“Q & A” for 21st Century Sailor and Marine

“Navy Medicine is in the readiness business…we must be ready the minute a warrior hits the ground, or mom heads into the labor deck. We exist to support the Fleet and the Fleet Marine Force. When the world dials 911, it is NOT to make an appointment.” 

–  Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, Navy Surgeon General and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery


On March 5, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus held an interactive, worldwide All Hands Call onboard USS Bataan in which he answered questions both from Sailors present as well as those submitted through the Internet and Navy social media properties. The highlight of the All Hands Call was his announcement of a new initiative known as 21st Century Sailor and Marine which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency, and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy. In addition to other topics, the secretary also responded to questions about 21st Century Sailor and Marine. However, time did not allow him to get to all of them. In this post, the Navy’s office of Manpower and Reserve Affairs responds to those questions, and Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, the Honorable Juan M. Garcia addresses the five areas of the initiative: readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion and continuum of service.


Follow-on Questions:

Why not ban smoking on installations altogether?  Wouldn’t it save money (medical costs) and potentially increase productivity?

The Navy Department does not yet envision a blanket ban, but wants to duplicate the success of the submarine force, which banned smoking on board submarines  at the beginning of 2011. Though the SECNAV has the authority to ban smoking throughout the Navy, it is his belief to make the Navy/Marine Corps Smoke Free by Choice.  The Navy has devised a plan to aid the Sailor and Marine’s positive choice to quit through a comprehensive training program, free cessation tools/products at afloat commands and shore installations, along with cigarette price parity at NEX/MEX facilities by the end of the fiscal year.   The key word is “Choice”, the SECNAV does not want to take away your freedom of personal choice, while at the same time he does not want to subsidize smoking.

The initiative to stop offering discounts for cigarettes at Exchanges makes great sense! What about the problem of the commissary offering huge deals on Oreos or other junk food? It’s hard to resist a huge discount on Oreos where it’s 75% off the price at a regular grocery store!

I know Oreos are hard to resist! Did you know Oreos just celebrated their 100th year anniversary?  Moreover, I appreciate your comment because proper nutrition is key to a fit Sailor and Marine ready to deploy and fight.    That is why I have included in the 21st Century Sailor and Marine nutritional initiatives/training to provide more health choices for our Service Member. With constrained budgets and fewer people — including 80,000 fewer Marines over the coming six years — the Navy Department needs to maximize the health, work availability of its people, and minimize the lost time and costs of care. As part of this, the department will also step up a “year-round culture of fitness” to encourage service members to keep fit.


Follow-on Question:

You mentioned something about sailors going through “A” school getting additional training about, identifying sexual and physical assault. Will there be some kind training to be put into place for the fleet as well and if so when will this be implemented?


As a continued top priority, Navy will provide additional SAPR training to every leader and Sailor during 2012 – the only such initiative of this scope and scale for the year.  Focused on leadership’s role in setting the correct tone and climate to prevent and eliminate sexual assaults, SAPR – L (Leadership) training will be rolled out Fleet-wide to all Officers and Chief Petty Officers in July 2012.  To ensure 100% of the Navy receives SAPR training, tailored training focused on consistent messaging, prevention and intervention (SAPR-Fleet) training will be initiated for our E-6 and below personnel in September.

Marine Corps

The Marine Corps Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training curriculum has changed considerably over the last few years.  The overarching goal of the Marine Corps is to reduce the number of sexual assaults and to create an environment of trust which helps close the gap between the number of actual incidents and the number of reported incidents.  We have implemented an aggressive revision of all curriculums to maximize the impact of the key elements—the tradition of stepping up and stepping in to prevent sexual assault and the leadership message that sexual assault will not be tolerated.  Training is now comprised of a video-based format designed to evoke emotion from Marines, stimulate conversation and reduce the stigma associated with sexual assault.  Training products are customized for Marines as they progress through their career.  In the last year, we have:

Implemented “Take A Stand” bystander intervention training for Non-Commissioned Officers

Created a video library, to be used for supplemental, unit-specific training, that features senior leaders, victims of sexual assault, and subject matter experts

Developed standardized Command Team Training, mandatory for commanders, executive officers, sergeants major and first sergeants (at the company level and above), will assist commanders in executing an effective SAPR program

Instituted new chaplain training taught by the installation Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs) and installation chaplains

Updated annual training for all Marines to include bystander intervention

Received credentialing by the National Advocacy Credentialing Program for our Uniform Victim Advocates (UVAs)/Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs)

Hosted “Sex Signals,” a professional production on consent and sexual assault, across the Corps

The SAPR Program has recently integrated within the Behavioral Health Branch.  Integration benefits Marines, as victims often have co-occurring issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, suicidal ideations, substance abuse, etc., which are addressed across a number of behavioral health programs.  Integration reinforces SAPR’s training efforts, increases its capacity to serve victims, and ultimately enhances a holistic approach to prevention.  Behavioral Health Universal Training, currently under development, will provide Marines with standardized information starting before an individual attends recruit training, while in the Delayed Entry Program, and continuing throughout their careers.

