Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Report: Recruiting Shortfalls Leave Navy Carrier Undermanned

'Major and rapidly implemented crew cuts usually come with serious consequences, reducing vessel endurance, readiness and survivability...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The U.S. military’s recruitment shortfall has taken such a toll that the Navy apparently can’t fully staff some of its carriers, according to a recent article in Forbes.

Forbes reported Tuesday that the USS Gerald R. Ford has downsized its crew by 500 to 600 sailor in the last six months.

The vessel is now reportedly operating below its original objective of 2,391 crew members. In an email to Forbes, Captian Rick Burgess reportedly said the USS Ford is now “home to 4,070 sailors: 2,380 ship’s company, 1,550 assigned to Carrier Wing EIGHT, and 140 embarked with Carrier Strike Group TWELVE and Destroyer Squadron TWO staffs.”

About a year ago, the ship had between 4,600 and 4,700 sailors: about 2,700 crew members, 1,700 people from the carrier wing, and 200-300 additional folks for the strike group staff and destroyer squadron staff.

“The current complement appears to be unusually low,” Forbes commented. “Even the aircraft carrier’s December 2021 Selected Acquisition Report projected a ‘ship’s force’ of 2716 billets, far higher than the 2,380 sailors currently aboard.”

The shortage of sailors appears to be from attrition, with the Navy unable to replace sailors with new recruits. The Navy fell 20% short of its recruitment goals for 2023.

However, Forbes tried to put a positive spin on the situation. The fact that the USS Ford is still able to operate—it’s currently deployed in the Mediterranean—is a feat unto its own, the publication argued.

“Major and rapidly implemented crew cuts usually come with serious consequences, reducing vessel endurance, readiness and survivability,” Forbes said.

“But, rather than break down, the carrier is breaking performance records. In fact, the ship recently spent ten weeks away from port, in what appears to be the vessel’s longest uninterrupted period at sea since it was launched.”

Earlier this year, Navy invited an active-duty soldier who performs as a drag queen to be a “digital ambassador” and help the military branch “attract the most talented and diverse workforce” amidst the plunging recruitment.

Meanwhile, some legislators are pushing the idea that the military should hire illegal immigrants to make up for its shortfalls.

“My colleague from Illinois [Sen. Tammy Duckworth] has a bill that says if you’re an undocumented person in this country and you can pass the background test and the like, you can serve in our military. And if you do it honorably, we will make you citizens of the United States,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on the Senate floor earlier this month.

“Do we need that? Do you know what the recruiting numbers are at the Army, Navy and Air Force? They can’t find enough people. And there are undocumented people who want to serve this country. Should we give them the chance? I think we should.”

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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