Saturday, January 26, 2013

Budget Cuts

A 25-Jan-13 San Diego Union – Tribune website article (1) reported on CNO Greenert’s initial efforts to implement anticipated budget cuts.

“The Navy’s top officer Thursday outlined plans for spending cuts that could affect a large segment of San Diego’s naval and shipyard communities.

The Navy plans to cancel some ship and aircraft maintenance, fire temporary employees, freeze civilian hiring, drastically limit travel and halt pier and runway projects, according to a memo from Adm. Jonathan Greenert.

The issue is a $4.6 billion shortfall in the Navy’s $39.4 billion operations budget. About $3.2 billion of that is because Congress has not yet passed a 2013 appropriations bill. The Navy must spend at 2012 levels until it does.

“Because of this, we need to cut back on ops and maintenance to get our spending rate down,” Greenert said in a memo to his admirals and senior civilian leaders. “We are making the following reductions, starting now, to ensure we can fund ongoing deployments and other mission-critical activities.”

He offered a list of near-term reductions. He also outlined more drastic steps that would be taken if Congress doesn’t pass legislation by March 1 to avert sweeping automatic spending cuts known as sequestration.

Cuts the Navy is planning now:

- Cancellation of the majority of surface ship maintenance at private shipyards between April and September. This would affect about 30 of 187 warships, but Navy officials couldn’t say Thursday how many of those are in San Diego.

- Cancellation of all aircraft work at maintenance depots from April to September, affecting about 250 aircraft.”
This is what I’ve come to expect from CNO Greenert and Navy leadership, both civilian and uniformed.  The logical reaction to draconian budget cuts would be to cut new construction spending in order to ensure that existing ships and aircraft are well maintained, fully combat capable and deployable, and available for their maximum lifespans.  In fact, the entire $4.6B budget shortfall is about the cost of a single new Zumwalt.

Instead, CNO Greenert proposes further shortening the lifespans of ships and aircraft by deferring maintenance and accelerating the effects of wear and tear.  Sending sailors to sea in poorly maintained ships and aircraft is a gross violation of the trust of the people for whom CNO is responsible.  I’ve previously pointed out that the Navy worships at the altar of new construction to the exclusion and detriment of everything else.  This is merely further proof. 

Of course, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that this is political gamesmanship being played by the military.  The Navy deliberately sets up a scenario involving actions that they don’t really intend to take but that intentionally lead to all manner of dire results with the idea being to put pressure on Congress to revoke the budget cuts.  This is not a political blog so I’ll leave that aspect alone beyond saying that I would hope that the military was above that sort of thing.  Sadly, my read of the situation is that the Navy is, indeed, posturing in an attempt to influence Congress but that if the budget cuts happen, the Navy will do exactly as CNO outlined.  The entire naval force will be further hollowed out to ensure that new construction continues unabated.


1 comment:

  1. One way to get a significant cut in budget is to get rid of about half of the Navy's flag officers.


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