WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Speaking to the fleet during a worldwide All Hands Call on board USS Bataan (LHD 5) which was televised and web-streamed live to the fleet March 5, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the establishment of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative.
The secretary explained that the initiative consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness. The programs are divided into five categories, or "areas"; readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion, and continuum of service.
"The new defense strategy will put increased responsibilities on the Navy and Marine Corps in the years to come," the secretary said. "You are the department's most essential asset, and it is the duty of the department's leadership to do all we can to provide each individual Sailor and Marine with the resources to maintain that resiliency."
Various programs fall under the readiness area, all of which help ensure we have the most mentally prepared service members and family in department history.
Continued emphasis on the responsible use of alcohol, zero tolerance for drug use, suicide reduction, family and personal preparedness, and financial and family stability all work together to prepare Sailors, Marines and their families for the challenges that they may face and reinforce healthy alternatives on liberty or off-duty. A new initiative will include breathalyzer tests when Sailors stationed onboard ships, submarines and at squadrons report for duty and randomly elsewhere to reduce the occurrence of alcohol related incidents that can end careers and sometimes end lives. This month, the Navy will begin random testing of urine samples for synthetic chemical compounds like Spice.
The initial testing will be conducted by a contracted laboratory, with the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory capable of conducting in-house testing later this year. Every positive result on a urinalysis for synthetic drugs will be sent to NCIS for investigation. Synthetic chemical compound drug use impacts a Sailor's career and family. Sailors found to have positive urinalysis results and possession of synthetic chemical compounds like Spice will be punished under the UCMJ.
"We will enable and support our Sailors and their families. I am extremely proud of our people," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert. "We have a professional and a moral obligation to lead, to train, to equip and to motivate them. Our personnel programs deliver a high return on investment in readiness."
In addition to ensuring the readiness of our Sailors and Marines, the initiative will aim to make the Navy and Marine Corps the safest and most secure force in the department's history. All personnel in the fleet should expect to work in a safe environment, free from harassment or hazards, and when confronted with these, have the resources available to immediately correct the problem.
The Department of the Navy (DoN) continues to work aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable. Part of this effort is implementing new training at multiple levels in both the Navy and Marine Corps.
A recent program, the Bystander Intervention (BI) course, which is part of the Navy's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program, began in January for all A-school students. BI is intended to educate Sailors that, as bystanders, they have the power - and responsibility - to intervene in a potentially harmful situation, regardless of rank. BI training is part of a larger strategy addressing changes in attitudes and behaviors in the Department of the Navy. SAPR training for Navy leadership and the fleet is in development.
Everyday Sailors and Marines do a great job of managing risks on-duty, proven by FY 2011 being recorded as the safest in terms of operational fatalities. Under the 21st Century Sailor and Marine area of safety, DoN will continue stressing to Sailors and Marines that they should apply the same operational risk management (ORM) skills to their off-duty activities.
"All leaders must guard against reckless behavior - it jeopardizes the health, safety, and combat readiness of our entire force" said Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps. "Risk mitigation is one of the best means available as we fight to eliminate senseless and needless loss of life and injury, both on duty and on liberty."
Statistically, the most dangerous thing Sailors and Marines do every day is also one of the most common, driving a personal motor vehicle. While there are a number of factors that make this even more dangerous: driving while fatigued, distracted, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs; the good news is that alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities are down across the fleet. The Naval Safety Center has tools and resources available to help train Sailors and Marines - particularly those under the age of 25 who are statistically much more likely to be killed or injured behind the wheel. One of the tools is the travel risk planning system (TRiPS), an on-line, automated risk-assessment tool that Sailors and Marines use before they go on liberty or leave, driving outside command travel limits. The system helps them recognize-and avoid-the hazards they may face on the highway.
