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Military Connection: Navy Seeking to Bulk Force Size

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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.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Navy Engineer Turned Spy: By Debbie Gregory

Shipyard Spy

On December 10, 2014, a federal judge denied bond for a man who attempted to sell technical plans of the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier to foreign agents.

Mostafa Ahmed Awwad was arrested on December 5th for stealing schematics for the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, and attempting to sell them to who he thought was an Egyptian intelligence officer.

Awwad, 35, currently resides in Yorktown, Virginia. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Awwad immigrated to the U.S. in 2007, and became a citizen in 2012. Awwad graduated from Old Dominion University in 2013, and began working at the Norfolk Naval Shipyards as a Navy civilian engineer in the shipyard’s nuclear engineering and planning department.

The charges against Awwad state that in late October, he attempted to steal technical data of the designs of the USS Gerald R. Ford. Awwad also provided computer drawings downloaded from the Navy to an undercover FBI agent, posing as an Egyptian intelligence officer. The undercover agent speaking in Arabic contacted Awwad in September, and got Awwad to meet him at a park the next day. At the meeting, Awwad declared his intention to use his position of trust with the Navy to obtain military technology and then pass it on to the Egyptian government.

Awwad and the undercover FBI agent met again in October. During this meeting, the engineer is alleged to have described a plan to circumvent Navy computer security by installing software enabling him to copy documents, without tripping a security alert. Awwad reportedly gave the undercover agent drawings of the aircraft carrier, marked with warnings that foreign distribution could result in criminal prosecution. Awwad indicated to the agent that he understood the computer drawings would be used in Egypt. He also agreed to provide the agent with passport photos to produce a fake Egyptian passport so Awwad could travel without alerting U.S. government officials. The affidavit also claimed that Awwad asked the agent for $1,500 to buy a tiny camera which would enable him to photograph restricted material around the shipyard.

The FBI has evidence of Awwad completing a cloak-and-dagger drop that was coordinated with the undercover agent. On October 23rd, Awwad stashed an external hard drive and two passport photos on a secluded area of a hiking trail, in exchange for $3,000 in cash that was left at the site.

The information that Awwad was trying to sell would have put the USS Gerald R. Ford’s future crew of 4,000 sailors at risk. It is also alleged that Awwad told the agent that he would be able to plant tracking devices on American submarines. If all of his claims are true, and evidence points to that likelihood, Awwad was a serious threat to the U.S. Navy.

Given the enormity and seriousness of the charges, U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas Miller denied bond for Awwad, which would not allow the engineer out of prison pending trial. Awwad faces up to 40 years in federal prison.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Navy Engineer Turned Spy: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Navy’s Budget Too High: By Debbie Gregory

Navy 30 yr planWhether it’s to protect shipping lanes, provide humanitarian aid following a catastrophe, **or** supporting our interests and our allies in conflict, our Navy functions to be positioned where it matters, when it matters, anywhere around the world. Like the advertisements say, the U.S. Navy is “a global force for good.”

Keeping up a global presence for the world’s finest Navy is an expensive venture. Maintaining technologically relevant and operation-ready ships is a constant task, and an unceasing expenditure. The Navy’s recent release of its Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY2015, commonly referred to as the Navy’s 30-year Shipbuilding Plan, shows that the branch will not meet its shipbuilding needs with current funding.

The Navy’s shipbuilding budget has averaged approximately $13 billion/year. According to the report, prepared by the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy won’t be able to sustain the building of new ships between the years of 2025-2034, with the current amount of funding.

The report outlines challenges that the Navy will face when attempting to increase its fleet from 289 to 306 vessels. The bulk of the increased ships will come from the eventual building of twelve new Ohio-class submarines. There are also two more Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, one more America-class amphibious assault ship, and several more Freedom-class and Independence-class littoral combat ships. And of course, some current ships will be decommissioned in the process as well.

The Navy estimates that the average cost during the period between FY2025-2034, when the service will be spending the most, will be $19.7 billion a year. This includes the estimated $24 billion per year in FY2032, when building is expected to be at its peak.

The report found that even if the Ohio-class building project was completely removed from the Navy’s shipbuilding plan, the costs for maintaining and replenishing their fleet would still be over $15 billion per year, starting in 2020.

While immediate projects are not affected, Congress and the Department of the Navy need to figure out a workable budget sooner rather than later, one that doesn’t involve cutting everything. Maintaining a progressive Navy is critical to U.S. military success, and to the American way of life.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard &amp,amp, Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Navy’s Budget Too High: By Debbie Gregory