Rating Modernization: Advancement Process

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By Rear Adm. John Nowell

Rating Modernization is the future of the growing workforce in the Navy. In August we released NAVADMIN 196/18 which provided an update on those four lines of effort and this is the fourth of a total of five blog posts that will talk about the updates to Rating Modernization. We also have a series of six Rating Modernization podcasts that mirror the blogs we will be sharing with you.

In 2017 we gave commands the ability to reinstate an E3 Sailor to E4 who had been awarded NJP, after a six month waiting period. We also eliminated E4 advancement exams for 20 ratings where Sailors auto-advance, which helps to reduce administrative burden.


BELL GARDENS, Calif. (Feb. 10, 2019) Reserve component Sailors assigned to Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Los Angeles take advancement exams in the drill hall at NOSC Los Angeles.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi/Released)

Then, late in 2017, Navy senior enlisted leaders completed the first phase of the Advancement Exam Readiness Review (AERR) testing bank improvement plan by drafting advancement exam questions that match current and relevant rating-specific technical requirements with the hands-on, real-world knowledge and experience needed in the fleet.

The establishment of the Professional Military Knowledge Eligibility Exam (PMK-EE) focuses the Navy Wide Advancement Exam (NWAE) on occupational knowledge and will serve as an eligibility requirement for advancement to pay grades E4/5/6/7. PMK-EE is delivered electronically and is available via the MyNavyPortal (MNP) website.


PEARL HARBOR (Jan. 16, 2019) Sailors review promotional materials for the MyNavy Career Development Symposium at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Riggs/Released)

The online Enlisted Advancement Worksheet (EAW), will automate the manual advancement processes and enable Sailors to review their worksheets before the exam and take charge of their advancement records. An EAW pilot, is available through the Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS), for the Active Duty and Reserve spring 2019 advancement cycles.

The Senior Enlisted Advancement to Vacancy (A2V) pilot was announced in June and will fill senior chief petty officer and master chief petty officer priority billets using a spot advancement incentive, and will lead enlisted advancement modernization for exceptional Sailors in all pay grades with critical NECs in the future.

Don’t forget to check out our podcasts! We have a series of six Rating Modernization podcasts that accompany this blog series.

Editor’s note: Sailor 2025 is the Navy’s program to more effectively recruit, develop, manage, reward and retain the force of tomorrow. It consists of approximately 45 living, breathing initiatives and is built on a framework of three pillars – a modern personnel system, a career learning continuum and career readiness.


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Rating Modernization: Advancement Process

Navy Live

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By Vice Adm. Bill Moran
Chief of Naval Personnel

Vice Adm. William F. Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel, speaks to Sailors during an all-hands call aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).

Vice Adm. William F. Moran, Chief of Naval
Personnel, speaks to Sailors during an all-hands call aboard USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).

Next week we will announce the names of about 20,000 Sailors selected for advancement to E-4 to E6. Sailors and COs routinely ask about the notification process –answers to two of the most frequent are below:

Q: Why not provide command triads the chance to notify those who did and didn’t advance, before publicly releasing the results?

A: In response to feedback from the fleet, we are going to make a change to the notification process. Many COs, XOs and CMCs tell us that by simply releasing the results on the web and via social media, they lose a valuable opportunity to counsel and mentor their Sailors–before they get the news from their Shipmates. An advance heads-up, that doesn’t slow down the notification process, allows time to reach out to congratulate and counsel as necessary.

Q: When can we expect to see the advancement results?

A: Typically, Navy tradition is to release E4-E6 advancement results prior to Memorial Day and Thanksgiving; however, the timing does not always work out.  We do try to meet these timelines and releasing the results via Navy social media helps expedite the process.

Given fleet feedback and consistent with efforts to continue to reinforce the roll and authority of command triads, the goal for advancement results release for this cycle will look like this:

-Monday, May 19 – Quotas released publicly

-Thursday, May 22 (morning Eastern Time) – Command triad notified via BOL of their command’s results.

-Friday, May 23 (morning Eastern Time) – Individual Sailor advancement notification on BOL, Navy Enlisted Advancement System (NEAS) and NKO.

