Dear Readiness, You suck. V/r, Everyone (part 2 of 3)


Hello. If this is your first time seeing the site, scroll down a bit to read some of the introductory stuff. This post doesn’t really make sense without the first part.

I just got finished reading through parts of the WTM, and I should point out that 1) the CBM I’m using is outdated (go figure) and 2) you only need to do 80% of the flight hours required to accomplish a task. Those flight hours are CNAF approved, and therefore, beyond reproach (someone felt so insecure about their justification for those hours that they put that verbiage in the WTM). So instead of a minimum of 4.0 hours to get your ASW 201, you only need to 3.2. My previous argument nevertheless remains valid. My new argument is if you’re going to stick to minimum flight hours, and you’re saying the actual minimum is 80% of whats advertised, why not just multiply them all by 80%? Probably because that would cut our flight hour funding by 20%. Are you starting to see how we distort reality to fit our funding desires? I am.

I left off in part 1 of this post having finished describing how the CBM works and drives what the squadron has to accomplish. I then finished talking about how the flight hours requirement is illogical and dumb.

I should probably let you know that I’m having some misgivings finishing this post. As I reread my stuff, it seems like it’s turning into a point paper to be filed away in a desk somewhere and never read. And when I start to think about what to write about next on this topic, I feel like I’m cresting the peak of a mountain I was trying to climb, only to find that I’m only a 1/3 of the way up. Readiness is an almost insurmountable amount of wrongness. How did it get like this? Maybe this is what happens when you task aviators to do things they have no business doing.

Nevertheless, I’m still going to finish, but with maybe less zeal than what I started with. Before I get into the biggest problem with readiness (it’s the tasks), I do want to point out some nit picky stuff. First off, who came up with the names of the some of these things? “EP / Procedures?” why don’t they just call it a NATOPS check? Everyone in naval aviation knows what that is.

“Search, Detect, and ID ASW” doesn’t make sense… At all. That one really pisses me off. Are we searching for antisubmarine warfare? If you’re trying to define a capability by a set of skills required to have said capability, THEY NEED TO MAKE FUCKING SENSE. Jesus Cristo how are we supposed to be skilled at something that isn’t even defined properly?

Up until now, I’ve focused mostly on how the squadron’s overall readiness system is measured. An important concept to grasp is that the readiness system is really a measurement system. It measures how much work squadrons, or the individual crews within them, needs to do to have a number of skills, which translates into a number of capabilities. I’ll get more into the measuring capabilities later in the “why” section, but the reason everyone hates readiness so much is that the measuring process is very flawed.

The bulk of the measurements come from the tasks we have to do. When talking about readiness, everyone is probably most familiar with the tasks. The completion of these tasks, as I previously pointed out, yield the “skills” which culminate in “capabilities.” In review, the two major skills needed to satisfy the capability to “Attack submerged targets” are “search, detect, and ID ASW,” and the TORPEX. While I’m here, I’m going to change that skill name to “Search, detect, and ID submarines” (I will heretofore refer to it as that). It’s driving me crazy writing nonsensical stuff like how it’s written in the CBM.

Anyways, that seems pretty reasonable. To attack a submarine, you need to be able to find it, and then drop a torpedo on it. The problem is that the tasks required to be skilled at “Search, detect, and ID submarines” don’t really relate to it.

In reference to the VP Qualsman (whoever came up with that gem needs to be fired), an ASW 201 and an ASW 202 require some baseless tracking time, and a couple of attacks. The only difference between the two is the type of target. I would argue, and many would agree, that the major difference between the two targets resides in the searching thereof. Like i said before, it makes sense that to attack a submerged target, you need to find them, and then drop a torpedo on them. How does the ASW 201 and 202 evaluate whether the crew can effectively search for the target? It doesn’t.

So here’s points 4 and 5: 4) The skills required for a capability must actually be related to the capability, and not just a mirror from the old readiness system. 5) The tasks associated with a skill similarly must be related to the skill, and not just mirror the old readiness system.

What’s the end result of being evaluated at unrelated things? We fail to actually achieve the capability that we sought out to have in the first place. I ask, can we effectively search for a submarine? A better question: can we prove we can effectively search for a sub? The answer is no, and it’s because we never truly evaluate it.

