Half a decade ago we were well in to the warning stages of looking at a Fleet by 2020 of 240. In one very pessimistic moment near the end of the last decade, I think someone on the Front Porch made the serious note of 220 being not outside consideration.
Well, when someone as smart as our friend Seth Cropsey throws down a number, it deserves consideration. Via TheWeeklyStandard;
Added to failed states and terror is the more ominous possibility that “budget realities” will eviscerate American seapower by as much as half of its current strength—285 combatant ships—within the next decade and a half. “Budget realities” is code for both political parties’ unwillingness to maintain American seapower at levels that would guarantee continued U.S. dominance at sea. The Navy has thus been revising CS-21 for over a year and is likely to make public its efforts soon.That my friends, is a Fleet of 140 ships.
But no maritime threat trumps the self-inflicted diminution of U.S. seapower, whose retreating goals are unsupported by the monies to pay for them. Strategy is supposed to make difficult choices among competing needs with limited resources. It is not expected to move mountains with teaspoons. An October 2013 report of the Congressional Budget Office is one of several that foresees continued shrinkage of America’s combat fleet. “The total costs of carrying out the 2014 [shipbuilding] plan,” it says, “—an average of about $21 billion in 2013 dollars per year over the next 30 years—would be one-third higher than the funding amounts that the Navy has received in recent decades” (emphasis added). In other words, the Navy’s goal of reaching the fleet that the 2014 fiscal year plan envisions depends on large, sustained, and historically anomalous increases to its shipbuilding budget. The largest strategic challenge facing the United States is to rebuild the seapower on which our status as a great power rests.
Such are the wages of the Tiffany Navy, happy talk, and outright programmatic arrogance that this is even a possibility; that and a large helping of spending lunacy during the last gasp of the Western Welfare State.