Monday, January 04, 2010

In DC at 0726 today ....

You should "abandon the concept of darkness."

Daniel B. Branch, Jr., National President of The Navy League,
It appears the Obama administration may have abandoned the concept that a 300-plus ship Navy is critical to the security of the United States. If true, this will be the first administration in almost 100 years not to support the concept.

Early signs of this lack of support emerged during the 2008 presidential campaign, when the Navy League asked both candidates — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. — whether they supported the need to return the fleet to 313 ships, the minimum number the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff say is needed to meet our national security requirements. The Obama team responded that the “current force structure is adequate to support the Navy’s missions,” referring to a fleet that at the time consisted of 283 ships.
I do not blame President Obama and his team for this - his senior Navy officers gave him this sandwich already made.

This is the logical result of the mismanagement of our shipbuilding program for the entire first decade of the 21st Century. Few in Congress, the press, or the general public believe anymore what uniformed leadership say about what ships will do what, when , and at what cost.

We did this to ourselves - and in the budget environment everyone who wanted to has seen for the last half decade, the simple math that the Tiffany Navy forces us to use tells us that there was no way we would reach 313, 300, or even hold fast at 283.
Further evidence continued to mount last spring, when the administration submitted a shipbuilding budget that would only support the construction of eight ships. In just a few short years, this level of funding will produce a 240-ship fleet, given that a typical Navy warship has an expected life of 30 years.
We will be lucky if we can hold 240 - as we have been discussing here for the last few years.
To maintain a Navy of at least 300 ships, the United States must fund and build at least 11-12 ships per year. Recent estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Congressional Research Service indicate it will take from $25 billion to $27 billion per year for the shipbuilding budget to reach and maintain a 313-ship Navy, a minimum number the Navy may even raise. However, the administration submitted a budget of only $14.7 billion for ship construction in fiscal 2010.
And if you think that math is going to get better - you are high.

We would do a lot better if the immediate past CNO Admiral Mullen and the present CNO Admiral Roughead held a very public mea culpa and explained to Congress, the Navy, and more importantly the taxpayer, how we got here. This happened on their watch - they know the problem best.

Enough happy talk.

Hat tip Maggie.

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