One final thing before I strive to answer the question, “Why does this readiness beast exist?”. Again, it involves how the skills and capabilities are validated. Let’s take for instance the capability of “Attacking surface targets” more commonly known as ASUW. Among the requirements you’d find in the CBM are the firing of one SLAMER, Harpoon, and Maverick per squadron each IDRC, plus periodic tasks for crews. First off, one missile launched by one crew does not a capability make. Secondly, the requirements and periodicity of the tasks similarly do not adequately provide the skills necessary to validate the capability. How many of our crews are really able to employ SLAMER? How about Harpoon? How about employing in an integrated strike environment?

So point 6: The tasks and requirements to validate a skill should actually amount to something more than just an advertised, yet never used capability.

Ok so I’m going to take a little break from the readiness bit… Up to over 130 hits so far. Only sent the link out to about 20 people. Pretty good start I think. I guess that means that people either thought it was good enough to share, or are showing their friends mocking me. Either way, I suggest you subscribe to get the update notifications (your emails will be kept confidential – and I have no qualms about taking all the heat if I get busted for this). Also, I think it’s time to move to a more public forum. If you’d like to post this on facebook, be my guest. Spread it openly. And if you’re mocking me, fuck you.

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  1. #1 by William T Riker on 31August2011 - 4:13 am

    Quoted:
    A better question: can we prove we can effectively search for a sub? The answer is no, and it’s because we never truly evaluate it.
    __________________________________________________________________

    A sad reality. Is it no one’s job to ensure that this task is performed? How long has this been the state of things?

    • #2 by Voltaire on 2September2011 - 12:51 am

      Good question. I’ve been meaning to get back to finishing up my readiness manifesto, but I’ve gotten sidetracked with other things, plus readiness is the most challenging problem we face. Its Group’s job to evaluate our capabilities. The general decline of our ASW skills in the past decade likely started around the 2003-2004 timeframe, as more P-3’s were committed to overland ISR as a result of the Air Force’s lack of robust ground support. This coincided with an increased focus on measuring capabilities and relating it to a dollar amount. When faced with the problem of assigning a cost to our ASW capabilities, which is kind of a new thing for the military, the folks at Group did not attempt to create a unique solution to this unique problem. Rather, they continued to adjust what was in place to appease higher ups. This goes on today, and we have a bloated and ineffective system.

      • #3 by NFO on 29November2012 - 2:46 pm

        “The general decline of our ASW skills in the past decade likely started around the 2003-2004 timeframe.”

        Sorry, the decline started much earlier than 2003. I was doing overland missions almost exclusively when deployed in ’95, and it started well before me. The truth is that big Navy lost the ASW bubble and decided not to budget for the capability, most likely following a Quadrennial Review or some other similar study. While Group may have failed to make a strong enough case for that capability, they would likely have been overruled regardless. As a Service, we’re just now starting to wake up to the fact the Chinese (and others) may soon put us in a serious hurt locker wrt ASW.

  2. #4 by JustanotherbitterP-3JO on 17January2012 - 11:59 pm

    We’ve officially gone off the rocker. We are now getting readiness on deployment, after wasting the last 4 months of time with our families before deployment chasing readiness on the weekends in some “really good ASW opportunities.” This after most of the Single Anchor Master Race types spent 2-3 months on someone else’s shitty desert deployment as an augment. WTFO?

    Never attempt to apply logic to a problem in the P-3 community. Don’t ask questions where the answer can be why not. Try to think about this militarily, not rationally.

    5 years until I get the fuck out of the Navy. What a waste my “service” has been to everyone involved, mostly the taxpayer.

    Keep blogging. Reading this is cathartic. Maybe there are some hinges out there with a bit of sense in their lobotomized heads.

  3. #5 by Lobotomized O-4 on 27February2012 - 5:14 am

    I’ll probably catch a lot of crap for this, but here goes…

    In case you were wondering if O-4+ types read this, they do. Every DH and recent former DH I know is aware this exists. At least two Skippers have read it. They’re probably a substantial percentage of the hit total. I don’t know if this is going away since, according to the last article, the author is getting out, but in case there’s still readers left, I figure what the hell, slow day on the staff, might as well throw my $.02 in.

