by Civil Service personnel or completely doe away with. Third, I believe Sea Pay must reflect extended sea tour assignments and not just total sea time. It is a fact that the longer you stay at sea consecutively, the harder it gets. Fourth, I truly believe Sea Pay should be a component of the retirement annuity!! That's right, include Sea Pay with Base Pay to compute your retirement pay!! That alone would keep sailors at sea. No bonuses for going to sea early, just the promise of an increased retirement check!!
The SPECWAR community has lobbied effectively, for their Speciality Pay to be included in their retirement computation and I agree with that also. It is a slap in the face to sea going sailors for someone who found a way to stay ashore or in neutral duty non-deploying jobs drawing the same percentage of retirement pay, year for year, as the guy or gal who deploys time and time again. Sailors belong on ships and ships belong at sea!
So, that's my proposal. I challenge someone else to come up with a better one. If we are going to continue to have a small Navy, we have to find ways to accomplish our missions effectively, efficiently, and with little or no disruption to our shipboard continuity. Bringing someone aboard the day before a ship deploys is not the answer.