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Keeping America strong: Rebuild our Navy

| Saturday, June 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

America's global naval dominance — crucial for national security, U.S. allies and international commerce — can't stay afloat with the current penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to naval shipbuilding.

The U.S. Navy has shrunk “from almost 600 ships” to fewer than half that many in the last 20 years, a decline that President Obama's new defense strategy “threatens to accelerate,” writes Christopher M. Lehman, President Reagan's 1983-85 special assistant for national security affairs, in The Washington Times.

Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee chairman, tells the Trib that the Navy now can meet only “about 51 percent” of combat commanders' needs worldwide, down from 90-plus percent in 2007.

And Mr. Lehman notes that “the U.S. Navy had no aircraft carrier or even an Amphibious Ready Group anywhere in the Mediterranean” last Sept. 11 when terrorists killed our ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Chinese, Russian, Iranian and North Korean threats grow. Yet sequestration and other cuts mean “the budgets are completely driving our defense strategy” when strategy should drive defense budgets, according to Mr. Forbes.

Lehman says “we can step up, or we can continue to reduce the size of our Navy and see our nation's power diminish ... .”

That's a no-brainer. America must reverse course and rebuild its naval fleet.

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