Archive for the ‘Marine Corps’ Category

National Security Pick: From a Marine to a Mediator

November 29, 2008

James L. Jones, a retired four-star general, was among a mostly Republican crowd watching a presidential debate in October when Barack Obama casually mentioned that he got a lot of his advice on foreign policy from General Jones.

By Helene Cooper
The New York Times

 

“Explain yourself!” some of the Republicans demanded, as General Jones later recalled it.

He did not. A 6-foot-5 Marine Corps commandant with the looks of John Wayne, General Jones is not given to talking about his political bent, be it Republican or Democrat. And yet, he is Mr. Obama’s choice for national security adviser, a job that will make him the main foreign policy sounding board and sage to a president with relatively little foreign policy experience.

The selection of General Jones will elevate another foreign policy moderate to a team that will include Robert M. Gates, a carry-over from the Bush administration, as defense secretary and Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. By bringing a military man to the White House, Mr. Obama may be trying to cement an early bond with military leaders who regard him with some uneasiness, particularly over his call for rapid troop reductions in Iraq.

But General Jones will also be expected to mediate between rivals, particularly in dealing with Mr. Gates, who has his own power base at the Pentagon, and with Mrs. Clinton, who has told friends that she does not expect the national security adviser to stand between her and the president.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/us/politics/
29jones.html?_r=1&hp

In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. ... 
In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, chairman of the Iraqi Security Forces Independent Assessment Commission, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Jones, 64, is expected to be announced by Obama next week as part of the president-elect’s national security team, along with Robert Gates as secretary of defense and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.(AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

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How will military greet Obama?

November 9, 2008

Barack Obama will enter the White House without any military experience and with a playbook that emphasizes diplomacy, behind a president who waged two wars and presided over some of the largest-ever defense budget increases. 

So, how will President Obama be received at the Pentagon? Much depends on his first moves. 

One of his senior security advisers, former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), said even though the president-elect has experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he’ll need a strong defense team that works together well. 

“He will have to pay a lot of attention to a secretary of defense and the close advisers to the secretary,” Hamilton said. “The whole military, national security establishment will be watching that with care.” 

And since the military is trained to follow orders, insiders say it is receptive to the change of command. 

The military needs to be ready to offer its advice while scrupulously avoiding any attempt to shape the agenda, said a senior defense official familiar with the transition. “It is to everyone’s benefit to shorten the learning curve for whoever is coming in,” he said, especially because this is the first wartime transition since 1968.

From Politico

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081109/p
l_politico/15284;_ylt=ArmaUsucZ2W6bSTAjIBGi72s0NUE

Murtha, No Stranger to Trouble, Faces Tough Re-election Bid Tuesday

November 3, 2008

U.S. Rep.  John Murtha, D- Pa., left, addresses  supporters ... 
U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D- Pa., left, addresses supporters with Senator Bob Casey, D-Pa., right, during a campaign rally outside a steel workers union hall in Latrobe, Pa. Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008.(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Rep. John Murtha, scrambling to keep his seat after recently saying his western Pennsylvania home base “is a racist area,” told supporters Saturday he should have started campaigning sooner.

“I was blindsided this time. It was my own fault. I take full responsibility and I’m worried that I waited too long to get people activated,” Murtha, 76, a 17-term member told about 100 campaign volunteers at his campaign headquarters.

Associated Press

In addition to the Johnstown stop, Murtha toured a steel mill and held a smaller rally with steelworkers in Latrobe. He emphasized the jobs and billions of dollars he’s brought home.

“They kick the hell out of me all the time because I’m for earmarks, because I’m for taking care of the people I represent,” said Murtha, who chairs the House defense appropriations subcommittee.

At Murtha’s side at the Saturday stops was Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who said Murtha was a close ally to his father, the late Gov. Robert P. Casey. On Monday, former President Clinton was scheduled to campaign for Murtha in Johnstown, and for another longtime House Democrat, Paul Kanjorski, in Wilkes-Barre.

