North Korea surprises with display of new missiles

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

North Korea surprises with display of new missiles

Story highlights

  • Intercontinental ballistic missile-sized canisters among bevy of new missiles
  • Display comes as tensions on the Korean Peninsula have spiked to alarming levels

(CNN) North Korea put its adversaries on notice Saturday, when it showed off a bevy of new missiles and launchers at its annual military parade.

Pyongyang showed off two new intercontinental ballistic missile-sized canisters as well as displaying its submarine-launched ballistic missile and a land-based version of the same for the first time, according to analysts.
If North Korea has ICBMs, it could give it the ability to strike targets in the mainland US and Europe. The shorter range ballistic missiles displayed Saturday, meanwhile, are a threat to countries in the Asian region.
North Korea’s display comes as tensions on the Korean Peninsula have spiked to alarming levels.

 

The US Navy dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson strike group to the region last weekend, and US President Donald Trump has been tweeting this week that if China can’t rein in North Korea’s nuclear program the US will.
“The Vinson was sent out to make a statement. North Korea responded by showing off the most new missile hardware we’ve ever seen in a parade before,” said Melissa Hanham, senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California.
One of the biggest surprises of Saturday’s military parade in Pyongyang was two mobile canisters that could contain ICBMs larger than anything North Korea has ever produced.
“They both probably design concepts. We’ve never seen them in the wild,” Hanham said.
“We don’t know what — if anything — was inside the canisters since North Korea hasn’t publicly shown off or tested any missile of that size before,” analyst Ankit Panda wrote on The Diplomat.
“We can infer given the size of the canister and the fact that it was paraded on Saturday that Pyongyang wants the world to know that it is actively working toward at least two types of solid-fuel, canisterized ICBMs,” Panda wrote.
The fact that any new ICBM would be in a canister is important because it means those missiles would likely be solid-fueled, analysts said.
Solid-fueled missiles can be deployed faster and hidden better from satellite detection than their liquid-fueled counterparts.
And the large size also means the missiles could have a longer range.

‘A message to the United States’

“It certainly appears to be a message to the United States that they’re capable of threatening the US homeland. That’s certainly their objective,” Adam Mount, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told CNN.
Hanham said other land and submarine-launched ballistic missiles were shown in public for the first time Saturday. The land-based version is known as the KN-15, while Pyongyang’s submarine-launched weapon is known as the KN-11 missile.
She took special note of the launcher the KN-15 was on.
“It uses caterpillar treads which means it can go off road more easily, which mean they can hide them more easily,” Hanham said.
North Korea has under 500 miles of paved roads, Panda wrote, and previous wheeled-launchers could risk damage to the missile operating off those.
Hanham said the tracked launch vehicles were made in North Korea, which means Pyongyang did not have to break sanctions imposed by China to obtain them.
Despite all the displays on Saturday, analysts cautioned against overreaction, noting that North Korea’s missile tests have had a checkered record of success, and adding that a missile in a parade does not necessarily mean it’s operational.

China says North Korea tension has to be stopped from reaching ‘irreversible’ stage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

China says North Korea tension has to be stopped from reaching ‘irreversible’ stage

By Dominique Patton and Sue-Lin Wong | BEIJING/PYONGYANG

China said on Friday tension over North Korea had to be stopped from reaching an “irreversible and unmanageable stage” as a U.S. aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region amid fears the North may conduct a sixth nuclear weapons test.

Concerns have grown since the U.S. Navy fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield last week in response to a deadly gas attack, raising questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for North Korea, which has conducted missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. and unilateral sanctions.

The United States has warned that a policy of “strategic patience” is over. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence travels to South Korea on Sunday on a long-planned 10-day trip to Asia.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally and neighbor which nevertheless opposes its weapons program, has called for talks leading to a peaceful resolution and the decentralization of the Korean peninsula.

“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing.

“Force cannot solve the problem, dialogue can be the only channel to resolve the problem.”

