Counter-Point from Captain Greg Hicks, Acting Chief of Navy Information

The Long March
U.S. Navy/Lt.j.g. Caleb Swigart

Here’s a Navy response to an item that ran the other day. (FWIW, despite his “agree on one thing” assertion below, I don’t necessarily agree that the Navy needs more ships. To the contrary, I think it is time to put a moratorium on buying big “kick me” aircraft carriers while thinking about how the fleet should adjust to the new realities of the 21st century.) —Tom

Mr. Ricks’ recent post on the ratio of Flag Officers to ships in 1944 and today, which cites an article by retired Navy Captain Eyer, is both wrong and right, and deserves a response to get the facts right.

  • First, the number of admirals in the article is wrong.  We don’t have 359 admirals in the U.S. Navy today. Our current active-duty and Reserve Flag Wardroom has 268 officers across all warfare and support designators.  Of those, 58 are serving in Joint assignments — which of course did not exist in 1944, and 53 are Reserve officers not activated. So that’s 157 active duty admirals doing Navy business — less than half of the number cited, and fewer than were serving in 1944.
  • Second, for ship count, 1944 is an outlier year: In 1944 and 1945, at the height of WWII, the Navy had more than 6,000 ships! For the non-WWII years, the U.S. Navy had an average number of 518 ships throughout the 20th Century. Today we have 287 — the lowest number in the Fleet since 1930.

Mr. Ricks and the Navy clearly agree on one thing: We need more naval power. Our fleet must grow in size and capability to become the Navy the Nation Needs.

All leaders, at every level, especially the talented and empowered Commanding Officers serving today, are committed to building a Fleet that will protect America from attack and promote our prosperity and interests around the world.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

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