Tags: Navy | budget cuts

Reports: Budget Cuts Put US Naval Dominance at Risk

Image: Reports: Budget Cuts Put US Naval Dominance at Risk
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By    |   Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 10:01 AM

Before it hastily departed Capitol Hill, Congress rushed through a $1.1 trillion spending measure which has military officials fearing that budget cuts will continue to hamper their ability to meet the challenges ahead.

Included in the massive spending bill was $490 billion in base defense spending and another $64 billion in overseas contingency funds, but that total amounts to a reduction of almost $18 billion in defense spending from fiscal 2014, according to The Military Times.

Those budget cuts, in addition to those which occurred as a result of sequestration, are placing pressure on the military, including the Navy, which is struggling to retain a shipyard workforce that is capable of performing needed maintenance of its fleet, reports The Washington Times.

As a result of sequestration, the Navy was forced to reduce its shipyard workforce to an all-time low of 30,000 Defense Department civilian personnel and could also result in a delay in repairs to at least four ships in the next year.

With the reduction in workforce, officials are concerned that "ongoing retrofits are being delayed, endangering deployment plans and compromising international agreements that require tight timelines," reports the Times.

Despite the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, a recent Military Times survey of almost 2,300 active-duty troops found that 49 percent believe unit operational tempo has actually increased over the past five years, while 38 percent say it's unchanged.

Only 14 percent said they were less busy than during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

While Pentagon officials have planned to shift from a 28- to 36-month deployment cycle for the Navy, allowing sailors to remain at home for longer periods of time, budget uncertainty is complicating their goals.

"If we’re stuck on the previous year’s budget, we can’t put new initiatives in place," the Navy’s chief of naval operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, told Stars and Stripes.

Ironically, the extended deployments are a consequence of budget uncertainty caused by a failure of Congress to pass a long-term budget, rather than a series of short-term legislative measures.

Greenert also has expressed concern that while the Navy has enough sailors at the moment, they do not possess the right skill sets and ascribes that problem to budget-related interruptions in education and training.

As the Navy tries to keep its hardware maintained, a failure by Congress to provide it with the necessary resources may result in cuts to modernization spending and threatens its ability to keep pace with China, Bob Work, the deputy secretary of defense and former undersecretary of the Navy, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in November, reports USNI News.

"Our technological dominance is no longer assured," he said in reference to China's double digit growth in defense spending.

"We’re under-investing," he said, adding that "time is not recoverable in this regard."

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Before they hastily departed Capitol Hill, Congress rushed through a $1.1 trillion spending measure which has military officials fearing that budget cuts will continue to hamper their ability to meet the challenges ahead.
Navy, budget cuts
474
2014-01-16
Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 10:01 AM
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