|DADT repeal training in 2011.|
Photo by PO2 Shauntae Hinkle-Lymas.
Under former Secretary Ray Mabus, the Navy made a policy of directing money away from operations and maintenance in order to keep funding shipbuilding, an effort to arrest the precipitous decline of the fleet’s size, which has dropped from more than 500 ships at the end of the Cold War to today’s 274.
At the same time Mabus pushed hard for major cultural shifts inside the fleet, including the inclusion of women in combat roles in the Navy and Marine Corps, unisex uniforms, gender-neutral ratings titles and opening the services to transgender service members. . . .
On the cultural side, Bilden comes to the Navy after years of internal change that began with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 2011 moved more recently to the integration of women into combat jobs. To many Navy leaders, the conversations around complex social issues were becoming a distraction from the Navy’s core mission, especially while ships and aircraft were beginning to show troubling signs of decay.