SECDEF Carter’s Plan to Trim U.S. Navy Fleet Size is Dangerous by Steven Cohen, USNI News
The United States Navy just struck an iceberg. It won’t sink the fleet, but it will damage its ability to deter emerging global conflicts. And one of those challenges became more apparent last week when the Chinese announced it was building its second aircraft carrier.
The navigational hazard was in plain sight. But last month the full danger of its unseen mass hit the Navy in the form of a directive from the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. The Navy Secretary was told in blunt language that the course it was following was wrong, and the sea service needed to change how it spends its money. Instead of building more ships, the Navy should invest in high-end weapons systems such as the F-35 fighter plane and more smart munitions. “While we seek to deter wars,” Carter said, it is more important to “fight and win them.”
Carter is an experienced, highly respected defense professional, and his views on curtailing shipbuilding—his exact words were that the 308-ship target “should be met but not irresponsibly exceeded”—undoubtedly reflect the President who appointed him. But this reallocation of resources will affect naval strategy, the perception of allies and foes alike, and even recruitment tactics. The shift is both shocking and dangerous…