Perform To Serve: Short Term Solution to a Long Term Problem

Perform To Serve: Short Term Solution to a Long Term Problem
Amanda L. Marron
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Organizational Behavior
July 17, 2012

Due to the floundering economy of recent memory, the United States Navy, among other branches of the military, has had to downsize the working force of enlisted sailors. The Navy’s means of doing this was through a program called Perform To Serve, which pitted sailors against each other for coveted reenlistment quotas. Perform To Serve was meant to be used as a way to keep the “right sailor”; however, contradictory results have occurred to suggest that the best sailors are not being kept onboard. The effects of the program, itself, as well as how the Navy has handled the attrition is to be discussed.

Perform To Serve: Short Term Solution to a Long Term Problem
            The United States Navy has changed quite a bit from the beginning of 2000 to the present day. The all-volunteer force is decreasing due to an entity called Perform To Serve (or PTS) introduced in February of 2003 (NAVADMIN 03-050, 2003) as a force reshaping tool. This program was originally implemented as a means of retaining sailors. This was to be accomplished by using a method called cross-rating to train and place them in jobs that had deficient manning while trimming the Navy of its less desirable and sub-standard personnel. Unfortunately, this is not turning out to be the case as fully qualified sailors have been sent home, and the undesirables kept.

In order to aid in this process, Navy rates (or jobs) are given a CREO designation. Published twice per year, the Career Reenlistment Objectives categorize the rates of the Navy in one of three levels - undermanned (CREO 1), manned at desired levels (CREO 2) or overmanned (CREO 3) (NAVADMIN 08-263, 2008). CREO levels are not a baseline but are determined by the current state of manning within the rate, thus, the CREO level of one rating does not directly impact the CREO rating of another. The listing is intended to provide information for retraining possibilities but can also serve as a reference for promotion opportunities. 

The goal of Perform To Serve was to aid in leveling manning between overmanned and undermanned ratings ("Milpersman," 2006). Originally, it was only applied to first-term, or Zone A sailors, but as time went on and the economy grew worse, more sailors were opting to reenlist (NAVADMIN 03-050, 2003). It was then extended to second-term or Zone B sailors, in January of 2009 (NAVADMIN 09-017). This was followed by the addition of Zone C sailors, or those with more than ten but less than fourteen years of service, in May of 2009 (NAVADMIN 09-161).

Within the Perform To Serve program, sailors compete against their peers within the same Year Group, which is defined by the fiscal year that the sailor entered Recruit Training (BNPCC, n.d.). Each sailor is allowed a grand total of six “looks” in PTS. If, after six “looks”, a sailor is not selected for reenlistment, they are involuntarily separated under honorable conditions from the Navy.

A sailor must receive a Commanding Officer’s recommendation to be included in the Perform To Serve process. After this approval is verified, the Sailor is entered into the pool. A mathematical computation referred to as a “stacking algorithm” (BNPCC, n.d.) is then performedThis algorithm factors in specific performance indicators. A ranking is then created based on these aspects and determines whether or not a sailor is eligible for a coveted enlistment quota. The number of available quotas is different per rate and will change every month as dependent on the needs of the Navy.

The Perform To Serve criterion contains a sailor’s basic identification data, but the “meat” of the application is the sailor’s overall performance materials. The items that determine the algorithm in step-by-step order are as follows: (1) the retention recommendation from the Commanding Officer, (2) the sailor’s pay grade, as the highest stacks to the top, (3) recent promotion (otherwise known as being “frocked”), (4) an average of the promotion recommendations from a sailor’s last five periodic evaluations, (5) the obtainment of a critical Navy Enlisted Classification code, (6) the number of times a sailor has failed a Physical Fitness Assessment, and (7) proximity to end of service (BNPCC, n.d.). Once the algorithm is complete, the Enlisted Community Manager gives a final review. The ECM looks for accuracy to ensure that the “right sailor” secures a quota. Consideration in this area goes towards recent non-judicial punishment (otherwise known as Captain’s Mast), loss of security clearance, and non-obtainment of warfare qualifications (BNPCC, n.d.).

