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Episode 74 A Day Without Sea Power 06/05 by Midrats 5pm Eastern on Blog Talk Radio:

Almost a decade of involvement in two land wars in Asia combined with a series of costly and ill timed shipbuilding programs that have yet to produce ships anywhere near promised cost and performance has brought our Navy to the growing budget crisis in a delicate position.

The national security arena suffers from SeaBlindness about the critical requirements of seapower to the long term economic and security needs of a maritime, mercantile republic.

Battle of Midway, June 3-7, 1942

Sunday, June 5th at 5pm EST, using their work at The Heritage Foundation, Thinking About a Day Without Sea Power:Implications for U.S. Defense Policy as a starting point, join Sal from the blog “CDR Salamander” and me with our returning guests Mackenzie Eaglen and Bryan McGrath for the full hour to discuss the long view on the future direction of our Navy and Marine Corps team.

Part of the Invasion Fleet, D-Day Normandy, June 6, 1944

Join us here.

Posted by Mark Tempest in Marine Corps, Navy, Podcasts

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  • Bucherm

    Here’s a thought experiment for you, based upon that “Day without American Sea Power” story:

    Under whose Administration did the USN shrink to the smallest number of hulls since before WW1? He decided to increase costs to the DoD by fighting two wars without increasing revenue? The thought experiment posted on the Heritage Foundation is careful not to name Obama as the source of all the hypothetical ills the USN suffers in the future.

    BUT the very same one by the very same authors in The Weekly Standard does flat out point a finger at BHO. No mention of Bush2 overseeing major shrinkage of the USN, or that it’s been an ongoing trend for the last 4(well, 5, Jim Webb got fired because he fought Reagan to maintain to 600 ship fleet) presidents, it’s magically a problem that started with Obowmao and Leon Panetta.

    I’m guessing the THF took out explicit references to politicians from the though experiment because the Heritage Foundation, at least in theory, is a non-partisan think-tank. TWS isn’t.

    The authors start from a dishonest premise that the USN will shrink to under 70 vessels(and that Administrations will seek to burn down the most secure part of our nuclear deterrent), and that that shrinkage is the fault of the evil, mustache twirling Obama Administration, not the several administrations before him that shifted the national security emphasis on nation-building and knocking over turd world countries.

  • Bucherm

    *to* nation building and turd world countries, not on. Sorry, posting while sober again.

    It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the authors will explain they feel it’s okay to name (evil DEFEATOCRAT)names in TWS, but not THF. Probably not.

  • Does it matter on whose watch the shrinking started? I think that misses the point.

    You have read a great deal more politics into the opinion pieces than I though possible from this one line in the Weekly Standard version – “which has been in decline since the latter part of the Obama administration.” But, if it makes you feel better, you can substitute “Truman,” “Eisenhower,” “Kennedy,” “Johnson”, “Nixon,” “Ford,” “Carter”, “Reagan,” “Bush” or “Clinton” in there wherever you want. You can also toss into the mix “fewer but more capable ships.”

    On the other hand, you could listen to the show and hear from the authors why they wrote the pieces the way they did. And what they were driving at.

  • Bucherm

    I usually do listen to the show, I wasn’t planning on not listening to it(albeit I usually download the show after the fact rather than listen to the streaming version).

    Just pointing out how remarkable that the authors name names in their TWS “adaption” and are careful to avoid doing so in their thought experiment for THF(which has to at least keep up a pretense of being a non-partisan think tank).

    They mention that the size of the fleet has shrunk 15% since 1998, precisely when the “Peace Dividend” cuts plateaued or even reversed in some cases, in THF paper, but when we get to the adaption piece in TWS they lay the hypothetical future shrinkage of the fleet squarely at Barry and Panetta’s feet. No mention at all, zero, that the USN has been in a steady decline in hull numbers since the Reagan administration. If someone reads the TWS adaption without reading THF paper, you get the impression that the reason why the USN is so small in the future is because of Barry and a hypothetical president after him, not that it is a multi-decade trend. No mention that the USN dropped in number of hulls from over 500 to over 300 between the late Reagan Administration(when Webb was fired) to 1998(when continuous “Peace Dividend” Plateaued).