-Friday, May 23 (approximately 1000 Eastern Time) – Public release via Navy social media, web and news sites.

Feedback will be important–let us know if this improves the process and how we can continue to meet the collective needs of our leadership and our Sailors.

Q: The designation, conversion, and advancement opportunities for Professional Apprenticeship Career Track (PACT) Sailors are lower than in the past–why is this and what advice can you offer?

A: First off, PACT Sailors are absolutely necessary to accomplishing the apprentice-level work required in the Fleet. Over the last two years we brought in a large number of these Sailors to help improve at-sea manning levels to reduce gaps at sea.

Engineman 3rd Class Malcolm Price, center, assigned to the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1), is pinned by his mentors Gunner's Mate 1st Class Michael Davis, left, and Engineman 2nd Class Miguel Cantu during a frocking ceremony.

Engineman 3rd Class Malcolm Price, center, assigned to USS Freedom (LCS 1), is pinned by his mentors Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Michael Davis, left, and Engineman 2nd Class Miguel Cantu during a frocking ceremony.

As a result of these manning shortfalls, we were able to designate PACT Sailors in an expedited time frame, well below the 24-months onboard guarantee. We now recognize that this may have created an unrealistic and unsustainable expectation.

In our efforts to stabilize communities and ratings, and to avoid unpredictable and unwelcomed advancement rate swings (the ones we all recognize as unproductive–100% for several cycles and then single digits for years to follow), we have reduced the immediate reliance on our PACT inventory to quickly fill rated apprentice-level gaps.

Feedback is clear, this progress may be viewed as double-edged. Many view “stability” as helpful and needed, but to those who signed up with the understanding and expectation that they would quickly and easily convert, this “stability” has slowed down what appeared to be an expedited conversion timeline.

PACT Sailors should still anticipate being on track for designation by 24 months at their initial duty station (and probably not much earlier) but should be encouraged to start the conversation process as soon as possible.

Continued command and unit level leadership mentoring will help set expectations and prepare Sailors to achieve transition goals–encouraging Sailors to utilize Command Career Counselors, Career Development Boards and the Career Exploration Module within the Career Waypoints system, https://careerwaypoints.sscno.nmci.navy.mil.

Additionally, PACT Sailors should be familiar with the Job Opportunities In the Navy (JOIN) interest battery, https://join.sscno.nmci.navy.mil, to aid in job identification and subsequent designation into communities that best fit with their abilities and interests.

These resources along with continued mentoring and guidance from the chain of command will help to ensure our Sailors are aware of their options and the steps required to optimize their opportunities (e.g. retake the Armed Forces Classification Test (AFCT) to improve their scores and/or earn a driver’s license). In most cases, transition success is influenced at the unit level–by the leaders who know these Sailors best.

Fleet Beldo and I leave this weekend to meet with Sailors and their families in Japan and Hawaii–in fact we will be there during the advancement notifications. Please keep the feedback and suggestions coming on these and other issues of interest.

See you around the Fleet.
CNP

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Navy Live

Armed with Science Saturday: Space Matters

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When someone asks you if you want to go see a rocket launch, what else can you say except ABSOLUTELY.

Graphic: Artist’s rendering of Orbital’s Antares medium- class space launch vehicle. (graphic by Orbital Sciences)

Artist’s rendering of Orbital’s Antares medium-
class space launch vehicle. (graphic by Orbital Sciences)

Which, incidentally, is exactly how I responded when I was given the opportunity to get a (reasonably distanced) front row seat to the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket launch at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

As many of might already have noticed, space is sort of a big deal to me.  The chance to reach out and touch the stars.  To be a part of something greater than the world in which we’re tethered.  To move forward as a species.

Now that’s something I want to be a part of, and the Antares rocket launch was a way to make that happen.

So why is the Antares rocket such a big deal, you ask? Let’s break it down.

First of all, it’s a rocket.  Rocket = big deal.

This is no ordinary rocket.  This is one in a series of rockets that are being used – quite fiscally responsibly, I might add – to push the human race out of lower Earth orbit and into the Solar System.