North Korea for its part denounced the United States for bringing “huge nuclear strategic assets” to the region.

A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Disarmament and Peace issued a statement condemning the United States for its attack on the Syrian airfield.

“The U.S. introduces into the Korean peninsula, the world’s biggest hotspot, huge nuclear strategic assets, seriously threatening peace and security of the peninsula and pushing the situation there to the brink of a war,” the North’s KCNA news agency said on Friday, citing the statement.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to people cheering during an opening ceremony of a newly constructed residential complex in Ryomyong street in Pyongyang, North Korea April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

“This has created a dangerous situation in which a thermo-nuclear war may break out any moment.”

North Korea, still technically at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, has on occasion conducted missile or nuclear tests to coincide with big political events and often threatens the United States, South Korea and Japan.

On Saturday, it marks the “Day of the Sun”, the 105th anniversary of the birth of state founder Kim Il Sung.

WITH OR WITHOUT YOU

While Trump has put North Korea on notice that he will not tolerate any more provocation, U.S. officials have said his administration is focusing its strategy on tougher economic sanctions.

Trump said on Thursday North Korea was a problem that “will be taken care of” and he believed Chinese President Xi Jinping would “work very hard” to help resolve it.

Trump has also said the United States is prepared to tackle the crisis without China, if necessary.

He diverted the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its strike group towards the Korean peninsula last weekend in a show of force. (tmsnrt.rs/2p1yGTQ)

The dollar fell on Friday against a basket of currencies, on track for a losing week as tension over North Korea underpinned the perceived safe-haven Japanese yen.

Media in Japan said the government confirmed it would take all precautions in the face of possible North Korean provocations.

The Nikkei business daily said government discussions included how to rescue the estimated 57,000 Japanese citizens in South Korea as well as how to cope with a possible flood of North Korean refugees coming to Japan, among whom might be North Korean spies and agents.

In Pyongyang, retired soldier Ho Song Chol told Reuters that North Korea would win should there be any conflict with the United States.

“We don’t think about other things, we just live in our belief that we will win as long as our Supreme Leader is with us,” Ho said, referring to Kim Jong Un.

Kang Gil-won, a 26-year-old graduate living in Seoul, said his biggest concern was not North Korea, but finding work in a tough job market.

“There’s no concern that war is going to break out tomorrow,” he told Reuters at a “study café” where many young job seekers prepare for interviews.

“Getting a job is a war that I feel in my bones.”

Many South Koreans, meanwhile, marked “Black Day” on Friday, but it had nothing to do with worry about North Korea.

Black Day is a day for singles, marked by eating “jajangmyeon”, a noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of black beans. It’s celebrated by singles as a response to “White Day”, an Asian Valentine’s Day which falls a month earlier, on March 14.

(Additional reporting by Nick Macfie, James Pearson and Ju-min Park in SEOUL, Natalie Thomas in Pyongyang, Linda Sieg in TOKYO and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Robert Birsel)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence To Travel To South Korea, Japan And Hawaii This Weekend

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) Amid increasing tension with North Korea, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to South Korea Saturday, on a scheduled trip as part of his first official visit to the Asia-Pacific region.

The trip comes at a critical moment for the Trump administration and US allies, after escalated posturing from North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and growing concerns that the country may mark its most important holiday on Saturday with its sixth nuclear test.
Along with his visit to Seoul, the vice president’s tour will also include stops in Tokyo, Jakarta, Sydney and Hawaii. According to a White House foreign policy adviser, the trip is intended as a chance for Pence to lay out the administration’s policies to US allies in the region, and to offer an opportunity for him to develop personal relationships with government and business leaders.
North Korea tensions
  • Kim Jong Un shows symbol of strength
  • Nuclear test site ‘primed and ready’
Commitment will be the key message the vice president brings to US allies in the Asia-Pacific — both on security and the economy. Officials say the primary goal of the trip will be to reinforce regional security alliances. To this end, Pence will meet with the acting President of South Korea, Hwang Kyo-ahn, to reinforce the US commitment to consult with South Korea over North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
Security will almost certainly be a key point in discussions with Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, who said Thursday that North Korea may now may have the capability to deliver missiles equipped with sarin nerve gas.

