We spoke with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Master Chief Petty Office of the Navy Mike Stevens last week about the boot camp digital revolution known as the eSailor initiative. eSailor has been piloted at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois, over the last year, and is designed to encourage the use of tablets to help train recruits. We talked with SECNAV and MCPON about the status of eSailor, how they plan to introduce the initiative to the fleet, and SECNAV’s plan for future innovation.
“It’s going to allow us in the future to move this to much a wider audience in the fleet. What it says is the Navy is on the cutting edge of this kind of technology, as we are on all technologies.”
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus
“We’ve developed 16 additional hours of content that will be loaded on the devices, so our Sailors are already using them; I saw them using them; they love having them there, and it’s already starting to have an impact on their abilities to learn.”
MCPON Mike Stevens
MC2 Burleson: Welcome it’s great to have the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Ray Mabus and MCPON Stevens here today to talk about the eSailor initiative piloted over the last year at Recruit Training Command. SECNAV, MCPON thank you for being here today.
SECNAV: Thank you.
MCPON: Thank you.
MC2 Burleson: So MCPON, I’ll start with you. What is the latest regarding eSailor, and how’s it being received?
MCPON: Well, it just so happens I was recently in Chicago at Great Lakes during the 4th of July weekend, and had the opportunity to observe our Sailors in action with their tablets. We’ve issued roughly 1,400 of the tablets to date. We plan on issuing a total of 4,000 and procuring a number of 10,000 because you have to be able to reimage, load content and afford opportunities for repair. We’ve developed 16 additional hours of content that will be loaded on the devices, so our Sailors are already using them; I saw them using them; they love having them there, and it’s already starting to have an impact on their abilities to learn.
MC2 Burleson: Mr. Secretary how does the use of tablets help to train recruits, and what does it say about the Navy’s innovation efforts?
SECNAV: It’s the way that people, before they become Sailors, before they are recruited, it’s the way they are learning today. It’s the way they communicate with the world; it’s the way they get information. It’s moving the Navy right there to the way that people are learning. It’s allowing us to put their studies, the things they need to know at recruit training, and the things they need to know about their career [at their fingertips]. It’s going to allow us in the future to move this to a wider audience in the fleet. What it says is the Navy is on the cutting edge of this kind of technology, as we are on all technologies.
MC2 Burleson: MCPON, right now eSailor is at Recruit Training Command, but what’s your vision at getting it out to Sailors in the fleet?
MCPON: Thanks to the support from leaderships such as Secretary Mabus affording us the opportunity to do this. Where I see us in the future, propel yourself 2025, 2030, maybe even beyond, is what we would call a career companion. You either physically get a device, or you get applications on your own device that start at the entrance processing center, and follow you throughout an entire 20 or 30 year career. We purchased space in the cloud so all your information is stored there. You get out of the service one day, you own that information, so you’re no longer carrying photocopies of things with you. You’re just accessing the cloud to get your information. Then we of course, we want to move it on to our A-school and C-schools. Then we want to get it out to our platforms and overseas locations, but of course it’s going to require resources to do that. We have to do it safely and securely. These are challenges that are not insurmountable; we will figure out how to do it eventually. I see us as a Navy going in that direction.
MC2 Burleson: Mr. Secretary, how do we keep innovation efforts like eSailor going in the future?
SECNAV: It’s like the MCPON said – this is the way we’re going to communicate with Sailors; this is the way they’re going to be able to keep their records; this is the way they’re going to be able to manage their careers. Once you get it into recruit training, which we’re a long way down the road toward doing that, and once you have those devices, or once you have those apps that Sailors use, it’s going to be impossible to turn back because this is the way that everybody else communicates, everybody downloads the apps. It’s the way they find information; it’s the way they study; it’s the way they do a lot of things in their lives. Thanks to MCPON Stevens. This was his vision, this was his push to make sure that the Navy caught up in technology, and then moved to the forefront and make it a career companion so that it’s not a one-time thing. It’s not just when you’re in recruit training, but it’s there for you during your entire career. As technology changes, we’ll change.
MC2 Burleson: SECNAV, MCPON thank you for being here and answering the questions, and thank you all for watching. Be sure to stay tuned to the Rundown for the latest regarding eSailor.