Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Problem with Navy Training

I’ve been reading the criticisms of TFW/TFSW closely from the start, and to me it looks like the common issue in objections is that the training Sailors get enroute to, and once in, the fleet is short on basic warrior skills. The professional development system TFSW is working hard to build is not the issue; the issue is the perceived skill set that the training system produces.

The simulators and other “gee whiz” technologies have utility for teaching fundamentals, but simulators are not the same as using the gear on your ship, maintained and operated by your shipmates, to fire a real missile at a real target. There’s no substitute for actually seeing that CIWS slew, hearing the “recommend engage” alarm and the rounds go down range, and watching the fiberglass fly. Finally, because of the ad hoc nature of small arms training in the fleet, most of us out on the deckplates don’t have much more confidence in the ability of the average Sailor to protect his ship and shipmates with a sidearm, rifle or .50 cal than we do in the average clerk trying to defend a convenience store with a sawed-off.

For many of us, this lack of confidence extends to fleet training in general. Using a shiphandling simulator doesn’t produce the same level of confidence and skill as doing pierwork with a real ship. Nor does the level of knowledge and skill of Sailors trained with self-paced CDROM courses match those educated in the old schoolhouses. We’re getting Sailors that have great potential, but we’re falling back to old-fashioned apprenticeship to train them, and the underway time, funding and NCEA can barely support it.

The bottom line objection to TFSW is the use of the term “warrior.” Objectors don’t like it because they believe the fleet doesn’t practice warrior skills enough, and they don’t think the current training and education establishment teaches warrior skills; therefore, they conclude that we are not warriors and any “transformational” system will not produce warriors.

If TFSW builds a good framework, lets the Fleet have the lead in defining the content, and the Navy backs it up with the necessary funding, the objections will evaporate. In addition, what conflict is raging in the world won’t matter in the long run, because the framework will still be viable. All that would need to change are the inputs from the fleet, and we’re not shy about speaking our opinions.