Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Failed GOP Policies: Mothballing Aircraft Carriers A Distinct Possiblity

Aircraft carries at the Norfolk Naval Base
No one blathers more about supporting - dare we say worshiping - America than the Republican party, including the blithering idiots in the Tea Party.  Yet because of GOP intransigence and the  budgetary sequester that has occurred because the Congressional GOP refused to conclude a deal with the Democrats and the Obama White House, very real threats to national security and military readiness are looming.   Virgina could be hit very hard, especially because under the dominance of the GOP controlled House of Delegates and Messrs. McDonnell and Cuccinelli, Virginia has made itself anathema to many progressive and innovative businesses.  A vote for the GOP is a vote for economic suicide in Virginia and Tidewater in particular.  A piece in the Virginian Pilot looks at the growing possibility that air craft carrier battle groups could be mothballed.  Here are excerpts:

Really? Mothballing aircraft carriers?   The idea floated last week by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel seemed particularly shocking in this Navy town – home to half the nation’s fleet of nuclear flattops, where carrier deployments and homecomings routinely lead evening newscasts.

But defense analysts say people shouldn’t roll their eyes at Hagel’s warning or other drastic changes described last week in the Pentagon’s first formal attempt to detail the long-term effects of sequestration.

If Congress does nothing to mitigate $500 billion in across-the-board defense cuts planned over the next decade, several analysts say, reducing the number of carrier strike groups from 11 is more than just a possibility – it’s almost assured.

“Given the size of the cuts, it’s hard to imagine a scenario that wouldn’t involve cutting carriers,” said Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

[A]nalysts from three other Washington-based think tanks developed plans for how they would deal with sequestration. Every group said it would eliminate at least two carrier strike groups; one analyst said he would cut four. Even if Congress reduced the budget cuts by half, each team of analysts still recommended cutting at least two carrier strike groups.

Aircraft carriers are widely considered America’s best weapon for projecting force across the globe. They’re also the most expensive piece of military equipment ever – one that typically deploys with seven squadrons of multimillion-dollar aircraft, a cruiser, two or three destroyers or frigates and about 5,500 sailors.

“It’s not that carriers aren’t important, it’s that perhaps other systems in the force, even in the Navy, are of a higher priority and deliver more bang for the buck,” said Harrison, noting that he would rather invest in stealthy Virginia-class submarines and unmanned aircraft. “You can try to maintain 11 carriers, but if you don’t have money to deploy them, they won’t be very useful.”

[W]ould aircraft carriers be decommissioned and destroyed, or would the plan involve defueling the nuclear reactors and placing the ships in long-term storage? Huntington Ingalls Industries CEO Mike Petters addressed the hypothetical question Wednesday during a quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts. The most efficient way to cut the fleet, Petters said, would be to inactivate the next few carriers slated to come into Newport News Shipbuilding for their midlife nuclear refueling.

That would place the aircraft carriers George Washington, John C. Stennis and Norfolk-based Harry S. Truman in the crosshairs.

However you slice it, said retired Vice Adm. Peter Daly, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Naval Institute, fewer aircraft carriers is bad news for Hampton Roads and for national defense.

“Given the level of cuts, I’m not surprised they’re looking at this,” said Daly, the former deputy commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk. “That doesn’t mean I think it’s a good idea.”

The irony is that the GOP leaning voters in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake would see the local economy pummeled and their property values drop significantly.  But for the fact that others would be harmed in the process, I'd almost like to see it happen.  Then these cretins and bigots would be reaping what they had sown.

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