“Bad News” from the Navy, an Upnote for the Coast Guard

USS Zephyr (PC 8) and U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Pacific personnel, conducting operations in support of JIATF-S Operation Martillo. U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Casey J. Hopkins

Texas Public Radio has a report, “A surge in Navy deserters could be a sign of a bigger problem for the military,” that also references recent suicides in the Navy. I would note that, based on their reporting, there has been no comparable surge in other armed services, and there is good news from the Coast Guard.

“But other branches of the military didn’t see a similar increase in the past three years.Desertions in the Army dropped by 47%, from 328 in 2019 to 174 in 2021, and the Marine Corps reported 59 in 2019 and 31 in 2021. The Coast Guard said it didn’t record a single deserter between 2019 and 2021.”

I would also point out, that 157 desertions out of over 340,000 active duty members is still a pretty smaller percentage (<0.046%, about one out of 2,178), only a little worse than the Army’s much improved 2021 figures, and actually much better than the Army’s 2019 figures.

The TPR report is really using this “surge” as basis for discussing the lack of early out options. While we don’t want to spend a lot of money training someone for a high paying civilian job and then release him or her as soon as they go to a job where their boss actually expects them to do their job, there are times when early separation is good for the service.

Early in my career, it was the Vietnam era. Many enlisted in the Coast Guard, not because they wanted to be there, but because it was a way to avoid the draft. The Ocean Station program was ending, so the Coast Guard decided to decommission many of its larger ships and to truncate the WHEC 378 program at 12 instead of the planned 36. The resulting downsizing meant there would be a large reduction in force. We took advantage of this by early, many times compulsary, separation of many trouble makers and poor performers. It always seemed 90% of our personnel problems were caused by fewer than 10% of our people. This purge had a wonderful effect.

9 thoughts on ““Bad News” from the Navy, an Upnote for the Coast Guard

  1. The plan was to replace all of the big cutters at the time. The 255’s, 311’s and the 327’s in one fell swoop.

  2. The RIF circa 93-94 was a sh*tshow though. Instituted high-year tenure to reduce ranks, any nonrates with marks averaged below 3.0 were out. Problem being they didn’t stagger the tenure and start from the top to make room for the 2nd/3rd class high years to be able to promote up. Watched a couple nonrates get cut who had poorer marks due to issues with their direct (usually a BM2/MK2) but they had ‘straightened up’ on their last set of marks. Just literally booted for being a fraction under 3 despite good last marks. They got an honorable discharge with a RE:1 code but the CG wouldn’t take them back.

    • lost a couple decent non-rates to that rif. they weren’t stellar but dependable workers, without serious discipline issues.

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