Of all the consequences of military budget sequestration, arguably the most strategically significant was the delayed deployment of a new carrier group to the Middle East, a decision Bob Woodward called “madness.”
Also, the San Diego-based air wing attached to the USS Ronald Reagan will be the first of four air wings to be idled due to cuts, starting in April:
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said at a Pentagon press conference that four of the Navy’s nine air wings would “stand down.” The Navy provided information that the first will be the Reagan in April. Following that will be air wings assigned to the Washington state-based John C. Stennis, the San Diego-based Carl Vinson and the Virginia-based Eisenhower. Two others will be reduced to sustainment-only levels.
According to the Navy’s official statement, further deployments of the humanitarian ship USS Comfort and several others have been postponed. Mother Jones worries that two ships being pulled from a drug interdiction mission will lead to more cocaine trafficking.
If the Navy is truly worried about whether sequestration will compromise mission readiness, the sensible thing to do would be to reevaluate America’s strategic commitments. Alternatively, Jon Utley recently pointed out 16 places the military could cut.
But delayed deployments can be reversed and so far that’s what most of the announced cutbacks are, which suggests the Navy is counting on some sort of fix coming through Congress.
The real cuts are happening in places that are insignificant from a budgetary standpoint. As something of a fanboy back in the day, I’m a bit upset we’ll be missing out on performances by the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds–entertainers, rather than “firemen first“:
Effective today, active-duty, Reserve and Guard units will cease all aviation support to the public. This includes the cancellation of support to all air shows, tradeshows, flyovers (including funerals and military graduations), orientation flights, heritage flights, F-22 demonstration flights and open houses, unless the event includes only local static assets. Additionally, the Air Force will cancel the Thunderbirds’ entire 2013 season beginning April 1.
In addition, and to my great disappointment, the Naval History and Heritage Command is shutting down its archives. The few times I corresponded with them they were pretty unhelpful, and an IG report suggests there was much room for improvement, but it’s still sad to see the Navy put archivists and librarians on the chopping block when there’s so much else that could be cut. As the Scoop Deck put it, “at present, future investments will prevent researching the past.”