Artillery: August 26, 2004

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The U.S. Navy, satisfied with its personnel cuts so far, has decided to reduce its strength even more. Confident that its reorganization and automation plans will require even less manpower than earlier thought, another 37,000 sailors jobs will be axed by 2011. This will bring navy strength down to 320,000, the lowest its been since 1940. Back then, the navy was growing rapidly because of World War II. But with the Cold War over, and warship and aircraft automation sharply reducing the size of crews, the navy would prefer to put more of its money into ships and equipment, and less into payroll. At the moment, 61 percent of the navy budget goes to personnel costs. 

Part of the new cuts are also coming from the realization that many shore based jobs could be handled by civilians. The navy has always thought of itself as a seagoing force, with assignments ashore being temporary, something you did before another stint at sea. But the navy discovered that many of its people never went to sea. Who needs sailors who cant serve on a ship? There are a few exceptions, but apparently a lot of those shore based jobs are to be outsourced. What the navy wants is fewer, but higher quality, sailors. So while the navy will be recruiting fewer men and women, higher standards will be applied to those trying to join up. Actually, the standards for recruits have been going up for years. And the admirals have noted that this has resulted in much better performance, by the sailors, as well as the ships. 

 


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