April 18, 2009

Gates Makes Case for the Pentagon Budget

Hat tip: Thomas PM Barnett - Excerpt of Sec. of Defense Gates recent speech talking about US maritime capabilities to the Navy War College:

MARITIME (Navy War College) "We must examine our blue-water fleet and the overall strategy behind the kinds of ships we are buying. The need to show presence and project power from a piece of sovereign territory called a United States Navy ship will never go away. But we cannot allow more ships to go the way of the DDG-1000 - where since its inception the projected buy has dwindled from 32 to three as costs per ship have more than doubled...

As much as the U.S. Navy has shrunk since the end of the Cold War, in terms of tonnage, its battle fleet, by one estimate, is still larger than the next 13 navies combined - and 11 of those 13 navies are U.S. allies or partners. In terms of capabilities, the over-match is even greater. No country in the rest of the world has anything close to the reach and firepower to match a carrier strike group. And the United States has and will maintain eleven until at least 2040...

Potential adversaries are well-aware of this fact, which is why, despite significant naval modernization programs underway in some countries, no one intends to bankrupt themselves by challenging the U.S. to a shipbuilding competition akin to the Dreadnought arms race prior to World War I. Instead, we've seen their investments in weapons geared to neutralize our advantages - to deny the U.S. military freedom of movement and action while potentially threatening our primary means of projecting power: our bases, sea and air assets, and the networks that support them.

This is a particular concern with aircraft carriers and other large, multi-billion dollar blue-water surface combatants - where the loss of even one ship would be a national catastrophe. We know other nations are working on ways to thwart the reach and striking power of the U.S. battle fleet - whether by producing stealthy submarines in quantity or developing anti-ship missiles with increasing range and accuracy. We ignore these developments at our peril.