Navy Stabilizes Force as it Nears End-strength Goal, Admiral Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2009 After years of downsizing, the U.S. Navy has nearly achieved its end-strength goal of 329,000 sailors, a senior naval officer said here today.
“For the Navy, force stabilization marks a transitional period, where we are now finished downsizing,” Rear Adm. Daniel P. Holloway, director of the Navy’s military personnel, plans and policy division, told Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters.
The Navy has been reducing its ranks by 8,000 to 10,000 servicemembers a year for the past six to seven years, Holloway said, noting his service now is close to reaching its designed end-strength goal of about 329,000 sailors.
“We’re currently halfway through the fiscal year within 1 percent of that goal in stabilizing the force,” the two-star admiral said.
And, as the Navy stabilizes its force, Holloway said, it wants to recruit and retain only the best and brightest sailors to support the nation’s maritime strategy and the joint warfighter.
Holloway said he hears positive feedback about today’s “excellent” sailors. The Navy’s Perform-to-Serve program that’s been in place for years, he said, evaluates sailors’ duty performance to ascertain their capability for continued service.
Qualified sailors also may have the opportunity to switch to high-demand jobs at re-enlistment time, Holloway said. Today’s sailors are serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said, as members of provincial reconstruction teams and improvised explosive device suppression crews, with civil affairs groups, and in security and detention operations.
“We’re getting a record number of volunteers now” to fill such billets, Holloway said, adding that he’s hearing “that the Army and Marine Corps” appreciate the sailors’ contributions.
The Navy employs two types of assignment categories while providing sailors to serve in overseas slots, Holloway said. The individual augmentee process, he said, is used to fill positions on a very short notice.
Global war on terrorism support assignments are known by the acronym GSA, Holloway said. They involve “predictable” overseas assignments of a year’s duration, he said, that would be repetitively filled.
“We can, in advance, look at that requirement,” Holloway said of GSA-system sourced assignments, while in the meantime, assignment managers scan the force to see who’d be ready to deploy after completion of their present assignment.
Career managers don’t pull sailors out of their present duty assignments when filling GSA billets, he noted, which results in less disruption to sailors’ lives.
Meanwhile, Holloway said, the Navy continues to attract high-quality recruits.
“We are a world-class outfit and we do require world-class performance,” Holloway said. “So, the standards are high.”