Murtha’s being challenged by Republican William Russell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who moved to Johnstown to run against him. Russell has said the earmarks have created an unhealthy dependence on federal money.

The district has heavy Democratic registration, and Murtha has a long history of handily winning his races by double-digit margins.

Murtha recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.” He later apologized….

Read the rest:
http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2008/nov/
03/rep-john-murtha-fights-to-keep-seat/

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Murtha Called “Fat Little Bastard” By Iraq War Vet

By Alex Roarty, PolitickerPA.com Reporter

NEW STANTON — Republican congressional candidate Bill Russell’s rally on Sunday featured several Iraq war veterans vehemently criticizing U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-Johnstown), who they say betrayed them when he said troops in Iraq killed innocent civilians in Haditha “in cold blood.”

Those remarks sparked Russell to run against Murtha and have been a theme of his campaign ever since.

During the rally, Shawn Bryan, a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps., said Murtha visited his unit in Iraq in 2005. At the time, Murtha told the soldiers “what a great job we did,” Bryan said, only to see him tell his district back home he no longer supported the effort.

Bryan said he didn’t put his life on the line for his country “just so some fat little bastard can come back and run his mouth.”

It was the second time during his speech that Bryan, who flew in from Albuquerque, New Mexico, had called Murtha a “fat little bastard” during his speech. His remarks were not publicly repudiated at the rally.

In an interview after the rally, Russell told PolitickerPA.com Bryan’s comments didn’t reflect his own feelings, but he did the defend the fellow veteran.

The remarks are reflective of the anger many marines, who have lost dozens of fellow soldiers during combat, feel toward Murtha, he said.

“Am I going to throw him under the bus for it?” Russell asked. “No. I understand — he’s going to say what he believes.”

Murtha, who himself served 37 years in the Marine Corps and won a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, said about the 2005 shootings of Iraq civilians in Haditha: “Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”

Charges have been dropped against…

Read the rest:
http://www.politickerpa.com/alexroarty/2481/marine
-vet-russell-rally-murtha-fat-little-bastard

Navy Blue Angels: Aircraft 4 Is Missing; Formations Remain Spectacular

November 2, 2008

When a pilot crashes with his aircraft, the reasons can take months and even years to determine.  When man fails without his machine, the history of mankind tells us the reasons swiftly sometimes….

By Lindsay Kastner
San Antonio Press – News

An afternoon performance by the Navy’s Blue Angels was a crowd-pleaser even though the six-jet squadron flew only five planes Saturday, after two team members were removed from duty last week.

The team members, including one pilot, were removed from duty Oct. 26 after allegations of an inappropriate relationship, Blue Angels spokesman Marine Capt. Tyson Dunkelberger confirmed.

Members of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels precision flying team perform ...

Several spectators at the AirFest 2008, part of a weeklong San Antonio salute to the military, said they noticed the show was down a plane, but were unfazed by the absence. Jet number four was clearly missing from the team’s formations.

Mario and Sylvia Perez said they loved Saturday’s show despite the missing plane.

“He kept on asking, ‘Where’s the sixth one? Where’s the sixth one?’” Sylvia Perez said.

Chuck Pollack also noted the vacancy on the team, but wondered if it was combat-related.

“I thought it was perfect the way they were flying,” said Pollack, who last saw the Blue Angels perform four or five years ago.

With just five jets, some formations were changed — for instance the jets flew in a letter V shape instead of their hallmark diamond or delta formation, Dunkleberger said. There are no backup pilots who can step in when one of the Blue Angels is unable to fly, according to the team’s website.

The Blue Angels also flew what is called a “low show” instead of their preferred “high show” Saturday, which limits some maneuvers the pilots can perform. But Dunkleberger said that was a safety decision that had nothing to do with the removal of the two team members.

“The low show was just due to the cloud level today,” he said.