Japanese PM issues warning about North Korea

 Japanese PM issues warning about North Korea 01:16

Along with a commitment to security, Pence will stress the Trump administration’s commitment to economic engagement in the region, and according to officials, communicate that the withdrawal from the Transpacific Trade Partnership should not be seen as a retreat.
In Tokyo, Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso will kick off the US-Japanese economic dialogue, which was first announced in February during Abe’s visit to the White House.
According to officials, these discussions between the vice president and Japanese leaders will be more about establishing a framework for future discussions, rather than delving into specific industries or working out a bilateral trade agreement.
The tour will also offer the vice president the opportunity to spend time with US troops abroad. In Tokyo, Pence will deliver remarks aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and will also visit troops in South Korea and Hawaii.
The trip comes as the tenuous stability of the region is resonating for the Trump administration. The Pentagon recently deployed a US naval strike group to the region in response to last week’s missile test by North Korea.

USS Carl Vinson heads to Korean Peninsula

 USS Carl Vinson heads to Korean Peninsula 01:18

And, in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, President Trump said he would be willing to make concessions on trade with China in exchange for their help deterring North Korea. “That’s worth having not as good a trade deal as I would normally be able to make,” said the President.
During a meeting at the White House on Thursday, Trump said that North Korea “is a problem” that will be “taken care of.”
Now, this upcoming trip will offer Pence the opportunity to deliver that message to the region in person.

China’s President Xi Jinping, U.S. President Trump Discuss N. Korea’s Dictator By Phone

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) China called for a “peaceful” resolution to tensions on the Korean Peninsula Wednesday, as a United States aircraft carrier strike group churned towards the contested region.

Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed the situation in North Korea and Syria with US President Donald Trump in a telephone call on Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry said, in what one analyst described as a “new phase” of China-US relations on North Korea.
“I think at this point the common interest between the US and China outweigh (North Korea saber-rattling),” Alexander Neill, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, told CNN.

Trump & Xi's North Korea problem

Trump & Xi’s North Korea problem
“China may be prepared to do some sort of trade off… They want to rein in (leader) Kim Jong Un.”
Trump has repeatedly called on China to do more to rein in its unruly neighbor, which has stepped up its missile development and nuclear program since 2016.
The US dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson after the latest missile test by North Korea last week, drawing a forceful warning from Pyongyang.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said Trump and Xi had pledged to stay in close contact after their first meeting earlier this month and the phone call didn’t indicate any change in China’s position.

North Korea ‘looking for trouble’: Trump

The unexpected phone call between the two came after Trump turned to Twitter to vent his frustrations over North Korea.
“I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem,” he tweeted.
“North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.,” he wrote in a second tweet.

South Korea’s President Warns That North Korea Is About To Test 6th Nuclear Weapon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

By Ju-min Park | SEOUL

South Korea’s acting president warned on Tuesday of “greater provocations” by North Korea as tension on the Korean peninsula rises over concern the North may conduct a test of its military hardware in coming days.

A U.S. Navy strike group led by a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is en route to the western Pacific with talk of military action by the United States gaining traction following its strikes last week against Syria.

South Korean acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn ordered the military to intensify monitoring of the North’s activities and to ensure close communication with the ally the United States.

“It is possible the North may wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries including the Supreme People’s Assembly,” said Hwang, acting leader since former President Park Geun-hye was removed over a graft scandal.

The North convenes a Supreme People’s Assembly session on Tuesday, one of its twice-yearly sessions in which major appointments are announced and national policy goals are formally approved.

Saturday is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country’s founding father and grandfather of current ruler, Kim Jong Un.

A military parade is expected in the North’s capital, Pyongyang, to mark the day. North Korea often also marks important anniversaries with tests of its nuclear or missile capabilities.

