The Navy's recent deep dive into the value of higher education moved from idea to reality as the service will now require officer fitness reports to detail an individual's educational and learning achievements as well as how these pursuits contributed to their unit’s mission effectiveness during a reporting period.
Announced in NAVADMIN 137/20 on May 7, this latest initiative shows Navy leadership's commitment to the idea that career-long military learning isn't only community or job-related technical or tactical training. Navy senior leadership wants this knowledge to be combined with higher education, a commitment to continuous learning, and the resulting critical thinking and analysis skills to build the Navy of the future.
This change is a logical next step in a path the Navy has been on for nearly two years, starting with the Education for Seapower Study which was published in December 2018.
“To deter and outfight potential opponents in a world defined by great power competition, our force of professionals is going to have to outthink them, and we can only do that through continual learning and education,” said the acting Secretary of the Navy James E. McPherson of the performance system changes.
"Our action today will ensure that our talent management system rewards officers who advance warfighting effectiveness through intellectual development and represents an important milestone as we implement our comprehensive Education for Seapower Strategy."
According to the message, officer fitness reports must now detail what each individual in the service has done since their last report to further their education and support a culture of continuous learning. This will provide necessary information to Navy selection boards that will be directed to place an even greater emphasis on education and learning during their deliberations.
“The value that education and continuous learning brings to our Navy team is undisputed and directly supports our ability to deliver decisive naval power when called,” said Rear Adm. Jeff Hughes, deputy chief of naval personnel who oversees Navy selection boards at Navy Personnel Command. “It is imperative to document an individual’s commitment to intellectual growth in ways beneficial to the Navy, and the extent to which these achievements increase the breadth and depth of warfighting and leadership aptitude."
The Navy updated its Navy Performance Evaluation System instruction - BUPERS Instruction 1610.10E to reflect these changes. It details where and when reporting seniors must document and assess each individual's educational and learning achievements during a reporting period as they would things like their tactical performance or military bearing/character for example.
What will be considered includes formal education and learning such as resident and non-resident professional military education coursework, professional and academic qualifications and certifications, and civilian education courses.
Even more informal learning is encouraged, including personal reading programs that include, but are not limited to selections from the Chief of Naval Operation’s Reading List. Also, participation in discussion groups and military societies, writing in national security or military journals, as well as involvement in learning through new technologies will qualify.
This program is initially starting with the officer community based on their smaller numbers and existing educational opportunities and will be rolled out force wide once it is determined how to effectively measure the additional inputs. The continuing education of the entire force is extremely important. A full rollout will be done in a deliberate manner to ensure the Navy’s enlisted warfighters remain focused on their technical trades while balancing formal education and continuous learning. Ultimately, this program, and the continuing education it encourages is designed to ensure that the Navy is developing and deploying more capable and effective leaders and technical experts.
Exactly which trait grades and how seniors are to use the updated evaluation criteria are detailed in the message.
More information is available on these changes can be found in NAVADMIN 137/20 at www.npc.navy.mil.
To read about the importance of these changes directly from the Chief Learning Officer and Chief of Naval Personnel, please visit their co-authored blog titled “Education and Learning an Operational Imperative” at the NavyLive blog.