MANAMA, Bahrain - Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Admiral Mark E. Ferguson visited Sailors in Bahrain May 10 - 11, to discuss current Navy personnel issues and thank them for their service.
Ferguson held an all hands call at Naval Support Activity Bahrain and visited Sailors deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations aboard the Norfolk-based USS Milius, the Bahrain-based USS Gladiator and the San Diego-based USS New Orleans.
"There is no substitute for going forward and seeing the great work that Sailors are doing and hearing their concerns," said Ferguson. "Then I can take their concerns back to Washington D.C. when we address the problems of Sailors and their families."
During his discussions with Sailors, Ferguson addressed the Navy's recent decision to hold some permanent change of station moves, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the return of family members to Bahrain, force stabilization, selective re-enlistment bonuses, Individual Augmentee deployments and the new Navy Working Uniform.
"It's a great time to be in the Navy," said Ferguson. "We're seeing record retention levels, we're seeing reduced attrition and the performance of our Sailors around the globe is truly extraordinary. It is a great time to serve with the benefits that we offer in terms of education, pay, health care and the introduction of the Post-9/11 GI Bill."
Ferguson assured Sailors that they will be able to conduct a PCS move to their next duty station if they have orders in hand. He also said that the Navy should have a more definitive answer regarding PCS moves for the rest of the fiscal year by the end of June.
"Those who could potentially be affected in July, August and September, we'll work on a case by case basis, and try and protect those who have operational assignments, career milestone billets and follow-on education to get them orders," said Ferguson. "I can assure Sailors that leadership from the Secretary of the Navy to the Chief of Naval Operations on down, are working to identify sources of funding for this year."
Ferguson also lauded the introduction of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and stressed the flexibility of the new GI Bill, which allows Sailors to transfer their entitlement to their spouse or children.
"Congress and the administration have been extremely supportive of our service members and their families," he said. "The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a tremendous benefit that entitles Sailors or their dependents to post-secondary school tuition, basic allowance for housing and a stipend for books and fees, upon completion of service requirements."
The visit to Bahrain is the first by Ferguson since he became the Navy's 55th Chief of Naval Personnel April 16, 2008. He is responsible for the planning and programming of all manpower, personnel, training and education resources, budgeting for Navy personnel and developing systems to manage the Navy's total force.