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American Forces Press Service

Navy Takes Steps to Address Issues Affecting Sailors

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2012 – The Navy is taking steps to address several issues that are affecting its sailors, the chief of naval operations said here today.

Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert spoke at a National Press Club luncheon.

Upward trends in sexual assaults and suicides are chief among the issues the Navy is tackling, the admiral said.

Sexual assault is a safety issue, Greenert said. "I'm troubled that we haven't moved forward to limit and really reverse the trend of these events during my time here. … Everybody deserves a safe place to work," he said. "We have to treat it as a crime, because that's what it is."

The admiral also said he's concerned with the increase in the number of suicides in the Navy.

"A few years ago, we had about 13 suicides per 100,000 [personnel], now it's 15 per 100,000, so we're creeping up," he acknowledged. "We have to empower our sailors to be able to deal with stress. We have to look out for each other and we have to embed … in all of our shipmates to make sure that, if somebody is reaching out, we're ready to take care of them."

The rate of operations is higher than he expected it would be at this time last year, Greenert said, and the Navy needs to reconcile how to continue to support that. This may result in adjustments to training and maintenance plans, he said.

The Navy needs to look at the operations tempo with particular attention to its sailors, he continued. "We call that individual tempo -- ITEMPO -- which is the measurement of what each sailor’s requirements are for going to sea [and] coming back, … as opposed to the unit. I think it's important to the health of the force."

The admiral said he's satisfied with the overall manning of ships at sea. But, he noted, the balance of skilled personnel and leadership needs to be adjusted to ensure that, as the Navy responds to the increased operational tempo, it has the right people in the right place at the right time.

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