There are a number of issues that have arisen for the Navy due to the implementation of Perform To Serve and its subsequent algorithm. A sailor’s performance directly impacts his or her determination in Perform To Serve, lately; this has not seemed to be the case. Although non-judicial punishment is supposed to be taken into account, some sailors who have received such negative marks have been able to squeak by on the Perform To Serve process and reenlist. Questions begin to form when a number of sailors without any negative performance indicators are being sent home.

A person is not physically going over these applications to decide who is best for the job. The only time a person is looking is at the very end of the process when the focus is not on who is best, but who has the most negative detractors. The periodic evaluation that sailors receive each year is comprised of information about their work ethic, dependability, and various other reasons as to why they should be retained. The evaluation portion of the Perform To Serve algorithm does not look at this, but only takes into account what can be quantitatively proved. A sailor could have an excellent evaluation but end up with a lower ranking just for having a Commanding Officer that is new in his or her position. The effect on the sailor is that the CO is only given a certain range of ranking. These kinds of circumstances are beyond the sailors’ control, but yet they are the ones that are feeling the pain.

Another issue of leaving this process solely dependent of a computerized program is the lack of knowing why. Sailors are not given any reason for being denied a Perform To Serve quota. Perform To Serve results are released once a month with a simple “denied” or “retained” per each sailor. No other information is given, thus leaving sailors without an answer as to why they are being let go. This is causing a severe lack of a personal touch which is felt across the fleet and is having an impact on morale.

Ever since the start of Perform to Serve, the Navy has never cut back on recruiting and has had a near constant turn-around of sailors although roughly 40,000 have been separated under PTS (Steele, 2012). The exchange of fully qualified and trained sailors for unqualified and yet-to-be trained sailors is something that this author still has a hard time understanding. This is further explained by U.S. Fleet Forces Fleet Master Chief Michael Stevens (2011):

For the Navy to maintain the correct balance of pay grades, ratings, and promotion opportunities, we have typically recruited about 40,000 sailors a year and have had a retention rate of about 45%.  Look at it like this, for every sailor who steps onto the conveyor belt one Sailor must step off.

Shortly after the American/World economic downturn and the rise in unemployment, sailors stopped separating from the Navy at the normal rate, and retention has reached and maintained a level of 70%.

Congress provides the Navy with an annual budget of which about one third of this budget goes toward the cost of personnel. The total cost of paying for a sailor determines how many sailors the Navy is authorized to keep on the books during a given year and currently that number is about 326,000 sailors (officer and enlisted).”

            The Navy’s annual budget is something that is often discussed, and sailors are even offered rewards for establishing ideas to save money or helping the Navy “go green”. When a sailor is constantly barraged with messages of saving money, FLTCM Stevens’ explanation is hard to swallow, and there is debate on both sides. Some support the rapid turn-around while others believe the opposite would be easier to re-train the current sailors that are already in place. This would involve using Perform To Serve as it was meant to be used, as a medium to cross-rate sailors from one area of expertise to another.

The adverse side effect of this is when sailors cross-rate multiple times in their career, with some sailors cross-rating two or three times due to ratings melding together or the abolishment of a rate all together. While this could be looked upon as a sailor being versatile, it only harms in the end when, for example, a second-class petty officer (or E-5) cross-rates from the aviation field to the ship or to the military police. The sailors become literal fish out of water reporting to a new command with no experience or qualifications required for the job that they are now tasked to perform.

Cross-rating is even more difficult once a sailor reaches the rank of E-5. As an E-5, the sailor is expected to be a leader. When sailors are reporting to a new command as an E-5 or E-6 without any experience in their job, the first impression is not usually a good one. There is more of a difficulty, particularly in aviation. Enlisted sailors are constantly changing platforms or the type of aircraft on which they perform maintenance. Aviation rates can be left with obsolete training due to the decommissioning of aircraft or the establishment of new technology.

