Washington, DC - Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert sat down this week to film another episode of "Conversation with a Shipmate" discussing aspects of Navy's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal.

The Department of the Navy released its proposed $148 billion budget for fiscal year 2015 (FY15), March 4. The budget is part of the $495.6 billion defense budget President Barack Obama submitted to Congress the same day.

"Compensation is about half of our budget. We'd like to keep it to one half," said Greenert. "The idea is to limit the growth, not take out."

Navy Sailors' and Civilians' compensation would not be directly cut, but rather the rate of growth would slow from roughly 3% to 1% in pay and slow for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) raises, Greenert said.
In 2013 alone, BAH rates overall were raised 3.8%, depending on geographic location. In the FY15 budget new BAH rates will take into account the current 5% out of pocket expense along with a proposed 1% change to renter's insurance.

Inserting these changes incrementally and as members PCS, assures members who have made long-term commitments in the form of a lease or contract are not penalized if the area's housing costs decrease, said Greenert.

He went on to highlight that members will not see changes in their next pay check if they remain in their current duty station and that changes will be gradual if Sailors are moving to new duty stations.

Three components are included in the BAH computation: median current market rent; average utilities (including electricity, heat, and water/sewer) and average renter's insurance.

The new budget proposes that BAH does not include the average renter's insurance since some members choose not to make that purchase, said Greenert.

Continuing to speak on compensation, the conversation turned toward retirement.

"There is no plan, today, to change retirement," Greenert said. There is a commission studying it, and heavy media coverage about the proposed ideas will continue, Greenert said.

"Anybody who is wearing a uniform today- that retirement system will be grandfathered which means: today's retirement system is their retirement system," Greenert said.

If and when new options become available service members may have the option of transitioning to a new system. However, they will not be forced to accept a different retirement system than the one that was in effect during their service, Greenert said.

Greenert was asked about the projected FY15 budget that slated Tuition Assistance to 75% Navy funded, 25% funded by the Sailor. Greenert challenged this proposed change and said it needs rethinking and that there will be more to follow on this issue.

"That's very important to me to have an educated force, I want [Sailors] to get the right education," said Greenert. "So they get something that is useful while they're in the military and when they leave the military and that enhances their life."

In FY14 Tuition Assistance remains 100% funded by the Navy and Greenert hopes to keep it that way.

"The bottom line is I want our kids to have the best education they can get," said Greenert.

This year's budget submission prioritizes funding for forward presence and continues to make critical investments in people and future capabilities. The additional investments proposed will be for retaining Sailors through the Quality of Service initiative.

The Navy seeks to reduce manning gaps at sea and improve the sea-to-shore flow of personnel to increase job satisfaction for Sailors.

"Every penny that the Navy gets out of compensation reform, will go into areas to improve the quality of service and work," Greenert said.

For more episodes of Conversation with a Shipmate: http://www.navy.mil/viewLdrVideo.asp?id=130&v=19238