Alternatives that Military Sealift Command (MSC) must consider to realize growth
To identify the alternatives that MSC must consider in order to realize its growth, it must do both the external and internal environmental Analysis. To achieve its mission, the MSC should improve the operations of various areas of its operations such as the human resources department, financial management, logistics and supplies as well as planning, both current and in the future. This process involves the identification and analysis of the most important external environmental factor in the remote, industry, and external operating environments of Military Sealift Command (MSC, 2010).
External and Internal Environmental Analysis of MSC
The ability of the US navy to conduct their businesses around may be sabotaged by their perceived opponents who will try to deny or even make it harder for them to access global ports, and sea lanes. This freedom of access is very important to the global economy as it facilitates the movement of resources as well as the growth of trade. The decline of the overseas military presence will be quite uneconomical as it will require more military forces to protect US interests since they will be forced to move further into the sea.
Poor infrastructure development in most areas where the US has future interests is likely to hinder their future operations. These areas lack sea ports and airports as well as poor road networks. These areas also have severe water shortages as well as few or no electrical and sewerage services. These shortages directly hinder the deployment of military forces by the US and her partners as well as in the response to humanitarian aid (MSC, 2010).
Even though the advancement of information and communication technology has proved to be beneficial, it can also be dangerous especially in the military field. While the US military has advanced in technology, their perceived opponents and enemies may also gain access to these same technologies and may use them to cause an attack, disrupt or even degrade the US military communications and the flow of information. Investment in technology has also proved to be expensive and one must choose carefully due to its cost, the training expenses as well as their key objective which is to gain total efficiency. Getting good and efficient software for both financial as well as other decisions making such as AHP is difficult and quit expensive (MSC, 2010).
With the current financial crisis, the US government has a huge budget deficit which has affected several government operations including the military operations. According the US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, the American government should put more emphasis on the military spending and adjust its priorities to address the increasingly changing threats from its enemies and world. The threats include; the terrorists, rising powers as well as the rogue nations who are determined to harm the US. These opponents have realized that they cannot confront the US directly on military grounds, so they are trying other possible options. This dominance is not perceived well by the US enemies and may do anything they can to jeopardize the military operations. This is the reason why the American government, should invest in programs, personnel as well as platforms that will guarantee her continued dominance. Since the end of the Cold War, the US Navy has shrunk but its battle fleet is still larger the next thirteen navies combined with eleven of those being the allies of US.
Energy Challenges- With the rising use of more fossil fuels by the emerging economies like the China and India, there is a lot of pressure on the world’s energy resources. There is need for the use of alternative sources of energy by the US military. These changes require huge capital use, changes in political attitudes by world leaders towards the use of nuclear energy as well as the dramatic changes in technology (MSC, 2010).
Internal Environmental Scan
In the Internal environmental scan we analyze using the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats criteria. We will put more emphasis on the strengths and weakness in the analysis of the internal environment.
A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
Military Sealift Command currently operates about 111 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships across the globe. The MSC also has approximately fifty military ships on standby and are ready for military use. The Headquarter of Military Sealift Command is in Washington, D.C with branches across the country. It has about 8,000 employees, both military and civilian. Furthermore, the MSC employs another 4,000 civil servants both from the marines and federal governments to strengthen its non combatant naval auxiliary and special mission ships.
MSC get its finances from two main sources, i.e. the transportation working capital and the navy working capital fund. Each one of these funds has different functions. The purpose of the Transport working capital is to finance the operation of the sealift servicers whereas the main purpose of the navy working capital fund is to support the naval taskforce and operations as well as other military entities. Though MSC gets its funding from these two sources, it does not get the funding from its command operations. However, it obtains finances from the money transfers its customers transfer into the working capital funds. These are the finances the MSC uses to finance its command operations. Since MSC is not a profit- making organization, they do not budget to make profits but instead their working capital funds budget to break-even (MSC, 2010)
Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) was formed in the 1990s after an agreement was reached between the US government and the maritime industry. The purpose is to provide joint planning and assured access for the commercial ships at the rates that were to be agreed upon in cases of national emergency. The treaty allows the US military to use the offshore transport equipments as well as their private ships during emergencies and in times of war. The treaty also allows the American government to give the maritime industry players subsidies or even give them contracts which involves the transportation of military equipments in moments of peace. This enables the private firms and their assets to become an important part of the emergency military planning (MSC, 2010).
