Training, morale problems in Navy also felt at Fallon station

FALLON - Training and morale problems found in a nationwide survey of Navy aviators are reflected at the Naval Air Station here as well, the Lahontan Valley News reported on Saturday.

In a copyright story, the newspaper said the investigation, released Sept. 8, was promoted in part by complaints from NAS Fallon's Naval Strike & Warfare Center as well as other naval air facilities.

The report, completed April 28 but not released until last week, had not been received at the Fallon air station as of Friday and the command there could not comment on it, according to Public Affairs Officer Lt. Julie Ripley.

The study, written by Vice Adm. Lee F. Gunn, the Navy's inspector general, was compiled after 3,700 interviews were conducted with enlisted personnel and officers at naval air stations in the United States.

''Interviews were held at NAS Fallon,'' a Navy spokesperson in Washington told the Lahontan Valley News on Friday.

The spokesperson, who asked not to be identified by name, said nine pages of the 89-page report were devoted to readiness problems at Fallon resulting from parts, plane and equipment shortages.

Gunn wrote that Navy pilots and aircrew nationwide are suffering ''debilitating levels of frustration and morale-crushing drudgery'' as they try to cope with the shortages.

''The Navy is wearing out its aviation fleet,'' he said in the report.

The declines adversely affected pilots' abilities to hit targets during the 1999 air campaign against Serbia, Gunn wrote.

More than half of the Navy-dropped laser bombs missed their targets, partly because of a supply shortage in many aircraft squadrons that gave pilots little or no chance to practice with the weapons before going into combat, the report said.

The Fallon paper said Gunn listed eight concerns in his report that specifically related to the Nevada air station:

- The center is ''not achieving the readiness required to meet its daily requirements'' because of poor aircraft availability driven primarily by parts shortages, although the report says improvements are being made;

- Training jets lack current systems such as mission computers, radars and displays;

- The station lacks upgrades in electronic warfare and range implementation equipment;

- Parts, critical combat systems and ordnance have arrived late;

- Personnel shortages are evident or people arrive in mid-cycle, thus missing special training;

- A lack of spare parts has prompted crews to cannibalize aircraft;

- Aviators have limited knowledge of certain weapons and systems, and

- Parts and aircraft shortages have adversely affected the morale and retention of personnel as a result of long hours and weekend shifts that keep them away from their families.


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