US Navy: More ships, more sailors and more missions with less moneyJune 18, 2013
While some in the military community are making veiled threats about “paradigm shifts” due to the US government’s financial crisis and ongoing sequester, a few others are rising to the challenge of finding creative ways to maintain or even enhance capabilities with what will remain a gargantuan, world’s largest defense budget for years to come.
Among the latter are US Navy Rear Admiral Robert Wray, Jr. Writing in this month’s issue of Proceedings, Wray puts forth the outlines of a bold plan that could transform the navy from one of around 280 ships and 70,000 sailors (the smallest US Navy in a generation) to one boasting “350 ships, 50 amphibs, 25 percent more overseas presence, 20 percent more wartime capacity, and use 10 percent fewer people, all with no new money. ”
Wray’s plan is based on creating a three tiered system – Forward Deployed, CONUS (continental United States) rotational and CONUS standby. It is the standby tier that is new (new for the contemporary USN, but a status that has been used in navies around the world for centuries).
Wray does not pretend his plan is easy – it will entail making many hard choices plus the willingness and ability to extend the operational life of ships out to half a century. But, it is a realistic response to a changed fiscal environment. It is the kind of thinking that is essential if the US is to retain its status as the world’s leading power.