Physical Fitness


Follow-on Questions:

Since the Navy is getting rid of waivers for Body Fat assessments, when is the Body Fat taping system going to be updated to a more accurate system?

BCA waivers for Body Fat assessments are not being revoked. The BCA waivers mentioned in the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative is in regards to the policy which was in OPNAVINST 6110.1H that gave COs the authority to allow a member to exceed the BCA criteria, if the member scored an overall excellent or above on the PRT portion of the PFA. The BCA exception waiver was rescinded via NAVADMIN 131/10, effective 1 July 2010.

Will the BCA percents or weight, and BCA measurement process, ever change or be reviewed?

Yes, it is currently under review.

I have seen during my 12 years of Naval Service how flawed the taping system for body fat measurement is. I have witnessed a 98 pound female tape in at 21% body fat and a Chief Petty Officer with a 42 inch waist and 20 inch neck also tape in at 21% body fat. With such a large margin of error in this system is there another plan in the works to make body fat measurement more accurate?

The circumference method is DOD directed. As stated above, the current method of predicting % body fat for Navy personnel is under review.


Follow-on Questions:

Does the time a sailor takes “time off” for family purposes, count towards their service or do they have to extend for those three years?

Service members who take advantage of this new option will incur a “two for one” obligation — meaning a service member who took the maximum three years off would owe the Navy or Marine Corps six additional years. The new option will allow service members to move into the inactive ready reserve for as long as three years; receive a stipend; keep commissary and other benefits; and use one permanent change of station to relocate.

The Navy Department hopes that these and other “off ramps” and “on ramps” will improve its “continuum of service,” and entice sailors and Marines to move to the reserves and back, rather than getting out altogether amid major life changes.

I am a Mother of a Sailor who is currently serving in the Navy who happens to be HIV positive while serving.  My son tells me he can no longer deploy on naval ships or overseas or anywhere in a “hardship” area.  With the new development of medicines and health, is there currently an implemented plan to allow my son and other people in his position and change this policy to at least serve on aircraft carriers where the medical staff can/will be able to support their needs?

SECNAV Instruction 5300.30D prohibits service in a unit programmed for deployment, even on an aircraft carrier.  The possible complications associated with Immunity Deficiency and the corresponding medical requirements mandate the service member shall be stationed within the continental United States and within 24hours travel of the Medical Treatment Facility.   Currently the SECNAV Instruction 5300.30D is under review and will consider your input.

Country wide, same sex unions are being given more and more equal treatment,  is there any plan to recognize same sex unions amongst service members now with the dissolution of the DADT policy, and extend benefits to significant others such as medical or BAH?—JAG?

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Pub.L. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419, enacted September 21, 1996, 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C) is a United States federal law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. Section 3 of DOMA codifies the non-recognition of same-sex marriage for all federal purposes.  As a result, a number of military benefits cannot be extended to same-sex spouses on the basis of their marriage.  DoD is required to abide by these tenets.  Service members are encouraged to contact their personnel offices for more information.

Continuum of Service

Follow-on Questions:

Will PTS come to an end or will it stay around?

Perform to Serve (PTS) is Navy’s principal, performance-based Force Management tool to ensure the force is balanced and PTS policy is continuously reviewed and revised with Fleet inputs to ensure the needs of the Fleet are met. The Navy has no plans to discontinue the use of PTS.

With the implementation of the 21st Century Navy and Marine, where does PTS stand?  We seem to be asking more out of our Sailors and Marines, but on the other hand we are downsizing to create a smaller force.

Navy’s current projected enlisted end strength over the next 5 years is stable with only small end strength reductions anticipated. PTS will continue to be a principal Force Management tool and is employed to balance the force to ensure that the Navy has the right mix of personnel, skills, and experience to meet future mission requirements.

If the military is trying to downgrade and reduce numbers, why can’t we get out easier to continue school or get into civilian jobs such as police departments?

Navy’s current projected enlisted end strength over the next 5 years is stable with only small end strength reductions anticipated. Navy has implemented two voluntary early out programs: 1) Early Career Transition Program, and 2) Enlisted Early Transition Program.  Both of these programs offer Sailors meeting the requirements of the programs to transition early for education and/or other employment opportunities.  Navy Personnel Command Customer Service Center is the Point of contact for both early out programs at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC (1-866-827-5672).  Additional information on the Early Career Transition Program may be found by clicking here.

Editor’s Note: This blog entry and videos were originally posted on Navy Live the official blog of the U.S. Navy on March 13.

Do you want more information about the health related topics discussed in this blog check out Navy & Marine Corp Public Health Center website by clicking here.