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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Pentagon Budget Cuts? More Rice Bowls Toppled

According to the NY Times "Pentagon Said to Offer Cuts in the Billions".
Among the proposed cuts, the Navy takes some of the most prominent hits. This is in large part, Navy officials and independent budget analysts said, because increased efficiencies in its operations under Adm. Vern Clark, the chief of naval operations, allow for reductions in forces and ships that do not jeopardize the service's missions.


Two military and Congressional officials who have been briefed on the proposed cuts spoke about them on condition of anonymity because the budget is not yet complete.


Under the proposal, the Navy would retire the carrier John F. Kennedy - one of the oldest carriers in the fleet, having first been deployed in 1968 - next year. The Kennedy, based in Mayport, Fla., recently completed a tour in the Persian Gulf, where its air wing was flying 60 missions a day, including flights to Iraq.
The Kennedy's retirement would, for the first time since the mid-1990's, reduce the size of the Navy's carrier fleet.
The proposal also calls for reducing the number of new LPD-17 San Antonio-class amphibious landing docks, which are designed to transport Marine assault vehicles, amphibious landing craft and Osprey aircraft, to trouble spots around the world. The Navy had originally planned to buy five of the ships over the next five years, at about $1.2 billion apiece. The vessels are built by Northrop Grumman in New Orleans.
Another major change would be to build fewer new Navy destroyers than planned over the next six years. A team of contractors, led by Northrop Grumman, is building the ships, currently called DD(X), at a cost of $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion per vessel, in Pascagoula, Miss., and in Bath, Me.
The Kennedy, which is not a nuclear powered carrier, costs a lot just to keep schools open to train people to operate her boilers. And to keep her in fuel when she was operating, you need a fuel logistics train...

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