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January 16, 2012

Obama and Gates Sink Our Own Navy

In three posts over the past week I discussed Obama's defense cuts: Obama Cuts the Military Budget, More on Obama's Defense Cuts, and The Obama Administration's "Defense Strategic Guidance" Document. We were pretty much assured that the cuts would come at the expense of the Army and Marine Corps, but the Navy and Air Force would be spared.

Turns out they lied. It was all a campaign of deception.

Most administrations at least put a decent amount of time inbetween their lies and the exposing of them. It didn't take a week with Obama. The Washington Times has the story:

New Navy budgets may sink plans for aircraft carriers
Fight is on to save flattop fleet
By Rowan Scarborough
The Washington Times
Sunday, January 15, 2012

...As Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta prepares to introduce the strategy's first budget next month, the Navy has been in a furious fight behind the scenes to protect only 10 carriers, sources familiar with the issue told The Washington Times.

The sources say that, while the fiscal 2013 budget may well continue 11 carriers, the Navy will be down to 10 or even nine carriers within in the next five years.

...

A scenario discussed inside the Navy: Reduce the carrier fleet by retiring the flattops short of their 50-year life spans, and continue to build more advanced carriers at the Newport News, Va., shipyard at seven-year intervals instead of launching one every five years.

Reducing one carrier would set off a fight in Congress, which under law has required the Navy to maintain 11 active flattops. A source familiar with the discussions said the Obama administration would not want to take up that fight until after November's presidential election, given the importance of Virginia and its 13 electoral votes.

In general, the Navy has three carriers at sea, three returning from six-month deployments, three preparing to be deployed and two in some type of overhaul. For example, the USS Ronald Reagan, commissioned less than 10 years ago, is going into dry dock this month for a year of extensive repairs.

In addition, they're going to cut back on purchases of the fifth generation F-35 Lightning II fighter. Since Obama stopped production of the F-22 Raptor, the F-35 was our only hope for maintaining future air superiority, given that Russia is building fifth gen fighters like there's no tomorrow and China is headed in that direction too.

Here are the excuses, the first offered by Loren Thompson, identified as heading up the libertarian Lexington Institute defense think tank.:

"First of all, they have become extremely expensive to build and operate," he said. "Secondly, some countries, such as China, are developing the capacity to target and disable them from long distances.

"And, thirdly, the advent of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and unmanned aircraft will make it easier to accomplish air missions from other sea-based platforms."

Actually they are cheap compared to the economy and total Federal budget of the United States. The problem is that we spend far too much money on entitlements which are eating up our tax revenue.

Yes China is developing the DF-21 missile, with which they hope to target our carriers. I discussed it in a post here some time ago. But as I also noted in the post, missiles like the DF-21 do not spell the end of the aircraft carrier but are simply another threat we can successfully counter. It won't be easy, as the weapon is nothing to take lightly, but neither is it the wonder-weapon it's advocates seem to think.

As for the F-35, yes we need it but one, Obama-Gates are cutting back purchases of it, and two without the large carriers we can't field it in sufficient numbers to matter. They apparently want us to only have the VSTOL version on the much smaller Wasp or America-class ships or something.

"Do we really need 11 carrier strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one?" Mr. Gates asked during a 2010 speech to the Navy League, a naval support association.

The answer to Secretary Gates is "hell yes," and for several reasons. First, China is hurrying to buy and build multiple carriers. Second, we have worldwide commitments so our ability to put more than one or two in any area at once is limited. Third, unless our carriers are in the area when the fighting states they will have a long way to sail and by the time they get there the war may be over. Fifth, the enemy will also have land-based aircraft which are in close proximity to the war whereas our land-based aircraft will have to fly longer distances.

To any commenter who wants to say "didn't you support Sec Gates when Bush was in office?" (as if I'm somehow being hypocritical) my response is that I praise someone when they do good and criticize when they do wrong. That's pretty simple, I think.

"If ever we encounter a competent military with an air force, a navy with ultrasilent diesel electric submarines -- and both with superfast, superlow anti-ship missiles -- I suspect carriers will quickly be extinct if they go into unsafe waters. At $13 billion-plus each, more are an unwise investment for the future."

The final quote is completely disingenuous. It is by one Winslow Wheeler, identified in the article as "an analyst at the Center for Defense Information, a military reform group."

Ha. You can be sure that "reform" means "disarm America" and that this is a leftist group.

First, while the danger is real he overstates the problem (I've been over this here before). Second, and the bigger question is, so if carriers are so old fashioned and vulnerable, what do you plan on building in their absence that will allow us to maintain absolute control of the air and sea?

The answer is "nothing." It's not as if Thompson, Gates, and Wheeler are proposing new types of ships and battle groups. They have no ideas other than to disarm America.

So we know where all this is going and the purpose of all of it. As Charles Krauthammer has said, "decline is a choice," and sadly it is the one that Obama has us embarked on.

The result will be that we are no longer able to control the world's seas. This will have several very bad effects, the first of which is to encourage regional wars. Tinpot and other dictators will fill the vacuum with their own forces and take the opportunity to settle old scores and seize new territory. It will also have a disastrous effect on the ability of American businesses to trade worldwide, as totalitarian/authoritarian nations will step in and demand preference for their products and services. People like Ron Paul who think that we can step back from the world and everything will continue on as before are simply deluded.

If these cuts were part of a general slashing of the Federal budget I'd sigh and say "ok, this stinks but it's what we have to do to get us out of our current fiscal mess." As it is, though, Jennifer Rubin, writing in the Washington Post, told us last week exactly what this is all about:

President Obama is determined to have national security on the cheap. Or to put it more accurately, he is willing to pare back defense spending to dangerously low levels so he can keep spending like there's no tomorrow on the domestic side.

Posted by Tom at January 16, 2012 9:00 PM

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Comments

Tom, I knew about the severe cuts elsewhere but this is the first time I read Gates is planning to axe the carrier fleet too.

I can only hope - only HOPE - that this will be the last year of an Obama presidency.

I'm none too impressed by the GOP field of candidates. Romney seems to be the least bad choice. So he's got my support. Bout his being a Mormon, I couldn't care less.

Tom - I've changed our outlook a bit and still have a lot of catching up to do reinstating the blogroll and stuff. What a SHAME I didn't put you back on it yet. Will do so right away.

Oh yeah man... Best wishes for you and your family in 2012!!!!

Posted by: Outlaw Mike at January 20, 2012 7:16 PM

Mike:

Why do we need more aircraft carriers than every other country in the world combined??

And you wonder why we are in debt???

Empire!!!

The single largest budget expense is Military and military related items.

Posted by: Toad734 at January 25, 2012 9:58 AM

Toad, despite your sarcasm you've actually asked a good question, and I hope you stop by again to read my answer.

1) We have worldwide commitments, whereas most other nations only regional ones. This means our forces will be spread out, whereas other nations can concentrate all their force at the decisive point. This has nothing to do with "empire," but simply a desire to A) see as much of the world live under decent governments as possible, and B) the American economy depends on freedom of the seas and free markets, and only the U.S. Navy can guarantee that

2) Our forces will by definition operate far from home, whereas those of other nations close to their shores. Their logistical train is shorter, ours longer. They can use closeby land bases, ours will be farther away. Thus we need more to do less.

Posted by: Tom the Redhunter at January 25, 2012 7:23 PM

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