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COS Doyle's Message to Undersea Warriors

By Captain Gene J. Doyle, Chief of Staff | Sept. 23, 2016

Let’s talk numbers for a minute.

  • The U.S. has about 1.5 million people serving on active duty in all five uniformed services.   
  • The Navy has about 330,000 people on active duty.
  • The U.S. Submarine force has about 22,000 active duty personnel serving in a variety of roles.

These seem like pretty large numbers, but let’s add some context.  The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that in 2016 the U.S. population reached nearly 325 million people.  So here’s a second look at the numbers above, in a different light:

  • The U.S. has only 0.46 percent of its population on active duty in all five uniformed services.  That is roughly about 1 out of every 217 people.
  • Those serving in the U.S. Navy constitute only 0.1 percent of the overall population.  That is about 1 out of every 985 people.
  • The U.S. Submarine Force constitutes about 0.007 percent of the population – or about 1 out of every 14,100 people.

This may be one reason that our submarine force is known as an ELITE force.

Let’s look at some different numbers.

  • Depending on how you count, the Navy has a total of about 290 combatant warships.
  • Today, we have 68 submarines including all classes (SSNs, SSGNs and SSBNs).
  • That equates to about 23% of the all U.S. combatant warships.
  • All submarines fall within about 13% of the overall Navy budget.

This might be another reason that our submarine force is known as an ELITE force.  After all, with only 68 submarines and 10% of the Navy’s personnel, our submarine force:

  • Dominates the undersea domain.  There aren’t many places on the planet we have not operated or cannot operate.  We continue to sail in every ocean on the planet and routinely operate in the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Indian, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf – this year we even sent two submarines up under the arctic ice.
  • Develop the best and brightest officers and enlisted personnel.
  • Continue to lead the world in submarine technology.  The latest VIRGINIA class submarines boast true state-of-the-art technology and our soon to be built SSBNX will embrace technological advancements, giving our Sailors the best of the best.

Our adversaries continue to work hard to close the gap in technology and capability.  Some 40 countries in the world now operate submarines, and many others look to create a submarine force.  In other words… we cannot relax. 

So, keep showing up day in and day out to do the job only 10% of our Navy can do. Take pride in that job because believe me, it matters.  As CNO Richardson put it, “The margins of victory are razor thin, but they are decisive”. Everything we do must support keeping the edge we currently enjoy, and it all starts with you.