San Diego Union-Tribune

June 21, 2001

Navy's recruitment, retention on upswing


WASHINGTON -- The Navy is meeting its recruiting goals for the year and
is re-enlisting almost all the trained sailors it needs, due largely to improved
pay and benefits, the Navy's top admiral said yesterday.

As a result, the Navy expects to end the fiscal year with about 3,200 more
sailors than its congressionally authorized personnel limit, Adm. Vern E. Clark told the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee.

"We are in a war for people" and the pay and retirement reforms and other
quality-of-life improvements "are having the desired impact," the chief of naval operations said.

"We are winning in improved retention . . . We haven't won the war, but we
are doing the right things and we are moving in the right direction."

The personnel surplus is a dramatic improvement from several years ago
when recruiting and retention problems left the Navy's deploying units short
18,000 sailors.

A Navy spokeswoman said the unfilled sea billets have been reduced
"substantially," but did not say what the current shortage is.

On another matter, Clark said the Navy "critically needs" its share of the $6.5
billion in supplemental funds President Bush has requested to cover expenses
in this fiscal year.

Clark said he already has ordered a cutback in scheduled flying by Navy units because of money shortages.

The chairman, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, promised to approve the
supplemental appropriations quickly.