On the subject of money, there are a number of items that the Navy could cut down on as a way to save. The Navy just spent an atrocious amount of money on new uniforms when there was no reason to be rid of the old. Another spending issue is the cost of ceremonies, specifically change of command ceremonies. Most commands change hands once every two years. These events are usually over the top with elaborate pomp and circumstance. While sailors respect time-honored traditions such as crossing-the-line (equator) or having a retirement ceremony, the amount of money and time that goes into a change of command ceremony could easily redistributed to better means.

The most unfortunate effects of Perform To Serve occur to those that are not selected for reenlistment. FLTCM Stevens (2011) admits to the dysfunction of PTS: “When Perform To Serve was first designed, it was not designed to be one of the primary methods of attrition, but due to the current situation, the Navy has been forced to use it for more than it was meant for.” Sailors are plagued with a multitude of stressors when verification of dismissal is received. The Navy is a way of life, and from the moment sailors enter boot camp, they are inundated with jargon, principles, and a completely new lifestyle. The Navy has its own culture. Just as culture shock is experienced when visiting a foreign country, the same can be said for entering or exiting military service.

A sailor’s last “look” on Perform To Serve should occur approximately six months prior to their departure from the Navy. Sometimes it does not occur this way, and a Sailor is only given two to three months to prepare for the civilian world. This is the scenario that this author experienced. It not only adds to the stressors of a sailor’s situation, but an overall sense of sheer uncaring as the sailor is rushed through processes that should not be taken lightly such as the military’s Transition Assistance Program. In this author’s personal experience, the command looked down on Perform To Serve-denied sailors as if they were being punished for doing something wrong, not as victims of a ruthless system.

Change is emotional for many people. Change in a setting where a person feels that he or she have no control over what is happening is worse. Many sailors join the Navy planning to make it a career, and when that does not pan out, it can be heartbreaking. Sailors that have been in the service for quite some time definitely experience emotions that could easily be related to the grief process. Scenarios of what could have been become the norm, such as thinking about what could have happened if the sailor chose to go to college or to a civilian career versus enlisting after high school. It is not uncommon for some sailors to become depressed. With what is awaiting Veterans on the outskirts of the Armed Forces, it should not come as a surprise that many sailors go through these kinds of emotions.

In 2011 alone, 6,700 sailors were discharged despite a desire to reenlist (Steele, 2012). With the economy as it stands and unemployment reaching high levels, the influx of the unemployed sailors is adding to a prevailing desperation across the country. Veteran sailors are having a difficult time finding jobs. Although many companies advertise that they are looking for Veterans, the outreach is minimal. In this author’s personal experience, it seems as if Veterans are either overqualified, under-qualified, or did not serve in a rate that is hankered for in the private sector. Most military personnel have versatile resumes and do not have steady experience in one area, which is a key item that recruiters are looking to see.

Despite the Navy’s best efforts such as offering the Blue to Green program which offers Naval personnel to transfer to the Army, or offering the Navy Reserve as an option, many Veterans are ending up in dire situations. With their finances at a minimum, many are forced to use government assistance such as unemployment, food stamps, and Medicare. The savings that a sailor has built up over years of being in the military is depleted due to household expenses. Perform To Serve-denied sailors receive a severance pay depending on how long they served, but it does not last forever. Veterans do not deserve to be put in a situation that could bring or does bring them to the brink of homelessness.

It is difficult to see a positive side to Perform To Serve when it has caused an abundance of negativity. The men and women of the United States Navy have sacrificed too much to be treated in such a manner. They have missed countless holidays, birthdays, and other family events that most take for granted. They have faced unimaginable hardships, yet all these men and women of the United States Armed Forces receive is a detached goodbye when being unceremoniously sent out the door. It is a complete and utter disgrace to see sailors, who count on the assurance and security of the Navy, be stripped of all they have achieved.

