Initially, recruits without higher education or college degrees will hold the pay grade of E-1 and will be elevated to E-2 usually soon after basic training. Different services have different incentive programs for enlistees, such as higher initial ranks for college credit, being an Eagle Scout and referring friends who go on to enlist as well. Participation in DEP is one way recruits can achieve rank before their departure to basic training.
Taken together, this shortage of ships and qualified mariners is “threaten[ing] our ability to meet national security requirements,” as the outgoing U.S. Transportation Command commander, Gen. Darren McDew, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Our enemies know that, as capable as our military is, it is a paper tiger if it can’t get to the battlefield on time. The deterrent capability of our military is weakened by our inability to deploy combat-ready forces quickly.
The academy, now celebrating its 75th year of service to the nation, reduced the entering-class size from 350 midshipmen per year to some 270 years ago. The infrastructure is there to support larger classes (but not the budget), making this revitalization of the student body an obvious first step. An increase in class size would assure the nation of additional committed Merchant Marine officers available to man any vessels that the U.S. might need to utilize in a national emergency. As investments in national security go, this one is inexpensive.