Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Senator Roger Wicker: Rebuild the Navy

“Where are the carriers?”  This is one of the most important questions for a President to ask during a crisis.  The dispatch of an aircraft carrier can often be the military option that our commander-in-chief needs to project force or help quell instability.

Given our Navy’s fleet size, the chances of that question being met with silence are increasing.  But we have an opportunity to reverse the trend, if we act now to restore our naval strength.   

As chairmen of the congressional seapower subcommittees that oversee America’s Navy and Marine Corps, we are proposing a way to start: a national policy that codifies the 355-ship requirement in the force structure assessment released by the Navy in December.  We believe that making a national commitment to rebuilding our naval fleet will send a strong signal to the American people, our friends and allies, and our adversaries around the globe. 

The Navy needs a minimum of 355 ships, and the fleet currently consists of 276 ships.  Out of that number, only about 100 are deployed. The remainder of the fleet is undergoing maintenance, routine sustainment, or training to deploy.  We must grow the size of the fleet to ensure that an adequate number of ships are present in critical sea lanes and maritime choke points.

Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, described it this way in the Future Navy white paper released last month: “Numbers matter.  The number of ships in the Navy’s fleet determines where we can be, and being there is a key to naval power.” 

We cannot expect the Navy to protect maritime traffic, reassure our allies, respond to aggressive rogue nations, and safeguard our national security interests unless we adequately equip our commanders and sailors to do so.  The operational demands are too great and the global threats too complex to shortchange resources or preparation that could ensure military success.

Our naval commanders are helping make the case.  For example, Admiral Harry Harris, commander of Pacific Command, told Congress he has only half the submarines he needs.  Likewise, Admiral Kurt Tidd, commander of Southern Command, reported that not even one Navy ship is permanently assigned to his area of operations.  In early January, the United States did not have a single aircraft carrier deployed anywhere in the world.  Such a stark absence of our most preeminent display of U.S. maritime power had not happened since World War II.

A 355-ship Navy would keep pace with the Navy’s increasing missions and the growing international competition on the seas.  China is on track to have twice as many submarines and four times as many small surface ships as the United States by 2030.  Russia has doubled its submarine patrols and expanded its operating areas.  These strategic build-ups and expansions have the potential to challenge U.S. maritime leadership in critical parts of the world.  A bigger Navy would help secure our interests in this emerging maritime security environment.

Achieving a 355-ship Navy is within reach, if we lay the proper groundwork now.  It is supported by the Future Fleet Architecture studies that were mandated by Congress.  More submarines and surface ships were also a promise of President Trump’s on the campaign trail.  

Our shipbuilding industrial base has demonstrated that it can support a greater production capacity, delivering ships on time and within budget.  Better maintenance can help extend the service lives of current ships. In Congress, authorizations that allow for multiyear and block buy contracts can save taxpayer dollars.  A national commitment to shipbuilding can reinvigorate the supplier base – creating jobs across the country – and ultimately help keep costs down.

The strength of our military should not fluctuate according to the ebb and flow of politics.  If Congress intends to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide for a national defense, then our Navy’s coverage gaps and breadth of operations need to be honestly assessed and addressed.  A national policy that sets a course to achieve 355 ships in the 2020s would create needed certainty and help ensure the continued preeminence of our military forces.  We plan to pursue that policy in both houses of Congress over the coming days, and we hope our colleagues will join in the effort to replace any complacency about our naval strategy with confidence for the future.     

Republican Senator Roger Wicker represents the state of Mississippi; Republican Rob Wittman represents Virginia’s 1st congressional district. They are chairmen of the Senate and House Seapower Subcommittees.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

At $9,000,000,000 a pop, we better think long and hard about the cost effectiveness of building new carriers. Rail guns firing projectiles at Mach 7 just might make them obsolete. It might make more sense to spread that money over many, many smaller ships and, of course, rail guns.

Plain ol' Catfish said...

@ 9:27am

My sentiments exactly

I am cool with putting money back into our military because that's creating jobs. BUT not when Republicans are trying to pass massive tax cuts for the 1% in this country!?

Kill the tax cuts for the wealthy, put that money into beefing up our military and I will gladly co-sign on increased military spending.

Anonymous said...

how about more horses for the infantry while we are at it...

warfare is constantly evolving. I agree with 9:27--rail gun. google it. we continue to have the most powerful military in the world because we evolve, not remain static

Anonymous said...