Dunkelberger said the team commonly practices with fewer than six planes and is ready to perform without its full complement of jets.

“That was pretty good, fun, air show as far as I was concerned,” he said, of the demonstration.

Many in the crowd agreed.

“It was super,” said spectator Larry Priest. “They put on an awesome show. It wouldn’t make any difference if they had three planes.”

Dunkelberger would not release the names of the individuals — a male and a female — who are no longer participating in team duties.

“It’s a privacy thing for those individuals,” he said. “It’s administrative in nature, not judicial.”

In addition to flying, the Blue Angels visit schools and hospitals as they tour.

“We have additional people that can fill those roles,” Dunkelberger said, noting that the team also includes C-135 pilots who step in when jet pilots aren’t available.

He said he did not know how long the members might be off the team, saying that has not been determined yet.

“They’ve basically just been relieved of their duties at this point.”

The Blue Angels perform again today at Lackland AFB’s Kelly Field Annex, where AirFest 2008 continues. Their 2008 season ends Nov. 15 after shows at the Kennedy Space Center and at their home base in Pensacola, Fla.

Related:

Navy Blue Angels Flying Today; As In War, Operations Continue Despite Any Setback

For U.S. Marines: Motorcycles Deadlier Than Iraq

November 1, 2008

More Marines have died on motorcycles than in Iraq so far this year. Just under 10 percent of Marines own high-speed sport bikes, and no one knows why the corps is so plagued by serious accidents. The military brass is so concerned that officials have scheduled a meeting to address the issue.

From Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon Producer

Twenty-five Marines have died in motorcycle crashes since last November — all but one of them involving sport bikes that can reach speeds of well over 100 mph, according to Marine officials. In that same period, 20 Marines have been killed in action in Iraq.
The 25 deaths are the highest motorcycle death toll ever for the Marine Corps.
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Gen. James Amos, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, told CNN that commanders are trying to drill down on what “we need to do to help our Marines survive on these sport bikes.”
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“The Marines are very serious about it,” he said.
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Marine Gunnery Sgt. Art Tucker knows all too well about the dangers of sport bikes. An owner of a Kawasaki Ninja, Tucker has had two crashes, and the second one nearly killed him.

Despite crashes, Gunnery Sgt. Art Tucker rides a sport motorcycle. "I enjoy it. ... It relaxes me," he says.

Above: Despite crashes, Gunnery Sgt. Art Tucker rides a sport motorcycle. “I enjoy it. … It relaxes me,” he says.
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“I sustained a broken collar bone, I tore the shoulder out of the socket, I tore three ligaments in the shoulder, the rotator cuff, I broke three vertebrae,” said Tucker, a drill instructor for new officers.
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“The worst was a head injury I received: a bruised brain. And it caused hemorrhaging, and from that I had partial paralysis of the left leg, full paralysis of the left foot and toes, and that was for approximately six months.”
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Amos said he and other top Marine officials will spend half the day Monday “focusing on nothing but motorcycle issues.” The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Conway, and other senior leadership will attend the meeting at the Quantico, Virginia, Marine base, he said.
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About 18,000 of the nearly 200,000 Marines are believed to own motorcycles, Amos said.
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The Marines have taken some measures. The Marine Corps has had a long-standing policy for all Marines who ride motorcycles to take a mandatory basic riding course. More recently, it added a second training course specifically designed to train Marines who ride sport bikes.
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Any Marine caught riding, even on leave, without going through the training courses faces Marine Corps punishment, officials say.
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On a recent day at the Quantico training track, Marines whizzed by on their bikes.

Navy Blue Angels Flying Today; As In War, Operations Continue Despite Any Setback

November 1, 2008

The Blue Angels will fly today, one day after it was made public that two team members were removed from duty because of an alleged inappropriate relationship.
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The Blues fly in San Antonio today and Sunday.

