Unless Congress changes the nation’s financial course, the U.S. Navy will be forced to make some drastic cuts in aircraft and ship numbers to accommodate a loss of about $14 billion due to sequestration and other budgetary issues, says Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations.
Shipbuilding accounts will take a hit, he said during a Sept. 5 speech at the American Enterprise Institute. “I would see the loss of a Littoral Combat Ship, an Afloat-Forward Staging Base and advanced procurement for a Virginia-class submarine and a carrier overhaul,” Greenert says. “We might lose two more — a submarine and a destroyer — if we are unable to reprogram and move money into those accounts.”
The Navy will lose about 25 aircraft, from helicopters to P-8s to, he says.
The service exempts military manpower from the cuts, and this means 14% reductions for all other accounts, Greenert notes. Unless it gets more money or more flexibility to apportion its current funding, the Navy will have to cancel half of its ship availabilities.
Also, “We will cancel a lot of aircraft availabilities,” he says. “If we restored the budget after [fiscal 2014] and said, ‘You have a full-up operations and maintenance budget,’ it’ll take about five years to get that backlog in aircraft maintenance down.”
The Navy will reduce training for those not deploying, Greenert says. Some air wings will fly and aircrews will receive training, he said, but officials are uncomfortable with the amount of flight hours.
The Navy’s budget reduction for this fiscal year was $11 billion, he says. The service canceled five ship deployments, and the reduction cut into the service’s surge capacity.
“Usually, we have three carrier strike groups and three amphibious ready groups able to respond within a week,” Greenert says. “We have one now, and that’s going to be the story in fiscal 2014.”
Beyond fiscal 2014, Greenert says, the bywords will be forward presence, readiness of deployed forces, developing and stressing asymmetric capabilities and new technologies, and cyber capabilities. “We will reduce force structure in this plan, but we have to do it while preserving the right capacity to do one [major combat operation] in the future.”