The North’s foreign ministry, in a statement carried by its KCNA news agency earlier on Tuesday, said the U.S. navy strike group’s move near the Korean peninsula showed America’s “reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase”.

“We never beg for peace but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves,” an unidentified ministry spokesman said.

SANCTIONS WARNING

Delegates from around the North have been arriving in Pyongyang ahead of the assembly session. They visited statues of previous leaders Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il, state media reported.

North Korea is emerging as one of the most pressing foreign policy problems facing the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

The Trump administration is reviewing its policy toward North Korea and has said all options are on the table, including military strikes.

The U.S. Navy strike group Carl Vinson canceled a planned trip to Australia and was moving toward the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula as a show of force, a U.S. official told Reuters over the weekend.

Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, met in Florida last week and Trump pressed Xi to do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.

China and South Korea agreed on Monday to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea if it carried out nuclear or long-range missile tests, a senior official in Seoul said.

As well as the anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, there are several other North Korean anniversaries in April that could be opportunities for weapon tests, South Korean officials have said.

The North is seen ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test at any time, with movements detected by satellites at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

(Editing by Jack Kim, Robert Birsel)

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Speed Boats Playing Childish Games With U.S./British Navy Ships In Strait Of Hormuz

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

U.S. Navy ship changes course after Iran vessel interaction: U.S. official

Multiple fast-attack vessels from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps came close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, forcing it to change direction, a U.S. official told Reuters on Monday.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the IRGCN boats came within 600 yards of the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship, and stopped. The Invincible was being accompanied by three ships from British Royal Navy and forced the formation to change course.

The official said attempts were made to communicate over radio, but there was no response and the interaction was “unsafe and unprofessional.”

(Reporting by Idrees Ali)

Pakistani judge who probed Osama bin Laden raid wants report made public

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

Pakistani judge who probed Osama bin Laden raid wants report made public

WORLD Updated: Dec 20, 2016 22:25 IST

Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times
The Pakistani judge who led the official commission which probed the 2011 raid by US Navy SEALs that killed Osama Bin Ladin has said the panel’s report should be made public.Justice (retired) Javed Iqbal demanded the report be made public because “the commission has identified those responsible for the incident”.

The inquiry commission set up by the government investigated the circumstances surrounding the May 2011 raid on the al Qaeda chief’s compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad. The commission interviewed more than 300 witnesses and made 200 recommendations in a 700-page report submitted to the prime minister in January 2013.

The report was immediately classified, but a version was leaked by an international news network.

Iqbal said his daughter kept asking whether bin Laden was in Abbottabad, and he had told her that if he revealed this, nothing would remain in the report.

Asked by media who was responsible for what happened, Iqbal said he was bound by oath and could not reveal such details.

He explained the commission’s task was to identify those responsible and suggest action against them. It is only the government of Pakistan which has the authority to identify those responsible before the public, he added.

Iqbal complained about the government not implementing the commission’s recommendations and said the panel had not absolved anyone of responsibility.

US Navy’s Newest Stealth Warships Breaks Down

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘DIPLOMAT NEWS’)

US Navy’s Newest Stealth Warships Breaks Down

“Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander, U.S. Third Fleet, has directed USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) to remain at ex-Naval Station Rodman in Panama to address engineering issues that occurred while transiting the Panama Canal,” the U.S. Navy statement reads.

“The timeline for repairs is being determined now, in direct coordination with Naval Sea Systems and Naval Surface Forces. The schedule for the ship will remain flexible to enable testing and evaluation in order to ensure the ship’s safe transit to her new home port in San Diego.”

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.  News reports that the warship “lost propulsion in its port shaft during the transit and the crew saw water intrusion in both of Zumwalt’s Advanced Induction Motors (AIMs) – the massive electrical motors that are driven by the ship’s gas turbines and in turn electrically power the ship’s systems.”

Engineering casualties are not uncommon for lead vessels of a new class of warships.

