The US Department of the Navy is due to announce a “crash programme” on Tuesday to slash the budget by at least $40 billion within the next six weeks, Forbes reports.
According to the magazine, the “Stem-to-Stern Capability Strategic Review”, which will kick off on 18 February and wrap up on 31 March, aims to find “an average of eight billion dollars of savings per year between Fiscal Years 2022 and 2026”.
Forbes cited House Armed Services Committee member and naval veteran Congresswoman Elaine Luria as saying that she is glad that this review is being conducted, because the US Navy “has grown over several decades in many areas that do not directly support warfighting”.
She underscored the necessity of carrying out a “thorough analysis to identify non-essential functions which are not directly combat-enabling” for the Navy.
“I can only assume that the savings identified in this study will be recapitalised to ensure the modernisation of the Navy’s leg of the nuclear triad, to fulfil the ambitious shipbuilding goals of the yet-to-be released Integrated Naval Force Assessment, and to provide resources to maintain the Navy’s crumbling infrastructure,” Luria pointed out.
Other “longtime naval observers” were not that optimistic, warning that such a hefty cost-cutting effort may ride roughshod over a “Navy that is only now beginning to repair the damage from hasty a-strategic budget-cutting decisions that were made more than a decade ago,” according to Forbes,
The unveiling of the review comes a few days after a group of US Senators cautioned in a letter that the Navy’s move not to seek a second Virginia-class submarine in the Financial Year (FY) 2021 budget proposal would be out of line with the National Defence Strategy, weaken the defence-industrial base and compromise the Navy’s combat readiness.
The letter was drafted by Senator Richard Blumenthal, and signed by the Senate Armed Services Committee’s top Democrat Jack Reed, as well as Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley and Roger Wicker.
Earlier, Blumenthal told reporters that “they [authorities] are using the Navy as a kind of piggy bank to fund other programmes, and that’s very dangerous to our national security”.
He spoke after the Navy announced its FY 2021 budget proposal, laying out a shipbuilding plan that would be the smallest in six years and fails to move the sea service towards the 355-ship fleet, earlier pledged by President Trump.
The request includes just $19.9 billion for eight ships, which falls about $4 billion and four ships short of the FY 2020 ship procurement. The last time US lawmakers gave the greenlight to a shipbuilding plan of only eight ships was FY 2015.