Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran has told the Navy’s flag officers they need to take a break.
Earlier in the fall, Moran sent out a message informing all flag officers they are expected to take ten consecutive days of leave each year, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke, said during the recent Naval Submarine League annual symposium. As of the start of Fiscal Year 2019, the Navy had 214 active duty flag officers.
Burke’s comments came during a broader discussion about the Navy’s recruitment and retention activities. Having senior leaders take breaks, Burke said, is a way to encourage the rest of the force not to lose track of balancing their career with personal life.
“Life-work balance in the Navy, What?” Burke said. “We have to do this. We are going to.”
Moran issued what’s considered a verbal command – there’s no written policy yet – because of a few recent stories of senior leaders in the armed services essentially working themselves death, Burke said.
“An Army general on terminal leave had a stress-related heart attack,” Burke said
Burke was referring to Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister, who at age 57 and weeks away from retirement in June, died of an apparent heart attack while running near Lake Murray, outside of Columbia, S.C. During his career, Bannister had been an Army Ranger, and before going on transition leave, was the commander of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, according to the Army’s official account of his death.
Across the Navy, Burke said, too many sailors accrue paid vacation time but don’t use it. Too many sailors, officers and enlisted alike, merely keep working. Eventually, they burn out, and at a time when the Navy as some aggressive personnel growth targets, Burke said the service has to focus on retention.
“We pay for 30 days of leave for every service member. On average, the U.S. Navy takes 11 and half days of leave each year,” Burke said. “We have to start looking at the long view here.”