The USS Zumwalt had previously sustained an engineering casualty during preparation for at-sea trials in September. Seawater leaked in the propulsion motor drive lube oil auxiliary system for one of the Zumwalt’sshafts. Repairs took about two weeks (See: “US Navy’s New Stealth Destroyer Suffers Engineering Casualty”).

The new warship, featuring a wave-piercing tumblehome hull and stealth design, was commissioned into active service last month.

Once in San Diego, the destroyer’s combat systems will be installed and extensively tested. As I reported in early November (See: “US Navy’s Most Advanced Stealth Warship Has no Bullets for its Big Guns”), the U.S. Navy will likely cancel the primary projectile for the two big guns of the warship due to excessive costs.

Unfortunately, the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) is the only munition designed to be fired by the ship’s two 155 millimeter/62-caliber Advanced Gun Systems (AGS).

“The reason for the likely cancellation of the LRLAP order is the steady rise of the per unit costs of the projectile as the number of Zumwalt-class destroyers was cut from 28 to just three… The price for one LRLAP projectile is around $800,000 or more,” I explained.

Once in service, the ship will be one of the most heavily armed destroyers in the U.S. Navy’s history.

“The destroyer is equipped with a so-called Peripheral Vertical Launch System with eighty MK57 vertical launch tubes, which can accommodate one to four missiles depending on their size, and is armed with a wide range of weapon systems including Tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, and anti-submarine rockets,” I reported elsewhere.

Following the weapon activation period in San Diego, the ship is slated to join the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet at an unspecified date 2018.

U.S. Navy Has Done A Massive Shakeup Of Enlisted Rankings

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NAVY TIMES NEWS PAPER)

The end of ratings: What’s next in the Navy’s radical enlisted shake-up

October 2, 2016 (Photo Credit: PO2 Kenneth Abbate/Navy)

“Choose your rate, choose your fate.” It’s a saying every sailor has heard — and as of late September, its history.

That’s the news as the Navy has eliminated every sailor’s rating title in favor of generic rank-specific titles like petty officer 2nd class, a move intended to encourage training across specialties and to help them later transition into the civilian workforce with more skills.

“We’re going to immediately do away with rating titles and address each other by just our rank as the other services do,” said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke in a Sept. 19 interview. “We recognize that’s going to be a large cultural change, it’s not going to happen overnight, but the direction is to start exercising that now.”

Navy Times
Navy scuttles sailors’ enlisted rating titles in huge career shake-up

The announcement signals a tectonic shift in Navy’s personnel system, where sailors have long identified with their individual occupations — ratings — first and foremost. They’re the stuff of murals aboard ship and ink on arms. The magnitude of the move isn’t lost on the Navy’s top leaders, who recognize this move will be unpopular and stress the changes will allow sailors to move easily between related fields and choice more duty stations.

The move ends every enlisted rating, some of them like Gunner’s mate, Quartermaster and Boatswain’s mate that dated back to the Continental Navy. The Navy has had nearly 700 different rating titles in that time — all of which are now history.

It starts the Navy on the most radical personnel overhaul in a generation, one that will change the way sailors are trained and advanced — it could even end the semi-annual petty officer advancement test.“We’re going to take a new approach to the enlisted ratings with the idea that we would provide more assignment flexibility, more training opportunities and better civilian credentialing opportunities,” Burke said.

Navy Times
The Navy dumped its time-honored job titles and the decision incited widespread outrage

This began with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ mandate in January to eliminate the use of the word “man” from rating titles to make the enlisted service more appealing to women. In June, the Marine Corps — also under the Mabus edict — announced they’d take “man” out of 19 occupational titles. The Navy has gone much further. Their more controversial approach will eliminate the rating title every sailor uses and aims to scrap the existing advancement system and start over.

Burke said this will eliminate conflicts as the Navy moves to a more modern personnel system over the next few years. The promise is that sailors will soon be able to qualify in multiple skills and across today’s traditional rating lines. That will mean they can apply for a wider variety of jobs, duty stations and have more chances to move up the ranks.
What you need to know about the Navy’s sweeping changes:

New titles
For the first time in the Navy’s history — every sailor’s title will be the same. For E-3 and below sailors, the only title will be “seaman.”

