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Wittman: More Aircraft Carriers Are Key to American Influence

Some of the most skilled workers in the shipyard train for seven years to attain the proficiency necessary to build these nuclear-powered carriers. These carriers take five years to build, and if we do not move without interruption from completing one and beginning construction on the next, the American workforce cannot be maintained. The shipbuilding industrial base — those skilled workers — cannot stop and start work.

The men and women who build our ships will go to the back of an already long unemployment line, and those critical skills, that knowledge base and experience, will be lost as they seek employment elsewhere. That is not simply American job loss. It is a loss of critical national security capability.

Every aircraft carrier represents peace, prosperity, leadership and democracy, while standing ready and fully capable of being an instrument of warfare.

Since World War II, each crisis that threatened the national security interests of the United States has shown the need for an aircraft carrier to transport our men and women serving to protect freedom around the globe. The American aircraft carrier is the pinnacle of industrial engineering, ingenuity and genius; where mechanical, nuclear, aerospace and electrical engineering converge with naval architecture to form a magnificent 100,000-ton, 1,092-foot-long piece of America.

All this hard work by Americans — the years of designing, building, manufacturing and training — must not become a forgotten trade.

The super committee chose failure over making tough choices for the greater good of this country. Sequestration cuts threaten our national security capability to defend our nation and respond to conflict in the 21st century. Failure is an outcome we must not and cannot accept.

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) is chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and co-chairman of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus.

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