By Art Kohn
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – With more cuts on the horizon for the U.S. military, which is already working on a reduced budget, keeping Naval forces within striking distance of Syria comes with hefty price tag.
Due to the absence of a budget, sequestration requires the Department of Defense to trim $450 billion in spending over the next nine years. It’s already challenging our Armed Forces ability to provide for national defense, but with the U.S.’s commitment to pressure Syria to the bargaining table, the DoD loses millions of dollars every day.
Even without firing a shot, the cost of war is high. Currently, there are four Norfolk-based warships in the Mediterranean — a region that would normally see only two. It costs the Navy $2 million a week, per destroyer to keep them there, pressuring the Assad Regime.
The Navy has also ordered the Nimitz Carrier Battle Group to remain in the Red Sea when it was originally scheduled to return home. If the carrier’s air wing is flying as they are right now, it costs the Navy $40 million a week. If the Nimitz had not been extended and was headed home, operating costs would be $25 million a week.
The Navy pays for this with funds from its Operations and Maintenance Account.
“So, to get that extra money, they’re going to take it away from more Operations and Maintenance money. So, there’s going to be even less maintenance availabilities,” said retired Rear Admiral Fred Metz.
On Thursday, the Chief of Naval Operations warned that sequestration would force him to cancel repair work scheduled for 34 surface ships in 2014.
Fourth District Congressman Randy Forbes, who chairs the House Armed Services’ Sub-Committee on Sea Power, says the Joint Chiefs expressed an even bigger concern about the next round of cuts sequestration mandates in October.
“In fact, the Army and the Marine Corps even said we may not be able to win a single conflict, if this continues on,” Forbes said. “It very well will have an impact in our area …”
“The $50 billion that would be taken out of what ever money they have starting in October is going to impact the Syrian Ops … If Syria continues, which it should because we’ve already said we’re going to do it, you’re going to see some more, they’re gonna have to ask for more money,” Metz said.
The Chief of Naval Operations points out that many of the ships operating in the region around Syria were already forward deployed and would have been out there anyway. However, extending deployments for some, including the Nimitz and the Norfolk-based USS Barry, may require some “supplemental might.”
Congressman Forbes says this will all be exacerbated if in fact a government shutdown is forced next month.
This article can be read here: http://www.wavy.com/news/local/norfolk/sequestration-syria-and-the-state-of-national-defense