[3/2/17] A record 16 out of 100 Navy women are reassigned from ships to shore duty due to pregnancy, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.
That number is up 2 percent from 2015, representing hundreds more who have to cut their deployments short, taxing both their unit’s manpower, military budgets and combat readiness. Further, such increases cast a shadow over the lofty gender integration goals set by former President Barack Obama.
Overall, women unexpectedly leave their stations on Navy ships as much as 50% more frequently to return to land duty, according to documents obtained from the Navy. The statistics were compiled by the Navy Personnel Command at the request of TheDCNF, covering the period from January 2015 to September 2016.
The evacuation of pregnant women is costly for the Navy. Jude Eden, a nationally known author about women in the military who served in 2004 as a Marine deployed to Iraq said a single transfer can cost the Navy up to $30,000 for each woman trained for a specific task, then evacuated from an active duty ship and sent to land. That figure translates into $115 million in expenses for 2016 alone.
“This is an avoidable cost and expense, leaving a gap for other people to pick up the work slack,” Eden said.
“A pregnancy takes you out of action for about two years. And there’s no replacement,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a nonpartisan public policy organization. “So everybody else has to work all that harder,” adding that on small ships and on submarines, “you really have a potential crew disaster.”
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen told TheDCNF the Navy tries to plan for the unplanned.
“Just as we deal with other unplanned manning losses due to injury or other hardships, we work to ensure that pregnant service members are taken care of and that commands are equipped to fulfill their missions when an unexpected loss occurs,” he said.
In January 2015, 3,335 women were pregnant aboard military vessels, representing about 14 percent of the 23,735 women then serving such duty, according to the data.
But by August 2016 that number reached nearly 16 percent, an all-time high. The Navy reported 3,840 of the 24,259 women sailors who were aboard Navy ships were pregnant.
The Obama administration understated the pregnancy problem throughout its eight years and even suppressed some data about the impact of its “gender-neutral” policies on the Navy.