The U.S. Navy is taking a hard about face and is dropping its plan to make recruiters work an extra day.
On Thursday, the Navy Times first reported on the Navy’s plans to have recruiters adopt longer work weeks. However, a day after the six-day work week was announced, the Navy is now saying it is hitting pause on the plan. Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Rick Cheeseman announced Friday, June 30 that the Navy isn’t going to extend the work period for recruiters.
Under the plan announced Thursday, longer work weeks for recruiters was set to begin Saturday, July 8. Rear Adm. Alexis Walker, the head of Navy Recruiting Command, sent an email telling recruiters to take the extra work as a “warfighting imperative,” although what war Walker meant was not specified.
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The planned work expansion comes as the Navy, like other branches of the military, is heavily struggling to meet its recruitment goals for this fiscal year. Currently the Navy predicts falling short of its goal of 37,000 new enlistees by at least 6,000 people. Last fiscal year the Navy was able to hit its stated numbers, but only barely.
When initially announcing the policy, Walker stressed the importance of hitting the benchmarks in terms of the Navy’s readiness. The recruitment shortfall “impacts our ability to fight and win,” Walker’s email said, per Navy Times. Cheeseman’s statement did not touch on that operational readiness.
Several branches of the armed forces are struggling with recruitment. The U.S. Army is on track to fall short of hitting its numbers for the second year in a row, while the U.S. Air Force is expected to miss its goal by 27,000 enlistees, or a full 10 percent shortfall. The Air Force’s messaging has been more positive than Walker’s, with Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall recently saying that the Air Force can “manage” the recruitment numbers and that the situation is not a “crisis.”
The Navy has been struggling with several issues over recent years, including low morale and suicides in the service, as well as delayed repairs that have been getting worse and keeping vessels in dock longer, and out at sea for less time. This comes even as the Navy is trying to grow its fleet in the coming years.
The Navy already has joined other branches in offering expanded enlistment bonuses, hoping that the appeal of cold hard cash can both bring in new sailors and help the Navy compete in a tight labor market. That included as much as $75,000 for new recruits who go into nuclear fields for the Navy.
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