At times during the past couple of years, U.S. carrier battle groups have been forward deployed for nine- and ten-month periods. Now the Navy plans to “lock in” eight-month deployments. The plan is intended to return “predictability” to deployments—which it is hoped will improve personnel retention.1
Reaching the eight-month deployment goal will not be easy. Commander, Fleet Forces Command, Admiral William Gortney, speaking at the Navy League’s symposium at National Harbor, Maryland, in April, declared, “Eight months is right on the ragged edge of what’s acceptable,” and added that several factors were working against it.
Earlier, Admiral Gortney had announced his Optimized Fleet Response Plan that outlined the goals that must be met for the eight-month cycle, including putting all ships and air units of a carrier strike group on the same maintenance and deployment schedule. This plan initially will focus on the carrier groups and eventually is to include all U.S. Navy ships and air units that deploy, including those from the amphibious ready groups, Marine Corps expeditionary units, and attack submarines.