We already have 10-11 full carriers, plus other aviation carriers, for a total of about 20. We've long had 10 times as many as any other nation, including superpowers. It's a Navy and shipbuilder's PR release. At a huge cost. Sailors are bored stiff aboard these relics, and modern drones and missiles have rendered them obsolete. The Air Force and UAVs do things at a 1/10th the cost. We are supporting troops out with ground based aircraft. Our Navy is a primo waste of money and manpower. Look at the outrageous Fat Leonard scandal- 20 or more Admirals arrested or under investigation for supply line corruption, prostitution, etc. Another example of taxpayer waste, fraud, and abuse. So, let's build a few 10 Billion Dollar carriers, with yearly operating costs of 250,000,000 plus the 20-50 support ships for each, with another billion in operating costs, so that the Chinese or Russians can sink it with a 250K missile. The damn Navy can't even avoid running into a container ship in peacetime waters without nearly sinking. Fat Leonard scandal has 30 Admirals under investigation or arrested for corruption. But, GIMME MORE MONEY! A drunk screaming for more booze. When he's long ago had more than enough.

Anonymous said...

9:58, what an amazing analysis. In just the time it took me to read it, 'drunk Leonard' -which has absolutely no relationship with the argument of whether or not it makes sense to build more carriers - increased by 50%. Went from 20 to 30 just like that. Hell, at that rate it's probably up to almost 60 by now.

Anonymous said...

increase taxes to pay debts we already incurred.....stop money from being offshored....we are allowing the rich to dismantle this country

Anonymous said...

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-15/new-u-s-carrier-hobbled-by-flaws-in-launching-landing-planes

Wow said...

While I agree that we have 10, about to be 11 carriers (with the next superpower only having a single carrier, that has to be accompanied by a tugboat); that evolving warfare may make them obsolete (i.e., range of weapons of enemy land defenses are greater than range of airplanes on carrier--so they would not be able to take them down)-- you are being shortsighted--

Militarily, evolving technology will increase range of planes aboard carriers among many other solutions much more brilliant weapons minds have already thought of;

Independent of this-- I suggest you read the Next 100 years by George Friedman; and The Influence of Sea Power on History by Mahan.

Economically, controlling shipping lanes will only become more important in the next 100 years. Control of the sea equals command of the world. It is a huge reason for why we won the Cold War. Shipping via sea is cheaper than any other means. Our control of the sea has meant that no only have we significantly engaged in global trade, but we have defined global maritime trade.

Victor Fleitas said...

The U.S. navy is larger than the next seven largest navies combined. Ours is the only navy with the ability to project power globally. We have ~19 carriers. The rest of the world combined has 12. Several of those belong to our steadfast allies. The Chinese threat? One rickety carrier they purchased from Ukraine. The Navy, with its ~3800 aircraft, is the second largest air force in the world.

Why do admirals and generals always resort to our missiles are smaller than their missiles as a justification for ramping up military spending. Mind you, I'm all for a modern and adequate defense force. I'm not sure this is the answer.

Hell, I'm all for a jobs program and good paying jobs for skilled labor in the defense industry and Mississippi in particular. I'm not in favor of flushing billions down the toilet on military equipment riddled with design defects and designed to fight a few wars ago.

And yes we have 19 not 10 carriers. The Navy only classifies 10 vessels as carriers despite the fact that we have 9 more that would be considered carriers in any other navy in the world. For example, the America and the Tripoli are flat tops and can deploy 20 F-35B's. They're comparable to other carriers throughout the world. They just aren't a Nimitz Class carriers so the navy doesn't count them. Beware of nomenclature.

Anonymous said...

I like Rog, but kick Hob in the ass,

Anonymous said...

I wish he supported our president as much as the Navy. Someone is going to run against him saying he's a do nothing back bencher.

Anonymous said...

Evolving Warfare Indeed. While we sit around calculating the cost of hardware and landing strips, those planning our destruction concentrate on ways to poison our food, water and air supplies. And they'll sit comfortably, watching it all happen on television without ever pulling on boots.

Anonymous said...

@7:42 - Not a chance. We'll destroy ourselves long before the "enemy," has an opportunity to do it.

Anonymous said...

" ....the military option that our commander-in-chief needs to project force or help quell instability." Wow. Doesn't seem to working so well, does it? What are we, 0-7? And we should pour extra hundreds of billions into the Navy budget over 20 or 30 years for what reason? To see it spent on parties with Fat Leonard? Or more ships that we don't use or need? No other Navy is as big or pointless as ours. What's the cost projection? "CBO estimates that construction costs to build a fleet of 355 ships would average $26.6 billion (in 2017 dollars) per year over the next 30 years, which is 60 percent more than what the Navy has spent on average over the past 30 years." Wow. Roger left that out. Wonder why? Much less that the operating costs would be 5 times that per year on top of a bloated Navy budget beset with fraud already. Mabus already has named his faves for gay activists. I guess the USS Obama with the Social Justice Warrior squadron will be laying keel soon. Who needs to pay for entitlements or an Army rebuild? It's not like the Army has been fighting for 16 years straight, taking 15 times the casualties and wearing out all equipment. Naaaahhh. The Army's wore out-Let's Spend Big on the Navy. Makes perfect sense in Washington DC. 60 percent increase. Wow. The greedy just want a bigger slice of piece for themselves.

Beal Allaine said...

Save Us From Mabus

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