Attrition happens in a variety of ways. Separation can occur after a sailor’s initial enlistment, after a few enlistments but before retirement, medically, legally, because of hardship, and retirement (Stevens, 2011). The decision to use Perform To Serve as a means of speeding up attrition was a bad move on the part of the Navy. The separated and Active Duty personnel show a lack of confidence now, in the Navy as a whole.

Perform To Serve was promoted as a restructuring tool, but ultimately the program is a short term solution to a long term problem. Disguised as a positive element and a means to help sailors “Stay Navy”, it has really been used as an impersonal way to deflate the overmanned fleet.  Over the next few years, the Army and Marine Corps will be decreasing in strength as well (Steele, 2012). One can only hope that they find a better way of doing so than the Navy’s Perform To Serve program.

Bureau of Naval Personnel, Career Counseling (BNPCC). (n.d.).Perform to serve (pts) how do you measure up against the "stack". Retrieved from website:
Chief of Naval Operations, Naval Administrative Message (NAVADMIN). (2003). (NAVADMIN 03-050). Retrieved from website:
Chief of Naval Operations, Naval Administrative Message (NAVADMIN). (2008). (NAVADMIN 08-263). Retrieved from United States Navy website:
Chief of Naval Operations, Naval Administrative Message (NAVADMIN). (2009a). (NAVADMIN 09-017). Retrieved from website:
Chief of Naval Operations, Naval Administrative Message (NAVADMIN). (2009b). (NAVADMIN 09-161). Retrieved from United States Navy website:
Steele, J. (2012, February 11). Some sailors deflated as navy trims sails. The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved from:
Stevens, M. (2011, June 26). [Web log message]. Retrieved from
United States Navy, NAVPERSCOM (MILPERSMAN). (2006).Milpersman (1440-060). Retrieved from website:

My Horrific Job Interview Experience With Atlantic Events

As many people know, I've been on the job search for quite awhile now. Being involuntarily separated from the Navy wasn't something that I planned for and it's been a hard road since getting out in July of last year. As of tomorrow, I am back to being a college student, but I have a lot of life changes coming. In order to get back on my feet, I need a full or part time job so that I can move on from where I am.

I've been on the job hunt for almost a year now, and still have yet to find a job. I have applied for such a crazy array of jobs, and still nothing. More often than not, I'm usually discouraged, but I keep applying to different things in hopes that I get a call back.

I got a call back last week to the most horrific job interview that I have experienced thus far. The company is called Atlantic Events and they promote themselves as a marketing/PR firm. Here is the description from the Atlantic Events Facebook Page:

"We are a local Marketing Company specializing in product promotion, using pr and market saturation techniques tailored to each client"

The description of what they do is completely different from what I experienced during my first, second and third round "interviews" with them.

I went in last Tuesday and was forced to wait 45 minutes past the time that I was told my interview was. Finally, the gentleman came to get me and after barely five minutes, he told me that I made it to the second round. He told me that I'd be with one of their employees the next day for "a few hours" and to wear business casual clothes.

I got up the next day, and since I don't currently own dressy flats, I opted for a pair of black boots with heels. I arrived at Atlantic Events at the allotted time, and was told that I was going "out in the field" with one of their employees, Carrie.

Carrie walked with me to my car and then told me to follow her to wherever we were going. I figured we were going out to visit a client of some sort. We drove over to the area where St. Augustine Road crosses University Blvd, and pulled into a parking lot of an office building. Again, I thought that the client must be in the office building. I was wrong.

Carrie, and her partner for the day, took me with them as they proceeded to solicit business-to-business. The order of the day was windshields. In the State of Florida, if there's enough damage to a windshield, it can be replaced free of charge to the consumer. So we were walking into each business asking if people's windshields were okay. Carrie would ask which car belonged to the employee, so she could do a "safety inspection" on her way out. If she found something, she'd go back in to try and talk the employee into proceeding with getting a new windshield.

We ended up at a part where there were a bunch of Mom & Pop shops. When I pointed out a "No Soliciting" sign, Carrie said the following: "It's not soliciting if it's free". Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses go door-to-door and they don't sell anything. It's STILL soliciting. I felt like an absolute jerk walking into some of these businesses where you could tell that you weren't wanted there.

