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The Navy wants to ditch an aircraft carrier to buy new weapons for a next-level fight with China
The U.S. Navy plans to retire one of its aircraft carriers decades early, a highly controversial move to free up funds for the new weapons needed to fight a powerful adversary.
"We made the difficult decision to retire CVN 75 (USS Harry S. Truman) in lieu of its previously funded refueling complex overhaul that was scheduled to occur in FY 2024," the Navy said in an overview of the fiscal year 2020 budget released Tuesday, referring to the refueling the carrier with new reactor cores.
The purpose is to free up funding for new weapons that are more likely to survive were the U.S. to go to war with China, a senior defense official told Breaking Defense, which first broke the story about the Pentagon's plans to mothball the Truman.
The decision to retire the Truman decades early, which reportedly came from Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan, "is in concert with the Defense Department's commitment to proactively pursue diversified investments in next-generation, advanced, and distributed capabilities," the Navy said, noting it would be looking into both manned and unmanned systems.
"This approach pursues a balance of high-end, survivable manned platforms with a greater number of complementary, more affordable, potentially more cost-imposing, and attritable options," the service added.
Nonetheless, the Navy still intends to move forward with its planned purchase of two more Ford-class aircraft carriers.
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) departed Naval Station Norfolk, Monday, in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in U.S. 5th and 6th fleets(U.S. Navy photo)
While aircraft carriers have long been beacons of American military might, they are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Carriers remain difficult to kill, but near-peer adversaries are developing weapons capable of knocking them out of the fight at long range.
Naval experts say that U.S. carriers now need to operate at least 1,000 nautical miles from the Chinese mainland to keep out of range of China's precision anti-ship missiles, according to USNI News. That puts carrier-based fighters out of range for attacks on mainland command and control centers.
The U.S. Navy is turning its attention away from traditional capabilities to robotic vessels, such as unmanned scout ships to conduct surveillance and draw enemy fire and unmanned missile boats to fire on targets identified by the robotic scout vessels, Breaking Defense reported.
The loss of an unmanned platform is nothing compared to damage to a Nimitz-class supercarrier loaded with bombs, an air wing of about 60 aircraft, two nuclear reactors — and roughly 5,000 sailors on board.
The entire U.S. military is investing more heavily in long-range, precision fires — missiles and artillery — to punch holes in contested battlespaces.
Commenting on the Department of Defense's proposed $718 budget for fiscal year 2020, Shanahan stated that "this budget will strongly position the U.S. military for great power competition for decades to come." The budget is expected to face pushback from Congress.
After all, there is a strong possibility the USS Harry S. Truman, like the USS George Washington before it, is a bargaining chip in the Defense Department's effort to secure additional funding from Congress.
Read more from Business Insider:
- U.S. aircraft carrier fleet set to shrink as Pentagon reportedly decides to retire USS Truman 2 decades early
- The Pentagon wants to retire an aircraft carrier decades early, but Congress says that's not going to happen
- The U.S. Army wants a powerful cannon that can hit Chinese warships in the South China Sea from 1,000 miles away
- The U.S. has been getting 'its ass handed to it' in war games simulating fights against Russia and China
- U.S. aircraft carriers are the world's most powerful ships and are nearly impossible to kill — here's why
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On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
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The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
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"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
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President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
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The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
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"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.