Navy Reverses Course On Shortened PCS Notice Times After Bungled Budget Request

Getty Images

After shortening permanent change of station notice for sailors and their families to just eight weeks, the Navy has requested additional funding to lengthen that time to up to six months.

Navy Times reported on Aug. 9 that branch officials had received approval from Congress for an additional $257 million in funding to increase the lead time ahead of moves for sailors and their families.

“Sailors can expect to start seeing large batches of orders being released over the next several weeks,” Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel, told Navy Times. “Our focus remains on manning the fleet, and taking care of sailors and their families.”

In June, Task & Purpose reported that the Navy appeared to shorten PCS lead times after the May passage of the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act spending bill that will fund the federal government through September. The service branch was originally allocated $741 million to the Navy for PCSing, which prompted officials to truncate the amount of time allotted to families to uproot their lives.

Though Christensen told Task & Purpose at the time that lead times have never been much longer than two months, Navy spouses like Kelly Hruska, legislative director for the National Association of Military Families, suggested that six months used to be the norm.

“It was not unusual to get orders six months out,” Hruska said. “You had a little bit of time to plan.”

However, Chris Gallegos, the communications director for Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman and Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, told Task & Purpose that the Navy’s full request was met.

“The Navy requested $741,307,000 for Permanent Change of Station, and the Congress approved that request,” he said.

In contrast, the Army requested and received $1.81 billion for its base PCS budget — over than a billion dollars more than the Navy.

Lt. Jessica Anderson, another spokeswoman for the chief of naval personnel, had previously confirmed for Task & Purpose that Navy personnel officials requested less funding, mainly in response to the budget restraints on government agencies imposed by Congress under the 2011 Budget Control Act, commonly referred to as the “sequester” bill.

“That PCS budget request was adjusted in the review process to meet topline bipartisan Budget Control Act limitations, without regard for the number of moves Navy needs to execute,” Anderson told Task & Purpose in late May.

But now, the Navy has “been able to issue approximately 9,000 orders using the reprogrammed funds,” Christensen said. “Before the fiscal year ends, we are aiming to have issued PCS orders with as much lead times as possible — our goal is six months.”

It’s unclear where, exactly, the new cash came from. Christensen told Task & Purpose that he was not made aware of the source of the additional funding, suggesting that the Navy was able to pull the excess funds from elsewhere in its budget. But Christensen also told Navy Times that reallocating money from a different portion of the Navy’s budget would have been signed off on by the Navy secretary, Department of Defense, and Congress, leaving the change in policy somewhat opaque.

Despite this, advocates like Hruska are calling the sudden reversal over PCS time a victory. “NMFA is pleased that the Navy is getting back to business as usual,” she told Task & Purpose. “We understand budget constraints, but the compressed timeline left families with little time to research schools, housing and employment at the new duty station.”


Thirteen Marines have been formally charged for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring, according to a press release from 1st Marine Division released on Friday.

The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.

Read More Show Less
Arizona Army National Guard soldiers with the 160th and 159th Financial Management Support Detachments qualify with the M249 squad automatic weapon at the Florence Military Reservation firing range on March 8, 2019. (U.S. Army/Spc. Laura Bauer)

The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."

That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.

When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.

"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.

Read More Show Less

According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.

"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."

Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."

Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."

Read More Show Less

If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.

The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.

But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.

Read More Show Less

As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.

And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.

Read More Show Less