“Mission: The United States is a maritime nation, and the U.S. Navy protects America at sea. Alongside our allies and partners, we defend freedom, preserve economic prosperity, and keep the seas open and free. Our nation is engaged in long-term competition. To defend American interests around the globe, the U.S. Navy must remain prepared to execute our timeless role, as directed by Congress and the President.” The preceding statement is from the U. S. Navy’s website.
There are many indicators that the Navy is at increasing risk of mission failure.
Missing recruiting goals by thousands for two years in a row, missing its goal for FY 2023 by over 7000 new recruits. The impact of missing recruiting goals is cumulative. Its impact does not subside if in subsequent years deficits are not made up. Lack of manpower adds to the strain of a Navy struggling to meet its national priorities overseas. Failing to recruit enough people to man the Navy is a result of many factors. Since the Afghanistan debacle, the public’s faith in the military has plummeted to new lows. With relatively low unemployment, the competition for young people is high. American youth are less fit, less capable of serving in the military than at any time in our history. Fewer young people want to serve as the political left teaches them to hate our country, academia promotes socialism, and race hustlers malign our country for its supposed racism and white supremacy. Divisive ideologies like Critical Race Theory and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are now promoted vigorously up and down the chain of command in the Navy. These ideologies alienate the youth of what for generations was the most fertile recruiting grounds, white, southern, Christian Americans. This demographic is now increasingly averse to serving in our new politically correct Navy of DEI, Pride month, correct pronouns, drag queens, and transgender people. If the Navy cannot recruit now for the existing numbers of ships we have, we have no hope whatsoever of filling out the ranks of a Navy with much higher numbers of ships.
Recently, due to the international wars simultaneously in Ukraine and Israel, and high tension in the Taiwan strait/South China Sea, the U.S. Navy had an almost unprecedented 8 Carriers at sea at the same time. The only three not at sea were unavailable due to long-term maintenance. Normally, the Navy might have three or four carriers at sea at one time. Navy ships and crews continually operating wear out rapidly. Typical deployments last 6 months. The USS Ford has been deployed for 7 months and SECDEF just extended its deployment in the eastern Med for the second time. The longer the deployment the more worn out the crew and the higher rates of equipment failures become. As deployments go on for longer and longer, the size of the crew shrinks due to illness, pregnancy, injury, and suicides. Typically ships returning to home port after a lengthy deployment are missing a substantial number of the deploying crew. This puts much more stress and strain on the remaining crewmen. The international situation with multiple wars demanding our attention simultaneously is eroding our Navy’s readiness at a high rate. When the ships and their crews wear out, there will be no alternative but to return them to port for re-fit and rest for the crews regardless of whatever pressing mission the ship is on. That the Navy does not have enough ships is now obvious to even the most casual observer when multiple hot spots in distant seas occur. When the proverbial stuff hits the fan, the very first question everyone, including the President asks is, “Where is the nearest carrier?”
Captain Brent Ramsey (ret.) served 30 years in the Navy and 23 years in Navy Civil Service including many years at CBC Gulfport where he was the Executive Director. He formerly served as Member/Secretary of the Military Advisory Group for Congressman Mark Meadows (NC-11) for 4 years. He currently serves on the Military Advisory Group for Congressman Chuck Edwards. He is on the Board of Advisors for the Center for Military Readiness and STARRS. He is a leader with Calvert Group. He provides media support for authors and produces podcasts for several venues. He writes extensively on defense matters.