Navy budget seeks more cash for recruitment and retention bonuses

The Navy’s proposed fiscal 2019 budget would mean higher bonuses for those reenlisting and entering the service, among other funding increases. (Navy) In a nod to a humming economy and a growing fleet, the Navy’s proposed fiscal 2019 budget calls for more sailors, more pay and higher incentives for those joining the service or staying in.

The proposed budget released Monday calls for 7,500 more sailors to be added to the ranks over last year’s request, setting 2019 end strength at 335,400, while contributing to a long-term goal to grow the ranks to 344,800 by FY23.

“This growth will eliminate gaps at sea as well as grow the force,” Rear Adm. Brian E. Luther, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, said Monday in a briefing.

Navy officials have noted in recent months that a low unemployment rate nationwide means the sea service must work harder to make Navy life a more attractive option for young people entering the workforce.

The Navy’s budget for 2019 includes funds to incentivize recruits to sign up or current sailors to stay in.

In the aviation community, flying duty funding would jump from about $108.3 million in FY17 to $141.4 in FY19.

The Navy’s need to remain a viable and competitive career option was put on display in December, when the Navy rolled out a new recruiting campaign based on the “Forged by the Sea” slogan.

The military is still operating without a concrete budget for FY18, which began Oct. 1. Lawmakers will have to suss out 2018 before they can debate how 2019’s funds will be distributed.

“It’s not a lot bigger, organizationally,” he said. “It’s built more to address the changing forms of warfare and to bring the current capabilities up.”