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Posted by Randy | October 23, 2012
America’s Navy now stands at 285 ships, the smallest Navy since 1917 when measuring fleet size in terms of number of ships.   Over the past decade the Navy has called for and planned towards a variety of different shipbuilding plans, all of which are larger than the roughly 300-ship Navy the President now says we need. For instance, in 2002 the Navy put forward a goal for a fleet size of 375 ships and since 2006 it has been pursuing a goal of 313 ships. Furthermore, a bi-partisan panel of defense experts concluded in 2010 that a fleet of approximately 350- ships was necessary to meet America's security demands.

Today's ships are most certainly more technologically-capable than they were in the early 20th century, but numbers still matter. A ship can still only be in one place at one time and demand for Navy assets continues to grow. Between 2007 and 2012, for instance, the demand for ships has increased from 20,068 operational days to 32,915 days.

Perhaps most importantly, the small size of the fleet has serious implications for our sailors and their families. Despite a requirement for Navy ships to be deployed for six months, deployments of seven months or more have become regular occurrences. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, has publicly stated that "we can’t run at that rate,” but admitted that seven to seven-and-a-half month deployments will become the new norm because of the increased demands on our fleet. These longer deployments also threaten to wear out the fleet before the end of its intended service life, driving up maintenance costs or forcing ships back to sea with low readiness levels.

Read more about Congressman Forbes’ position on this topic, especially as it relates to US presence in the Asia-Pacific realm, in his piece in the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings, “Rebalancing the Rhetoric,” here.

Question of the Week: 
What do you believe are the most serious negative impacts of having a Navy that is at its smallest size since 1917? (Multi-Answer)

( ) Greater stresses on our sailors and their families.
( ) The Navy can be fewer places and do fewer things, even though demand for Navy ships is increasing.
( ) Longer deployments and more maintenance costs for the fleet and the taxpayer.
( ) None. Our Navy is more capable than it was a century ago.
( ) Other – (Share your thoughts below).

Take the poll here.

Find out the results of last week’s instapoll here.
Posted by Randy | September 20, 2012

Tragically, on September 11th in Benghazi, Libya, the United States Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were murdered. This was the first U.S. Ambassador who had been murdered since 1979.  

These deaths occurred amidst angry and sometimes violent anti-American protests near U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East in the countries like Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia.  In some cases, protesters were burning American flags and effigies of President Obama.

( ) Tether foreign aid to pro-democracy, religious freedoms and human rights benchmarks

( ) Reduce or eliminate foreign aid

( ) Sever diplomatic ties and/or remove embassy staffs

( ) Bolster embassy security with elite Marine units

( ) Continue engagement with these foreign governments to combat terrorism and promote democracy.   

( ) I don't know.

( ) Other. (Please share your comments and ideas on my blog below).

Take the poll here.

Find out the results of last week’s instapoll here.

Posted by Randy | July 19, 2012
In recent months, considerable angst has arisen in regards to leaks of classified national security information.  Three particularly high-level and dangerous leaks have given rise to allegations that, at worst, the White House purposely released the information in order to reap political gains or, at best, has been negligent in protecting against leaks and aggressively punishing guilty of releasing classified information.  These incidents, which pose potentially severe and dangerous implications for U.S troops and intelligence officers, include the release of:

1)      Classified information about cyberwarfare, including the fact the Stuxnet malware attack on the Iranian Nuclear program was an American operation.

2)      Classified information about the Osama Bin Laden raid, including specific participating units and information from the compound.

3)      Highly sensitive details about the process by which the President in White House counterterrorism meetings designates people for “Kill Lists” targeted by special operations forces and drone strikes.

As a result of the gravity and frequency of the leaks, and because of concern that the Administration could not effectively investigate themselves, several in Congress are calling for an independent counsel to be appointed to investigate the string of national security leaks.

Question of the Week: Do you believe an independent investigator should be appointed to investigate the recent flurry of leaks of classified national security information?

(  ) Yes.

(  ) No.

(  ) I am not sure.

(  ) Other, please share your thoughts below.

Take the poll here.

Find the results of our last instaPoll here.

Posted by Randy | October 05, 2011

Over the past several weeks, I have shared with you my thoughts on looming defense cuts and the damaging effect they will have on our national security, as well as the economic well-being of our troops and our country.