Antares is a two stage vehicle, with optional third stage, that provides low-Earth orbit (LEO) launch capability for payloads weighing over 5,000 kg.

Antares is one of 10 projects with the same point and purpose: risk-reduction missions designed for easy resupply services to the International Space Station.  It has the added benefit of delivering substantial payloads into a variety of low inclination, low-Earth, sun-synchronous and interplanetary trajectories.

It has streamlined vehicle/payload integration and testing via simplified interfaces to reduce time from encapsulation to lift-off.

It can also accommodate major payloads, so it can carry more things than the average rocket might.  It’s also capable of launching single and multiple payloads.

So I guess you could say it’s a multi-tasking rocket.

Phil McAlister, NASA Commercial Spaceflight Division director says, emphatically, that the American aerospace industry is not on the decline, but rather it’s on the rise.

“There’s a lot of anxiety about America’s place in space and whether we can still do things in space that we want to do,” he says.  “I think [the Antares rocket] represents another step in that capability.”

And speaking of capability…

It’s low-cost, reliable access to space.

Let’s take a look at the statistics.  The Antares is a medium-class space launch vehicle designed by Orbital Sciences in conjunction with NASA.  It’s designed to provide responsive, low-cost and reliable access to space.

Getting ready to head to the launch pad, the Antares rocket hangs out with my new friend Larry long enough to snap a pic.

Getting ready to head to the launch pad, the Antares rocket hangs out with my new friend Larry long enough to snap a pic.

Getting ready to head to the launch pad, the Antares rocket hangs out with my new friend Larry long enough to snap a pic.

It’s liquid oxygen/kerosene fueled, so it incorporates both solid and liquid stages and flight-proven technologies to meet medium-class mission requirements.

According to Orbital, “These proven launch technologies, along with hardware from one of the world’s leading launch vehicle integrators, combine to provide cost-effective access to a variety of orbits for civil, commercial and military medium-class payloads.”

Basically, this is a cheaper way to get things into space.

Budgets are a big thing on people’s minds these days, and there’s no wonder.  It’s hard to balance the pursuit of space exploration and scientific innovation on a tighter budget, but thanks  to rockets like these, we have the opportunity to just that for a fraction of the cost.

Going green doesn’t just mean recycling your water bottles.

Mike Laidley is the Deputy Director for Antares for Orbital Sciences, and he says that the rockets are being built with a responsible budget in mind.  Some parts are even being used from other missions, re-purposed for the sake of fiscal responsibility, and even just common sense. Use what you already have is a good strategy when it comes to being efficient and affordable in many cases.

Rockets are really no exception.

“It’s certainly good to take an asset like an old ICBM and turn it into something productive, rather than just having it destroyed,” he explains.

The Department of Defense has a part of humanity’s space mission.

If you think the Department of Defense doesn’t have a hand in protecting our friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) skies then you would be wrong.  The DoD is involved in the space program in more ways than you would think.  From the science and engineering that goes into the equipment, to working on satellites and ballistic missiles, even laser technology, the Defense Department is an active participant in shaping the technological future.

The military in particular could benefit when it comes to having a leg (or booster) up in the area of aerospace.  However, the focus isn’t just on space.

“We have a number of strategic programs,” says Hal C Murdock, the ATK Director of Strategy and Business Development.  He’s also a former Navy pilot, so Hal has a personal interest when it comes to supporting our military forces.  He currently works in the defense and commercial department of the Aerospace group.  Hal explained that the relationship ATK has with Orbital Sciences Corporation (the Antares rocket-maker) and the Department of Defense matters not just to the aerospace industry, but also to our country’s defense.

“The most prominent of those [programs] is the Trident II D5 submarine launch ballistic missile program,” Hal explains.  “We produce all three solid rocket motor stages for the D5.  We also produced all three stages for the minuteman 3 solid rocket motor propulsion system for that strategic system.”

This is all very important for the strategic defense of our country, Hal says.  “We are also involved in missile defense.  A number of areas within ATK support the Missile Defense Agency.  We produce all three stages of the ground based, mid-core defense missile system.”

