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Next Iteration of the Naval Warfare Officer Rebranding

Humphrey Bogart

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The removal of the Mega was one of the changes that the Naval Personnel Training Group made as part of their "modernization" of naval training. It was not about dumbing down the course, but that they decided that it was difficult to objectively assess a student when the majority of the Ops team for their watch were also students with varying performance levels.

Do you fail an ORO student who had a rough run, but a couple of their key support personnel torpedoed them through poor performance and/or not providing critical information? The answer to that question was essentially up the whims of the assessor, but was often yes.

The rumour mill tells me that the Mega is returning, but understandably it will take some time to re-sync 5+ individual training courses that are currently running independently.

In the interim though, a Mega-style assessment of similar duration and intensity still exists for the ORO course. The remainder of the other Ops Rm positions are just filled by qualified members within the Fleet. This is a double-edged sword, as certain specific positions are hard to find these days, and a random CFTPO who's not being assessed may not have as much skin in the game.

As an aside, I do think there are circumstances where more objectivity in assessments is certainly a good thing. Take for example the NOPQ Board. Every candidate going to one of those boards has already been deemed competent by their CO and is running the Bridge at sea. I know of a few cases where a strong candidate failed the board simply because the Board Chair decided that they didn't meet a subjective standard of boardsmanship or "Command Presence", and the candidate is thus delayed promotion to Lt(N) and career progression for 6 months.



The bigger issue here in my mind is that the RCN considers the ORO course and tour to be a prerequisite for promotion to LCdr and most staff billets held by NWOs. While selection for the course is merit-based, time in rank is a contributing factor and every quite frequently NWOs across the Navy who do not have the specific competencies or desire to do the job or to have Command in the future are selected for the course. They then often go to a low-tempo ship and count their days until they can get promoted and go ashore forever. This also clogs up the pipeline for competent personnel behind them who want to do the job, but need to wait their turn for the machine to turn up their number.

IMO, the NWO community needs to publicly admit to itself that a) the ORO/XO/CO job sucks a lot of the time, and b) that there are lots of NWOs out there who are net contributors to the organization but who may not have either the very specific competencies to succeed as OROs/XOs/COs or for a variety of personal or family reasons may not want to go down that road.

I suspect that one of the reasons we may not have gotten there yet is that if promotion criteria to LCdr was independent of an ORO tour, and the community was able to be upfront with the Career Managers about their career aspirations, it may bring up some unfortunate truths about how few actually want to go down that road. This is just my suspicion though, with no data to support it.
TBH, I think NOPQ as it is presently executed is a deeply flawed evaluation system. Especially when the vast majority of students that graduate from Venture get posted to non-deploying units or Ships not in high-readiness.

They then fill out all their reqs, do alongside "discussions" about how they would theoretically do something, get the checks in the box and sit a board that only confirms their ability to memorize something as opposed to actually execute on operations.

The Navy then considers both these Watchkeepers equals for all intents and purpose when everyone knows it's not the case. It's one thing to do a few TGEX's off the coast of Vancouver Island and say you're G2G, it's quite another to do it in a place like the SCS with 100s of fishing vessels, deep seas, etc around you.
 

Lumber

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You'll often see LCdrs on the ships, but they're at the end of their tours.
At the rate we are trying to produce LCdrs, just about all the OROs are leaving the ship as LCdrs. Some are being asked to stay and strentch that CMP 6-month limit to the extreme because they still need OROs but they "had" to promote them to LCdr.
 

Lumber

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The rumour mill tells me that the Mega is returning, but understandably it will take some time to re-sync 5+ individual training courses that are currently running independently.

In the interim though, a Mega-style assessment of similar duration and intensity still exists for the ORO course. The remainder of the other Ops Rm positions are just filled by qualified members within the Fleet. This is a double-edged sword, as certain specific positions are hard to find these days, and a random CFTPO who's not being assessed may not have as much skin in the game.
There are pros, and there are cons, but the truth of the matter is this: there simply is not enough trainer time or support personnel available to fully support all courses independently. Is there a risk in having unqualified students be part of your team? Yes. But guess what? That's happening anyway when the school can't find enough available SWCs/ARROs/etc. to support 4 concurrent courses.

