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Wittman Warns Of Trouble With Navy Readiness


Is the United States Navy prepared to accomplish all the tasks the federal government is asking of it?

One Virginia congressman says no and he’d like to see some changes.

Republican Congressman Rob Wittman of Westmoreland County says the Navy’s readiness is in a perilous state — high operational demands, increased deployment lengths, shortened training periods, deferred maintenance — all of this while the Navy is asked to do more with less.

“Sequester has led us to that point, and we are seeing the Navy atrophy in a number of ways," Wittman says. "We saw that culminate in the deaths associated with these two ship collisions with aircraft crashes — all of those things symptoms of a waning element of readiness within the Navy.”

That’s why he introduced a resolution that the House approves this week calling on Congress to invest in the Navy.

Michael Hunzeker at George Mason University says lawmakers in Washington have a choice — invest more money into the Navy or pull back on its mandate. “The surprising thing is that the alarm bell is just now seems to be going out into the broader national security space when it seems like people inside the Navy have been talking about these problems for a number of years now,” Hunzeker notes.

Congressman Wittman says the Navy needs 355 warships. Right now it has 282. That’s why he’d like to see the federal government invest $27 billion a year for the next 30 years.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.