Saturday, June 2, 2012

Panetta's Pacific Shift: Old News?

Waking today to headlines, emails, and Twitter feeds all trumpeting Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's announcement yesterday of shifting to a fleet balance of 60% in the Pacific and 40% in the Atlantic.  While I applaud this as a prudent move, there is a some "deja vu" and some theater in the announcement, as both QDR 2001 and 2006 already pointed the Navy in this direction.  Our CVN force is already unbalanced, and while the temporary drop to 10 CVN's will necessitate a CVN homeport shift to maintain the current imbalance, that represents maintaining the status quo rather than establishing a new one.  Our SSN force has been unbalanced for years, with QDR 2006 establishing the 60/40 split, something the submarine force has been pursuing ever since.  This leaves surface ships, and while I leave it to others to run the exact numbers, it occurs to me that we aren't too far from 60/40 already, with the remainder easily made up by selecting Pacific ports for our modest shipbuilding program. 

Given the extent to which this announcement simply confirms the direction set by the administration's predecessors, it occurs to me that it is more heat than light.

Bryan McGrath

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