I wrote about the CAPT Crozier/SECNAV Modly affair last week, and couldn’t have been more wrong. I was disgusted to get information from others that pointed to a lack of a plan and a lack of care by many in the chain of command for the well being of the Sailors aboard THEODORE ROOSEVELT. What should have been a good news story of the Navy tackling the COVID-19 virus turned into a complete shit show, resulting in Acting SECNAV Modly resigning, a lot of hurt feelings on all sides, and a huge loss in confidence in senior Navy leadership. The only good thing we got out of it was no more “Vector” emails. Despite tons of good news stories for the Navy right now, especially the USNS COMFORT and USNS MERCY, the Navy headlines will be more bad than good.
So yes, I got it wrong. I was fooled by a good media performance early on, then watched everything descend into chaos. I do hope, if CAPT Crozier is found innocent, they put him back in charge.
Going forward, our Navy is in trouble in terms of leadership. To start with the situation, we have a Navy too small for what we ask of it. We’ve killed the Navy’s one saving point, mobility, by demanding presence per a Global Force Management schedule that doesn’t take ship maintenance into account. Yet we pay an astronomical amount of money for the Navy we have, mainly because our shipyards can’t produce a ship on budget or on time. Worse still, while the Army and Air Force had free reign of Overseas Contingency money, and a chance to recapitalize hardware, Navy still has old ships that are increasing in maintenance cost.
We need a strong SECNAV to get the Navy bureaucracy back on track, and yet to Congress, the Navy is somewhere on the bottom tier right now. Nobody cares enough to approve the President’s SECNAV choice, or to suggest someone else. Nobody cares enough to either build more ships or demand we scale back our overseas commitments. So this puts us lacking equipment and leadership.
But soon it’ll be worse, because we’ll be lacking people. When we put the Blended Retirement System in place, it was to make the system more “fair,” which for Congress means “cost less money.” The negative effect is that we’ll need more recruiting more often, because more people will leave earlier. Since it started in 2018, you’ll start seeing drastic changes in 2023 as Sailors that entered in 2018 leave in greater-than-anticipated numbers. For officers, who already have large incentives to leave after their 5 year initial contract, we’ll either have to throw huge bonuses at them to stay or live with gaps, keeping in mind in many cases, we’re already maxing out bonuses in many cases. If you’re an O-3 in 2023, would you stay in a Navy full of old ships, a declining retirement system and leaders that set poor standards, or would you jump ship for a civilian job?
The Navy’s approaching a crisis point. We’ll soon be lacking in equipment, leadership and people. Without some drastic rudder, the Navy will struggle to weather the upcoming storms.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.