Posted by: arbeam | September 10, 2013

Not known yet what role local admiral will have in Midwest

BANGOR — The Navy announced it will eliminate an admiral position by combining the Northwest and Midwest regions under one flag officer — the Northwest’s. It won’t be that simple, however.

The move is part of a flag billet reduction plan released Aug. 20 that will result in 35 admiral positions being reduced, eliminated or consolidated by Oct. 1, 2016. The number of Navy-specific flag officers will drop to 151, 11 fewer than it’s legally allowed to have. It also must provide at least another 61 admirals for joint Pentagon assignments.

Navy Region Northwest won’t likely swallow the Midwest region whole and add it to Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar’s responsibilities, as implied by the Aug. 20 announcement. The region eventually will be disestablished, said Capt. Ed Buclatin, Navy Installations Command spokesman. Buclatin said a decision on the fate of Navy Region Midwest will await completion of an assessment by Navy Installations Command. The analysis isn’t expected to be completed before January.

The Midwest was the odd region out after the Navy directed CNIC to eliminate a flag officer position. Buclatin said eliminating the read admiral lower half position billeted to command the Midwest Region was the best option “due to its relatively small region footprint, with only three installations and no operational waterfront.” The Midwest covers 16 states and includes the Navy’s only boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill.; Naval Support Activity Crane (Ind.); and Naval Support Activity Mid-South (Millington, Tenn.).

When Rear Adm. Rick Williamson left Navy Region Midwest on Aug. 22 to command Navy Region Southeast, he was relieved by Capt. Frank Martin. The Navy said a captain ultimately won’t be leading the Midwest region. It’ll be an admiral based somewhere else overseeing what used to be known as the Midwest. “We have determined that NRMW will eventually be disestablished and that each of our regions should be led by a flag officer,” Buclatin said.

Bolivar, who arrived June 14, might be gone by time the changes are made. Regional commanders generally stick around about two years. The Navy has three years to cut down to 151 admirals. And it might not be the Northwest Region admiral after all, despite the original announcement.

The Installations Command assessment “will inform the Navy’s decision as to which region commander will be responsible for carrying out the functions performed by Midwest,” Buclatin said. “No such decision has been made as of yet.” The Midwest will merge with other regions, not just the Northwest, said Navy Region Northwest spokesman Sean Hughes.

The Navy has five regions under the Navy Installations Command. They’re responsible for maintaining bases where sailors can train and operate, and providing housing and services for them and their families. The Northwest region alone serves 150,000 people with a $470 million annual budget.

The ranks to be reduced are rear admiral lower half, rear admiral and vice admiral. The number of four-star admirals will remain the same.

Besides Bolivar, two other admirals operate out of the region — the Submarine Group Nine and USS John C. Stennis Strike Group commanders.

Kitsap Sun article


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