Now, I want to share with you what our military leaders are saying about the impact of defense cuts.


“This mechanism would force defense cuts that, in my view, would do catastrophic damage to our military and its ability to protect this country. It is kind of a blind formula that makes cuts all across the board, and guarantees that we will hollow out the force.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

Question before Senate Armed Services Committee referencing an additional $600 billion in defense cuts:
"If we pull that trigger, will we be shooting ourselves in the foot?" Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s answer:  "We'd be shooting ourselves in the head."

"I also share your deep trepidation over sequestration and the potential for cuts so devastating and so dramatic that we place at risk the very security we’re charged to provide, that we negate the very reason we exist."
Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

“It has a good chance of breaking us and putting us in a position to not keep faith with this all volunteer force that's fought two wars and that needs to be reset in everything else that we look at for the future….And I think it would be incredibly dangerous for our country's national security to go there. And to your point, we are not going to solve that debt problem on the back of the Pentagon. You can't do it if you zeroed the budget.”
Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

“The roughly $1 trillion in cuts … would seriously weaken our military, and it would really make us unable to protect this nation from a range of security threats that we face...[It] will not only impact our military strength, I think it will impact our economic strength as well. Cancellation of weapon systems, construction projects, research activity would seriously cripple our industrial base."
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

“There will be tough decisions and tough trade-offs. This will force us to take on greater risk.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on $400 billion cuts already enacted

"We are not going to solve the national debt challenge on the back of the military. There are whole host of other issues that have to be addressed in order to significantly reduce that debt."
Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

It will be "extraordinarily difficult and very high risk" to cut $1 trillion from defense spending.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey

“These sorts of ill-conceived reductions in defense spending would inflict real damage to the well-being of our Airmen and their families, and ultimately undermine our ability to protect the Nation.”
Air Force Chief of Staff General Norty Schwartz

Trillion dollar defense cuts, “would be devastating for the military, forcing spending reductions that likely would necessitate shrinking the size of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps to the smallest numbers in decades and also lead to the smallest Navy in nearly 100 years.”
Pentagon Spokesperson George Little

“There is no doubt in my mind that the continued strength and global reach of the American military will remain the greatest deterrent against aggression and the most effective means of preserving peace in the 21st century, as it was in the 20th.”
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

"Everything's on the table, everything's being discussed. There are all sorts of scenarios. We're looking at every aviation program, every shipbuilding program. We're trying to wring out cost wherever and whenever we can find it."
Under Secretary of the Navy Bob Work

Cutting another $600 billion from national defense "is a red line that this government should not cross."
Pentagon Spokesperson George Little

“Currently, we are not able to meet all the forward presence requirements of the other combatant commanders… in the case of another major contingency operation, the United States Marine Corps would not, right now, be able to meet the timelines of the combatant commanders in response to another major contingency operation should it occur simultaneously with current operations in Afghanistan.” In reference to $1trillion cuts, “We would start to have to make some fundamental changes in the capability of the Marine Corps.
General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, U.S. Marine Corps

“I will tell you that some of our low-density, high-demand requirements, personnel recovery, ISR, and a few are right at the ragged edge. In reference to $1trillion cuts, “We would have to go into a fundamental restructure of what it is our nation expects from our Air Force.”
General Philip M. Breedlove, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force

On current ability to meet needs of commanders in field, “No, we cannot meet all the other COCOM commander's validated demands. Those are prioritized through the global force management process. We work hard to meet them. We are not able to meet them all.” In reference to $1trillion cuts, “You're reaching an area there that I think would definitely we'd have to look very, very hard at our strategy, what we can and cannot do.”
General Peter W. Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

“To meet Combatant Commanders needs unconstrained, doing some analysis, I need about 400 ships. I have 285 ships.” In reference to $1trillion cuts, “If we have a reduction of the kind that was passed around here - $400 billion or $886 billion - without a comprehensive strategic review, a fundamental look at what were asking our forces to do, we won't be able to meet the Global Force Management Plan today.  It will exacerbate our readiness trends. And if we have to go to a reduction of force structure, I am concerned about the industrial base.”
Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy

Read more here: www.forbes.house.gov/strongamerica
Posted by Randy | September 09, 2011
Our military faces a strained force and looming defense cuts that will impact its basic ability to provide for the common defense.

