Impending U.S. Navy budget cuts will create a ‚Äúfundamentally different navy‚ÄĚ that is less able to preform its missions, retired Adm. Gary Roughead, the former Chief of Naval Operations, told the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee on Tuesday.
‚ÄúIf sequestration takes place and is not amended in some way and we go into a yearlong Continuing Resolution,‚ÄĚ Roughead said. ‚ÄúI think we will have a very, very rapid downturn.‚ÄĚ
Roughead and former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman testified before the committee on what they see as fundamental problems the Navy faces in the realms of funding and acquisition strategies as it moves to reach its goal of 306 ships. They also addressed the pending $9 billion shortfall in Navy funds for Fiscal Year 2013 if Friday‚Äôs planned sequestration cuts occur and the Navy is faced with the Continuing Resolution.
‚ÄúI hope that this committee will not take the view that if you are to stop sequester that it will solve the problem,‚ÄĚ Lehman said. ‚ÄúIt won‚Äôt. Sequestration is simply a symptom and a step along a path puts the Navy on the decline. Solving sequestration gives you six months breathing room.‚ÄĚ
At the heart of the hearing was the Navy‚Äôs shifting goal to reach a 306-ship Fleet and how to fix the current acquisition regime to keep new ships under construction and existing ships maintained.
‚ÄúWe keep growing the bureaucracy and overhead and shrinking the force and shrinking the number of products and weapons we get for the dollars we spend,‚ÄĚ Lehman said. ‚ÄúWe have to return to lean management, line accountability, and we have to bring competition back in. How can you have a fixed price when there are 75 change orders a week for the [littoral combat ship]?‚ÄĚ
Roughead said acquisition has not focused enough on total ownership costs of ships and aircraft.
‚ÄúRight now it‚Äôs ‚ÄėHow much do we pay for a unit?‚Äô and that‚Äôs where the decision is made,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúOne of the things that has not been done is [asking] what will something cost for the 30-to-35 years you will be using a ship.‚ÄĚ
According to the Navy‚Äôs latest shipbuilding plan, it is scheduled to reach the 306 goal in Fiscal Year 2039.
‚ÄúGiven our past record of meeting long term goals I seriously question the viability of the shipbuilding plan,‚ÄĚ said Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA). ‚ÄúI agree with Admiral Roughead and Secretary Lehman on the need for acquisition reform.‚ÄĚ
Without a reform in Navy acquisition, Roughead said, the service could be unprepared for the unexpected. ‚ÄúI think the greatest risk is having a Navy that is not sized or ready to respond to the unexpected; because [the unexpected] is going to happen,‚ÄĚ he said.