Friday, February 10, 2017

The Navy's cry of poverty is embarrassing!

via DoD Buzz.
If the Pentagon must contend with a year-long continuing resolution that keeps funding levels flat — or if Congress can’t pass a supplemental defense budget this fiscal year — two of the Navy’s 10 carrier air wings will go dark, and two more will be reduced to bare minimum capacity, the service’s number two officer told lawmakers Wednesday.
At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on readiness, the service vice chiefs urged the panel to fund force strength increases and warned of the dire consequences of leaving sequestration budget cuts in place.
Adm. Bill Moran, vice chief of naval operations, said the impact for the Navy would be immediate: Two carrier air wings would cease operations entirely, and two would operate at that “tactical hard deck” of 11 flight hours per pilot per month, the minimum allowable for safety.
In addition, he said, 14 ship maintenance availabilities, including one submarine availability, would be pushed into fiscal 2018. This is particularly troubling, he noted, as the next fiscal year faces the prospect of spending caps known as sequestration.
“I’m about to go to the Naval Academy to welcome the newest selectees for naval aviation,” Moran told the committee. “I would hate to tell them they are not going to be able to train to be pilots for a while if we go to a year-long CR. Without training … something else has to give.”
Following the hearing, Moran told that the air wings facing shutdown without a budget solution had been identified based on length of time to next deployment, but said he would allow the relevant fleet commander to name them publicly if it came to that.
“It doesn’t mean that everybody stops,” he said. “But some of our pilot training squadrons would have to reduce their throughput. That’s going to cause a problem — a bubble, if you will — in the system that goes through.”
Story here. 

This has gone beyond a simple tale of woe.  This is embarrassing and brings into question who the service chiefs owe their allegiance.

Things didn't get this bad in the 20 odd days that Trump has been in office.  So that leaves one of three possibilities....

1.  Either the Obama administration was able to impose a gag order on the Pentagon that was so effective that career flag officers ignored their oath to the nation and followed orders to not tell Congress how bad things were or...

2.  This is a blatant grab for funding or...

3.  Both one and two.

Something is off here.  Congress went along with gimmicks used by the Pentagon to plus up their budget by taking funds from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The cuts were extreme (I guess) but no where close to what we've experienced historically when wars have wound down.

I see this as a failure in strategy.

The Pentagon is failing to take advantage of what should be a slowdown in ops-tempo with things winding down (supposedly) in Iraq and Afghanistan.  One of the problems with Marine Aviation is that they're not getting a break to repair/maintain aircraft and rest personnel but they're actually UPPING the the number of deployments.

Part of the problem is that the strategy is broken....risk has been assumed to "modernize" and because of that the force is breaking.

Giving the services more money won't solve the problem.  Not only is procurement broken but so is our strategy of forward deployment....pushing forces forward and ignoring maintenance, puts our men and equipment in a perpetual, quasi state of war.

Long short?  We can't maintain our pace of operations no matter how much we spend.  We'll either break our machines or push hard chargers out of the service or both.

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