    As a ‘lobotomized O-4’ or ‘moron’ as referred to elsewhere, I’m probably expected to defend the things JOs find irritating. Sorry to disappoint, but can’t do it. It’s not that we do a lot wrong per se. I stuck around for a lot of reasons, and two of them are I like what I do (not the BS that crops up around my job, but my actual job) and I enjoy working with the people you meet around the community. Well, at least some of them, right? But that doesn’t mean I’m blind to all the same things you see. Neither are the CO’s, neither are the Commodores, and neither is the incoming CPRG.

    In the large realm of things JOs don’t like, Readiness is one of the more easily explained. Is the way we do it a huge pain in the ass? Absolutely; no one is better than VP at making stuff ten times harder than it needs to be. I’m an NFO, so I get to do the post mission process in all its glory. It was bad ten years ago, but it’s absolutely ludicrous now. I counted one day, and for a home cycle INT flight, I had to write my takeoff and land time in 22 different places to complete the mission. That’s ridiculous, no two ways about it.

    But the overall readiness system…it gets more complicated. I know it looks broken, but that comes from two places. First, it’s the VP interpretation of how to do readiness. No one makes things harder or more paperwork intensive than they have to be like VP does, and that’s that. Second, it’s a trickle down system for allocating money across all of DoD. long story short, DRRS is an attempt to take the entire US military and picture it as a money giant money valve. You start out at the top with a certain amount of T&R money, and as it flows down through the valves to tactical units, you flow more money to some mission areas, less to others, resulting in some forces getting funded to do everything they need to do to fight (100% T&R funding) and others getting some percentage (like 80% for example) based on a number of factors. If you think we’re going to be in a war tomorrow where we’ll need certain capabilities, you just turn the valve and allocate 100% or more of baseline T&R to those capabilities, that funding makes it to the appropriate units, and they train more. There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist. The DRRS you use is the same model your colleague who’s an Army tank company commander uses, which is the same DRRS the poor sap who’s Readiness O in a USAF C-130 squadron uses. Actually, USAF probably contracts that stuff out, but you get the idea.

    So, it’s a big monolithic system that has the good effect of making the whole big DoD money allocation scheme easier to manage and more responsive and efficient, but has the bad outcome that the translation down to the tactical level doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense, and doesn’t really fit what everyone’s doing well. As described by the author, the big idea makes sense, but the execution does not. So what do we do?

    My idea is make the execution make sense. Yeah, there’s labels in the pubs that are obviously not right. But if you’re going to get all in a tizzy because there’s a label on a task that is not in perfect English but that you can clearly figure out the gist of…well, you might be a little high strung for this. No offense, but in every way of life I know of, a key to happiness is choosing what you’re going to let your blood pressure rise over. Just sayin… But those issues aside, if you look across the T&R matrix broadly, and think to yourself “if a crew can demonstrate they can do all these things on a regular basis, are they a pretty solid crew?” I think the answer is yes. Conversely, if a crew repeatedly demonstrates they can’t do some key tasks, is that something we want to identify and fix? I think the answer is yes again. The T&R matrix is an overcomplicated mess that might cause us all to quit our jobs from thinking about it too hard if you want to take it that way. If you think about anything too hard in the military, you’ll freak out a little bit. But if you look at it as an imperfect but pretty much adequate tool to attempt to quantify how many qualified people and crews we have to the Navy and for the Navy to allocate funds to us, it’s not too bad. The rest is the admin of making it happen, which is a pain for sure, but there it is.

    As far as what specific tasks we do and don’t do…the guys who come up with this stuff are not idiots is all I can say open forum. Well, some of them are- the guys who got out because they suck and got picked up by the companies and agencies that create and buy products and systems for the Navy that are much more time intensive and complicated than they need to be in large part to justify their own paychecks are idiots. Most of the guys you see wandering around our bases rocking a Polo shirt and Dockers with their ID on a lanyard around their neck talking about how it was back in the day are idiots. But the people who put the final signature on the bottom line of the important stuff like what we train to are not idiots…and that’s all I have to say about that. I know that’s not satisfactory to JOs, but a little faith does go a long way to both keeping you from saying stupid stuff and keeping your blood pressure under control. Stick around and see a thing or two outside your own squadron, and you’ll understand.

