Washington: Anyone who has tracked the defense budget battles inside the beltway knows the rhetoric can get repetitive if you listen long enough.
The services versus the Pentagon, the services versus each other or the department versus other government agencies — the details differ, but the sentiment basically the same.
Each program, be it a plane, tank or ship, is absolutely vital to national security and will put the United States in grave danger should said program postponed or killed.
Just the same old song.
However, these arguments have taken on a new sense of urgency, as DoD gets ready to do some serious belt tightening over the next decade.
But when times get tough, the tough get going. And during a speech in Washington today, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos certainly got going.
During the speech, Amos rattled off a list of reasons why growing the Navy’s amphibious fleet, known as the “Gator Navy” inside the service, is so important to national security.
Amphibious ships, particularly the big-decks like the USS Kearsarge, can deploy fighter jets, helicopters and Marines anywhere in the world at a moments notice, Amos said.
These ships can project U.S. military force globally without agreements with other countries, since those ships are considered sovereign territory of the United States, he added.
Problem is the Navy’s money is tied up in more expensive shipbuilding programs, like destroyers, submarines and especially aircraft carriers.
But according to the Marine Corps chief, amphibious ships can expand the U.S. military’s strategic presence, deploy significant amounts of air power anywhere in the world and can be a key tool in expanding the Navy’s global reach.
It should, because it is the same argument made by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead to maintain the Navy’s aircraft carrier fleet.
That fleet is in danger, due to the tough financial times DoD is facing. The Navy has gone back and forth over the past few weeks about the future of its aircraft carriers.
Yesterday, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert — who has been tapped by the White House to replace Roughead — told the Hill that talks on delaying or cancelling the new Ford-class carrier were “pre-decisional”.
But, he added, that Navy leaders “would prefer not to” make any changes to the fleet.
When asked if more amphibious ships could compensate for a potential cut to the carrier fleet, Amos said changes to the Navy and Marine Corps force structure were certain, but it was too early in the process to talk details.
Same old song.