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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Obama, Navy Lying To Congress On Carriers: Seapower Chair Rep. Forbes -- By Sydney Freedberg Jr., BreakingDefense.com

090731-N-3038W-003“I think this is a papering-over of their dismantling of the Navy,” House Armed Services seapower subcommittee chairman Randy Forbes told me this afternoon. “They aren’t having the courage or the straightforwardness or transparency to call it what it is.”

Between the Pentagon’s proposed reduction in warships currently in the water and its redefinition of what counts as a “battle force” ship, Forbes said, “they’re now building paper ships to fight real-world enemies” — and essentially lying about it.

Shrinking budgets may be forcing hard choices on the federal government, but Forbes believes the Obama administration is imposing needlessly painful choices on the Pentagon without being honest about it. The outspoken and ambitious Virginia Republican, in the running for chairman of HASC, is particularly incensed about aircraft carriers — icons of American power that are built and overhauled exclusively in his home state — because the 2015 budget request punts the decision about whether to refit or retire the USS George Washington.

Without the Washington, the Navy’s carrier fleet falls to a historic low of just 10 flattops. Administration officials say they may buy back Washington in fiscal 2016 if Congress rolls back the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration (which is itself politically unlikely), but Forbes won’t buy it.

“We say we’re not going to reduce our carriers down from 11 to 10,” Forbes fumed in a HASC hearing with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus earlier today. “In reality, Mr. Secretary….we’ve made the decision to cut back from 11 to 10, we’re just waiting until maybe after November [i.e. the elections] or something to announce it. But you’ve taken all the steps [and] the actions to take it out.”

So, I asked Forbes later, is the administration is being dishonest? “I would agree with that.” Are they lying? “You can call it that,” he said. “It is certainly a distortion of what’s actually happening.”

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