- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2011

The upcoming early dismissal of more than 3,000 sailors will not have an adverse effect on the Navy’s capabilities, the chief of naval operations said Thursday.

In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Adm. Gary Roughead said the decision to cut personnel before their terms of enlistment have ended was based on an unexpectedly high retention rate, not budgetary concerns.

“People are in the Navy for very specific jobs … I cannot keep people because I want to keep people. The retention trends are higher than what we thought, and the prediction of what we had for the force is not bearing out,” the admiral said.

The plan, first released by the Navy Personnel Command in April, calls for 3,000 enlisted sailors and an unknown number of officers to be discharged by June 30, 2012.

The Navy currently has 328,703 active-duty personnel and 101,532 Reservists. The Navy has surpassed its recruitment goals every fiscal year since 2006, enlisting more than 40,000 personnel every year.

Sailors have expressed concern about the cuts.

“When your job is in the hands of a board, it’s tough,” Petty Office 1st Class Jesus-Luna Garcia told Stars and Stripes magazine.

Adm. Roughead said that personnel costs would have to be looked at in the future, as they are the highest inflating costs in the Navy currently.

The admiral said the major challenge to the Navy’s capabilities would come in the 2020s, when the Nimitz-class supercarriers would begin to be decommissioned.

Adm. Roughead said personnel changes that are planned to be introduced later this year are “very positive for the Navy.”

The admiral said that female sailors would first report to submarines this fall, as the first class of women submariners had just entered training.

Adm. Roughead also said he would soon be making a positive recommendation on repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military’s ban on service by open homosexuals.

“Training has gone extraordinarily well. We are at very high levels of completion, and nothing has surprised us,” the admiral said.