Hollowed Navy

January 21, 1999

In the past I've talked about charges that we have a hollowed military. Such allegations were given new credence in a recent Wall Street Journal column by James Webb, former Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration.

His column, entitled "Our Hollowed Navy" documented the problems in the Navy arising from inadequate funding and administration inattention. The current budget put forth by the president does propose some modest increases in defense spending, but former Secretary Webb argues that it "is a small Band-Aid on a military that has been hemorrhaging for years." The military is becoming sophisticated at meeting lower-end threats such at those encountered in Haiti, Somalia, and Bosnia. The problem is in developing an overall global force structure.

The U.S. is the only credible guarantor of deterrence and stability in the free world. If the world turns ugly, we cannot rebuild and retrain a larger Navy in six months. Former secretary Webb believes we are more vulnerable in the Navy than anywhere else. By fiscal year 2001, the Navy will have reduced the size of the fleet by 45% since Webb retired in 1988.

And while size is decreasing, activity is increasing. Since 1992, the size of the fleet has declined 31% while operational tempo has increased by 26%. Thus, more than half of the ships in the Navy are at sea at any given day.

Former secretary Webb calls on Congress to increase funding and calls on the Navy leadership (especially admirals) to educate the public about the strategic and operational needs of the Navy. Fewer and fewer policy-makers have had military experience, and it's time for the military to educate the public of about the dangers of a hollowed military.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International