I was beyond pissed. The "a few hours" had turned into five and I was wearing heels. Not to mention, realizing exactly what these people really did. I was not happy. Not once the day before was I told that there would be "excessive walking" or even to wear comfortable shoes. That small tidbit would have went a long way, but then again, they have to keep up their farce to reel you in.

I will say that Carrie was very nice. She bought a Gatorade for me, as well as my lunch. She and the others are just so very gullible. Carrie told me that she is a Navy wife and that her husband had recently approached her about working at Atlantic Events. He told her that he felt it was a scam and that she wouldn't go anywhere with the company. I wish she would follow his advice.

Carrie felt that I was "good enough" to move onto the third round. I went back to their office and asked if they had any positions that didn't involve excessive walking. Of course, they said no and I walked out. My morals mean more to me than any job.

There was no real mention of salary, except that "entry level started at $35,000 a year". I'm very sure that these people are paid on commission. I know I'm not the only person to have a similar experience with a company. My mom called me today and I was talking to her and my Aunt about this, and they each said they've experienced something similar.

I won't let this set me back, but I'm still rather annoyed about it all. I wouldn't have wasted my time had I known.

United For Veterans Campaign

The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), which I am a member of, is running a fundraiser for Veterans to raise $50,000 between Memorial Day and Independence Day of this year. This campaign will help Veterans fight for the VA benefits that they've earned, have a voice on Capitol Hill, and apply for emergency financial grants to cover groceries, medicine, and mortgages. Donations are already being collected and so far, $10,146 of the goal has been collected.

My birthday is on June 15th and this year for it, I'd like to help reach the VFW's goal. My personal goal is $2,012. This is a cause near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons.

Please join me in helping my fellow Veterans.

Numbers Don't Lie

"If the shuttle can sit on a plane, I'm calling bullshit on overweight luggage. #discovery #spottheshuttle" was tweeted out by Alison McQuade, @akmcquade on Twitter, during the day of April 17th, 2012. This was the day that Discovery was flying from it's old home at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to it's new home at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C onboard NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA).

I just caught wind of this epic tweet last night. Although it may be a joke and I am more than likely taking it way too seriously, it does not reflect the reality at all. I am finding a lot of people who actually believe this is true and I want to debunk it, Snopes style. Since this was all fueled by the transport of Discovery, I will stick with her numbers.  Let me drop some science on ya....

At rollout, Discovery weighed 151,419 lbs (which was 6,870 pounds less than Columbia). When her main engines were installed, she weighed an even 171,000 lbs.

The SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft) that Discovery flew on is a Boeing 747-100. It's callsign being NASA 905. In order to bear the weight of the Space Shuttles, NASA 905 and NASA 911 (the other SCA) have had all furnishings and equipment aft of the forward No. 1 doors removed. Completely empty, NASA 905 weighs 318,053 lbs and has a maximum gross taxi weight of 713,000 lbs.

The same exact plane, the Boeing 747-100, carrying passengers and luggage has a maximum take off weight of 735,000 lbs. Completely empty, it weighs 358,000 lbs. The 747-200B and 747-300 are also all the same size as our 747-100. The 747-200B weighs 383,000 lbs empty and the 747-300 weighs 392,000 lbs empty. Both weigh 833,000 lbs completely loaded.

So my point that a 747 carrying a Space Shuttle is still lighter than a plane loaded with passengers and luggage is correct.

Credits to:
Dryden Flight Research Center - Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Fact Sheet
Boeing's Space Shuttle Facts & Figures
Discovery OV-103 on Kennedy Space Center's Official Site
World's Great Piggyback Ride -

Parks and Hiking

I have set a bit of a goal for myself, Bear, and Nala. Bear recently went to the vet for his yearly check up and we found out that he has gained about 6 lbs since his last visit. Bear has stayed at a steady 60 lbs since I adopted him, so I figure that he's been delving into Nala's puppy food when we aren't looking. On top of that, I have started losing weight, eating better, and trying my best not to drink my beloved Pepsi. After hitting the highest weight that I've ever been last year, it is time to make a turn-around and I'm already down 12 lbs.

