Artillery: June 12, 2004


The U.S. Department of Defense has discovered the down side of an all volunteer, high quality, force. These troops are expensive. The armed forces now have to compete with the civilian job market to attract the kind of people everyone wants. The navy has taken the lead in cutting personnel, and eliminating jobs it doesnt really need. The navy calculated that it would save $1.2 billion a year for every 10,000 jobs it can eliminate. Currently, despite supporting 4,000 aircraft, nearly 300 warships and 22 home port facilities, the navy still spends 65 percent of its $125 billion a year budget on salaries and benefits for 900,000 people (470,000 sailors, 180,000 civilians and about 250,000 contract employees.) Without too much effort, the navy found 25,000 jobs it can eliminate by the end of the decade. As new ships come into service, most requiring less than half as many sailors as the ships being replaced, navy personnel strength will fall even further. The navy, like the other services, likes to recruit people, and keep them. Recruiting a new sailor costs $12,000, a figure in line with what it costs many civilian firms. The armed forces wants to keep the better people and drop the poor performers. A lot of this has been going on since the armed forces went all-volunteer in the 1970s. But the growing use of high tech gear, and need for highly skilled people to run things, means that fewer poor performers can be tolerated, and fewer people are needed in general. 


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