The bigger issue here in my mind is that the RCN considers the ORO course and tour to be a prerequisite for promotion to LCdr and most staff billets held by NWOs. While selection for the course is merit-based, time in rank is a contributing factor and quite frequently NWOs across the Navy who do not have the specific competencies or desire to do the job or to assume Command in the future are selected for the course. They then often go to a low-tempo ship and count their days until they can get promoted and go ashore forever. This also clogs up the pipeline for competent personnel behind them who want to do the job, but need to wait their turn for the machine to turn up their number.

IMO, the NWO community needs to publicly admit to itself that a) the ORO/XO/CO job sucks a lot of the time, and b) that there are lots of NWOs out there who are net contributors to the organization but who may not have either the very specific competencies to succeed as OROs/XOs/COs or for a variety of personal or family reasons may not want to go down that road.

I suspect that one of the reasons we may not have gotten there yet is that if promotion criteria to LCdr was independent of an ORO tour, and the community was able to be upfront with the Career Managers about their career aspirations, it may bring up some unfortunate truths about how few actually want to go down that road. This is just my suspicion though, with no data to support it.

I know many an NWO who are either post-ORO, currently ORO, or about to be ORO, who have/had no interest in being an ORO, nor command. But after being a Lt(N) for 8 years and seeing that the LCdr staff jobs are really not all that much different or harder than the Lt(N) staff jobs (plus a good chunk of Lt(N)s are actually filling LCdr jobs right now due to our lack of LCdrs), plus seeing a bunch of your wingers get it over with and become LCdrs, it makes it seem just worthwhile enough to make going through with the pain of being an ORO so you can be a LCdr for life.

And then you become an ORO, and you wonder, was it really worth the pain? They never tell you about then pain... oh the pain...
 

Navy_Pete

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At the rate we are trying to produce LCdrs, just about all the OROs are leaving the ship as LCdrs. Some are being asked to stay and strentch that CMP 6-month limit to the extreme because they still need OROs but they "had" to promote them to LCdr.
Similarly usually both engineer Heads of Departments leave as LCdrs. The promotion merit list is basically the same as the HOD selection, so they had to slam the brakes on a few times because people were set to be promoted before getting on the ships.

Someone got a mastered on leading change years ago by changing those two HOD billets from Lt(N)/LCdr to SLt/Lt(N) positions and saved some imaginary SWE cap so getting promoted pushes you out of consideration for the job. Pretty awkward to turn down a promotion though because you want to go back to the ship as a HOD. At least the CMs were asking unofficially first to avoid any awkward promotion ceremonies.
 

Lumber

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Similarly usually both engineer Heads of Departments leave as LCdrs. The promotion merit list is basically the same as the HOD selection, so they had to slam the brakes on a few times because people were set to be promoted before getting on the ships.

Someone got a mastered on leading change years ago by changing those two HOD billets from Lt(N)/LCdr to SLt/Lt(N) positions and saved some imaginary SWE cap so getting promoted pushes you out of consideration for the job. Pretty awkward to turn down a promotion though because you want to go back to the ship as a HOD. At least the CMs were asking unofficially first to avoid any awkward promotion ceremonies.
It's confusing and even a little frustrating because we're told/led to believe that the HOD tour is a pre-requisite/absolute requirement for promotion, but I guess the CMs don't know that, or else the presumption is wrong. From what I can see, the only requirement is to be merit listed for promotion. Coursing, sea time, a concurrence from your CO, none of it matters.
 

brihard

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Infantry dummy here. I know the navy has something to do with boats.

ORO = Ops Room Officer? Why does it suck so much?
 

FSTO

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Another issue with the ORO course is the mind numbingly useless classroom phase. Where "instructors" (using the term loosely) read off the wall of text.
That was my experience a few lifetimes ago.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Another issue with the ORO course is the mind numbingly useless classroom phase. Where "instructors" (using the term loosely) read off the wall of text.
That was my experience a few lifetimes ago.
That part could actually be excellent, if done correctly. For example, all of the candidates are actual, qualified and experienced directors. They could teach alot of the lessons to each other (This was the case on at least one of the career that I have been on).