Though the title “seaman” still has “man” in it, the working group found no workable alternatives, according to now retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens, who was the driving force for these changes.

“We just didn’t have any good substitutes for seaman,” Stevens told Navy Times in an interview this summer. “One was mariner, but no one liked that — the other one was sailors, but that was convoluted because we all refer to ourselves as sailors. So we kept it and the secretary agreed.”

Gone in name will be the other non-rated designations — airman, fireman, constructionman and hospitalman. These designations will be converted to codes.

Now sailors’ jobs will be identified by a four-character combination, known as a Navy Occupational Specialty. Consider the three most historic ratings, once abbreviated as GM, BM and QM. They’ll now be B320, B400 and B450, respectively.

The service has translated every previous rating and special skill into over 160, four digit alpha-numeric NOS codes. Navy Enlisted Classifications will still fall under an NOS as they did with a rating, to denote skills not common across the rating.

“Petty officers will be addressed as petty officer and then their name, or petty officer third, second or first class more formally — chief, senior chief and master chief for the senior enlisted,” Burke said.
For example, Yeoman 2nd Class (SW/EXW) Snuffy Smith will now have the title, Petty Officer 2nd Class (SW/EXW)  Snuffy Smith. When Smith reaches the chief’s mess, he’ll be Chief Petty Officer (SW/EXW) Snuffy Smith.
As seen above, warfare qualifications will continue to be abbreviated in sailor titles.
“Sailors take great pride in earning those coveted warfare designations and they like to place those behind their ratings because they want people to know they’ve earned them, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (IDW/SW) Steve Giordano said. “That won’t go away — they will still have those as part of their titles.”
The only exception to the job title rule will be the MCPON.
Badge of honor
Much about the overhaul remains to be determined. Case in point: ratings badges.These insignia are for ratings that no longer exist — now they’re NOS classifications — and there are a few ideas on what to do. Keep them. Dump them. Replace with something new.

Ratings badgeHospital Corpsman 1st Class Scott Sears sews on a 3rd class petty officer crow for Hospital Corpsman 3rd class Eric Norris during a Tacking on of the Crow frocking ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). Sailors can say farewell to their ratings badges. (SA Zachariah Grabill/Navy)“It’s definitely our plan to cross that bridge, but it will be one of the last things we’ll do for a couple of reasons — one depends on how we draw the career fields lines and something may fall out, based on that. I just don’t know yet,” Burke said.

“We may want to go to something that signifies the new career fields or stay with something for the NOS — or we may want to simply go to something like the anchor, constitution and Eagle,” Burke said referring to the insignia on the chest pockets of the blue-and-gray Navy working uniform. “We just want to see where we end up on this journey before we re-badge ourselves, so it’s all open.”

In the meantime, sailors can hold off on having their dress blues and whites sleeves resown.

