New House Seapower Panel Aims To Reverse Shrinkage Of Fleet

New House Seapower Panel Aims To Reverse Shrinkage Of Fleet
January 8th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: New House Seapower Panel Aims To Reverse Shrinkage Of Fleet

New House Seapower Panel Aims To Reverse Shrinkage Of Fleet
Inside The Navy
January 8, 2007
Pg. 1

Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS) hopes the creation of a seapower and expeditionary forces panel under the House Armed Services Committee will help reverse the recent shrinkage of the Navy's fleet, the congressman said in an interview with Inside the Navy.
Taylor is slated to chair the seapower and expeditionary forces subcommittee (formerly known as the projection forces subcommittee). The full committee will vote on subcommittee changes Jan. 10, said spokeswoman Loren Dealy. In addition to a name change, the jurisdiction for strategic lift and deep-strike bombers would shift to an air and land forces subcommittee, she said.
In the Jan. 4 interview, Taylor discussed why he believes the creation of a seapower panel will help the Navy and the Marine Corps. He described the new panel as a "one-stop shop" where the Navy secretary could request authorization for the programs that he deems necessary.
The new structure would also more closely resemble the way the Senate handles Navy authorization matters, Taylor noted.
Taylor said the seapower subcommittee would stress the importance of the naval fleet, which he said the White House and the Republican-led House largely ignored.
"The fleet has shrunk during George Bush's watch to something in the neighborhood of 50 ships," Taylor said. "We certainly want to turn that around."
He said the fleet is so small at this point that the Navy may be unprepared if trouble breaks out in hot spots such as North Korea or Iran.
Taylor noted that while the Navy serves the purpose of deterring conflict, the fleet also acts as the first line of defense for the United States because U.S. enemies need to cross an ocean to reach the country.
In a separate Jan. 5 interview with ITN, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), who is slated to be the Ranking Republican on the seapower panel, said he liked the subcommittee structure that was used under Republican leadership. Bartlett said having a projection forces subcommittee enabled one subcommittee to singularly focus on all the projection forces, including strategic lift and deep-strike bombers.
Bartlett also said he wants to see a reversal of the shrinkage of the Navy's fleet. He argued that at the current rate, the fleet would shrink to 200 ships. Bartlett said he was pleased that Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), the new House Armed Services Committeeman chairman, expressed a desire to expand the fleet.
"We clearly need to build more ships," he said. "And I know that Ike Skelton is committed to that."
Both Taylor and Bartlett commented on the Littoral Combat Ship program.
Taylor said LCS would not be a "cure-all" for the fleet's strategic holes nor is the vessel intended to be a "cure-all."
"It fills a niche, but we're going to need the cruisers, we're going to need the destroyers, we're going to need submarines to round out that package," he said.
Bartlett said the Navy retires many vessels, even though their hulls work perfectly well, because the technology aboard them becomes outdated. With the LCS, however, the hull can be fitted with several different mission modules, allowing for expanded use, he said.
--Chris Johnson

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