Navy Offering Incentives to Re-Enlist

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By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Navy is following in the footsteps of the Army, Marine Corps and the Air Force by announcing an incentive bonus program to retain their top talent.

The Targeted Reentry Program (TRP) allows commanding officers to recommend eligible outgoing sailors for “golden tickets” or “silver tickets” that would expedite their re-entry processes should they wish to re-enlist.

The Golden Ticket recipients are guaranteed a quota and an expedited return to AD within one year of release as long as they remain fully qualified. Silver Ticket recipients are afforded an expedited return to AD within two years of release, subject to the needs of the Navy and that they remain fully qualified. Golden Tickets, if not used within one year, will convert to Silver Tickets for an additional year. Silver Tickets not used within two years of release from AD expire.

The TRP is designed to benefit both the Sailor and the Navy by allowing a return to service for those who are well trained leaders with valuable and needed skills and will be offered to selected Sailors prior to their departure from the Navy.

The TRP is open to O-3 and O-4 enlisted, who have completed their Minimum Service Requirement (MSR), but not yet reached 14 years of active service are eligible for consideration for TRP. Also, an officer’s or enlisted’ s community qualifications must be obtained, superior performance annotated in Fitness Reports or Evaluations, and have passed their most recent Physical Fitness Assessment.

Those who accept a ticket will go into a minimum reserve status after leaving active duty. These sailors will not have a participation requirement, but will not be eligible for benefits such as health care or retirement points.

The program will become available for enlisted sailors who enter Intends to Separate status on or after April 1st . Officers with pending resignation requests that have not yet been adjudicated must be dated October 1st  or later to be eligible.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Forged By the Sea – New Navy Tagline


By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Navy is launching a new recruitment campaign with a new tagline: “Forged by the Sea.”

“For more than 200 years, our sailors have been tested and shaped by the sea, becoming better versions of themselves,” said Rear Adm. Pete Garvin, head of Navy Recruiting Command.  “Our new tagline perfectly captures the transformative impact the Navy and the sea has on our sailors,” he added.

The campaign made its debut during the Army/Navy game on December 9th, with the rollout of  the fully integrated marketing campaign launching in March 2018.

“The Army-Navy game is one of the most revered and watched contests in college sports and we wanted to take advantage of this unique opportunity to introduce the new brand and tagline on an occasion where the spirit of competition and military service are being celebrated,” said Garvin. “We’re proud and excited to be a part of such a great event.”

The tagline has been under development since 2016 by the marketing agency Young & Rubicam, utilizing focus group feedback of 17-21 year olds.

This idea behind this new tagline, which is part of a larger branding effort being launched, is to represent the aspirational outcome of every sailor’s journey in uniform.

The previous motto, “A Global Force for Good,” hung around for five years after its 2009 debut, even though it never became popular in the rank and file.

In 2013, there was some discussion about promoting “Semper Fortis” — always strong or always courageous — as the Navy’s tagline, echoing the Marine Corps’ “Semper Fidelis” motto and the Coast Guard’s “Semper Paratus.” However, this effort never gained steam.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Navy Relieves Two More Commanders in Ship Collisions


By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Navy relieved two senior commanders in the 7th Fleet in connection with recent deadly collisions of Navy ships.

Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer fired Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of Task Force 70 and Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, commander of the destroyer squadron, citing a loss of confidence in their ability to command. Williams had tactical control of 7th Fleet’s cruisers and destroyers, as well as Carrier Air Wing 5 and the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, who previously led 7th Fleet, was previously relieved of duty.

In January, the USS Antietam ran aground and spilled roughly 1,100 gallons of hydraulic fluid into Tokyo Bay. In May, the USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing boat while operating off the east coast of the divided peninsula. In June, a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a Philippine-flagged merchant ship killed seven sailors. Last month, a collision between the USS John S. McCain and a civilian merchant vessel killed 10 sailors.

The latest dismissals bring the number of fired senior commanders to six, including the top three officers of the Fitzgerald.

Navy Capt. Charlie Brown said Monday that 7th Fleet ships have completed the one-day operational pause ordered for the entire Navy to make sure crews were conducting safe operations. And Pacific Fleet is in the process of carrying out a ship-by-ship review of its vessels, looking at navigation, mechanical systems, bridge resource management and training.

Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, who was serving as commander of 7th Fleet’s amphibious forces, has now taken command of CTF 70. DESRON 15’s deputy commander, Capt. Jonathan Duffy, has assumed command of the squadron.

“History has shown that continuous operations over time causes basic skills to atrophy and in some cases gives commands a false sense of their overall readiness,” said Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift.

Swift has vowed to investigate manning, maintenance and cultural norms within the fleet to prevent further incidents.

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Newest Aircraft Carrier Has Issues With Planes Landing and Taking Off

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By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Navy took delivery of its newest and costliest U.S. aircraft carrier on May 31st , which should be great news.

But it turns out that the system used to launch and capture jets to and from the USS Gerald R. Ford is having issue doing both.

While the Navy reports that the landing system has been fixed, the carrier hasn’t received clearance to launch F/A-18 jets yet. The catapult problem, which was discovered in 2014, limits how much combat fuel can be carried in planes being launched from the carrier’s deck.

The aircraft are limited as to the types of missions that they can accomplish without added under-wing fuel tanks.

John McCain, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has been a vocal critic of the Navy’s management of the Ford program.

