News: Seabee FORCM addresses chief petty officer management class
Story by Chief Petty Officer Ryan Wilber
GULFPORT, Miss. - Force Master Chief Petty Officer (FORCM) of the Seabees, Douglas R. Dickey, of Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., addressed the students of a Seabee chief petty officer management course held at the Tactical Training Facility on board Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport, Miss., Feb. 16.
The chief petty officer management course prepares active-duty and reserve Seabee chief petty officers for the transition from lead technician/crew leader to first level manager in the Naval Construction Force or shore establishment. Thirty-one students were in attendance as Dickey discussed current Seabee issues in a question-and-answer-type interaction.
Seabee advancement, and the Perform to Serve and Enlisted Retention Board programs were a few of the big questions the chiefs had for Dickey.
Recent advancement opportunities in the Seabees, or lack thereof, has been an important issue for many troops in recent months. Dickey said that those opportunities should increase in the near future, but in line with historical averages some pay grades may still advance faster than others.
“We are projecting Seabee advancements to continue to improve to approach historical Seabee averages by fall of 2012. There will be a few rate and rank exceptions that take a little longer to improve, particularly at the E-6 level,” said Dickey. “Keep in mind that projections can be tricky, because of the unknown elements. We can’t project what may or may not happen, but this is what we anticipate based on the current environment.”
According to the Naval Personnel Command website, due to the fact that record high retention, coupled with low attrition, has left the Navy overmanned by greater than 103 percent in 31 of the total 84 ratings in the Navy, the ERB was established to afford high-performing sailors opportunity for advancement and reenlistment. All seven of the Seabee ratings were included in those 31 overmanned ratings.
“ERB came along because PTS could not maintain the amount of people that we had to surgically strike from our rolls and we were breaking it basically. [PTS] could not keep up with what we were asking it to do, so the ERB came along,” said Dickey.
Dickey had good news for those concerned about the future of ERB in the Navy. In response to a question about whether there will be another ERB, Dickey said “no.”
“There are no plans for the next FY [fiscal year] and there are no plans for the future,” said Dickey.
Dickey said that writing proper evaluations for troops, based on the right criteria, would be the key to preventing a need for force shaping tools such as ERB in the future.
“I will challenge you as chiefs, everybody that has people who work for them, go into that precept on the continuation board and also on the ERB board and figure out what that precept is telling you, because that is what you have to write the evaluations for. That is what you need to write an evaluation to, what they’re looking for. Don’t let a board read between the lines,” said Dickey.
Before ending his class time, Dickey took a question concerning billet assignment. It was brought up to him that troops were concerned about how boards look at billets outside of the battalions. Dickey said it was not necessarily the billet, but what a person does in the billet that counts, but sea time cannot be discounted.
“Get outside your comfort zone and always strive to do better. What you should be showing is diversity within your career path, meaning what you’re able and what you are capable of doing on a wide range outside the box,” said Dickey. “Advancement boards recognize those outside hard duties. It depends on what you do there, and it depends on how well you do it, and as long as you make an effort to get back to your source. You’ve got to show you are going back to sea.”
Dickey challenged the chiefs to learn as much as they could from the chief petty officer management course.
“Learn a lot from this class. You won’t learn everything, but always learn more, strive to be better. Keep learning. Keep pushing. Be that “can do” Seabee.
In return, Dickey expressed his pleasure in serving as the Seabee Force Master Chief, and took the assignment to challenge himself and further the Seabee legacy.
“That’s the reason I took the assignment as your Force Master chief, to challenge myself, to challenge the norm and to ensure the legacy of the Seabees is continuing. What I can do is do the best that I can, get the feedback from you like with what we’ve been discussing inside this class and take that back to the leadership that counts,” said Dickey.