By Debbie Gregory.
While the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps have been looking to reduce their force size, the Navy is expected to increase its ranks over the next five years.
Navy leadership is currently planning the composition of its force size numbers anticipated for 2025. Since the Navy has reconfigured what it wants the future of the fleet to look like in terms of ship types by 2025, Navy leaders are retooling the focus on the number of sailors expected to man the fleet. The current plans call for a slight increase from its current number of 325,000 sailors, to roughly 328,000 by the end of 2020.
Many around the DOD and the Department of the Navy have wondered about the Navy’s end strength. Global instability and recent flashpoints in Iraq and Russia appear to be shaping Air Force and Army force size considerations. The ongoing conflict against the Islamic State, both in Iraq and Syria, as well as the activity between Russia and Ukraine, have all contributed to the DOD and its branches reconsidering planned cuts to their ranks.
The Navy’s end-strength increase is at least partially funded in the recently passed 2015 defense bill, which includes roughly $45 billion for personnel costs. The stability of planned force-size increases will enable the Navy to focus on recruiting and retention. At the same time, Navy officials say the service is pleased to be growing at a time when a naval presence is needed around the globe.
In December, 2014, Air Force Secretary Deborah James announced that the USAF would halt its plan for a new round of layoffs in 2015. The Air Force has approximately 315,000 officers and enlisted members on active duty, the lowest level since the service was created in 1947.
Also, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno recently acknowledged that the reductions in Army end strength, already underway, no longer make sense in light of emerging global threats such as the Islamic State. The Army previously planned to reduce its current strength of 520,000 personnel down to 490,000.
Congress will also have a say as to how large these service branches force sizes can be. Lawmakers have already blocked efforts by the military to cut down their personnel costs by maintaining pay raises and benefits that service leaders have wanted to reduce.
While world events and jockeying in Washington continue to determine the future force size of each service branch, service members, Veterans, tax payers and young Americans who wish to someday join the U.S. military look on in eager anticipation.
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