Commentary: How to Avoid a $60 Billion Bailout for Navy Submarines

Posted October 1, 2013 at 4:56pm

The Navy is at the brink of its own fiscal crisis and is looking for a bailout. A proposed fleet of 12 new ballistic missile submarines — costing $100 billion total — could bust the Navy’s shipbuilding budget and force cuts to the surface fleet, writes Benjamin Loehrke in Roll Call.

So the Navy has asked the cash-strapped Pentagon to pay for the nuclear-armed subs. Throwing money at this problem will not make it affordable. Instead, the Pentagon needs to resize the sub program with the understanding that the U.S. can meet today’s security challenges with fewer nuclear weapons at less cost…

A Navy bailout would be a raw deal for the rest of the military. With defense budgets flattening, this additional money would have to come from someone else. If the Navy gets $4 billion annually to rebuild its Cold War sub fleet, it means another military need goes unfunded. Maybe it was $4 billion needed for preserving Army force levels. Or perhaps it was $4 billion needed to keep Air Force fighters maintained and pilots ready. Bottom line, the other services will be forced to cut back to pick up the Navy’s tab.

There’s a simpler solution: Cut excessive nuclear requirements. America doesn’t need 12 ballistic missile submarines to deter our modern-day adversaries. In fact, we could deploy more than 1,000 nuclear warheads on submarines with a fleet of only eight new subs.