On Thursday, the Blue Angels announced that the removal of the team members would force the squadron to fly five jets instead of the standard six jets for the rest of the season, which concludes Nov. 14-15 at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

No new details were released Friday, and the team members’ names have not been made public.

The allegations involve a male and a female team member. The Military Times reported Thursday that one of the individuals is a pilot.

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Related:
Navy Blue Angels: Aircraft 4 Is Missing; Formations Remain Spectacular
When a pilot crashes with his aircraft, the reasons can take months and even years to determine.  When man fails without his machine, the history of mankind tells us the reasons swiftly sometimes….

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The allegations are under review by Rear Adm. Mark Guadagnini, chief of Naval air training.

–Pensacola News Journal
November 1, 2008

Blue Angels on Delta Formation.jpg
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AP: A spokesman for the U.S. Navy Blue Angels says the stunt-flying team will be down one jet the rest of its season after removing two members from duty for having an inappropriate relationship.

Capt. Tyson Dunkelberger, a spokesman for the team based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, said Thursday the squadron will finish its last three air shows next month with five jets.

Dunkelberger would not identify the two members but said the relationship was between a man and a woman. All six of the F-18 stunt pilots are men, and 23 of the 133-member squadron are women.

Dunkelberger says a military administrative hearing will be held to determine further disciplinary actions, which could include removal from the military.

After Eight Boom Years, Defense Spending Likely to Slow

October 13, 2008

ByBy Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 13, 2008; Page D01

At the Walter E. Washington Convention Center last week, Army soldiers, Pentagon weapons buyers and defense company representatives milled about a cavernous trade show floor for a look at the latest military equipment and gadgets.
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Huge tanks sat beside armored trucks and machine guns. In one aisle, a stack of fake sandbags were arranged around a free cappuccino stand sponsored by KBR, one of the biggest government contractors in Iraq.

The annual exposition — put on by the Association of the United States Army — is one of the largest industry shows of its kind in the country, and the bustling convention floor was a testament to the success of an industry that has enjoyed steadily rising sales over the past eight years.

But the mood at the show was hardly celebratory. Rather, Topic A was whether those good times would continue.

Many assumed they would not.

Attendees worried that a new administration may be forced to cut back on defense spending as the nation strains under a global economic crisis and as presidential contenders talk about the eventuality of bringing troops home. Major weapons systems built by the likes of Falls Church-based General Dynamics or Lockheed Martin of Bethesda are likely to face new scrutiny — potentially dealing a blow to an industry that has helped insulate the region from deeper economic pain.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty out there,” said Kevin G. Kroger, president of Pura Dyn, a small Boynton Beach, Fla., company, who came to the trade show to pitch the Army on buying more of its oil filters for armored trucks. “We’re not sure where the budgets are going and what’s going to get funded. It leaves us nervous.”
Uss Zumwalt.jpg
Above: ZUMWALT Class destroyer

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/
article/2008/10/12/AR2008101201724.html

Two F-22A Raptor in column flight - (Noise reduced).jpg
Above: F-22 Raptor

America’s Naval Supremacy Slipping

March 18, 2008

During a recent trip to China with Adm. Timothy Keating, American reporters asked General Chen Bingde, chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, “Should the United States have anything to fear from China’s military buildup?”