Flexible careers
Sailors will soon be able to qualify for more skills and even advance in multiple NOS quotas. To get there, the Navy is reviewing how to redraw the community lines that distinguish skills by specialty.
“Today we have 12 career fields that group the [over 90] Navy enlisted ratings we have today,” Burke said. “Most sailors will be hard pressed to tell you what they are because they are outdated for the most part.”
“We want to redraw those career field lines with two major objectives,” Burke said. “First, we’ll regroup the now Navy Occupational Specialties so that the training and experience is similar between the career fields. If we do that right, we’ll be able to pinpoint additional training or experience that a sailor needs to move into a different, but related NOS.”
These have been grouped into broad categories like aviation, surface engineering and nuclear power.  These would become broader career fields that group sailors by skill type.
“Maybe there’s a field we’d call aviation maintenance,” Burke explained. “We’d like to get to the point in the first step where we can move sailors between types of engines, and then maybe move between engines and airframes and into avionics, too — then possibly move between maintaining combat systems on an aircraft to combat systems on a ship.”
As the Navy designs and fields newer ships, Burke said more commonality between systems will make these kinds of leaps more possible.
Burke says they’ll achieve that through modular training via the new Ready Relevant Learning system that is coming online this year for every career field in the Navy, providing constant training throughout a sailor’s career. It can be used to qualify sailors as they advance in a given skill set — or to give them new skills to cross them into a related field.
“You might have to go to a brick and mortar schoolhouse for a couple of weeks, but it will be at a fleet concentration area so you are not going to have to leave home,” Burke said. “You might only need enough training that could be accomplished through an app on a smart device, or through a distance learning course — or even by acquiring an additional certification at your current shop or at your squadron.”
But acquiring the new NOS won’t require you to go back through another “A” school, he said. What will happen is the Navy will simply look at your existing skills and design a custom program to fill in the gaps.
“If you complete those requirements, you could shift into a different NOS,” Burke said.  “And that shift will bring with it an increase in assignment options, more detailing flexibility  — more home ports to choose from, more types of platforms.”
It could even put more money in your pocket.
“It will open up more timing options — maybe move into an NOS that has special or incentive pay or even a re-enlistment bonus.”

The new system allows sailors to hold onto your old skills, and learn new ones that allow you to move between different billets.

“Then, unlike today, where you cross-rate and you don’t go back,” Burke said. “Our idea is the lines between NOSs will be blurry and will allow you to move back and forth.”
Advancement changes

For now, the advancement system will be organized by NOS. But how it works may be radically changing in coming years. It could mean instant promotions and the end of the test.

The Navy currently advances to vacancies in given career fields Navy-wide twice a year, where sailors are ranked by rating based on their performance, occupational knowledge and more. The biggest way to gauge their knowledge is via the semiannual petty officer test. The new system will rank them by NOS.

As the Navy improves it’s information systems, the twice a year system could get dumped. Instead, advancements will happen year-round, anytime vacancies occur. As part of this, MCPON Stevens had advocated for dumping the advancement test and going to a new, points-based system similar to those used by the Army and Marine Corps.
The Navy is still working through proposals to change the advancement system under NOS, such as getting rid of the tests.
““I think that’s one possibility we’re looking at,” he said. “But we’re just getting started in deciding where we need to go with the advancement exams.”

“With this ability to move back and forth between multiple Navy Occupational Specialties, we have to really think through what that does. Will you have to meet the requirements to advance in all of [the skills you have qualified in] or just one and how that would impact assignments?”

Burke stressed that any changes to the advancement system will be announced well in advance of their implementation and for now, sailors will advance along the new NOS lines.

“So if any sailor out there is wondering if they have to do anything different in preparing for their next exam, the answer to that is no, not yet, and we’ll give you adequate time to prepare when it does happen. We’re very sensitive to the need to do that very methodically.”


Earning certifications
One thing is certain: civilian certifications will play an even greater role in sailors career paths.
Right now, the Navy operates a web site that for more than a decade has helped sailors acquire civilian certifications for the Navy skills they hold. It’s called Navy Credentialing Opportunities Online. The Navy plans to take that a step further and incorporate certifications into career paths so qualified personnel will readily obtain the credential via their training.
“We can draw these lines intelligently to describe our occupations in a way that make sense for [civilian] certifications,” Burke said. “For example, an air traffic controller would be tied into a path so that when they leave the Navy, they leave with the appropriate level of a FAA air traffic control certification.”
Aviation maintenance sailors could work towards the coveted FAA Air frames and Power plants certifications. Surface engineers and deck sailors could net themselves Coast Guard licenses.
Many of these valuable and time-consuming certifications that sailors had to get on their own time will now be part of their careers in the future. Moving up the ranks could depend on getting them.
“If an advancement exam does exist in the future it could also serve to help qualify sailors for a certification as well,” Burke said. “It depends on what your certification will be — some are federal, but most of them are state level certifications and no two look exactly the same — but we are now heading down this road.”