Currently, Hal tells me, they are working on a program called the large class stage for the Air Force.

“We’re getting ready to do a static fire, and what that means is that you put the rocket motor in a test stand.  Then we ignite it and test it on the ground before it would ever fly.  So for this program we have the first stage – the test stage for the large class stage.”

Now when you think about what’s large and what’s small, it might be a little skewed when you’re talking about rockets.  When we talk about large class stage we’re talking about a 92 inch diameter rocket motor.  It’s very big.  The first stage is over 100,000 pounds.

“It weighs a lot,” Hal aptly points out.  “So the Air Force, though a development program called the propulsion applications program, asked us to design and test a first stage and a third stage for this system.  So we’re going to be testing that in May.  So that’s one of the things we’re exercising; the capabilities of the company, all the way from preliminary design through propellant formulation and winding and casting the solid rocket motors.  It’s very exciting for us and it’s hopefully very exciting for the Air Force.”

But the coolest part about this has to be this bit:

A rocket like this one is going to the moon this summer.

Yeah, that’s right.  We’re going back to the moon.  Well, we’re sending rockets back to the moon.  Orbital is working on a high energy space launch vehicle known as the Minotaur V.

Photo: Minotaur V provides cost-effective support of small GEO and lunar missions. (Source: Orbital Sciences)

Minotaur V provides cost-effective support of small GEO and lunar missions. (Source: Orbital Sciences)

The Minotaur V (provided by the same people who brought us the Antares rocket) is a five stage evolutionary version of the Minotaur IV space launch vehicle (SLV) to provide a cost-effective capability to launch U.S. Government-sponsored small aircraft into high energy trajectories, including Geosynchronous Transfer Orbits (GTO) as well as translunar and beyond!

Translunar is a cool way of saying back and forth to the moon.  Now, I know there’s been a lot of “why haven’t we returned to the lunar surface in a while?” questions circling the internet (although I paraphrase, as Y U NO GO MOON is a little less loquacious).  Well the Minotaur plans to rectify that situation.  So when is this rocket supposed to be gracing the moon with its presence?

Sources say sometime later this year, as a matter of fact.

NASA has awarded a contract to the Orbital Sciences Corporation, managed by the Air Force’s Space Development and Test Wing (SDTW), to use a Minotaur V to launch the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Mission from the Wallops Island, Virginia (in late 2013). The Minotaur will launch the LADEE spacecraft into a highly elliptic orbit where it can phase and time its trajectory burn to the moon.

The Minotaur family of rockets are provided by Orbital Sciences and managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Space Development and Test Directorate Launch Systems Division located at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico.

Welcome to (what I believe is) the next generation of space exploration.  I cannot wait to see what we can accomplish.

This is just the start of what presumes to be a more fluid and effective transition from planet-to-solar system transitions that our space program has in store.  As I mentioned in a previous story of mine, there are some plans in place that look as far as a billion years out when it comes to space.  We still have a long way to go before Star Fleet Academy is seen in San Francisco, but I think Phil McAlister said it best:

(Graphic by Jessica L. Tozer)

(Graphic by Jessica L. Tozer)

Because when it comes down to it…

SPACE MATTERS.

“This should not be NASA’s story.  This should be your story.  Told by you.” – Charles F. Bolden, Jr, NASA Administrator

And you know what?  He’s right.  This isn’t about watching a rocket leave the earth.  It’s about watching science in action.  It’s about moving forward as a species.

Stephen Hawking said, “I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.”

I’m an optimist, too.

This is about moving toward more advanced space travel capabilities, mighty defense systems and furthering our understanding of life, the universe and everything (beyond knowing the answer is 42, of course).  And that, my friends, is what makes this amazing science journey well worth it.

To the stars and beyond, Antares rocket.  We’re right behind you.

Jessica L. Tozer is a blogger for DoDLive and Armed With Science.  She is an Army veteran and an avid science fiction fan, both of which contribute to her enthusiasm for technology in the military.

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