SAN DIEGO – The head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command announced a new “revolutionize readiness campaign plan” that will create a fleet analytics office and possibly a new officer on his staff focused on readiness.
Adm. Christopher Grady, Commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, told the audience here at the AFCEA West 2019 conference on Feb. 15 that he wants to “revolutionize our approach to readiness” because step changes are needed to get more fleet readiness out of every dollar in a changing world with fiscal restraints.
While the Navy is working to build a future force of 355 ships, “remember, 70 percent of the Navy that we have today we will fight with in 2030.”
Grady said he chose the word revolutionize because “we need some fundamental changes in how we approach readiness, how we generate it, analyze it, measure it, integrate, articulate what we need, and predict what the return on our readiness investment might be.”
The Fleet Forces commander said he is unhappy the Navy does not have an analytically-based integrated readiness assessment capability “and I believe that hampers our agility.”
The plan will focus on improvements in three areas: operational readiness to maximize the effectiveness of the current fleet to fight and win; structural readiness to create readiness sustainability and assess agility; and how to better enable industrial base performance.
Grady admitted readiness is not well defined, so his office will derive a hierarchy of metrics from the fleet down to the unit level. “First reviewing what we are being asked to do from the operational level of war down to the tactical level.”
“I want metrics associated with every item on the mission essential task lists. This should help us answer the question ‘ready for what?’ and it will ensure we understand using objective metrics, how any one unit’s readiness affects the fleet’s ability to perform its wider mission,” Grady said.
In order to spur the chainge in readiness analysis, Grady will establish a fleet analytics office “that will develop the dashboards and reporting tools to see real time what is going on.”
The new office will develop a risk matrix to help the Navy assess risk against the mission and push accountability and “we also need to assess whether we have the modern IT structure in place to support these efforts across the Navy’s readiness exercise.”
Grady also spoke of possibly establishing a chief readiness officer to manage the entire effort to “fit within the panoply of force deployment, force generation. And force employment, we’ll call it force readiness.”
That readiness officer will “more cohesively integrate, align, and assess our readiness.”
Grady said he wants this plan to reexamine the readiness reporting relationships in all of the enterprises: aviation, undersea, surface warfare, expeditionary warfare, information warfare, and the shore enterprise. This will help set up an “actionable feedback loop” among the fleets, the type commands, and system commands.
Grady also said the Navy has under and unused data sitting in its systems and seeks to better digitize readiness to use that information. To use it, the Navy should apply the same standards, structure, and governance to that data as if it was a “valuable corporate asset.”
He hoped the readiness plan will use descriptive analytics to mine all this historical data and derive the readiness drivers behind previous successes and failures.
This will move readiness understanding “beyond set of closely held beliefs and into rigorously-derived facts.”
Then, once the Navy understands the real drivers behind readiness outcomes, it can eventually use predictive analytics to forecast how outcomes will change when investments in readiness drivers are changed.
Grady claimed that “with predictive analytics in play we will find ourselves in a place where we’re making data-informed decisions, maximizing return on investments for taxpayers.”
In the long term, Grady said if he really got his way, the “final frontier” of analytical capabilities would be prescriptive analytics.
There “our automated analytical tools would accelerate our decision making by suggesting decision options that we would not have been aware if we had only relied upon human action alone.”
Grady described the campaign plan “perhaps the most important line of effort that I have as Fleet Forces.” He said it was developed after working with the other two fleet commanders over the last three months.
“I’m very excited that we’re at the nascent stage, but they are on the right track. This isn’t going to happen overnight,” Grady said.
The Fleet Forces head said he will sign the campaign plan soon. This will lead to actionable milestones, assessments, and decision points. While standing up the fleet analytics office and fleet readiness officer can be done at Grady’s level, getting the new officer may take some time.
“Kind of kicking my way through that one. Every time you stand up a new flag officer that’s always hard, but we will work that out. I think that’s stuff that I can do in my level,” Grady said.