On Wednesday, Vice Adm. Robert Burke, chief of Naval Personnel, told members of the House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel that depending on how quickly the ships are built, a fleet that size will require between 20,000 and 40,000 sailors to staff.
The service currently has about 335,000 active-duty sailors and 275 active ships, and Burke’s proposed expansion would mean a 12 percent increase in force and a 28 percent increase in fleet size.
"The infrastructure that we have in place in terms of our recruit training command is sufficient, given shipbuilding timelines, to put enough sailors through there," he said, according to Military.com. "We would have to ramp up additional drill [and] recruit division commanders, and perhaps additional training capacity, but probably not additional infrastructure" right now, he said.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson summarized a report on the Navy’s target future force that concurs with Burke’s announcements, telling reporters during a Wednesday conference call, "I will tell you that my sense is that we’re on the dawn of something very substantial in naval warfare …"
"There is kind of a demand for presence at different parts around the world … And this has been an important part of that body of studies. You really need to be there to provide credible options. You can’t be virtually present and provide that credible option," he added, according to DOD Buzz.
Richardson also stressed the importance of unmanned systems as a part of the service’s future projects.
"There is no question that unmanned systems must also be an integral part of the future fleet … The advantages such systems offer are even greater when they incorporate autonomy and machine learning. And these platforms must be affordable enough to buy them in large numbers, and networked in order to expand our presence in key areas."