October 26, 2012
In the foreign policy debate this past week, President Obama ridiculed Gov. Romney’s observation that the U.S. Navy will soon have the smallest fleet size since WWI.
While it is true that our modern warships are vastly more capable than their predecessors, the President’s response demonstrated a clear misunderstanding of the use of naval power. Capability is essential, but it must be combined with presence to be effective. The most capable ship in the world can still only be in one place at a time.
As our Navy shrinks, the need for a naval presence has not. Consequently, we are demanding more and more of our diminishing resources, placing an ever growing burden on an aging fleet and our sailors and marines. Longer and more frequent deployments are wearing not only wearing out our men and women, but also our machines. Gov. Romney was right, the President was wrong.
Similarly, our Air Force and Army are in vital need of recapitalization. We have used up much of our inventories in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. We have not procured new equipment to replace that which has been lost to combat and normal attrition—and what remains is aging rapidly. Further, our Army and Marine Corps are suffering the effects of excessive back-to-back deployments. Shrinking those forces, and denying them the funds necessary to modernize, is a prescription for failure, not success.
President Obama engaged in an effort to deceive the audience when he asserted that Gov. Romney wanted to add funds to the Defense budget that “the Pentagon had not even requested.” The Pentagon never “requests” more funds than it is allowed to by the White House leadership—no matter how great the need. Those of us who have retired are not so constrained and can speak the truth. Here again, Gov. Romney was right.
Two decades ago, President Reagan broke the back of Communism through his commitment to “peace through strength.” It is a lesson worth remembering. Gov. Romney clearly understands the concept, President Obama apparently does not.
Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, USN, (Ret.)
General Ronald R. Fogleman, USAF, (Ret.)
General Tommy Franks, USA, (Ret.)
General Chuck Albert Horner, USAF, (Ret.)
Admiral Jerome LaMarr Johnson, USN, (Ret.)
Admiral Timothy J. Keating, USN, (Ret.)
General Paul X. Kelley, USMC, (Ret.)
General William Kirk, USAF, (Ret.)
General James J. Lindsay, USA, (Ret.)
General William R. Looney, III, USAF, (Ret.)
General Henry Hugh Shelton, USA, (Ret.)
Admiral Leighton Smith, Jr., USN, (Ret.)
General Ronald W. Yates, USAF, (Ret.)
Admiral Ronald J. Zlatoper, USN, (Ret.)