The MSC’s workforce is approximately 9,000 employees across the globe, with about 80 percent of the working at the sea. The majority of these workers are mariners who work for the civil service in their respective federal governments. Other employees work for private firms as commercial mariners, others as civil servants and the rest are members of the reserve military. All the MSC ships are operated by the civilians, unlike the US Naval ships which are operated by the military personnel. Even though the MSC ships are operated by civilians, they may be involves in the military operation in moments of war by carrying military supplies as well as carrying communication equipments. They are able to do this because some of their ships have small military departments which are designed to carry out these operations. (MSC, 2010).
Strengths: MSC have a highly trained workforce, quality as well as safety management system focused.
Weakness: There is slow hiring process for the CIVMAR and the shore employees. The, MSC and the Navy component to USTRANSCOM which provides approximately 30 ships and crews daily to support the operations in force sustainment, delivery of the combat equipments, fuel, vehicles, ammunition as well as the ammunitions to the US forces around the world in times of war and peace. Sometimes MSC are involved in the misappropriation of funds. Since the MSC is involved in administration and one of their core objectives is administrate the scarce resources efficiently with the aim of saving funds. At times the military personnel concentrates on completing the mission and may lead to making fast in appropriate decisions in order to complete these missions lead to bad financial decisions. Personnel in the military usually have a turnover after every three years, this puts them under a lot of pressure in their careers like the need for promotions, evaluations and other penalties that civilians don’t have. The military personnel face dilemmas between choosing between careers and professional interests when they are involved in decision making processes (MSC, 2010).
One of the best alternative strategies the MSC should adopt is creating an entrepreneurial strategy. This will enhance effectiveness and efficiency in its operations as well as the extensive use of the business management methods and strategies in its operations. The knowledge and methods of business management are very essential in the implementation of its functions, i.e. service and administrative functions (Vanags, Vanags &Vilka, 2006).
Another important alternative that the MSC should adopt is to use the external resources such as outsourcing services which focus in definite areas. This will help MSC in saving the funds that would have been use in the regulations, training as wee as in proving benefits to its employees unlike in the case of employees under contract. Evaluation of the distribution of its employees such as the military employees versus the civilian employees is also a very vita alternative. The military workforce is quite expensive since a lot of money is required to provide all the benefits to its employees as well as the turnover period of about three years (Vanags, Vanags &Vilka, 2006).
Delinking the Strategy and Decision-making policy from the Provision of services is also another good alternative. This strategy is sometimes known as separating “steering from rowing”. The separation of strategy and decision-making policy from the provision of services is enhanced through devolution. Top managers are therefore advised to put their effort and focus on the decision-making, leadership as well as in strategic management and leaving other employees to offer the services (Vanags, Vanags &Vilka, 2006).
Best Value Discipline
Following the MSC’s mission which is focused and value driven in a bid to sustain our nation by delivering supplies and conducting specialized missions across the world’s oceans, operational excellence is the best strategic discipline I will recommend for MSC. In terms of operations and executions of its activities, MSC is very efficient. Center of attention is always given to the provision of quality goods and services at a cheaper price. The spotlight of MSC’s mission is often to enhance smooth operations, competence, and huge volume as well as supply chain management.
Identification of Grand strategy for MSC
Functional-level strategies are the best grand strategy considering its nature and operations. These strategies involve coordinating the functional areas of an organization. These functional areas are: human resources; marketing; production; finance as well as research and development. The purpose of coordinating these functional areas is to ensure that each one maintains and contributes to entity- level strategies as well as the overall corporate-level strategies. Every businesses within the corporate range are concerned with coordinating different operations either in designing, delivering, developing or even in sustaining manufactured products. Corporate strategies have several functions, but the major ones are:
- To use the professionals in a given practical area in an effective way.
- To integrate activities in the functional area. These activities involve: research in operations, coordinating, processes, and future trends as well as, its resources or control of inventories, purchasing as well as shipping in operations.
- Finally, assuring that the functional strategies integrate with the business level as well as the corporate level strategies (Thomas, 2010).
MSC, (2010), US Transportation Command 2011 Strategic Plan. Web.
Thomas, J. (2010). Strategy levels.
Vanags, E., Vanags, I., & Vilka, I. (2006), The Main Trends and Principles of Public Administration Development throughout the World and in Latvia. Web.