Navy honcho: More tech, less people

Chief of Naval Operations Guidance for 2004

In his guidance for 2004, the chief of naval operations, Adm. Vern Clark describes uniformed personnel as the Navy's most valuable asset -- but also the most expensive.

As a result, Clark calls for reducing the Navy's workforce as technology and streamlined processes improve.

"As our Navy becomes more high-tech, our workforce will get smaller and smarter," he said. "We will spend whatever it takes to equip and enable our sailors, but we do not want to spend one extra penny for manpower we do not need. We must be committed to building a Navy that can maximize the capability of our people and minimize the total number on the payroll."

This is not the first time Clark has swum against the current and called for a reduced workforce. At the U.S. Naval Institute's "Lessons from the Desert Wars" symposium in Virginia Beach, Va., in October 2003, Clark pointed out that the new, electric DD(X) boats will require 25 percent fewer sailors than current destroyers, and future aircraft carriers will require 1,000 fewer deckhands than existing flattops. Despite the need for fewer sailors, Clark still wants an additional $10 billion a year "to have the kind of Navy we're dreaming about."

During the coming year, Clark plans to set a high priority on integrating manpower and training systems to make sure the right skills are being acquired by the right people. He proposes a new task force, called Warrior, led by an admiral and given the job of rapidly integrating systems.

During the current fiscal year, Clark says, that task force should introduce a Web-based, five-vector model — professional development, personal development, professional military education and leadership, certifications and qualifications, and performance — career management detailing system for enlisted sailors; and a total force manpower management replacement system that provides position management to enlisted sailors.

Clark also maps out several information technology initiatives to make the Navy a more effective fighting force:

* Define naval command, control, communications and computer capability to achieve joint standards for a common operational picture in a theater.

* Develop a plan as part of Task Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance for increased use of unmanned systems, specifically aerial and underwater vehicles.

* Define baseline architecture and open standards for secure Web, e-mail, chat and collaboration in an ad hoc coalition.

* Fully implement the Navy Marine Corps Intranet and investigate enterprisewide solutions that will exploit the power of the Web to improve productivity.

"We will deliver enhanced warfighting capability to the joint force, using the extended reach of naval weapons and sensors to reach farther and more precisely with striking power," he said. "We will invest in the tools, the information technology and the training that delivers more meaningful job content to sailors, because it is they who offer us our greatest advantage."

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