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June 06, 2012

Team Romney: We Need A Bigger Navy. A Much Bigger Navy

The indispensable naval blog Information Dissemination turns 5 this month and they are celebrating with a virtual symposium on the challenges facing the US Navy (yeah, they're nerds).

Today's installment features John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan and current adviser to the Romney campaign. Neither he nor Romney are impressed with Obama's plan for the Navy.

Our Navy stands today at 285 ships. It has never come close to the long-held goal of 313, a number that was itself found to be far too low by the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel which called for a force of 346 ships. This is because, as the QDR commission said, “it is unlikely that the United States can make do with less than it needed in the early 1990s, when Americans assumed the world would be much more peaceful post Cold War.”

In his 2013 budget request and shipbuilding plan, President Obama scrapped even the 313-ship goal for a fleet of “around 300.” Yet at the same time, President Obama wants U.S. foreign policy to “pivot” toward Asia. The important states of Asia form a great maritime region in which dominant sea power is the key to prosperity, security, and a balance of power. However, the President’s latest budget cut 16 ships out of the shipbuilding plan and takes nine ships out of commission years before their service lives have expired, while spending hundreds of millions of dollars on algae for jet fuel and other unaffordable distractions. The unavoidable fact remains that the Navy is retiring ships faster than it builds them, and the “pivot” to Asia exists mainly in words.

The President’s plan for the Navy continues a pattern of kicking the can down the road. Like the coming pain of Obamacare and the drastic need to address the nation’s growing debt burden, the President considers a decision deferred to be a decision made. In reality, he has consistently pushed off the tough choices so that his successors face the consequences. We must begin to rebuild our Navy today and reject empty “out year” procrastination when it comes to shipbuilding.

Right now Obama's shipbuilding plan calls for adding 8 ships a year (even though he doesn't fully fund that plan) but he'll be retiring other ships faster. Romney, according to Lehman, would plan for 15 ships per year.

Advantage: Romney (with a caveat...What kind of ships does Mitt want to see us increase in numbers? Subs and amphibious assault ships or the useless LCSs? If they are real ships, then it's unquestionably advantage Mitt.)

If the strategy is to be leaner and smarter (liberal code words for smaller) the Navy is still the best bang for the buck.

The simple fact is, the world isn't getting any safer and it's still covered mostly by water. The Navy is strained as it is, Obama's plans will only make things worse. As covered in this post at ID, you can't just decide one day to build more ships and expect to have them in reasonable time horizon. You have to invest now for what you're going to need 5, 10, 20 years down the road.

Almost no one is going to make their mind up about Obama v. Romney based on ship building plans but it's an important issue and it gets to the larger question of how each candidate approaches national defense. It's well worth your time to read the whole piece and see just how bad Obama is on this stuff.

Congratulations to Ray and his gang on 5 years of blogging, they provide a great service to those of us novices with an interest in this area.

Bellow the fold...a brilliant US Navy commercial that lays out in 30 seconds the basics of sea power.

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posted by DrewM. at 01:29 PM

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