While it’s encouraging to see the Ford “finally delivered to the Navy,” the Arizona Republican said the Navy’s funding request for it exceeds the congressional budget cap by $20 million. The third and final ship of the planned three-ship, $42 billion Ford class of carriers is projected to cost $1.6 billion more than the second one.

“This is unacceptable for a ship certified to be a repeat design that will deliver just three years later,” McCain said.

Most of the cost increase was due to an underfunded technology phase that didn’t allow enough time for the discovery and correction of problems.

The ship is named after the 38th President of the United States Gerald R. Ford, whose World War II naval service included combat duty aboard the light aircraft carrier Monterey in the Pacific Theater.

The Navy still has time to fix the catapult issue. Although the Ford has been delivered, the ship is not scheduled to be declared ready for operations until 2020, with first actual deployment planned for about 2022, according to Navy spokeswoman Captain Thurraya Kent.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Navy Rolls Out New Suicide Prevention Program

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By Debbie Gregory.

The Navy has rolled out a program aimed at providing added support for sailors considered at risk for suicide.

Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life (SAIL) is an evidence-based approach to intervention that provides rapid assistance, ongoing risk assessment, care coordination and reintegration assistance for service members identified with a suicide related behavior (SRB). Participation in the service-wide program is voluntary and is now available at all Fleet and Family Support Center locations.

The program works by linking sailors who have demonstrated suicidal behavior with Fleet and Family Support Center counselors trained in assessing suicide risk. Those counselors remain in contact with the participant for three months.

SAIL is not designed to replace existing suicide prevention efforts nor replace needed mental health services. It is not a form of treatment.

“A caring contact is all it is,” said Capt. Michael Fisher, director of the Navy Suicide Prevention Branch.

The problem of suicide among troops has plagued military leaders in recent years as numbers spiked. Navy Personnel Command data shows 51 active duty sailors and 10 reservists killed themselves in 2016, according to preliminary numbers. In 2015, the numbers were 43 active duty sailors and 14 reservists.

SAIL is patterned after the Marine Corps’ Marine Intercept Program, which began in 2014.

According to Fisher, some 40 percent of sailors who commit suicide had a previous attempt or impulse. Removing stigmas that prevent sailors from seeking mental health treatment or from helping those who appear to be in danger has been an ongoing challenge. The Navy has promoted intervention programs to help sailors recognize and respond to suicidal or risky behavior among their peers.

“We want people to be willing to step forward if they’re having challenges,” Fisher said.

The Military Crisis Line offers confidential support for active duty and reserve service members and their families 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255 or online at Text messages can also be sent to 838255. Questions regarding the program should be directed to Navy Suicide Prevention Branch at 901-874-6613.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

U.S. Navy Seizes Weapons Headed to Yemen


By Debbie Gregory.

For the third time in two months, the U.S. Navy has seized an illicit shipment of arms, including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, that officials said originated in Iran and were intended for rebels in Yemen.

Iran backs the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are fighting the internationally recognized government, which is backed by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, Iran’s chief rival in the region.

The USS Sirocco, a coastal patrol ship, along with the USS Gravely, a larger guided-missile destroyer, seized the weapons on March 28th  from a small craft known as a dhow. The cache included some 1,500 Kalashnikov rifles, 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns. The dhow and its crew were allowed to depart once the weapons were seized.

Retired Navy Adm. Jim Stavridis, who led a carrier strike group in the Persian Gulf at the start of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, said the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and northern Arabian Sea have been hotbeds of smuggling for many years.

“Our naval forces, and those of our partners, will continue to conduct maritime security operations in the region in order to disrupt the flow of illicit weapons to Houthi insurgents in Yemen,” said Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a Navy spokesman in the Middle East. Earlier seizures included the Royal Australian Navy’s seizure of nearly 2,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 100 RPG launchers, 49 PKM machine guns, 39 PKM machine gun barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes, and the French navy destroyer FS Provence’s seizure of approximately 2,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 64 Dragunov marksman rifles, and nine antitank missiles.

The ships are part of the Combined Maritime Forces led by Adm. Kevin Donegan, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Servicemember Joe Cardona Pulls Double Duty


By Debbie Gregory.

It could be said that Joe Cardona is an overachiever. He is a Navy ensign at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island, where he is temporarily assigned while awaiting deployment. He is also the rookie long-snapper for the New England Patriots.

It’s not an easy schedule but Cardona, who as a graduate of the Naval Academy has a five-year commitment to serve, has learned to handle it.

“It’s just showing up and doing your job every single day,” he said. “I think the preparation that the Naval Academy has given me has prepared me really well to take on the responsibilities on both ends.”

Coach Bill Belichick made the unusual move of drafting Cardona in the fifth round. A native of El Cajon, California, Cardona was long snapper for four years at Navy – only the second freshman in school history to start.

Belichick has a personal connection with the service, as his father was a coach for the Naval Academy football team, as a well as an associate professor of physical education.

What Cardona is doing, Belichick said, is not unusual for someone from the Naval Academy.

“He has two jobs so that’s more challenging, but that’s something that people like Joe who have been in the Naval Academy have experience with – time management and multitasking … and handling different levels of responsibility, both physically, mentally and emotionally. I’d say he’s overall done a good job of balancing that,” Belichick said.

Cardona splits his time between Newport, Rhode Island, where he works at the Naval Preparatory Academy and Foxborough, Massachusetts, where he attends all Patriot practices, meetings and games. As the Patriots continue their winning season, Cardona remains a crucial part of the team, switching in and out from his naval uniform to his football uniform each week.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.