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The Navy Is Finally Giving Sailors A Break Amid Growing Pressure Over Collisions
Sleep deprivation is a silent killer, especially in the military. Now, the service is scrambling to address the vicious cycle of exhaustion and overwork within the 7th Fleet that officials see as the root cause of the USS Fitzgerald and the USS McCain collisions that claimed the lives of 17 sailors over the summer.
The Navy will start with changing its sleep schedules, according to Naval Surface Force-Pacific commander Vice Adm. Tom Rowden’s on Sept. 19, giving overworked sailors a chance to actually get some rest between long watches.
“We will institute circadian rhythm” — which typically means an acknowledgment of the body’s 24-hour cycle — “in our watchbills and shipboard routines,” said Rowden, who is retiring early for reasons unknown. “Many units are already utilizing circadian rhythm, and I realize the pace of operations might dictate some modifications to the manner in which circadian rhythm is implemented.”
For Rowden, the needs of the sailors have too long been overlooked, and his remarks came a day after lawmakers, led by Sen. John McCain, grilled Navy officials regarding the routine burdens of the 100-hour work-week frequently faced by sailors.
“As stated in previous warfighting serials, personal readiness is equally important as material readiness,” Rowden said. “Additional guidance and implementation tools will be forthcoming.”
According to memos uncovered by Navy Times, skippers have been granted a number of options for watch schedules, which will better adhere to the sailors' natural rhythms.
For Navy officials, this is an obvious problem for a 7th Fleet tasked with keeping a bellicose North Korea at bay. “Fatigue has measurable negative effects on readiness, effectiveness and safety,” Rowden said of the Navy’s sleep schedules in 2016. “After a day without sleep, human performance drops to dangerously ineffective levels.”
The Navy isn’t just taking a long, hard look at lack of sleep. On Sept. 18, two senior officers — Rear Adm. Charles Williams and Capt. Jeffrey Bennett —in the 7th Fleet were also removed for "a loss of confidence in their ability to command," CNBC reported. These departures follow a perceived lack of leadership in Williams, chief of the Navy's largest battle force, and doubts that Bennett could continue commanding the destroyer squadrons under the 7th Fleet.
Training remains a major issue. By June, a third of warfare training certifications for the Navy's destroyers and cruisers in Japan had expired, CNN reported after obtaining numbers from a Government Accountability office study on the Pacific Fleet was released. And Rowden said the Navy is taking all these issues into account.
“We must take every opportunity to evaluate how we are executing our core competencies, and improve at every turn,” he said. “As a community, we will always make the course corrections necessary to safely conduct operations at sea.”
(Update: This post has been correct the fact that Vice Adm. Rowden’s comments came from an All Naval Surface Forces Memo dated Sep. 19, not a Sep. 20 farewell address. It has also been updated to reflect that Rowden’s request for early retirement would release him from the service several months before his planned separation date, not a year early, as was previously stated.)
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.
U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.
The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.
A lawmaker wants to know if the Pentagon ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with bioweapons
If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.
If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."
The Taliban drove his family out of Afghanistan when he was a child. Now he wants to go back as a Marine
There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.
For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.
The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.