If Sailors Aren't Ready to Deploy, It'll Soon Affect Their Promotions

Sailors embark the USNS Brittin Oct 24, 2017 to assist in hurricane relief efforts. (U.S. Navy/Logistics Specialist Third Class Petty Officer Kristoffer Malinao)
Sailors embark the USNS Brittin Oct 24, 2017 to assist in hurricane relief efforts. (U.S. Navy/Logistics Specialist Third Class Petty Officer Kristoffer Malinao)

Sailors who don't want to see their careers derailed by a missed dental appointment better keep those teeth cleanings on their radars.

Individual sailors are responsible for maintaining their own deployability, which means staying on top of medical and dental checkups, as well as legal or administrative problems on their records. If they don't, it could end up wreaking havoc on future fitness reports, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer told reporters at the Pentagon last week.

"That's no longer my responsibility; that is your responsibility as a sailor," he said. "And by the way, I'm going to judge you on that."

The Navy made meeting deployment criteria the responsibility of every sailor in a service-wide administrative message released last fall. So far, it hasn't affected evaluations or FitReps. But that could change soon.

"You can expect additional policy announcements on this in the future," said Lt. j.g. Stuart Phillips, a spokesman for the chief of naval personnel.

Poor marks for failing to meet deployability requirements would affect one's career just as low ratings for bad performance would, he said.

Holding sailors and officers accountable is part of a larger Navy strategy to push responsibility down the chain of command whenever possible. It's meant to empower commanding officers and sailors, Spencer said, especially after the Pentagon announced earlier this year that any service member who's been unable to deploy for more than 12 months would face separation.

"We really believe this is the best way to get after that, is to push the responsibility down," Spencer said.

The Navy supports Defense Department efforts to improve readiness and lethality, Phillips said. By increasing individual accountability, Navy officials expect to see a dramatic improvement in the number of officers and sailors who are deployable, he added.

Spencer said the service wants to make it easier for sailors to track their own deployability by making electronic file folders available to everyone. That will give sailors a "one-stop shop" to check on the status of a host of career requirements.

"And it goes into your fitness report -- your performance on that responsibility," Spencer said. "So we now have a metric and a tool to drive that metric."

The Navy is increasing its communications with the fleet to ensure everyone is aware of the new deploy-or-out policy, Phillips said. Officials are notifying anyone who's been non-deployable for more than 12 months on Oct. 1, and they expect sailors at risk of missing requirements to take immediate action.

"We are collecting and analyzing the data to identify the issues that affect deployability," he said. "... We expect to see near instantaneous improvements in medical and dental readiness."

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

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