IG: Sailors trained on screens lack basics
The Navy’s heavy reliance on computer-based training is producing sailors who aren’t ready for their jobs at ships and squadrons, don’t grasp basic Navy concepts and could endanger the long-term health of the service, according to an internal report obtained by Navy Times.
The study, completed in March and prepared by the Navy’s inspector general for former Navy Secretary Donald Winter, was prompted by worries in the fleet that sailors are reporting from “A” school and “C” school with “a declining level of rate-specific knowledge.” In researching that problem, the inspectors zeroed in on computer-based instruction.
The report, begun in May 2008, includes a litany of problems that result from training sailors and recruits on computers, providing few instructors to answer questions and offering the sailors little hands-on experience.
Some of those problems include:
• Sailors arrive at the fleet without basic knowledge about their jobs or the equipment they’ll need to operate and maintain. And when they get to their ships, some sailors need twice as long as before to qualify to stand watches. “Many are unable to recognize and use tools, operate basic equipment, read schematics or follow basic electronics,” the IG found.
• Sailors don’t learn teamwork, long-standing Navy traditions or even basic military knowledge. Inspectors found that incoming sailors don’t know to “ask the chief” and noted “over a dozen instances” on a visit to Naval Training Center Great Lakes, Ill., when new sailors didn’t know to salute officers.
• Sailors take their courses on computers that are an average of six years old, and those machines suffer from regular freeze-ups, network hiccups and other technical problems. Trainees get no allowances in their schedules for time lost to computer problems. Inspectors found that even students who had no connectivity for two days weren’t given time to make up the material they couldn’t learn during the downtime.