By Wm. Cullen James, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs
MILLINGTON, Tenn. – Navy leaders responsible for the recruiting, training and placement of Sailors participated in an exercise July 19 - 20 aimed at improving their ability to get Sailors into the Fleet with minimal delay or lost time.
The first-ever scenario-based planning and decision support exercise was held at Navy Personnel Command (NPC) to test the Navy’s ability to manage the enlisted supply chain in reaction to different simulated events. The enlisted supply chain describes how the Navy plans, recruits, trains and places Sailors.
A supply chain “is a logical, systematic approach used to simplify management of very complex processes,” said Rear Adm. Don Quinn, commander, NPC.
Hosted by NPC’s Production Management Office (PMO), Navy Personnel Research, Studies and Technology (NPRST), and Navy Strategic Planning and Analysis (N14), exercise participants were experts in the various areas within the Navy enlisted supply chain.
Quinn explained that the Navy’s enlisted supply chains begins with the planning and demand generated by the Community Managers and approved by Navy Planning and Policy. Navy Recruiting Command then acquires recruits based on those requirements. Navy Service Training Command turns recruits into Sailors at Recruit Training Command. The Learning Centers of Naval Education and Training Command further develop and refine Sailors’ skills to do the work they were hired to do. Finally, the detailers at NPC deliver the Sailors to the Fleet.
When the Navy began researching the enlisted supply chain, they found that this process was not a series of linked steps, but rather a group of unlinked planning and training events that worked well in their own area, but often impaired the efforts of the steps that came before or after.
“The efforts were not coordinated,” Quinn said. “We had pools of thousands of Sailors awaiting transfer or training, thus not doing the work they signed up to do and that we want them to do. It was demoralizing for the Sailors and hurt Fleet readiness.”
Since the initial look, stakeholders in the enlisted supply chain have been striving to improve the process. The decision-making exercise was part of an ongoing review of the enlisted supply chain.
“We wanted to bring in these stakeholders and put them through scenario-based situations where they could think through them in a controlled environment,” said David Cashbaugh, director, NPRST.
“Both events were less about specific numbers and more about effective and efficient practices of the participants,” said Mike Farley; head, Process Improvement Branch, PMO. “What we want to see is a maturing of the supply chain process.”
At the end of the session, experts from Naval Surface Forces, Navy Recruiting Command, and Navy Training and Education Division briefed Quinn.
Lessons learned from the event will be taken back to the respective agencies to see how they can best be implemented.
“The exercise provided a good education into cross organization impacts,” said Ilia Chirstman, deputy and technical director, Navy N1 Research, Modeling and Analysis Division.
“This is a critical undertaking for our Navy and the Navy of the future,” Quinn said. “I am often told that we cannot treat human beings ‘like widgets’ in the supply chain. I argue that to not apply supply chain best practices dooms these motivated boot camp graduates to months of idle time when only bad things happen. They want to get to the Fleet and it is our duty to see that they do as soon and as well trained as we can make them.”