Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Adm. Jonathan Greenert estify before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on Tuesday. US Navy Photo
With the USS Freedom (LCS-1) due to arrive in Singapore this week, the Littoral Combat Ship program’s cost received close scrutiny—as well as some sharp questions about the vessel’s survivability—during a House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing on 7 May.
Despite New Jersey Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s opening statement that the LCS and many others in the shipbuilding plan “to our way of thinking are support ships” rather than “classic combatants” such as large cruisers or submarines, and Virginia Democrat Jim Moran’s comments near the end of the two-and-a-half-hour session that “no other ship requires contractors throughout the deployment,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus defended the LCS as “one of our best performing programs.” Read More
Ray Mabus meets with sailors in South Korea on Feb. 19. US Navy Photo
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus called the mandatory defense sequestration cuts a “bad idea,” on CNN’s Starting Point on Tuesday. Read More
Proceedings, November 2012
To maintain their unique capabilities, the Sea Services must master the art of navigating budgets in the Age of Austerity.
Under the authority of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and without congressional action, automatic across-the-board cuts—“sequestration”—will occur in the Department of Defense budget in January 2013. 1 The likelihood and the consequences of this event are still uncertain, but projections by the Congressional Research Service suggest total cuts to the Defense budget in the vicinity of $500 billion over the next decade; similar cuts would be made in non-Defense spending. That this would be severe is not in doubt: Employment reductions from changes in equipment procurement in California alone are projected at nearly 126,000, with national changes in employment at more than 5.8 million. 2
Austerity budgets may prove to be the most challenging obstacle the Navy and Marine Corps have seen in a generation. Yet as painful as they may be, they must be faced. And successfully facing them begins with first developing an understanding of the current macroeconomic position of the United States, and ends with developing an effective budgetary strategy. Additionally, it will be critical to remember that Defense budgets do not exist in isolation. All actions and their costs must be gauged both against the entire federal budget as well as the larger U.S. macro-economy.
Proceedings, July 2012
On 14 October 2011, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus shared his vision of the “Great Green Fleet” at the Naval Energy Forum in McLean, Virginia. The Honorable Mr. Mabus remarked that “in the drive for energy reform the goal has got to be increased warfighting capability.” Increased warfighting capability through energy reform? Is this really possible under the secretary’s timeline of the next ten years, or will warfighters be left with another constraint on their way into the combat zone?
Secretary Mabus effectively communicated how energy reform in the Department of Defense could immediately reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. But at what cost? For many in the armed services, “energy efficiency” might conjure images of turning down the thermostat, putting on a sweater, and learning to enjoy cold showers. For the surface Navy, an effective way to cut fuel consumption would be to remain pierside. While fighting wars, however, cutting corners and decreasing underway training time can cost lives. Metaphorical sweaters and cold showers decrease the Navy’s capability and do not meet the secretary’s intent.
The important distinction in the secretary’s remarks is that he established himself as a champion of energy efficiency, not conservation. Although military professionals may be masters of doing more with less, energy efficiency on board our warships will instead involve doing the same with less. Or, alternatively, doing more with the same: increased warfighting capability through energy efficiency.