Posted: April 4, 2017 12:50 PM

Navy ‘Modifying Everything We Do’ to Recruit, Retain

By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Seapower Special Correspondent

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Navy is trying to leverage technology — and slightly alter recruiting tactics — to continue staffing the fleet in the years ahead.

“We can’t sit in the station and wait for them to come to us anymore,” Rear Adm. Jeffrey Hughes, commander of Navy Recruiting Command, said April 4 at the 2017 Sea-Air-Space Exposition.

Hughes said the Navy has met its recruiting goal for 120 months in a row, but noted requirements for enlisted Sailors are strict and the market for qualified Sailors is shrinking.

“Fewer and fewer of them have direct ties to the military. … We need to spend more time virtual prospecting,” he said. Noting that this would allow for greater recruiting mobility, Hughes said the current generation of Sailors prefers to do something online verses using a pen and pencil.

“We are modifying everything we do to get them to see who we are. … It’s a balance of virtual and physical interactions into all of our processes.”

Vice Adm. Robert Burke, the chief of Navy personnel, said it’s important to do away with geographic recruiting and focus on finding the best candidates everywhere. “The talent does not obey those lines,” Burke said.

This shift will require a more virtual focus, and Burke said that is necessary because he is concerned about a possible decline in recruitment in the coming years. Economic factors, a shrinking force and wage scales are issues the Navy is looking at to try to address the issue now before it becomes a problem.

To meet the challenges of the future fleet, the Navy has launched Sailor 2025, a program aimed at improving and modernizing personnel management and training systems to more effectively recruit, develop, manage, reward and retain the force.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano said Sailors today are looking for more predictability in assignments and some mobility in their career paths. “We have a responsibility to mitigate as much as we can the stressors of their lives,” he said.

Rear Adm. John Nowell, director of Military Personnel Plans and Policy, said the Navy is looking into adjusting Sailor compensation, how it works its rating scale and modernization. “How can we put people into the right job and keep them for a longer period of time? We are looking at policies we can change now to support the fleet,” Nowell said.

Rear Adm. Michael White, commander of the Naval Education and Training Command, added that training and educating Sailors, before they enlist or early in their careers, on what they can expect in the future can better help retain the force.

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