While each of the five areas provide important support for department personnel, physical fitness can be viewed having some of the farthest reaching beneficial effects. Sailors and Marines must be ready to meet the demands of performing in a tactical environment, and physical readiness is a crucial link to ensuring Sailors and Marines are ready to take on the challenges the Navy and Marine Corps faces today, and will face in the future. As part of the 21st Century initiative, Sailors and Marines must maintain the highest level of sustained fitness with the ultimate goal of having the fittest, most deployment-ready force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps.
"Sound minds and sound bodies are the fundamental elements of successful Sailors and combat readiness," said MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West. "The transition from a 'culture of testing' to a 'culture of fitness' means that we deliberately incorporate physical proficiency and holistic health into our daily routines rather than simply doing just enough to get by on tests twice a year. The more we do each day to improve our physical conditioning, the better prepared we are to handle stress, deployments, and unexpected situations.
Sometimes it's difficult to find the time or resources to get in a run or hit the gym, but if leadership and Sailors actively make those things part of their commitment to excellence, the pay-off is significant. We are not a sedentary Force ... we are forward-deployed, we are expeditionary, we are agile ... and we need to be physically ready as Sailors to answer any call at any time."
The Navy continues to build a culture of fitness as part of the physical fitness area, by urging Sailors to incorporate fitness into their daily lives. Adopting the "Fueled to Fight" program fleetwide will provide a nutrition strategy to increase high quality fuel (food, drink) fleetwide to meet the war fighter's nutrition needs. Additionally, Secretary Mabus is moving the DoN to be smoke-free by choice with a continued education campaign on the hazards of smoking, providing easy access to free cessation tools to every Sailor and Marine trying to quit and ending the discounts for cigarettes in Navy Exchanges and Marine Corps Exchanges. Ending the discounts will bring the prices up to 100 percent market pricing.
Ensuring all personnel, regardless of race or gender, are given every opportunity to excel and succeed is the hallmark of the program's forth area, inclusion. In order to operate globally, the Department of the Navy will need diversity of ideas, experiences, areas of expertise, and backgrounds to fulfill a variety of missions, while remaining relevant to the American people. Regardless of mission, in the Navy women are permanently assigned to all types of ships, aviation squadrons, afloat staffs, Naval Construction Force units and certain submarine platforms. The nature of today's ground conflicts is evolving; there are no front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan. Women in the Marine Corps are assigned to units and positions that may necessitate defensive combat actions - situations for which they are fully trained and equipped to respond.
There are many areas in which opportunities can be expanded for women to serve and contribute and the Marine Corps is taking a deliberate approach in identifying those areas.
A new DoN Diversity Office will be established, with the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) serving as the DoN's Diversity Officer. The Diversity Office will leverage, coordinate and formalize ongoing efforts within the Navy and Marine Corps and will include the heads of the Navy Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Marine Corps Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management and the DoN Office of Civilian Diversity as team members.
"Diversity of Thought - Connectedness with America - Diversity is more important than race, ethnicity, or gender," said Sgt. Maj. Micheal P. Barrett, the 17th sergeant major of the Marine Corps. "We are committed to attracting, mentoring and retaining the most talented men and women who bring a diversity of background, culture and skill in service to our nation."
The final area, continuum of service, aims at ensuring Sailors and Marines are provided the most robust transition support in Department history. Whether retraining wounded warriors, providing voluntary education, or helping achieve civilian credentialing, the department will aim to provide personnel every opportunity for personal and professional growth.
The Navy's Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) program offers Sailors the opportunity to earn civilian certifications and licenses corresponding to their Navy ratings, collateral duties, and out-of-rating assignments. COOL is designed to further develop the personal and professional capability of the Navy Total force, enhancing force readiness.
Through each of the areas described in the secretary's address, the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative will realign many programs throughout the department and focus their combined efforts to ensure all personnel are not only mentally and physically prepared for the future fight, but that they will also have the knowledge, skills and support needed to succeed for the remainder of their lives.
"The 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative is focused on the whole life of the individual and their family's lives. When a Sailor's or Marine's time in the military ends whether it is after four years or forty, we want your productive life to continue and for you to leave the service in better health, more trained and better educated than when you came in."