    This took three days of batting away when I’m not doing stuff. Sorry for the book, but this site needs some more comments.

    Bottom line, chill out, you’ll live longer. And worry less.

  4. #6 by Lobotomized O-4 on 27February2012 - 5:48 am

    One more sidenote: Do you want to know when we had the best ASW crews in the history of the community? Not before 9/11, and certainly not the Cold War. That time is now, and don’t let any has-been assbag tell you different. You guys are really good, and you don’t even know it.

    VP has a weird disease among Naval Aviation communities: we actually think we’re much less relevant and competent than we are. That’s the opposite of everyone else. I don’t know why; maybe we look around our squadrons and see the knuckleheads that work there and think we can’t possibly be good, maybe we feel if we just accept mediocrity it gets us off the hook from trying hard, etc. I don’t know what it is, but if there’s one thing I could change about the community that would be it. The paperwork sucks, sure. Sometimes it sees like a VP squadron isn’t a flying squadron at all but a staff that happens to own some airplanes. That and a lot of the other stuff talked about here is certainly painful, but it would be a piece of cake if most VP wardrooms didn’t have this funk, this malaise of insecurity and weakness about them. VFA guys do the air show circuit, pretend to shoot each other down, and land on the boat. That’s hard, but those guys act like they own the universe because they can safely do ULT. We do real world every day…and that’s all I’m saying about that here. It’s hard, and we do well at it. But we act like mice. That’s a no go for me.

    It’s important to think about because a lot of good people are counting on us to do our jobs if the shit hits the fan. I’m in a place right now to know how much we’re on the hook for. I don’t know how that will go if it happens; no one does. But it’s our job to be ready; both T&R ready, and ready in our heads to do our job. We can’t do that if we think we suck. It’s especially sad because it just isn’t true. We’re as good at our job as any military people are at their jobs who don’t have the word ‘Special’ in their job title. We got our job by getting lower grades in flight school by and large than the jet dudes, sure, but we’re as good at our task as they are at theirs. Who knows, maybe better. I’m proud of what we do, and I’m proud of most of the people I’ve worked with in the past 14 years. I wish most of them thought as highly of themselves as I do, but there’s a lot of folks out there who are simply dead set on believing that we’re bad no matter what.

    Be that as it may, take my word for this: right now, we as a group can track and shoot a sub better than anyone in the history of VP. If nothing else comes out of me dorking off at my desk waiting for the Flag VTC to get out so I can figure out how long the rest of my day’s going to be, I hope it’s that someone reads this and questions our assumption that we suck, decides it’s not true, and maybe walks and talks a little prouder for it. We deserve to; we’re the only community in Naval Aviation that proves ourselves at our mission real world every day.

    And if any fossil from the 80s and 90s tells you any different, take his BT patch and jam it up his ass with my regards.

    • #7 by Slipp McGurk on 12February2016 - 11:27 pm

      Thank God we are so good at training for ASW… it must really help on all those ASW deployments…

      Oh, wait. We don’t do that. The P-8 has a monopoly on the few ASW missions that are actually available. So… we’re basically training for…

      Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

      It’s not that we think we’re worse aviators than the rest of Naval Aviation. It’s the fact that, regardless of how well you do your job, you’ll always be the janitor of the skies – doing the jobs no one else wants to do, getting no recognition, and no funding to do it. I don’t take pride in being a scrub, and neither should you.

  5. #8 by CPRGiswherethecoolaidismade on 7January2013 - 7:08 pm

    The above claim that we are better at ASW now than ever is completely ludicrous and proven over and over to be untrue. Keep chugging that coolaid, Scrappy FO

  6. #9 by self hating on 3September2013 - 2:26 am

    The worst part about the CBM is that it’s totally binary. If you have 5 quals, hypothetically speaking, that make up the various skills that you need to meet an NTA wicket, and if all of your crews have 4/5 of them, but for whatever legitimate reason your squadron can’t meet the 5th qual, you get a big fat zero in the T pillar, giving the squadron no credit for any legitimate training that may occur. What then is the incentive to go after quals if SHARP/DRRS show you as doing nothing overall?

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