Op Tempo Pushing Limits

(NAVY TIMES 14 APR 14) … Editorial

In a startling new paper, a career Navy officer argues that the officer corps may be headed toward a “tipping point” where talented but unhappy officers leave in droves. The foremost factor in their thinking: long deployments.

These concerns will equally apply to the sailors and chiefs who keep the fleet steaming.

Any sense of normalcy in deployments is gone after the past few years, when ships have routinely sailed on long cruises. The Shoup, for example, returned late last year on a 10-month cruise – among the longest destroyer cruises since World War II. Six-month deployments, one sailor told Navy Times, now seem to be the exception.

The brass are upping sailors’ well-deserved sea pay. And fleet bosses are implementing a plan to lock in deployments at eight months.

Those are good first steps. But as the Navy’s top officer points out, changing plans will not in itself change deployments. It is the crises around the world that are driving these up and making them unpredictable, and with tensions high from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea, this shows no sign of letting up.

Navy leaders need to push back on demands for ships, subs and squadrons outside of crises. And they need to quickly adopt new deployment pay that will kick in once a deployment is longer than the standard.

Whether such incentives are enough under the current op tempo remains to be seen, but if not, the Navy should prepared to quickly sweeten the deal, ease the pace or risk losing top-performing sailors.’”

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