This video Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon highlights this serious issue and its potential impact on our national security. In the video, Chairman McKeon asks “what if we’re attacked in some other area, what is our military going to be able to do if we keep cutting it…”

Posted by Randy | August 08, 2011

This weekend we received the tragic news of the death of 30 Americans who were killed when a U.S. helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan. The attack marked the deadliest day for Americans in the war in Afghanistan.  Twenty-two of the troops were reportedly from a specialized Navy SEAL Unit based in Virginia Beach.


We grieve the loss of these valiant Americans and honor the sacrifice they made while on a mission to rescue fellow servicemen and women. Their courage in advancing the cause of freedom was exemplary and it will not be forgotten. Our prayers continue to be with the families of these service members who will feel the absence of their loved ones long after the news stories have ended. We pray they find peace.

Posted by Randy | August 02, 2011
Deep defense cuts would be “extraordinarily difficult and very high risk.” That is what General Martin Dempsey, Army Chief of Staff and President Obama's nominee to serve as the nation's chief military officer, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Administration has proposed bringing significant cutbacks to our nation’s military strength. But a defense budget in decline will undermine our ability to project power, strengthen our adversaries, and weaken our alliances.

I have developed “Defense Cuts: A Very High Risk,” a booklet to outline the current status of our national defense, the threats we face, and the proposed cuts to our military. It is my hope that this booklet will assist policy makers and interested individuals in understanding the severe impact defense cuts will have on our national security.
Posted by Randy | July 26, 2011

These charts highlight the shrinking state of readiness and the subsequent dire choices our nation's commanders are being forced to consider, issues that we are discussing in today’s House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee hearing with the service vice chiefs of staff.

Overlay these charts with the fact that President Obama has announced plans to cut a jaw-dropping $400 billion from the defense budget over a 12-year period, and the picture of our future readiness is grim. The United States is walking down a path where we eventually will not be ready as a nation to protect ourselves against future threats.

Posted by Randy | July 12, 2011

Consider the following…

(click the chart to enlarge)

In the last four years inspection failures for Navy ships have nearly tripled. Currently, 1 in 5 ships inspected is either unsatisfactory or unfit for combat.

Since 2007 inspection failure rates have risen from roughly 8% to 24%. Yet, this year alone, the Navy faces a $367 million funding shortfall for ship maintenance.

On average, Navy deployed ships are forced to spend nearly 40% of their time with at least one major equipment or systems failure.

Essential equipment or systems on Navy ships could include anti-air defenses, radar, satellite communications, or engines.  Almost 40% of the time, deployed ships have at least one essential piece of equipment that has failed and prevents them from meeting a primary mission.

Over one-half of our currently deployed aircraft are not combat ready.

Fifty-five percent of deployed Navy and Marine Corps aircraft are not fully mission capable. For every two aircraft sent on deployment, one of them cannot perform a critical mission for which it was deployed . Despite this, the Navy faces a nearly $100 million funding shortfall for aviation maintenance and logistics this year alone.

There is a stark dichotomy that emerges when assessing the readiness of the United States Navy:  on the one hand, we continue to boast the finest Naval fleet in the world while at the same time, we continue to learn more and more about the alarming shortfalls in the maintenance and future investment in our own defense capabilities.

Today, the Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, which I chair, held a hearing to address these very issues. Testimony from Vice Admiral William Burke and Vice Admiral Kevin McCoy made one reality clear: we are not able to confidently answer one very important question – Is our Navy ready?

Weigh in: are you concerned about the readiness of our Navy?

Posted by Randy | July 08, 2011

We face a harsh reality that runaway government spending on bailout and stimulus packages has brought us to a point where we are considering cutting the national defense capabilities of our country. But before making any cuts in defense spending, Congress must first understand the nation's security risks. That’s what I discussed today on the House floor during debate of the annual Department of Defense Appropriations bill. Watch my full remarks in the video below.

Also, read about my efforts to ensure a clean financial audit of the Department of Defense’s basic functions so we know where defense dollars are going and that they are properly accounted for.  You can also read my statement on today's vote here.