Also, some of the classroom portion could be run as seminars, with pre-reading and directed discussion.

Let me at NPTG and I will fix the ORO course for the RCN!
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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Well, what an interesting little discussion my April fool's joke has created.

Infantry dummy here. I know the navy has something to do with boats.

ORO = Ops Room Officer? Why does it suck so much?

Let me see if I can put this in perspective for you, Brihard.

I've been out quite a while, but: What's the ORO course at these days? Four to six months? And your Cbt O tour after? Eighteen months?

So imagine that for about two years in a row, you get as little -or even less - sleep time than the CO and for the whole duration, you are under the same type of stress (by weak analogy) as a NHL coach of a team that finds itself, at two thirds of the season, just out of the playoffs - battling to be in - in a market where being out of the playoffs is just unacceptable to ownership. Every game you loose is your fault for bad coaching, while any game you win is because the GM "got you the right players".

That's the ORO's position every day with regards to everything related to combat operations. Any mistake -even by the lowliest of Ordinary Sailor sonar operator or signalman - is your mistake, while anything that goes right in a fight or simulated combat exercise (on your advice to the CO) is considered the CO's doing.

To get there, imagine the course material you would have to go through (hinted at by FSTO) if it was infantry: You would be a "senior" infantry captain having to suddenly learn everything about the whole NATO structure of operations for Europe, including all the overall plans, then learning all the latest developments in tactics for infantry, armour, field engineering and artillery, together with all concepts of combined arms operations and joint operations with the RCAF, while at the same time learning all about your most likely enemies battle order, capabilities and tactics and the likely countermeasure. The whole in an environment where any of these facts you just learned could come up without notice and you must be able to recall them instantly and correctly. That's the ORO course.

I tend to agree with SKT on what he proposes. I believe that the ORO course has not really evolved from the days when the MARS officers could come in directly after high school, and thus needed to be "taught" every thing they needed to know, to today's situation where they are university trained and therefore, are be able to read and study on their own before getting to class where they expand on their readings rather than have it read again to them.
 

Navy_Pete

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It's confusing and even a little frustrating because we're told/led to believe that the HOD tour is a pre-requisite/absolute requirement for promotion, but I guess the CMs don't know that, or else the presumption is wrong. From what I can see, the only requirement is to be merit listed for promotion. Coursing, sea time, a concurrence from your CO, none of it matters.
I vaguely remember looking the the then MARs promotion requirements and believe the ORO tour gave a lot of points so it was hard not to get promoted once you had it under your belt. Now that they have effectively gone with wet/dry lists, think it's a lot more feasible to get merit listed without it with high enough performance at the various shore jobs. Not really clear if that off ramps someone from any future attempt at getting the command qual and going back as XO/CO, but I guess if that's not someone's jam there are still a lot of billets that need filled, and lots of times you need a paperwork wizard that can make a decision more than you need someone that can run an OPs room in those shore jobs.

On the NTO side it's similar; we get extra promotion points for HOD tours but generally it's competitive enough that getting a ship billet means you are pretty close to the top of the merit list. That's changed a bit with the addition of the deputy position adding an additional Lt(N) spot to the ships, but generally the promotion is a given once you've got a HOD PER. The sad part there is that it starts a timer on the beginning of the end, and even if your promotion is delayed and you get six months being over ranked, so marks the end of our last possible ship posting. Usually people are leaving burnt out anyway, so probably a good thing it's not longer.
 

Navy_Pete

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To add: what could be more interesting of a subject than becoming an expert in modern naval warfare? Only the RCN, in it’s infinite stupidity, could make that area of study boring.
Hey, this missile is cool, lets explain it with a 120 slide ppt presentation that we read verbatim! Don't use pictures or video either, that makes the file too big!

