Naval Reserve Contribution to Capability
I would like to begin by thanking the President, distinguished guests and DRA members for providing the opportunity for Navy to report on the state of its Reserve, or other than full-time work force and how it directly contributes to Navy and broader ADF capability.
In terms of future Navy capability requirements there are three very prominent themes. First is to hone high end warfighting skills so we can operate as an independent task group, or as part of a multi-national task force. Second is to support the national ship building program that will deliver, from next year, a new ship each year for the next 30 years. Third is people, not only to support current and future high end warfighting capability but also to support the vital ship building program.
I engage with Navy’s PERS branch to develop and deliver career management for Reserves. A lot has been spoken about career management today, largely in the Army context, but Navy Reserves also require career management. That message has been heard by me. However, it must be acknowledged that not all part-time members want career management or advancement in rank. Reserve members have told me that career management and advancement could result in their being posted or promoted out of a role that allows them to meet personal commitments in their preferred locality. Career management must therefore be an opt-in/opt-out process for each member. Career management must also recognise that Reserve members up-skill their competencies through civilian employment which is also of value to Navy as their developing skills that need to be harnessed
Town-hall Meetings and ForceNet
I maintain contact with the part-time workforce by holding regional ‘town hall’ meetings, and also increasingly through ForceNet. At the town hall meetings attending members receive first-hand briefings about changes to the Reserve service environment which shape expectations. These meetings give Reserves the opportunity to raise concerns/frustrations that they have. Non-attendees are able to access messaging via ForceNet. Ultimately these conversations shape expectations, and feedback received allows me to raise concerns with workgroup managers.
Navy is also engaged with the JRWG to further a review into the conditions of service for Reserve personnel in all three Services.
The Naval Reserve Salary Budget
The Naval Reserve salary budget is roughly the same as it was for last financial year. The challenge for Navy’s PERS branch is to ensure that the available budget is fully utilised to deliver capability by a larger number of Reserves rendering greater amounts of service. Predictability for the part-time workforce will be key to ensuring Navy’s FY18/19 targets are met.
Naval Reserve Strength
The total strength of the Naval Reserve is 6,909; with 3,986 in SERCAT 2; 2,645 members in SERCATs 3 and 5 (1,665 of whom regularly render service) and; 278 rendering SERVOP C (CFTS). Naval Reserve contribution provides 675 effective years of service, equating to 5.4% of Navy’s capability by 14.1% of Navy’s trained workforce. By any measure this is a significant boost to capability. A challenge is to increase the number of part-time members rendering SERCAT 5 (multiple year postings/commitments to serve), which will provide greater assurance to both the member and Navy.
Contributions to Operations
Operationally, Navy has part-time members who contribute to the border protection. In FY17/18, 2,115 service days were provided by 38 members through 90 separate engagements on patrol boats. For Fleet and operational activities in FY17/18, 46 Naval Reserves contributed 2,225 days through 91 separate engagements as operational reliefs on warships. Additionally, 125 part-time members provided 154 SERVOP C engagements and three members on SERVOP C were deployed to the middle-East region. The take-away from these statistics is that the part-time contribution to on-water and other full-time capability is considerable. The majority of part-time members are serving in Navy group, but we have members serving in virtually all ADF groups and Services.
Project Bass was a review conducted to further integrate the Reserve. Forty of the 45 recommendations have now been delivered, with the five remaining being transferred to Navy Personnel Branch for final delivery. There are challenges remaining such as harnessing the flexibility inherent in TWM, enabling flexible career pathways and ensuring the Naval Reserve can meet increasing capability demand; as a non-exhaustive list.
ForceNet registration, and maintenance of an active account, is now mandatory for all Naval Reserve members. Additionally, all part-time members who render service are required to complete mandatory annual awareness training. These requirements ensure that Chief of Navy’s statutory requirements are met, and ensures that the Reserve is aligned with Navy Values.
Navy is positioning its Reserve for full participation in emerging capability like cyber, unmanned aerial vehicles and ship building. Reserve operational support will be vital to sharpen higher end warfare skills. A particular challenge with ship building is that Navy and Industry share the skills base, which may see people leaving Navy to take up industry roles. It is imperative that Navy and Industry partner to ensure efforts are complimentary.
Navy is currently reviewing the need to establish SERCAT 4, with initial focus being the ability to ‘call-forward’ health professionals at short notice.
In terms of challenges for the Naval Reserve to serve, I can only conclude that Navy does not have too many. As an example, the number of part-time members who contact the Office of Reserve Service Protection is low, which is likely to stem from the fact that a large percentage of Naval Reserve DFRDB and MSBS benefit recipients are ex-permanent force (86%) who do not have civilian employers. The rendering of part-time service is understood to provide this cohort with a viable alternate career path, with the flexibility of Reserve service suiting personal circumstance.
Navy has applied total integrated workforce principles since 2003. This has assisted embedding Reserve capability into daily operations, and the implementation of Total Workforce Model. Ab-initio entrants, namely professionals from the legal, medical, musical and shipping sectors, are managed closely through their Head of Community.
Navy is planning the delivery of a Boss Lift experience to CEOs from 15-17 October 2018. The programme, subject to operational requirements, includes sea transit, flights in Navy helicopters, exposure to damage control and firefighting and simulation training. This opportunity will provide participants with good exposure to what Navy does and how their Reserve employees provide a vital contribution to Navy’s capability.
In summary, Navy is in a healthy state when it comes to engaging its part-time workforce to contribute to the delivery of capability. Although I always acknowledge that more can, and should, be done to further enhance access to the latent capability provided by the Naval Reserve. Challenges for Navy more broadly will be the aggressive ship building program, predictability of future requirements being placed on the Reserve and ensuring that stability is provided (as far as is practicable) to the Navy’s part-time workforce.”