The amphibious assault ship Peleliu, front, sails the with amphibious transport dock ship Green Bay, middle, and amphibious dock landing ship Rushmore last year in the Pacific Ocean. CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert said April 7 the Navy's goal was to grow to 308 ships over the next five years, but sequestration spending cuts would limit the fleet's size. (Navy)
The Navy’s top officer warned Monday that deep budget cuts have hampered the Navy’s ability to surge in a crisis, saying that the service could only surge deploy one carrier strike group and one amphibious ready group under current levels.
“We have a covenant to provide three carrier strike groups and three amphibious ready groups in a crisis,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert. “And if we go back to sequestration, we’ll be at one. And, by the way, right now we’re at one. We’re still recovering from this period of fiscal uncertainty.”
Greenert used his speech at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space expo outside Washington, D.C. to make the case for the Navy’s presence missions in a panel alongside Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp.
Greenert said that the Navy’s goal was to grow to 308 ships over the next five years, but that the deep sequestration spending cuts would limit the fleet’s growth to just over 300.
Congress, Greenert said, should lift these automatic spending cuts if the Navy is to maintain its core missions.
Amos echoed the CNO’s remarks, stressing the Navy needed more ships and that Congress shouldn’t even consider getting rid of the aircraft carrier George Washington, a cost-saving measure on the table if the cuts aren’t rolled back.
“Our United States Navy needs more ships,” Amos said, echoing testimony he has delivered before congress in recent weeks. “The fact that we are sitting here agonizing over whether we are going to refuel the George Washington is insane to me. America needs its 11th carrier and the United States needs its Navy ships.”
Amos said that the next decade would be dominated by sea power, as the U.S. draws down in Afghanistan, bringing 13 years of ground wars to a close.