Defense Secretary Robert Gates is planning to take aim next week at the Navy’s new multibillion-dollar ballistic missile submarine, a move some view as an implicit threat: Cut the sub, or I’ll do it myself.Who told you last month we would be lucky to get 10 SSBN's? Oh yea - that was me.
Gates’s warning will come in a speech at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Expo, and while he won’t announce any specific budget decisions, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell says Gates will raise questions about changes in geopolitics, global naval resourcing, the global economy and how those changes may impact what programs the Navy builds in the future.
Any threat to cut the subs — which cost $7 billion apiece and would create plenty of jobs with defense contractors — is bound to stoke parochial tensions in Congress, especially with members who represent districts that build submarines. The new subs are planned to join the fleet starting in 2027, replacing existing Ohio-class missile subs.
Such strong words coming from Gates, who has cut Air Force fighter jets and helicopters, an Army combat system, missile defense programs and has fired two service secretaries and an Air Force chief of staff, are viewed in the defense community with great caution.