Sea Service Chiefs: Sequestration Could Affect Navy Ships
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., April 8, 2014 The need for more Navy ships despite the scheduled return to sequestration-level spending cuts in fiscal year 2016 resonated at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition here yesterday during a panel discussion that featured the Navy and Marine Corps service chiefs.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos expressed their concerns about protecting the nation if sequestration continues.
“We need to operate forward where and when it matters, and we’ve got to be there when it matters, because nothing else matters,” Greenert said.
The budget proposal before Congress calls for 308 ships in the 2020 timeframe. “We will grow,” the admiral said. “Even with sequestration, we’ll grow some. We won’t grow to 308. We’ll be just over 300, but we will deploy forward.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently announced the Navy will put two more destroyers in Japan, Greenert said. “Not just destroyers, but Aegis destroyers,” he added, “and they’ll have the finest capability for ballistic missile defense.”
Greenert explained, however, that a covenant exists for the Navy to provide three carrier strike groups and three amphibious-ready groups on short order in a crisis, in addition to existing ship presence. “If we go back to sequestration, it will be one,” he said. “And we are at one today — one amphibious group and one carrier strike group. We are growing and recovering this readiness as we get out of [last year’s] sequestration, but we’ll slide back to that, and that’s inadequate.”
The Navy can “struggle by” with temporary measures, Greenert said. “But if it’s time to recapitalize and we don’t have the ship-building industrial base, we’re in deep trouble,” he added. “We have got to evolve together. We need lower-cost approaches [and] tailored ships [geared] more to the mission. To do the kinds of things we want to do around the world, we’ve got to innovate.”
Amos echoed Greenert’s sentiments.
“I told Congress this year [that] the matter of sequestration where we’re going to do less with less is a ruse. We’re going to do the same with less,” he said. “Our Navy needs more ships. The very thought is agonizing trying to figure out how to pay to refuel the George Washington. To me that’s insane. That discussion shouldn’t take place. America needs its 11th carrier, and America needs U.S. Navy ships,” Amos said.
The Marine Corps commandant showed the audience a map of where the Marine Corps will focus its forward-deployed resources. On another slide, he pointed to nuclear-armed states, and their proximity to coastal regions. Two more countries could become the ninth and 10th nuclear-armed nations, he added.
“One or two of those nations are in a critical part of world. … If one of those weapons or a series of those were to be mishandled, it would change the landscape for international relations, probably forever,” he said.
Additionally, the world’s top 10 oil reserves are nearly all in places where conflict or potential conflict exists, he said.
“We may think we’re done with these nasty, dirty, thorny little conflicts around the world -- the things that consume us, that will take our assets, money and time, and, in some cases, our national treasure -- but they’re likely not done with us,” Amos said.
The general showed the audience another map of Marine Corps forces’ projected global laydown in 2020.
“This represents a fully sequestered budget,” Amos said of Marine Corps presence. “And we understand and hope this may not stay the course after 2016, but [sequestration] is the law today, so we’re planning for it.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkAFPS)