PENTAGON: Even as the latest Mideast war sucks in more US attention and resources — as well as wannabe jihadis from around the world — the outgoing chief of Pacific Command emphasized the much-derided “rebalance to the Asia-Pacific” is still going strong. Despite sequestration budget cuts the US is still strong enough to handle both theaters at… Keep reading →
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CAMERI AIR BASE, Italy: The Italians have been significant innovators since the beginning of the airpower era and they continue to innovate with the launch of the F-35. Their facilities here provide support not only for Italian aircraft, but mark the start of an ability to support an allied F-35 fleet operating in the Mediterranean… Keep reading →
Rep. Randy Forbes can play the partisan as well as any of his GOP colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee, but he also makes a habit of reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats on select issues. As chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, Forbes has pressed colleagues on both sides… Keep reading →
This is the first in a series of commentaries defense consultant and author Robbin Laird, a member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, is penning about how the U.S. can and should shape its forces to perform the Asia strategy pivot. As a key part of that, he’ll be looking closely at what he calls “several neglected aspects of a sustainable power projection force for the 21st century.” The Editor.
The U.S. can afford to build a 21st century power projection force able to provide a lynchpin for Asian security. But it won’t be able to if we don’t take advantage of new concepts of operation, new technologies and new approaches. Keep reading →
You know it’s bad when the President’s own national security adviser calls the Secretary of Defense over for a meeting at the White House to explain exactly how the administration is “pivoting” to Asia yet shrinking the Navy and the Air Force. But that’s what happened earlier this year. It is no surprise given the administration’s budget-strategy mismatch.
When President Obama unveiled his new strategic guidance in January, highlighted by a pivot to Asia, many assumed (incorrectly) that the Navy and Air Force would reap the benefits. But if the president’s own 2013 defense budget request did not make it clear to policymakers already, the release of the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan confirms this is a pivot in name only. Keep reading →
CAPITOL HILL: Republicans think the Navy’s new 30-year shipbuilding plan marks a fundamental mistake: cutting the size of the fleet from 313 to 300 or so when we are increasing our focus on the Asia-Pacific
And you can be sure they will let the Navy’s top acquisition officials know that at tomorrow morning’s House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing about the Navy budget.
“It largely confirms our concerns that we’re cutting shipbuilding while ‘pivoting’ to Asia. The Navy is going from a fleet of roughly 313 to a fleet of roughly 300, a GOP congressional aide said in an email. “It also confirms our concerns about amphib numbers that are low in the near term. Dropping the SSBN fleet to 10 in the 30′s is a real big question. And we continue to be short on the DDG and SSN categories. Bottom line, we’re shrinking the Navy, cutting shipbuilding money by 20% and somehow pivoting to Asia.”
But one of the nation’s most respected naval analysts says the new shipbuilding plan, which does see the number of ships dip to 279 in 2014 from the earlier planned fleet of 287, offered a much less glum assessment.
“This 30-year plan mitigates the projected shortfalls in cruisers-destroyers and attack submarines that showed in last year’s 30-year plan, in part by putting additional destroyers and attack submarines into the plan,” said Ron O’Rourke, naval analyst at the Congressional Research Service. “As a result, analysis of the 30-year plan this year may feature somewhat less (but still some) emphasis on the projected shortfalls, and somewhat more emphasis on the Navy’s prospective ability to afford all the ships in the plan.”
Loren Thompson, one of the more respected defense analysts and a member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, was fairly neutral in his assessment of the new plan, except when it comes to two crucial weapon systems: the replacement for the Ohio class nuclear missile submarines and delays to the Virginia-class submarines.“Deferral of a planned Virginia-class sub from 2014 to outside the five-year plan will raise the cost a subs and reduce efficiency in yards while increasing the danger of a shortfall in attack sub capabilities circa 2030. In addition, delay in development of a replacement for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine is not consistent with past Navy plans or pronouncements about preserving an adequate sea-based deterrent force,” Thompson said. “Delaying the Ohio replacement will diminish the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent two decades from now, which introduces unnecessary risk into the ship construction program because global military conditions 20 years hence are not knowable today.” Keep reading →