Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Navy Officer Drawdown: The Game Show

While the Army is having a hard time retaining company grade officers, the Navy is finding itself in the opposite situation -- needing to find creative ways to get rid of excess O-3s and O-4s. As described in this Navy NewsStand story, the Navy earlier this week issued a NAVADMIN detailing how they plan to get rid of officers in "over-manned" communities. These communities include not only most of the Special Duty Officer designators, but also Surface Warfare Officers, pilots, NFOs, and submariners. (Specifically, the designators are: 111X, 112X, 130X, 131X, 132X, 120X, 152X, 161X, 163X, 180X, 310X, 410X, AND 510X. The non-nautical reader can find what these numbers mean here.)

The interesting thing to me is not that the Navy finds itself, seven years after the last drawdown ended, needing to start another drawdown; it's the way that "reality TV" seems to have made its way into Navy personnel programs. The message explains that officers will be given the chance to "bid" on how much money they'd take if they were to get out before the end of the fiscal year. Here's how the message describes the process:

Community managers will review all positive VSP elections to ensure officers meet established eligibility criteria. These positive elections will then be ranked from lowest to highest competitive bid until the target population for the community is reached. This target population will constitute the "successful bidders". Using what is known as a "uniform payment auction methodology", all successful bidders of each community will receive the same VSP payment as determined by the highest accepted bid. For example, if 300 people are sent notification messages (establishing that 100 personnel will be offered a separation payment) and if 275 people elect to participate by submitting a bid, and the lowest competitive bid is $1,000 and the 100th lowest competitive bid submitted is $30,000, then the 100 successful bids (i.e., the 100 individuals who bid $30,000 or less) will each receive the $30,000 bid.

If you find yourself scratching your head after mucking through the Navalese, that just means you read it right -- most officers will end up getting more than what they bid in order to get out. I suppose this eliminates the danger of massive collusion, but it still seems to have a little "game-show/E-Bay" feel that comes across as slightly inappropriate to me.

I guess I'm not surprised that submariners are included; the number of submarines is going down, and we were still bringing in fairly large numbers of new submarine officers at least as late as FY03. The good thing for submariners who might be thinking of getting out is that I'm pretty sure that they can't recoup your Buy-A-Nuke bonus (per Section 7.f.(2).(c) of OPNAVINST 7220.11A) if your "Price Is Right" and you get picked to test the civilian job market. Sign that new contract now!


Anonymous bullnav said...

I find it absolutely incredible that in the middle of a war we need to reduce the number of officers we have. I read the NAVADMIN yesterday with incredulity. Nor could I understand this bidding process. We are in the process of standing up riverine force, we are sending increasing numbers of IA's to backfill Army jobs, and attempting to maintain our NAVY warfighting skills. This will, IMO, undermine our basic at-sea ship/air/submarine warfighting skills. This is more evidence to me that we spend too much money sending our top leadership to get MBA's instead of focusing on combat skills. The whole idea of a VOLUNTARY SEPARATION IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR makes absolutely NO sense to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6/14/2006 5:19 AM

Blogger Skippy-san said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who read the NAVADMIN and said, you have got to be s**ting me!. Lets make a deal, to get out?

Here is the way I see it playing out. Bid too little, and you are gone and Dr Chu thanks you for not making him spend money. Bid too much and hear , " We're sorry, we can't let you go. However as a consolation prize, now that we know who you are, here is an all expense paid IA to Iraq or Afghanistan. You can try again after a year 'in country'."

Its nonesense to be cutting people in the middle of a war, when at the same time the CNO is bellying up to Rummy's bar and doubling up on the number of Navy people he is giving up to do Army missions. And all the things bullnav mentioned.

And did you notice there are still exactly as many flag officers as there was in 1991?

6/14/2006 5:47 AM

Blogger Patrick said...

How much of this crap is going to hit the reserves? I'm in a unit with the best officers I've ever served with and I don't want to lose them.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to obtain the proper degree of tempering necessary for Naval Coastal Warfare? Getting the right degree of cynicism alone takes years of advanced torture. Do you think deeply bitter and deeply committed officers like SMASH hatch from the pods at the Academy every June?

6/14/2006 9:44 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Focusing on the theory of supernumerary lawyers (JAG types and Law specialty officers) I checked related designators in jeopardy of drawdown (195X and 250X).

Apparently there is no excess at all of such officers, as they are not included in the cited NAVADMIN at all.

Perhaps their numbers are actually inadequate, in which case cutting line officers, etc. is necessary for additional recruitment and retention incentives.

Before anyone gets roiled by the Navy's stance, it appears consistent with Army and AF, as well. Just a thought.

6/14/2006 11:06 AM

Blogger Skippy-san said...

The Army is cutting people? Tell me how that makes sense.......

6/14/2006 4:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well--you know the submariners at least will figure out a way to game the system...

I doubt many submarine officers with 6-12 years in will bite. Once you go to SOAC, you've pretty much decided that you want to be in the NAvy forever, and no sane JO would voluntarily quit a shore duty job that pays 90-100k for monkey work (and allows time to plan an orderly exit into CIVPAC/LANT).

6/14/2006 10:37 PM

Blogger Subsunk said...

Since there is supposed to be a shortage of Army and Marine Corps officers, why can't the Navy just help out and provide a real path to fleet over to one of those services? Tell me why a nuke or an aviator can't find his way to transfer over into another armed service to help out. I'm sure there are a few who would do this. Not everyone is in it for the money, you know.


6/15/2006 6:54 AM

Blogger Skippy-san said...


The aviators and the nukes are not in for the money, but if they wanted to do Army s**T they would have joined the Army. You could offer me a million dollars and I would not go "Blue to Green". There are enlisted guys who are doing it, but from what I am told, not in the numbers that were expected.

Here's a better idea. Keep more ships and subs in service and use them in the other little fracas' we are involved in. They can always use more ships for PI GWOT operations, deterrence against China, HOA ops, and homeland defense. And if they want more Navy aircraft to be flying from CV's over Iraq, you'll have plenty of people willing to do that. But they did not sign up to ride convoys in and out of the green zone.........

6/15/2006 7:16 AM

Anonymous bullnav said...

Roger Skippy's last comments. I did plenty of Army training in college (small school in Lexington, VA) and I became a submariner for a reason. We need to maintain our basic core competencies, even if those don't involve us directly in this war. At some point in the not too distant future, we will again be involved in a naval conflict that will require naval aviators, ship drivers, and submariners to be at the top of their game. With the ongoing drawdown of ships, carriers, squadrons, submarines, with IA's being pulled from active duty units, it is all the more difficult to train to our core missions. More importantly, it is damn near impossible to imbue the sense of tradition and history into folks with these manpower policies. We have an incredible naval history, and we are just throwing it away...

6/15/2006 9:29 AM

Anonymous Byron Audler said...

Bullnav, sorta puts you in mind of Dec. 6, 1941, don't it?

6/18/2006 3:19 PM

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