Will the Knife Save the Navy?
The cuts in the upcoming QDR mentioned earlier concerned the 2 supercarriers, the Marine Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, and a great chunk of the Joint Strike Fighter buy. According to the Cato at Liberty blog, there’s even more trimming planned:
The Navy’s draft ship-building plan apparently warns of massive cuts in the size of its future fleet and consolidation of the ship-building industry unless Congress provides new funds for shipbuilding. It wants $80 billion extra over the fourteen years starting in 2019 to cover the cost of buying twelve new boomers (SSBN or ballistic missile submarines) to replace the fourteen Trident SSBNs slated for retirement starting in 2029. Without the extra cash, the Navy says it will have to buy less of everything else, shrinking the fleet to roughly 237 ships rather than the planned 324. The bulk of cuts will come from large surface combatants; we will wind up with 53 rather than the planned 96. The number of amphibious ships and attack submarines will also decrease. With so few ships coming into the fleet, the document implies, we’ll have to close some shipyards.
First off, I support the replacement of out Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines, long overdue IMHO. Even more, I see the boomers as our most survivable deterrent by far, and there’s little reason why it shouldn’t be our ONLY strategic deterrent for this fact.
I also consider that if the Navy would build fewer high end surface ships and submarines, we could be expanding instead of decreasing. Because the Aegis destroyers, attack submarines, supercarriers ect, are so much more capable, we could build fewer of them. Even the ones we now construct could be done cheaper, with little decrease in their effectiveness. Do warships like the Burke with precision missiles need 100 of them? But I recall when we built single end missile ships. So why not destroyers with 60 or 45 missiles and you could buy more hulls?
Would a nuclear boat half the size of the 8000 ton Virginia be any less effective, since its primary asset is unmatched range and sustained cruising speed? These are just out of the box ideas which should be considered, and as I noted earlier this week, budget cuts would actually make us more creative, teaching us to do more with less.
Perhaps I am in the minority with this view, but I see cuts not only as beneficial but actually the Navy’s salvation if it changes the admirals from their free-spending ways, and battleship-only mindset which have little place in today’s conflcit.