By Rear Adm. Bruce H. Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic
While many people took time last week to celebrate the return of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG) after a successful seven months at sea, Sailors of the George H.W. Bush CSG were hard at work assessing the results of their just completed Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in preparation for their upcoming deployment. Both are examples of CSGs achieving success under the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP), which positively impacts our training and deployment effectiveness.
When Adm. Bill Gortney first introduced the program in 2014, the intentions were clear and the goal was lofty: maximize operational availability at any given resource level. OFRP is the next iteration of the Fleet Response Plan with greater emphasis on increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the readiness generation process by synchronizing efforts along OFRP’s nine levels of focus; Operational and Tactical HQs, Unit/Advanced Training, Inspections, Military Sealift Command Support, Logistics, Maintenance and Modernization, Manning and Individual Training, C2 Alignment, and FRP Length. Adm. Phil Davidson, who relieved Adm. Gortney as commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, states that “OFRP must do four things: it must enable us to rotate the force, surge the force, maintain and modernize the force, and enable us to reset in stride following a crisis.” Not only did IKE succeed in OFRP execution, she fulfilled the CNO’s stretch policy goal of keeping deployments to seven months.
The IKE CSG was the first successful deployment under OFRP and the lessons learned so far strengthen our confidence that the plan is fast becoming the new standard throughout the entire Navy. This success not only belongs to the Sailors of IKE CSG, but also to all of the ‘supporting commands’ across the Navy that came together in an unprecedented collaborative effort to support the strike group through the entire maintenance, training and deployment portions of the OFRP cycle.
The maintenance that the various supporting commands provided ensured that IKE CSG units deployed in excellent material condition and returned in a strong material condition, which will reduce the amount of maintenance required during their next scheduled maintenance availabilities. The training that these commands provided utilized high-velocity learning that constantly challenged all levels of the chain of command to look for new tools, processes and business rules to optimize readiness generation and while concomitantly building more stability and predictability in the training cycles. This will ultimately challenge every command at every level of the OFRP process to build on the lessons learned from the IKE CSG. The success of the IKE CSG has already been leveraged by the George H.W. Bush CSG at every step in her journey on the OFRP path.
The IKE CSG deployed on time and returned to homeport on time, thus OFRP successfully enabled us to “rotate the force.” Despite 23 months of collective maintenance, IKE still deployed on time with a fully-manned and highly-trained crew, thus, OFRP enabled us to properly “maintain and modernize the force.” The IKE CSG returned to homeport in a strong material readiness condition and after her well-deserved post overseas movement (POM) stand down, she will be back at sea conducting fleet operations as part of her OFRP sustainment phase. Should the National Command Authority (POTUS/SECDEF) decide they need an additional CSG, IKE CSG is combat ready to answer the call, thus, OFRP enables us to be able to “surge the force.” Finally, all of the IKE CSG’s great accomplishments over the past 18-months have been achieved while the nation remains at war against our adversaries, thus, OFRP enables us to “reset in stride.”
This is why I write with the upmost confidence: OFRP works.
In this year, 2017, we will continue to learn and perfect OFRP as we deploy the Carl Vinson and George H.W. Bush CSGs. I have no doubt that the hard working and dedicated Sailors of both CSGs are up to the task of not only meeting, but exceeding our four OFRP goals while decisively conducting combat operations against our enemies.
Finally, I would like to once again offer special congratulations to the entire IKE CSG for setting the “best ever” standard for others to follow. We could never have learned as much as we did, as fast as we have without your constant and tireless efforts – Bravo Zulu and welcome home!