Here’s an interesting tidbit reported by Navy Times website (1) …
Addressing the impact of manpower shortages on fleet readiness, Adm. Thomas Copeman acknowledged a shortfall of 8,000 sailors or 15% of the fleet’s billets. From the article,
“The top readiness deficit is the correct number of people with the correct skill sets and experiences on the ships,” Copeman said in answer to an audience question at the opening day of the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium outside Washington, D.C. “It manifests itself in a bunch of different ways. We do a lot of cross-decks ... and we do them as ships get ready to go out the door on certain skill sets that we don’t have enough of.”
This is exactly what I’ve been hearing for the last several years and there is no sign that the situation is improving. In fact, from what I hear, it’s getting worse. Cross decking of personnel means deployments with little or no time off and no chance for the cross decked personnel to be integrated into the training of the group.
Of the Navy’s various problems, this one is easy to correct. There’s an adequate pool of potential trainees in any given field. The only challenge is budget and that’s only a challenge if we let it be. Worst case, we occasionally drop a new ship or two to pay for the increase in personnel. It’s far better to have a couple fewer ships and have a fully manned, trained, and ready fleet than to have a few more ships that are gapped, short of technical expertise, and unprepared for combat.
(1) http://www.navytimes.com/article/20140114/NEWS05/301140020/3-star-Sailor-shortage-threatens-surface-Navy-s-readiness, “3-Star: Sailor Shortage Threatens Surface Navy's Readiness”, Sam Fellman,