NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – More than 200 senior enlisted Sailors gathered for a Ready Relevant Learning (RRL) conference Aug. 13-15, at the Virginia Advanced Shipbuilding and Carrier Integration Center in Newport News, Virginia.
The purpose of the conference was to bring senior Sailors from around the region to discuss methods and processes in order to implement RRL across the fleet.
RRL is a key initiative of the Sailor 2025 program, which aims to provide Sailors with the in-rate and professional training necessary, as required, during their career.
“Originally mandated by the Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Fleet Forces Command has tasked us to examine the training vignettes and develop the transport architecture to deliver RRL training content to Sailor when needed and wherever they are located,” said Max A. Willey, the resilient and assured communications requirements officer at Naval Information Forces in Suffolk, Virginia. “RRL is designed to deliver training to Sailors throughout their careers, from boot camp to retirement. We are examining virtual classrooms, gaming capabilities, 3D videos, mobility, and smart devices as several methods for Sailors to access their training content ashore, during sea duty, and assigned to expeditionary units or joint duty assignments. As an added benefit, RRL will help with a Sailor’s career and rating advancement, while also improving our Navy’s ability to achieve higher levels of warfighting readiness.”
Learning from past lessons, senior enlisted Sailors were invited to the conference to obtain their support and buy-in early in the process.
“We’ve had so many different initiatives that have come, been introduced and forced on us,” said Master Chief Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) (CTM) J. Christopher Brown, the CTM rating lead for Naval Information Forces. “We had people who weren’t doing the job and didn’t know anything about the job yet were making these decisions, and so I think this is a great opportunity where it allows the senior enlisted voice to be heard.”
Brown spoke about how the conference was an initiative behind RRL to obtain the assistance and expertise of senior enlisted Sailors to help shape the program.
“They’re saying, ‘We don’t know. Tell us what you want and we’ll work with the architects and with engineers to make it happen,’” said Brown. “We can’t say anymore, ‘Hey, no one listened to us, no one took our input,’ because this is a perfect opportunity to provide input for that.”
During the conference, senior enlisted Sailors were given the opportunity to see how advancements in technology are making the delivery of training more accessible for Sailors outside of the traditional schoolhouse. There was a demonstration using 3D glasses and a stylus pen to take apart a virtual rack of hardware to expand and identify the components for maintenance, training, and on-the-job skills learning.
“I thought it was amazing,” said Master Chief Information Systems Technician Margaret Buckingham, the N6 directorate leading chief petty officer at Expeditionary Strike Group Two. “Everything was labeled and you can practice and really learn your systems.”
Buckingham said one advantage was the ability for Sailors to learn their equipment regardless of its real-world operating condition.
“A lot of times, in radio, for example, you can’t really get a chance to take the system apart because they’re being used,” said Buckingham. “With this system you can actually learn all the different parts and mess around with it, one, without breaking it and, two, while you’re not impacting operations.”
After seeing the potential benefits from RRL, attendees at the conference discussed how best to proceed, including involving more junior Sailors in the shaping process.
“We have the buy-in now and as leaders to go back to our commands and solicit ideas from the junior Sailors,” said Buckingham. “We take those ideas and knowing what actually needs to be covered in the training and merge the two together and come up with a great product.”
This conference followed a similar conference held on the West Coast in June 2019 attended by more than 90 senior enlisted Sailors.
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