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NEWS | Feb. 14, 2020

A NOSC Survival Guide

By Cmdr. Brian Scopa, commanding officer, NOSC Richmond

ALMANAC Essentials
SLIDESHOW | 1 images | Graduating recruits stand in formation inside Midway Ceremonial GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Sept. 6, 2019) Graduating recruits stand in formation inside Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall during a pass in review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 35,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling/Released)

RICHMOND, Va. — Why is it so important for us to get the essentials of Reserve readiness right? In war, the contest typically goes to the side that makes the fewest mistakes — not necessarily the side with the best plan or most sophisticated capabilities. The essentials form the base of the Reserve readiness pyramid, and we can’t ascend to the peak of readiness if we struggle with the basics.




There cannot be an us versus them mentality between Reserve and Full Time Support (FTS) Sailors. Reservists support our Navy by being mobilization ready — NOSC responsibility — and relevant in their warfighting specialty — active command and Reserve unit responsibility. While we can fail separately, we can only succeed together.


In the opening of this section, I’ve taken the opportunity to give you a NOSC CO’s perspective on how we can succeed in understanding both sides of the Reserve/FTS coin. Understanding the individual parts of getting the mobilization ready business done is an important part of being an effective team delivering Reserve expertise and support to the total force.




We absolutely want you to come by the NOSC outside of drill weekends, when we can devote more time to interacting with you individually and assisting in any of your issues. The NOSC is your command, and you’re always welcome there. 


You should know your NOSC staff are responsible for a wide range of programs and demands. Often times these responsibilities are separate from their role in supporting your mobilization readiness. Depending upon whether NOSCs are located on a large installation or as a standalone facility, each command has somewhere around 60 programs to maintain. The amount of work is somewhat unrelated to the size of the staff or the number of Reservists that drill there, so a NOSC with 12 staff members has roughly the same number of programs as a NOSC with 80 staff members. Your NOSC may be responsible for maintaining an armed watchstander program, facility maintenance coordination, and all of the program management functions found on a traditional military installation. So staff members at any given NOSC may have multiple collateral duties and responsibilities to maintain in addition to providing the customer service you need. That’s a lot of work!


While you should expect a call or email reply within one business day when you contact the NOSC, understanding the significant administrative responsibilities NOSCs operate under will help you better understand why an immediate response might not be possible. When you add up all of the work to be done, there’s a good chance that if you’re looking for a specific person, they may not be available to assist you if you show up unannounced. Please send an email to the right distro list and set up a time if you’re in need of something specific. We understand how hard it is to break away from your weekly obligations to come see us, and we don’t want to waste your time.  




Send us an email introducing yourself when you move to a new NOSC, and swing by before your first drill weekend if you can make it happen. We can best support you when we get to know you personally. 


Precisely because we’re trying to keep so many plates spinning at the NOSC, we don’t always know if you’re having issues. Please, communicate early and clearly if you need help. Send an email to the correct distro list so everyone in the shop can see what you need, and so the right level of leadership can back up the various clerks and program managers on the staff. Include your unit leadership on these emails, so they’re aware of your issues and can help you navigate successfully through the pitfalls of the numerous programs. You should leave your unit leadership off emails with protected personal medical information.


Customer service is not just something our staff provides to Reservists. It’s a contract between the NOSC, Reserve units, and Reserve Sailors, and it’s required to maintain clear and professional communication from everyone. 


Are you having trouble getting service or an answer from a staff member or department? Elevate it to the department head, senior enlisted leader, or even the NOSC XO or CO. Trust me, no one wants to know more than the CO about how the staff is performing in their primary duty of helping Reservists achieve mobilization readiness. Bringing your problem up six months after it started at an admiral’s call will certainly get you assistance, but that’s six months later than it needed to be.


If you’re still not getting the support you need, or your relationship has soured with the NOSC staff, the Reserve Component Command (RCC) deputies are perfectly positioned and empowered to resolve problems that unfortunately crop up between NOSCs and Reserve units from time to time. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, use the ICE system to leave an actionable comment for the NOSC. ICE comments are tracked and scrutinized at both the RCCs and CNRFC, so these comments get attention — and action — at the highest levels. Ask me how I know! 


On the flip side, please use the ICE system to leave a positive comment when you feel like you’ve received superior service. In addition to the recognition a staff member will receive for a positive ICE comment, feedback helps the NOSC leadership evaluate and develop the staff members. 




Here’s your baseline as a Reserve Sailor: 12 days of Annual Training (AT) each fiscal year, 40 of 48 Drills completed, pass two Physical Fitness Assessments, maintain your medical and dental readiness, submit your travel vouchers on time, stay current on your GTCC account, and complete your annual General Military Training. Aside from these, the opportunities for you are endless. There are interesting, challenging and meaningful assignments available to you regardless of your rate, designator or background. Your ability to provide needed operational support to the Navy is only limited by your own personal ambition, abilities, skills and time.


But maybe you need to focus more on your personal life for a while? That’s perfectly fine! Reserve careers are made up of periods of high engagement and low engagement. That’s one of the advantages of being in the Reserve. While serving our country is a major commitment and driving force for a Reserve career, you may have other priorities that rank higher on any given day. Maybe you’re finishing a degree, starting a business, having a child, or caring for a sick loved one. We understand. 


If you need to throttle back for a while (but still want to drill), you need to understand the minimum requirements for participation. The baseline listed above is your guide. The requirements largely don’t change from year to year, so lead the target by staying ahead of your mobilization readiness requirements. If you can make all of that happen, you’ll be a 5.0 mobilization asset to the Navy Reserve. 




The NOSC does not provide you with warfighting training and readiness — full stop. We simply don’t have experience or background in the wide diversity of specialties in the Navy Reserve to know how to train you. What you should be doing to get ready for the fight is something that must be worked out through your unit leadership, your supported active command, and your active command’s Operational Support Officer (OSO). 


The NOSC will certainly have training you need to accomplish on drill weekends, but those aren’t the skills you need to bring to the fight if you’re mobilized. If you’re bored and unengaged on drill weekends, that’s not the NOSC’s fault. Given the limitations of your NOSC facilities, work with your unit leadership to develop a training plan that will best equip you for the fight.

Being a 5.0 Reserve Sailor, ready to deploy in support of the warfighting needs of the Navy, isn’t a small task, but follow these essentials and you’ll be well on your way.