US Navy’s leadership admits underestimating backlash to rating elimination

NORFOLK, Va. (July 4, 2016) -- Admiral John Richardson delivers the keynote address at a memorial service in honor of the 25th anniversary of the commissioning of USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51). The patriotic ceremony highlighted the three-day event held in downtown Norfolk, Va. where the ship was commissioned. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sean Hurt/released)

The US Navy’s leadership has admitted that they underestimated just how much backlash they would receive after eliminating job rating titles- and are vowing to learn from their mistakes.

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson took responsibility for the outrage following the changing of ratings, which kicked off in September.

“I underestimated how fiercely loyal people were to their rating, I’ve gotten a fair amount of feedback on that,” Richardson said during an all-hands meeting in Nevada last week.

That said, Richardson made no mention of changing course.

“I tell you, in the Navy we are members of many tribes,” he said. “So first and foremost, we are members of the Navy tribe. that’s our principal tribe. But what other tribes are we part of? Rates; warfare specialty; Command. So we kind of [underestimated] the loyalty with which people affiliated themselves with that rating tribe. So as we go forward, we’ll learn.”

After seeing the outrage surrounding the cancellation of a system that is centuries old, Richardson decided it would be better to make adjustments quickly rather than continue to stir the pot and make matters worse for all parties involved.

“I wanted to do just enough study to make sure we weren’t going to run into any brick walls and then we’ll go through this together, we’ll learn together and we’ll adjust,” he said. “We’ll do this in measured ways, we’ll have your feedback and input the whole way, and I think we’ll get it right that way.”

While the entire premise of the ratings change was to align with Naval Secretary Ray Mabus’ vision of a “gender neutral” system, the move was backed with the idea of a way to change the ratings that would favor broader career opportunities for sailors.

“Take for example a Seabee construction mechanic: 65 percent of what you learned to be construction mechanic is what you need to be a construction electrician,” Richardson said. “So we’ll take advantage of all that overlap. We’ll identify what you need to learn to be an electrician and qualify you, then you’ll qualify for the construction mechanic job or the construction electrician job.”

Richardson pointed out that this would open up new duty station choices and opportunities because the sailor would have more career paths to take, thus allowing for the potential of a more rewarding career.

According to ABC13, the Admiral also noted that tuition assistance for college (which covers roughly one semester of college) would likely be spared any funding cuts, though it may not see any increases.

“As a service we are completely committed to tuition assistance,” he said.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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