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Navy Budget Threatens LCS In Obama Budget
Issue Date: February 26, 2014
Continuation of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program at Marinette Marine could be in doubt in the defense budget for 2015 that the Obama Administration will present to the U.S. Congress next week.
The information was contained in the Navy budget proposed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Monday, Feb. 24. Under the presidents budget plan, the Navy will launch an aggressive and ambitious effort to reduce acquisitions costs and maximize resources available to buy and build new ships.
Regarding the Navys Littoral Combat Ship program, Hagel reported he is concerned, including whether it has the independent protection and firepower to operate and survive against a more advanced military adversary and emerging net technologies and said no new LCS contract negotiations beyond 32 ships will go forward.
There was an immediate response to the proposed budget Pentagon cuts from U.S. Congressman Reid Ribble (R-8th District). He said, Its critically important that our military meet our nations security needs and the Navy continues to require an efficient, effective vessel to defend against the ever-changing challenges we face today as well as in the future. The future of the LCS, or its next iteration, is far from settled and there are numerous debates and discussions that will be occurring in the days and weeks ahead. I have had dozens of discussions with the Navy, Marinette Marine, and the Department of Defense on the needs of the Navy and the future of the LCS and I will continue to work aggressively on preserving our nation security during an era of limited defense budget.
Hagel said the LCS was designed to perform certain missions such as mine sweeping and anti-submarine warfare in a relatively permissive environment. But we need to closely examine whether the LCS has the independent protection and firepower to operate and survive against a more advanced military adversary and emerging new technologies, especially in the Asia Pacific. If we were to build out the LCS program to 52 ships, as previously planned, it would represent one-sixth of our future 300-ship Navy. Given continued fiscal restraints, we must direct future shipbuilding resources toward platforms that can operate in every region and along the full spectrum of conflict.
Additionally, at Hagels direction, the Navy will submit alternative proposals to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate. He has directed the Navy to consider a completely new design, existing ship designs, and a modified LCS. These proposals are due to him later this year in time to inform next years budget submission.
Marinette Marine has over 2,000 employees. If the LCS program is curtailed work could end in six years with large layoffs in the region. The Navy still seeks to have a total of 52 Littoral Combat Ships.
The decision to curtail the LCS program is still not final and could be changes before the Obama Administration budget is presented to the U.S. Congress.
Hagel has also proposed reducing the active duty to less than 450,000 from the current 522,000 soldiers, the smallest force since 1940 at the start of World War II. He also proposes reducing the Marine Corps and Army National Guard.