provide and maintain a navy
[This piece has been published in Restoring America to highlight how Congress can strengthen our military forces and national defense.]
In organizations as large as the Pentagon bureaucracy, waste is sometimes regrettable. . . but real. Every effort should be made to avoid fraud, waste and abuse in government and with taxpayers’ money.
Sometimes, however, waste is a choice.
There are many historical examples of the legislative and executive branch choosing to get rid of weapons programs that were 90% developed and almost ready to deploy to combatants. These are decisions that often highlight the political nature of credits and the rapidly changing shape of threats against the United States.
Still other examples include repeating the mistakes of history and stopping competition on an aircraft program so often grounded that it is almost criminal that there is not a second engine for keep fighter jets airborne and readiness rates high.
But the modern version of today’s trash is the Pentagon’s proposal to retire Navy ships that are only 3 years old. Not to mention removing them before “new” and improved replacements become available to sailors and to meet the demands of combatant commanders around the world.
In the latest budget request for 2023, the US Navy is not just proposing a “divest to invest” strategy, according to a longtime observer of defense issues in Washington. The maritime service, in the case of at least one of the modernized Aegis cruisers and some of the more recently acquired Littoral combat ships, indeed offers a strategy of “invest-to divest.
While there’s a lot to criticize about the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the law of physics still matters in a world that isn’t getting any smaller: a ship can only be in one place at a time. . The US military cannot afford to lose the space covered and deterred by these ships.
Being present and showing the flag forward is key to shaping behavior in America’s competition with China. Presence is power. And if deterrence should fail, “the situation in the Pacific is such that America cannot afford to simply dump ships that might still have a use,” according to Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA).
In an Indo-Pacific conflict, the LCS would meet long-lasting low-end requirements, “such as conducting merchant marine escort or minehunting missions”, and would be useful if the war drags on with high rates of war. high attrition, as America has recently witnessed. in Ukraine.
As it debated the defense policy bill in the House this week, the Littoral Combat Ship is likely to become a lightning rod for various amendments and important debates. Congress needs to consider whether the U.S. Navy and our national security would suffer more with a smaller, overburdened Navy in the heat of battle, or with a series of functioning ships (even tiny ones) able to adapt and help strength as needed? Spending money to retire ships prematurely in an era of record deployments is an unnecessary waste of an ever-needed asset.
This article originally appeared in the AEIideas blog and is reproduced with the kind permission of the American Enterprise Institute.