The general responded: “That’s impossible. Isn’t it? There’s such a big gap between our military and the American military. If you say you are afraid, it means you don’t have enough courage.”
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Courage or not, China’s rapid and massive military buildup (particularly in terms of its expanding submarine force and progressive aircraft-carrier R&D program) has analysts concerned. And the U.S. Navy — the first line of defense against any Chinese expansionism in the Pacific — continues to struggle with the combined effects of Clinton-era downsizing, a post –9/11 upsurge in America’s sealift and global defense requirements, and exponentially rising costs of recapitalization and modernization of the Navy’s surface and submarine fleet, aircraft, and related weapons systems. 
A warplane takes off from the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier ... 
F/A-18 takes off from the U.S. Navy
Aircraft Carrier USS John C. Stennis.
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Currently, America maintains a 280-ship Navy (including 112 ships currently underway) responsible for a wide range of seagoing operations, as well as air and land missions, conventional and unconventional. 
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The fleet is small — a dwarf fleet compared to the nearly 600-ship Navy under President Ronald Reagan — but its responsibilities aren’t.
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Among them are defense of the U.S. homeland and American territories and interests abroad.
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Keeping the sea lanes open and safe from terrorism, piracy, and weapons smuggling. Maintaining air superiority above the Navy’s areas of operation. Maintaining sea-basing and amphibious landing and landing-support capabilities (this includes the Marine Corps, which technically and traditionally falls under the Department of the Navy). Maintaining light, fast forces capable of operating in rivers and along the coastal shallows (littorals). Maintaining a strategic nuclear capability (through its ballistic missile submarine force). Maintaining superior information and intelligence collection and counterintelligence capabilities. And maintaining its ability to engage in direct action — like the recent cruise-missile strike against Al Qaeda targets in Somalia — and providing support for special operations worldwide. 

USS Greeneville off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii.
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The Navy’s enemies and potential enemies include everyone from global terrorists like Al Qaeda to previous Cold War adversaries China and Russia.
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And not only is the Navy fleet small, it is rapidly aging, and gradually losing the depth and flexibility needed to accomplish all of its current missions and strategic requirements.
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The Navy currently maintains 11 aircraft carriers. The USS Enterprise is slated to retire in 2012, but the under-construction USS Gerald R. Ford could be delivered by 2015.The fleet is also comprised of an array of cruisers, destroyers, frigates, attack and ballistic missile submarines, amphibious assault and sealift-capable ships, support vessels of all kinds, and a variety of special warfare craft.
USS Wasp LHD-1.jpg
USS Wasp
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Sounds formidable, and in 2008 it is. But the Navy is not even close to where it needs to be if it hopes to match, deter, or outfight the emerging sea powers that will continue to grow over the next 10, 20, or 30 years.
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“Even though we obviously have a strong eye toward what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan for our ground forces, we still must have a balanced force that can deal with a range of threats,” says Peter Brookes, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs. “China is going to be a major conventional threat in the coming years. So we need the capability of projecting naval power across the Pacific to maintain peace and stability in that region.”
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According to Brookes, the Navy needs to focus on — among other things — regaining much of its anti-submarine warfare capability (undersea, surface, and airborne) that has been neglected since the end of the Cold War.
USS Kitty Hawk CV-63.jpg
USS Kitty Hawk.  This aircraft carrier calls Japan “homeport.”  She was ordered to the vicinity of Taiwan on or about 18 March 2008 to provide security for the Taiwanese elections.  Photo from the U.S. Navy.
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Hoping to remedy its overall shortfall, the Navy has proposed a 313-ship fleet – an increase of 33 surface ships and submarines — able to be deployed according to Navy officials by 2019.
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Among the Navy’s new additions would be the Littoral Combat Ship — a small, swift-moving surface vessel capable of operating in both blue water and the coastal shallows — a nuclear-powered guided-missile destroyer, a next-generation guided-missile cruiser, a new class of attack submarine, a new carrier with an electromagnetic aircraft launching system (replacing the steam-driven catapult system), and ultimately a new fleet of jets like the F-35 Lightning II (the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter).
USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).jpg
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000)
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All of the newly developed ships and airplanes would have multi-roles, and would be able to go head-to-head with a wide range of conventional and unconventional threats. Problem is, developing new ships and weapons systems take time, are often technically problematic in the developmental stages, and increasingly hyper-expensive. Additionally, new ships and systems are being designed, developed, and built at the same time the Navy is having to spend money on manpower and costly, aging ships, aircraft, and weapons systems just to stay afloat and fighting.

