The Navy's top personnel officer said Wednesday that the service is short about 22,000 junior sailors at sea, and the service's own models suggest it will still be down by about 16,000 sailors across the force in the fall.
Despite the grim outlook, Vice Adm. Rick Cheeseman, the chief of naval personnel, said he's confident that he's got a fix.
“I guarantee we're not going to be that far off,” he said at the annual Surface Navy Association conference in Virginia. Cheeseman called his own projections that the Navy would be short 16,000 sailors – nearly 5% of its end strength goal of just more than 330,000 sailors – “not accurate.”
Read Next: Army Sees Sharp Decline in White Recruits
Cheeseman's promise comes just months after nearly all the services failed to meet their 2023 recruiting figures despite huge bonuses, flashy new ads, and relaxed or reworked standards. The Navy itself reached only 30,236 of its goal of 37,700 sailors — an almost 20% shortfall. It also recruited only 2,080 officers, almost 18% short of its 2,532 officer goal.
“I'm closer to getting 40,000 new contracts because of the data-driven process we've adopted,” he said.
Anticipating a tough recruiting year in 2023, the Navy reworked some of its testing requirements to allow sailors who don't perform well in all areas of the standard military entrance exam to still join the ranks, raised the maximum enlistment age to 41, and spent millions on…