Education for Seapower Strategy 2020

The Department of the Navy released the “Education for Seapower Strategy 2020” on Monday, March 2. Coupled with the recent release of MCDP 7 “Learning”, it seems the Department of the Navy has put an emphasis on education and learning with a coordinated effort within the Navy / Marine Corps team.

Acting Secretary Modly stated, “the E4S recommended organizational and functional changes designed to lift education to a strategic and budgeting priority alongside our platforms and weapons systems.” The E4S 2020 is reminiscent of General Mattis in his letter to the 1st Marine Division, “Engage your brain before your engage your weapon.” Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention the parallels between E4S and the German education efforts captured in the work of Charles Edward White and “The Enlightened Soldier” and the educational reform brought about by Scharnhorst. This 20 page document will set the foundation to create a thinking, intellectually agile, and adaptable force able to synthesize and process information rapidly spanning a multitude of subjects (cyber, IT, data analytics, management, and computer science–all specifically mentioned in E4S 2020).

The strategy has 3 pillars:

1) Create a Continuum of Learning for the Entire Force (this includes civilians)

2) Integrate Education into our Talent Management Frameworks

3) Strengthen and Invest in our Naval University System

The biggest takeaways from the strategy start with a no cost degree program that begins when Marines and Sailors enlist with enrollment in a naval community college. This is a phenomenal solution for young men and women who go through many technical schools–with an end result of an associates degree at the completion of their accessions training pipeline.

Also, with respect to Officer PME, options may be provided to allow “free-standing and stackable” academic syllabi that could satisfy JPME requirements in the future. The end state looks to have these classes result in a master’s degree in military science.

Of note, one paragraph mentions bolstering educational programs while “minimizing disruption to career paths and reducing personnel transfers.” This is a great step in the right direction to understand that the time required to achieve such academic goals will not come without cost, to include an already time constrained environment the Department of the Navy currently operates in.

Also, with budget hearings recently occurring, Representative Gallagher (R-WI) made mention of the dialogue sparked by General Berger’s Planning Guidance. Representative Gallagher asked that this dialogue and critical debate continue to happen amongst the ranks and it is also echoed by E4S 2020 “Leaders must create a climate of intellectual exchange and take an active role in debates over the future of our force structures, strategy, and tactics.”

The evaluation system for promotions and command screening precepts will also include educational criteria and reward those who continually seek to bolster their educational prowess.
“We will enact new policies to encourage and reward the pursuit of professional military and civilian education. Our new approach will transform our performance evaluations, promotion, and school selection processes and create a culture of intellectual development in our Navy, Marine Corps, and civilian workforces.”

Not only are there improvements to the education process, but DoN will now evaluate what is deemed important-education. “Learning achievements-just like leadership, physical fitness, and other performance categories currently graded by each reporting senior-should be continually evaluated to ensure progress is made along the course of a career.”

A great read and thought-provoking for all Marines, Sailors, and civilian employees. This work will continue to refine with feedback from the Fleet and I very much look forward to the future discussions to improve upon an already impressive strategy. The Naval service has put emphasis on one of the single most important aspects to fight and win in the future-education.