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Vice Adm. Robert T. Conway Jr., commander of the Naval Installations Command, toured several bases in Japan and on Guam last week to see how to improve operations to support the fleet, warfighters and Navy families.

Part of his objective, he said, is to study what infrastructure and services can be reduced to eliminate duplicity, cut costs and increase efficiency under the Global Shore Infrastructure Plan (GISP).

The following are excerpts of his responses to questions from Stars and Stripes:

On the GSIP:

"It’s like the Academy Awards … the stars are the warfighters, the Fleet, but I have a supporting role to these people. If I can come in as the base for all these stove-pipe efforts that are going on, strategically what I could say is, ‘You’re doing the same thing as this one over here. We could do it like this,’ and knock off this many. … I wouldn’t say people because it’s not always about people. It has to do with capabilities."

On what’s under consideration for possible reduction:

"Everything. I’ve got 55,000 structures worldwide and every one of them is being evaluated on their importance in four areas. I call them the four C’s: configuration of the building, the capacity of the building, the complexity of the building and most importantly the capability. What is it doing to support warfighting? When you add all these up with engineering fairy dust, you get a figure of merit. So, what I’m allowed to do based on that and the input from the warfighters and the commanding officers? I have an integrated priority list from the No. 1 to No. 55,000 in order of importance. And so, for the first time you can say, ‘Got it. Got it. You’re out of here.’ … The problem is everybody likes to hold on to everything."

On cost-saving alternatives to demolition:

"In the interim, if we don’t have the money to demolish because we have to conform to all the environmental stuff and it gets expensive, then we can mothball it … so we’re not putting good money into electricity, utilities — which is a big chunk of my annual bill — or the restoration and the modernization, or the preventive maintenance that you have to do."

On considerations for the arrival of the nuclear-powered USS George Washington and its sailors:

"The GW represents a big change in the type of ship that we’re bringing in to Yokosuka. We’ve already built a beautiful, new building there to handle the generation plant. Now, with the advent of the ship coming in there … it’s almost like a push in terms of the number of people coming. The biggest change is because that carrier has different power requirements, those had to be accommodated, which led to building certain infrastructure around there. As far as [sailor quality of life], the best MWR that I have seen in terms of robustness, in terms of totally focused on the sailor, and in terms of complexity for the families, is in Japan in every base that I’ve gone through here. They’re highly efficient, they’re highly effective, they’re some of the best people we have in management in those areas and they are working overtime to take care of the sailors."

On base "zoning":

"Zoning just means that in any planned development or community in the United States, it’s zoned. … Well, that’s what I want our bases to be, meaning you know where the administration area is, you know where the logistics area is, you know where the operational area is, you know where the recreational areas are and (people) don’t get confused. So, right now I’ve got people who should be in administrative areas trying to take land in the waterfront. And that’s for the operators. It’s not for the admin people. ‘Well, it’s a nice view and I have a couple of stars.’ … So what I’m trying to do is build consistency when it comes to zoning. I can’t change these bases, they haven’t changed since 1945. But what I can do is start putting the people who morphed out of their areas back where they should be."

On addressing child care needs:

"In 2008 and 2009, we’re building 27 more child care centers. At the end of last year, we had some extra money and I put an additional, I think it was $10 million for portable [buildings]. … The problem is it’s an insatiable demand signal. We really don’t even know what it is. We think we’ve got it down just to where we have a couple thousand vacancies right now, but we don’t have capacity and we’re trying to build to that. The problem is we don’t know if that’s the actual demand signal or if people who say it’s too tough to get child care aren’t putting their name on the list. So that’s one thing we’re trying to work our way through right now."


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