    The reason for that ommission in TWS adaption is because, I suspect, it would lead to uncomfortable questions about why defense spending substantially rose during Bush(2) years but the size of the USN dropped in a not-insignificant manner amongst the faithful. Much easier to present a problem with “It’s the Socialist Democrats fault” to conservative readers than “The horse you backed for 8 years helped burn to the ground the true guaranteer of US Security, as Did Clinton, as Did Bush(1), as did the last few years of the Reagan Administration”. It’s a total hit piece and an attempt by the authors to frame the public argument as one of “Us(Conservative pro-national security)” vs. “Them(socialist Democrats)”

  • Really? First, in case you missed it, defense spending rose under G.W. Bush because we went to war after an attack on this country. Whether all of the wars we’ve entered into since then have been justified is not the issue here.

    What if their point is that precisely because of these land wars (that have been sucking up dollars) there has been a “sea blindness” about the need to keep and maintain a healthy fleet? Can they have real concerns that, regardless of who the “fleet shrink” started under, that someone might use the winding down of those wars to declare another “peace dividend” and divert funding from the size of the fleet we need?

    This is why we have guests to discuss such matters and to clarify points. Feel free to join in the chat room discussion during the show and pose any legitimate questions you might like us to ask the guests and which, if fairly posed, we may undertake to ask at our discretion.

  • Bucherm


    So why not mention Bush in the TWS adaption of the article? Reading it, you’d never know that Bush, Clinton, Bush again, and the tail end Reagan administration reduced the USN in hull numbers massively.

    Here is my speculation: Pointing out that the current state of the USN is largely the Republicans fault will not go over well with the TWS crowd. Even if I were to concede that the authors really know, in their heart of hearts, why it is we are where we are, the authors have made a decision to go with the “echo chamber” route. In the future we’re only going to have 70 ships, and it is Barry and Panetta’s fault.

  • Byron

    Bucherm, I’m a lifelong Republican and a mere civilian yard worker and even I will admit to knowing that the draw down started with Bush1. Clinton helped it along because the perception was that we didn’t need to worry about fighting the Red Banner Northern Fleet at sea anymore. So the point is that it’s too late to worry about the politics of the past…we need to examine what’s deficient and what’s needed to reverse an ugly trend.

    And if you want to call the authors out, simply join the live show chat room and ask your question. Sal and Eagle1 are pretty good at passing the questions on to the guests.

  • Bucherm–a couple of things.

    1. The piece for Heritage was the source document. It lays out a thought experiment that leads to a dramatically smaller fleet. It does so in a flat, apolitical manner because we were writing for a think tank. You can think it is because Heritage is “keeping up the pretense” of being non-partisan, but the honest truth is that both Mackenzie and I were aiming for a higher level of discourse. That’s all. Never really thought about naming politicians in it, because that’s not what I was looking to do.

    2. The Weekly Standard article grew out of a conversation Mackenzie and I had, in which I (a partisan conservative Republican–join in the fun on my blog if you like) said I would love to see a derivative of this work in The Weekly Standard, a magazine I subscribe to and which I read regularly. She approached the editors and they agreed. They asked us to dramatically shorten it and change around the order–we complied. In the course of the editing, I thought about the opportunity we had with the article–the opportunity afforded by the budgetary upheaval, the differing view on the Hill, and the upcoming turnover of SECDEFS–and I inserted the line about the Obama Administration. Since we were writing the piece in 2011 (not 2005, 1998, or 1984), references to those eras seemed illogical. Nothing we wrote could impact outcomes from those times. To the extent that we believed our work might have ANY impact, it would have to be on the Administration and leadership now in place. Hence the comment.

    3. Again–remember the audiences. We wrote at Heritage for largely congressional and national security audiences. We wrote at The Weekly Standard for largely conservative political audiences. That there would be some difference in the approach seems sensible, and seems to convey respect for the readership.

    Cheers, Mate.

    Bryan McGrath