Economics, Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Today, tomorrow, and Syria: Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert talks Navy budget

Image Credit: shutterstock

Image Credit: shutterstock

Yesterday morning Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert spoke at AEI about the immediate and future effects of sequestration on the Navy. In the following Q & A session he spoke on the current situation in Syria and how budget cuts are impacting the Navy’s approach.

Points from Admiral Greenert’s opening remarks:

  • The Navy has 285 ships, currently 96 ships are deployed (down about 10 ships due to budget). Under sequestration, in 2020 the Navy will have 257 (had planned 295), with 96 deployed (had planned 116).
  • Over the last two decades, by ratio more of the Navy is deployed: 33% today v. 25% in the 90s.
  • In the Eastern Mediterranean, we have four destroyers and one amphibious ship; the Nimitz CSG is in the Red Sea; and the Truman CSG is in the Indian Ocean.
  • The budget reduction was about $11 billion to the Navy. We pulled prior year money into 2013 to help mitigate that. Five ship deployments were canceled.  In 2014, we are looking at a $14 billion reduction. We will have to cancel about half of our surface ship and aircraft availability, and the Navy surge capacity will be about 1/3 of the norm.

Q & A on Syria:

Q: How are the cuts in funding affecting the Navy’s approach to operations in the Middle East and Syria?

A: We haven’t surged anybody over yet for a potential operation, and those ships we put forward were organized, trained, and equipped and delivered to the commanders fully ready for a vast spectrum of operations.

Q: Congress has developed a plan [regarding Syria] that would give you 60-90 days for a limited strike.  How much would that cost you?

A: A Tomahawk missile costs about a million and a half dollars.  A carrier strike group in the Middle East will cost you (in extended operations) about $40 million per week. A destroyer costs about $7 million per week.

Q: Are you concerned that potential US strikes against Syria could lead Assad to retaliate against US interest in the region and draw the US into a long-term conflict there?

A: The central command is vigilant for just such a thing. We have our sensors out for potential reaction. We make sure our force protection measures are in place, and that we’re postured to react accordingly.

Q: Can you give a sense of the capability that this new Tactical Tomahawk brings to the US that would help overcome the advantage Assad’s forces have had to disperse and hide?

A: A key advantage of the Tactical Tomahawk is that when you fly it, it can receive changes in targeting and direction. It can go up and actually loiter. When it’s done it destructs and creates an effect. We have quite a few of them out there, which provides the commander with a really good option.

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