Skyrocketing costs and an aging military are conspiring to leave America vulnerable in unsuspected ways.
Over 70 percent of the surface of the Earth is water. Early in its history, leadership in the United States understood the vital importance of creating a strong, reliable naval force to protect our borders and trade. During the Reagan era, the U.S. Navy boasted a fleet of 600 ships. Today, 272 ships are deployable in combat and support assignments. There has been a 20 percent reduction in the number of usable ships since 1998.
With the explosive cost of new technology and ship building, difficult decisions must be made. There is only so much money available to maintain our force and build security for the future. We simply cannot afford a 600-ship navy, and many defense experts argue we don’t need that many due to weapons advancements and other technology developments.
China’s construction of a “great wall of sand” with artificial islands in the South China Sea has sparked a stoush in Washington, with claims the White House has gagged US navy commanders criticising Beijing.
US Pacific commander Harry Harris has been most prominent amid repeated warnings by US military leaders that China’s ambitions in the disputed waters are destabilising the region. Continue reading
For more than two years, the Navy’s intelligence chief has been stuck with a major handicap: He’s not allowed to know any secrets.
Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch has been barred from reading, seeing or hearing classified information since November 2013, when the Navy learned from the Justice Department that his name had surfaced in a giant corruption investigation involving a foreign defense contractor and scores of Navy personnel.
Worried that Branch was on the verge of being indicted, Navy leaders suspended his access to classified materials. They did the same to one of his deputies, Rear Adm. Bruce F. Loveless, the Navy’s director of intelligence operations.
More than 800 days later, neither Branch nor Loveless has been charged. But neither has been cleared, either. Their access to classified information remains blocked. Continue reading
Another senior military officer ‘redirected’.
The captain of one of the Navy’s premier warships has been relieved of command after an investigation found that he routinely used foul and abusive language toward crew members and engaged in inappropriate touching and questioning of women.
Capt. Wayne Brown was relieved as commander of the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship Boxer after an investigation concluded that he had “lost the respect, trust and confidence of his subordinates” because of his temper and his behavior toward female crew members, according to the investigative report. His behavior included touching and asking crew members whether they were using birth control with their husbands or boyfriends.
Brown created a “hostile, offensive and intimidating work environment,” according to the investigation that was undertaken after complaints from enlisted personnel and junior officers.
The recommendation to relieve him of command was endorsed by Rear Adm. Frank Ponds in late September. Continue reading