Going along with that, I want to get around to as many parks (mainly hiking trails) as possible in Florida and Georgia. Bear and I have already conquered all but one trail at Tillie Fowler Park on Route 17, and we conquered Camp Milton Historic Preserve today. There are still more on the to-do list though and more are being added as I think of them or find them.

If all this weren't enough, I do track every hike or bike ride that I do on a pretty awesome site that my friend, Paul, turned me onto called Endomondo. I know other people prefer Runkeeper or other sites/applications, but I really dig Endomondo. 

The park that I am most excited about is Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park. I may leave the dogs at home when I head to this place. This place just looks so heavenly and I want to experience it without having the tug of a leash or two.


I've been doing a bit of writing lately. Obviously, not here on my blog, but at a site called SFX-360. I have been on a trial basis writing since November and now am finally a full member of the staff. It's exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. I still get really nervous when I post up something that I think is a big deal. Today, I wrote my first ever opinionated piece about Activision's disregard of female gamers. You should go give it a read, Pressing My Buttons CoD Style - An Open Letter to Activision .

I've also been trying to get my head back into the poetry writing mood. I seemed to have lost the taste for it over the past few years. You would think being in a beautiful place like Sicily that poems would be in abundance. Unfortunately, they weren't. I met up with a dear friend when I got back to Jacksonville and that person has seemed to give me the kick in the ass that I have needed. This person also gave me the greatest gift that I have ever received and turned one of my poems into a song. That has also seemed to give me the motivation to get back into that particular arena.

I know without a college degree to my name that most wouldn't give me a shot. At this point, though, I think it's good that I can build a portfolio along with writing about things that interest me.

A Selection of Some of My Poems

It's been quite awhile since I blogged. I have to have some motivation behind it. So in the mean time, I thought I'd share another form of my writing, my poetry. I have been writing since I was 14, with breaks here and there. Without further ado, here's a few of my favorites from over the past 12 years.

The Meaning of an Asterisk
A string of curse words
Pouring from your mouth
How can something so dirty, be so sultry?
Say them again
Speak your poems of filth
Fill my ears with your nasty sonancy
I yearn for your treacherous soliloquies
Kiss my lips
I want your disease

The Gist of My Epiphany
Twinkling stars of broken glass
Every sunbeam was a razor
Every moonbeam, a bomb
Caught in the earthquake
Oxygen is not enough as I feel my chest get tight
I had a book about hope
But I rejected the notion

At the Edge of Tomorrow
Chromatic summer daisies stretch toward the paling tangerine sun
Their tilted stems sway away from phantom shadows
Whilst spectres dance in the ever-increasing beclouded twilight
Luminescence hovers betwixt misty petals
Blossoms grasp for final moments of radiance
Trying desperately to create a vestige of day to get through the night

Places I Might Have Turned
I still think about him sitting there
Amongst twinkling stars of broken glass
Cigarette burns on his wrist and maple wood guitar in his hands
His warped songs enrapturing my soul in the backseat of a jalopy
When we left fresh tracks in the mud in the middle of the night
Teeming with steam, sweat and wild eyes
Always wanting this to last forever and a minute more
You just really had to be there

In A Different Light
You gave another look when the glass hit the floor,
How your eyes fluttered then.
(You always were the cynic)
Mark that on your calendar; ground within the mortar.
I’'m a woman with other wishes.
She read it in the tea leaves.

Visions of Gammas and Neutrons Danced in Their Heads
In her theory of the solar system
The world is spinning and twirling
And like the best day, it's all hazy
Covered in violets
Me, in reverie

Riding the Next Starshine
Trancing through the sky on worldly wings
Passion gushes moondust
Images of wild blossoms fashion an hypnotic encounter
With a belief in the sanctuary of incredible efflorescence