(as an aside, working up to a full ESSM shoot was the most underwhelming thing I've ever done. Months worth of work for a fraction of a second of action, and not even an explosion because it was a telemetry head with an offset to save the target drone. At least with the SM2 shoots we actually blew things up, and got to see video afterwards of the whole thing.)
 

daftandbarmy

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Hey, this missile is cool, lets explain it with a 120 slide ppt presentation that we read verbatim! Don't use pictures or video either, that makes the file too big!

(as an aside, working up to a full ESSM shoot was the most underwhelming thing I've ever done. Months worth of work for a fraction of a second of action, and not even an explosion because it was a telemetry head with an offset to save the target drone. At least with the SM2 shoots we actually blew things up, and got to see video afterwards of the whole thing.)
disappointed kevin sorbo GIF
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Hey, this missile is cool, lets explain it with a 120 slide ppt presentation that we read verbatim! Don't use pictures or video either, that makes the file too big!

(as an aside, working up to a full ESSM shoot was the most underwhelming thing I've ever done. Months worth of work for a fraction of a second of action, and not even an explosion because it was a telemetry head with an offset to save the target drone. At least with the SM2 shoots we actually blew things up, and got to see video afterwards of the whole thing.)
The funniest thing I've seen was watching the AWWO fail to get good tracking on a hammerhead for an entire gunnery serial and basically not connect with any rounds from the 57mm only to have an ex-infanteer Bos'n sink the thing with a couple of bursts of .50cal with a massive fireball to boot.
 

SeaKingTacco

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I have to say that watching the RCN attempt live fire serials is the most under-whelming experience of my career.

I have both Air Force and Army experience putting very expensive and quite deadly explosive devices down-range and have done so safely with only a fraction of the painful, self-imposed restrictions and pre-firing preps that the RCN loves...
 

TangoTwoBravo

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Infantry dummy here. I know the navy has something to do with boats.

ORO = Ops Room Officer? Why does it suck so much?
Not a Navy guy (sailed in two CPFs as a senior Army Officer FWIW), but ORO is indeed Operations Room Officer. The ORO "fights" the ship from the Ops Room. I think the ships I was on had three Lt(N) qualified ORO (?), along with two Lt(N) on the fleet staff qualified ORO but those two were "fighting" the Task Group. Its a very high pressure position. Naval warfare happens very fast and the ship (and crew) can die quite quickly to a missile or heavy torpedo (or Godzilla going by the latest movie). An Armoured Battlegroup Operations Officer would be hard-pressed to have the entire BG wiped out by his moment of indecision or making a wrong decision with minutes/seconds to spare (of course a tank crew commander can lose their tank in an instant). An ORO can indeed have the ship sunk/knocked out in an incredibly short time. There is a lot going on in the Ops Room, and it can happen quite quickly.

The ORO course is roughly analogous to the Army Operations Course (AOC). My impression from watching OROs up close for two months and being Directing Staff on AOC for three years is that the ORO course is a bit more of a pressure-cooker than AOC. That is not to say that AOC is not stressful - it is! Its just that the ORO course, at least my impression from colleagues, is more ruthless. If AOC was all Combat Arms it might be a little more stressful.

Anyhoo. Funny to see an April Fools thread spark real discussion. Perhaps the joke was too credible?
 

Navy_Pete

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I have to say that watching the RCN attempt live fire serials is the most under-whelming experience of my career.

I have both Air Force and Army experience putting very expensive and quite deadly explosive devices down-range and have done so safely with only a fraction of the painful, self-imposed restrictions and pre-firing preps that the RCN loves...
I see that and raise you an ammunitioning ship evolution; the shells come in hardened cases that we lovingly pass along the chain like it's a premie baby. Our ex-arty guy the remustered to NWO just shook his head, as he was used to 105 shells being kicked off the back of a truck. If something gets bumped the whole evolution stops while they do an inspection. It's pretty stupid that we still form a line and manually pass the ammunition along as well, especially as it has to go down multiple vertical ladders to get to the deep magazine.

After seeing how much precaution we take doing it alongside with a jetty crane, kind of chuckle at the concept of doing it from a tanker with the same restrictions in place. Even doing it parked at a jetty would be not fun.
 
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