President Barack Obama’s new military strategy in Asia designates a key role to the Navy, a branch of the military largely on the sidelines during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Navy faces its expanded role with fewer ships and looming budget cuts, The Washington Post
The Navy will retire nine ships and delay or cut the purchase of 16 others as a result of the administration’s defense budget. The Navy had hoped to expand its fleet to 313 ships, up from 285, by 2020, the Post reported.
The fleet size will stay at 285 for at least the next five years and the Navy is now hoping to reach a 300-ship fleet by 2019.
“Cuts to our naval capabilities such as these, without a plan to compensate for them, only put our goals in the Pacific region at greater risk,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said according to the Post. McCain, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the remark at a confirmation hearing for Adm.
Samuel Locklear, nominated to take over the U.S. Pacific Command.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus downplayed the cuts, telling the Post, “We’re losing some ships that are not as capable as the new ships coming in. We’ve got enough to meet the war plans with what we’ve got under contract.”
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