Friday, October 26, 2012

CNO Facepalm

Jonah Goldberg, writing at the NRO Online, has a great piece on Obama's sneering quip about aircraft carriers and submarines. Here's Obama's quote:
“But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works,” the president said. “You — you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”
If Admiral Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), was watching, he must have done a facepalm that practically broke his neck. In nearly four years as President, Obama hasn't learned a thing about the Navy. All those tours and briefings went in one ear and out the other.

For one thing, as Jonah points out, our ships don't exactly use the latest technology.
There’s another problem. What innovation does he have in mind? Many of our warplanes and nearly all of our major naval vessels are much older than the pilots and sailors flying and sailing them. It’s great to talk up the benefits of innovation, but that argument starts to sputter when you realize we are often relying on the innovation of older generations.
Here's a list of our carriers and their commissioning dates, taken from the US Navy website.

USS Enterprise (CVN 65) 25 Nov 1961
USS Nimitz (CVN 68) 3 May 1975
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) 18 Oct 1977
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) 13 Mar 1982
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) 25 Oct 1986
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) 11 Nov 1989
USS George Washington (CVN 73) 4 July 1992
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) 9 Dec 1995
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) 25 July 1998
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) 12 July 2003

The Eisenhower, for example, dates back to this ad.

Not quite the point the President was trying to make.

More importantly, Obama, after years of briefings by his military, has failed to ingest a crucial concept about the Navy. Carriers and amphibious assault ships don't go anywhere alone. They need escorts and support ships if they're going to survive. That's why the Navy has been telling Obama they need 300+ ships. Far from successfully mocking Romney, Obama's response showed a total ignorance of basic facts about the Navy.

The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. Notice all the ships that aren't aircraft carriers.
Admiral Greenert must have heard that snarky quip and begun beating his head against his desk in total frustration.


Jeff Burton said...

I am not going with the conservative flow on this. I agree with Obama - we have plenty of carriers. Too many, in fact, for an insolvent country. We have 20 carriers - almost twice as the rest of the world combined. Awesome if Italy, Great Britain, France, India, Russia, Brazil, and China gang up on us. Otherwise a waste.

Sure one was built in the sixties, but most weren't. And the older ones have had technology upgrades over the years. The sharp parts of carriers are not the hulls anyway - it's the planes. And we have a brand new one to replace all those F-18's.

Bad news for conservatives who want a "muscular" foreign policy: we can't afford that anymore.

K T Cat said...

It's not about muscular foreign policy, it's about whether or not you want to continue to live under Pax Americana. I suspect that you take quite a few of the benefits of it for granted. Global stability is based on us keeping the peace and a lot of our wealth is predicated on global stability.

In the end, what have you sacrificed for what? It seems to me that by pursuing social programs that were unsustainable and failed anyway, we've sacrificed the military required to maintain the peace. That wasn't a very good trade at all.

Jeff Burton said...

I will continue to live under Pax Americana if we only have ten aircraft carriers. The Taiwanese and the Turks? Maybe not. Do I care? Not as much as I used to.

K T Cat said...

You may care more about the Taiwanese and the Turks than you think.

Jeff Burton said...

This is going to devolve into a long argument about geopolitics. Suffice it to say a map showing maritime shipping lanes is not going to convince me on this.

Anyway, let's set aside the normative argument, because the bottom line is we can't afford 20 carriers anymore. The military is going to get smaller, and our foreign policy will have to adapt.

Jeff Miller said...

FIrst off the sneering "I'm going to teach" you attitude of the President was childiish. This man was going to teach Romney about the military when he couldn't even pronounce corpseman correctly.

Plus the whole ships go underwater thing showed he did not even know that Submarines are called boats not ships. I served on four Carriers, but I certainly knew the distinction.

There can be certainly prudential arguments made about fleet size, but he didn't make any. A smaller fleet with the same number of commitements means more deployments for sailors and a punishing maintenance schedule for ships.

The President is profoundly ignorant about the military and while he was trying to reduce healthcare for retired military hew was quite willing to take the credit for Seal Team 6. As a retired Chief and a Catholic I am pretty must disgusted by Obama on pretty much every level.