Barack Obama has never understood why we must maintain a strong Navy or why the decline in the number of ships is such a big deal. He cited the advanced technology of our equipment in his condescending and arrogant quip after Romney raised the issue. Obama’s sneering response — “We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines” — completely missed the point.
In citing high technology, Obama gave us a display of brazen hypocrisy at its finest. On his watch, the Department of Defense has been cutting procurement programs such as the F-22 and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. In both cases, our military personnel must now make do with aging alternatives (the F-15C and AAV-7 family of vehicles). The F-15 entered service in 1976, the AAV-7 in 1972. By the 2016 election, both of these systems will be 40 years old, and expected to still be in service for as much as a decade. So much for relying on new technology — Obama has halted production of the high-tech replacements.
The Obama administration’s neglect of the Navy can be typified by the early retirement of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and its plans to decommission other naval assets. In August of this year, I outlined on NRO why the Enterprise should remain in service, but the Big E is only the most prominent asset slated for premature retirement. The administration also plans to decommission and scrap six Ticonderoga-class cruisers, although the vessels have as many as 15 years of service life left (even without further overhauls). Maintaining freedom of the seas requires hulls in the water — and the Navy hasn’t even started building the replacements for these cruisers. At present, all we have is a design study called CGX, which may or may not enter production.