What seems obvious in hindsight is not, for most, that obvious to those closest to it, distracted from it, or willfully floating along in a sea of indifference.
There are times, decision or pivot points for some, where the signs become clear. That steady, darkening, and thickening line starts to burn through the ambient noise. It looks familiar, it is harmonic of what you have seen before â€“ it cannot be ignored. It demands action
You only get the Fleet your nation decides to buy, more people need to accept that … and the political and economic reality we are in.
Former Senator Hagel has been nominated to be the next Secretary of Defense. In an August 2011 interview with The Financial Timesâ€™ Stephanie Kirchgaessner, he stated the following;
The defence department, I think in many ways has been bloated.
I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down. I think we need the Pentagon to look at their own priorities.
Thereâ€™s a tremendous amount of bloat in the Pentagon, and that has to be scaled back …
I donâ€™t think that our military has really looked at themselves strategically, critically in a long, long time. Every agency needs to do that. The Department of Defence, and Iâ€™m a strong supporter of this â€¦ no American wants to in any way hurt our capabilities to national defence, but that doesnâ€™t mean an unlimited amount of money, and a blank cheque for anything they want at any time, for any purpose. Not at all. Not at all, and so the realities are that the mess weâ€™re in this country, with our debt and our deficits, and our infrastructure and jobless and all the rest, is going to require everybody to take a look, even the defence department, and make a pretty hard re-evaluation and review.
President Obama picked Hagel for very specific reasons, and his views above are not unknown and were part of that. Good people can agree or disagree on the substance of his argument, but that is the fact both sides will have to work with.
Next, letâ€™s look to the uniformed side of the house. In a speech at SNA earlier this week, Vice Admiral Copeman stated the following;
Ultimately, (Copeman) warned, “if you don’t want to get hollow, you have to give up force structure.”
“Resources are going to drop. They’re going to drop significantly,” the admiral said. â€¦ “If it were my choice,” Copeman said, “I’d give up force structure to get whole. But it’s not always my choice.”
There are just a few tidbits of I&W to ponder.
In the last few years, we have heard a lot of talk about a Fleet of 313 and now 300. Many of us have been arguing for half a decade that neither is the number we should be looking at, that is not what the nation will fund; 270 to 240 is more likely.
“If we cannot have the navy estimates of our policy, then let’s have the policy of our navy estimates.”
If this is the maritime Zeitgeist for the remainder of this decade, then letâ€™s embrace it. We can’t stomp our feet and hold our breath until the Pentagon turns blue.
How do we best do it? What do we need to preserve â€“ what should we cut â€“ what will we have to get rid of root-n-branch?
What are our priorities?
The smart money on the future is on who the CINC is hiring, what that hireâ€™s recent statements say about his ideas, and what our senior officers are starting to send out trial balloons on to test the winds.
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