BAHRAIN (NNS) — Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP), Vice Adm. Bill Moran, and Fleet Master Chief April Beldo, held two all-hands calls with Sailors aboard Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain, Aug. 10-11.
Topics covered during the calls included issues such as pay and benefits, advancement, manning and force shaping.
One major question Sailors had was about the cancellation of hazardous duty pay in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility. Moran said he saw no change in the near future.
“I know it means something to everybody, certainly out here,” said Moran. “But it’s something none of us control, and if it comes back we’ll start paying right away. But I have no indication right now.”
In addition to pay and benefits, Moran also addressed concerns about the new Final Multiple Score formula for E6 and below advancement exams. He spoke of changes Sailors can expect to see after the next five advancement cycles.
“We’re going to get rid of PNA points so that young Sailors are on the same footing as the Sailors who’ve been in longer,” said Moran. “Performance matters. We’re going to level the playing field.”
Moran said that changing the test after five cycles would give Sailors time to adjust to the changes. He also said that test weight for E4 and E5 advancement exams would stay roughly the same as the new final multiple discussed in NAVADMIN 114/14.
Along with advancement, Moran also addressed rumors about retirement and Tricare benefits and spoke of possible changes for future service members.
“We’re not touching your retirement,” said Moran. “What might change is a new retirement program that’s offered to future generations of Sailors. We’re not going to take your retirement program and change it without your knowledge. It’s not going to happen.”
Moran also said that if Congress approved a new retirement plan in the next few years, current service members would have the opportunity to switch to the new program or keep their current retirement program. Service members would also keep the same Tricare benefits, but retirees would be expected to pay slightly more.
Beldo spoke about changes to the Tuition Assistance program for first term Sailors.
“Commanding officers’ discretion can waive that one year onboard for first termers,” said Beldo. “So if they’ve done everything they’re supposed to do and they go up and say, ‘I’ve done everything, can I now start college at the nine month mark?’ the CO can waive those last three months and allow those first term Sailors to start college.”
Beldo also said that students will now be required to earn at least a grade of C in undergraduate classes and at least a grade of B in graduate courses to avoid having to reimburse tuition fees. Tuition fees will still be funded at 100% this year but DOD is looking at reducing lab fees and textbook fees.
Beldo also touched on the introduction of enlisted females into subsurface platforms.
“Our request is that by 2016 we start this journey of embarking enlisted females on submarines, and one of the things we know we have to do too is to make sure we’re brutally honest with our Sailors and tell them exactly what they’re going to be experiencing if they volunteer, ” said Beldo.
She also said the plan was to embark chiefs first, get them familiarized with submarine life, and then embark petty officers. There would have to be rate conversions for female petty officers because there needs to be growth of female numbers in submarine rates.
During his visit, Moran spoke on how important Bahrain is in the overall success of the Navy and that the presence of Sailors and their work in the 5th Fleet AOR is especially important.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what this team does out here,” said Moran. “Good luck to you the rest of the way, keep your heads down, and keep watching what’s going on up North. It’s going to have a big impact on this region for a long time.”
CNP is responsible for the Navy’s manpower readiness. CNP also serves as deputy chief of naval operations (manpower, personnel, training education/N1) and oversees the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Personnel Command, and the Navy Manpower Analysis Center.
NAVCENT is responsible for approximately 2.5 million square miles of area including the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea. NAVCENT’s mission is to conduct maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities in order to promote security and stability in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danielle Brandt, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet Public Affairs