single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) launches from the U.S. Navy AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Erie
This photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows an SM-3 missile being launched from the USS Lake Erie warship on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2008. The Pentagon says the missile successfully intercepted a wayward U.S. spy satellite orbiting the earth at 17,000 miles per hour, about 133 nautical miles over the Pacific ocean. (AP Photo/US Navy)
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Of the proposed  $515 billion U.S. Defense budget for Fiscal Year 2009, the Navy is asking for $149.3 billion — 29 percent of the budget — which includes the Marine Corps’ piece of the pie (As its current recap/mod needs are similar to the Army’s, we will address Corps issues in our forthcoming piece on ground forces.), and that requested figure will almost certainly, and necessarily, increase over subsequent years.
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Nevertheless, experts contend we are kidding ourselves if we believe the Navy will crack the 300 mark under the current plan.

This picture released by the US Navy shows Fire Controlman 2nd ...
Our sailors make our Navy the most capable in the world. This picture released by the US Navy shows Fire Controlman 2nd Class John Whitby operating the radar system control during a ballistic missile defense drill on February 16 aboard the USS Lake Erie. The US warship is moving into position to try to shoot down a defunct US spy satellite as early as Wednesday before it tumbles into the Earth’s atmosphere, Pentagon officials said.
(AFP/US Navy-HO/Michael Hight)
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“This is the dirty secret inside the Beltway,” says Mackenzie Eaglen, a senior policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation. “If you crunch the actual shipbuilding numbers — year-to-year for the next 10 to 20 years — a 313-ship Navy is a pipe dream.”
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According to Eaglen, the budget requests for shipbuilding submitted to Congress between FY 03 and FY 07, averaged just over $9.5 billion per year. “What’s needed is at least $15 billion per year,” she says. “What’s worse is that I see Defense spending dropping.”
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Cynthia Brown, president of the American Shipbuilding Association, believes money slated for new ship construction needs to be at least $22 billion per year.
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“Of the proposed $149.3 billion, only $12 billion is slated for new ship construction in FY 09,” says Brown. “Since 2001, the Defense Department has increased its spending by 80.8 percent, excluding war supplementals, but shipbuilding has only increased 12.2 percent.”
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Costs of recapitalizing and modernizing our Navy will continue to rise, as will the conventional and unconventional threats our sailors must be trained and equipped to fight. And considering the make-up of Congress — and who may be moving into the White House in 2009 — the nation’s primary power-projection force may find it near impossible to avoid becoming, as Eaglen says, “a mere shadow of its former self.”

U.S. Navy brings aid to Bangladesh victims

November 27, 2007

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — U.S. Navy helicopters began delivering emergency supplies Monday to survivors of a deadly cyclone along the southern coast of Bangladesh in a joint relief operation, officials said.

Helicopters from the USS Kearsarge started airlifting 5,000 water containers to remote areas of Dublar Char, Bagherat and Barguna, the worst affected districts in the Nov. 15 cyclone.

More than 3,100 people died in the storm and more than 1,700 were missing. More than 450,000 homes were destroyed.

U.S. troops will also deliver food and other supplies, help set up water purification plants, and provide medical care to victims in the coming days, army officials said.

Read the rest:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-11-26-bangladesh-aid_N.htm?csp=34

U.S. Navy, Marine Corps Provide Assistance in Bangladesh

November 24, 2007

 Photo

In this image released by the U.S. Navy, Bangladeshi soldiers unload a shipment of bottled water delivered by the U.S. military, Friday, Nov. 23, 2007, in Barisal, Bangladesh. The U.S. Navy prepared Friday to deliver much-needed food and medical supplies to hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis stricken by Cyclone Sidr, a top U.S. military commander said. The arrival of the USS Kearsarge off the Bangladesh coast came as authorities and aid workers warned that the South Asian country faces acute food shortages after the devastating storm ravaged crops and destroyed infrastructure across a large swath of the country. (AP Photo/U.S. Marine Corps, Peter R. Miller)