When you have a family member in the military, there is an ombudsman for the command who represents the family members of the active duty member. They send regular emails about various sorts of things relating to military life and also forward information from the ship’s captain to the family members. These particular emails give serious cause for concern. I removed the contact information of the ombudsman and the captain.
First this email is sent by a U. S. Navy ship’s ombudsman:
“It has been confirmed that all of the ship’s future underway commitments have been canceled until further notice.”
Then three days later this email is sent by the same ombudsman on behalf of the Captain of the the ship:
Here is some information that may help explain the Navy’s Financial Situation.This information was provided to us to share by Captain *******.“ I am sure that most have seen the news recently about the many decisions the Navyhas had to make to adjust to significant shortfalls in our accounts. Here is the background,and what the Navy is doing to prepare for the consequences of having to operate without aspending bill this year, as well as the looming threat of sequestration.First the spending bill …Without an appropriations bill for this year, our Navy is funded under a continuing resolution(CR) that Congress passed back in October. It’s set to expire in late March, but it could gomuch longer. The Navy is planning for the potential that it could last the rest of the fiscal year. Living under a long-term CR is a big problem for us. First, it’s based on last year’s spending levelsthat do not fully cover the programs and priorities the Navy submitted to Congress this year. Specifically,the CR under funds our operation and maintenance accounts (OMN) by $3.2 billion. Second, the Navy has experienced $1.4 billion of growth since last year’s budget was enacted: unplannedexpenses for increased naval operations in the Middle East , increased fuel costs, as well as unexpected repairsto USS Miami (SSN 755), USS Porter (DDG 78), USS Montpelier (SSN 765), USS San Jacinto (CG 56),and USS Nimitz (CVN 68). And third, the CR limits our flexibility to react because it does not allow Navy to transfer funds to OMN fromother accounts, such as procurement and research, to cover these shortfalls. In total, Navy’s OMN account will come up $4.6 billion short under a yearlong CR. This will impact fundsfor fuel, parts, ship and aircraft repairs, base operations, salaries for government employees and contractors,and maintenance for buildings, roads and runways. If we don’t start slowing the “burn rate” of those dollars now,we will not have enough funds to operate the Navy through the end of the year. So, with a focus on preservingfirst and foremost the readiness of our forward-deployed forces, the Navy is: * Preparing to cancel all surface ship maintenance availabilities scheduled at private shipyards from April to September.This will affect 30 of our 187 surface ships. These maintenance periods cannot be replaced once cancelled, causingthe condition of these ships to degrade.* Preparing to cancel all aircraft depot maintenance from April to September, affecting up to 327 aircraft and renderingthem unavailable for use.* Cutting spending by about half on base operating support. We may even cancel repair and modernization of nearlyall piers, runways, buildings and other facilities through September 2013.* Freezing the hiring of civilians and terminating temporary employees not supporting OEF mission-critical capabilities.This will reduce our shipyard workforce by more than 3,000 – almost 10 percent of the workforce.* Reducing overhead costs by cutting IT support, cancelling conferences, and severely limiting travel. We’re even going tocut 30 facilities demolition programs, which would have provided another $62 million in contracted support and labor. As you may have heard, the Navy even asked the Defense Department for permission to remain at the currentcarrier presence level in the Central Command region. In other words, we will not be trying to maintain more thanone carrier there at any given time. This permission allowed for the delayed deployment of theUSS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and the cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64). None of these decisions were easy to make, but I’m sure you can understand why Navy leadership needed to makethem. Navy simply must find a way to live within spending limits in order to have enough money to make it throughthe year, given the heavy demand overseas for naval forces. Again, the focus is squarely on preserving the readiness ofNavy’s forward-deployed forces. Navy will continue these measures – and may have to execute others, like reducing underway training for ships andaircraft not deployed – until a spending bill is passed or we receive authority to move money to the OMN account.
And although it is the prudent thing to do, but Navy leadership knows it comes at a cost. These cuts will affect ourlong-term readiness, as well as the economies of the communities that help support and maintain our naval forces.The Secretary and the CNO have been very public about the specific costs to local communities and shipyards allover the country, and my expectation is that they will continue to make people aware of the very real implications toour Navy and to the people who support us.Second … Sequestration.
Now, if sequestration happens, it’s a whole different ballgame. Navy would then face an additional $4 billion-$5 billioncut for this year alone, further reducing training and readiness. And because sequestration would be triggered inMarch – nearly half-way through the fiscal year – the Navy must absorb the additional cut in only a few months, requiringeven more severe reductions to the operating account. Leadership has only recently been given permission to plan for sequestration, but the early forecasts show that itwould be virtually impossible for us to deploy follow-on forces on anything resembling a predictable schedule.Without Congressional permission to move money from other accounts to OMN, Navy would be forced to:* Stop all deployments to the Caribbean and South America , thereby cancelling all regional exercises.* Limit European deployments to only those supporting ballistic missile defense missions.* Cut the number of ships and aircraft deployed to the Pacific by half … and cut by 25 percent days at sea and flyinghours for all Pacific forces.* Stop stateside training and other operations for ships and aircraft preparing to deploy.From a practical perspective, this means our aviators, their aircrews, our surface Sailors and submariners will not beproperly qualified in advanced warfare techniques. Training essentially stops. Leadership anticipates that the delay toHarry S. Truman’s deployment and the reduced presence in the Gulf may buy back some of the training that would haveotherwise been lost, but we don’t know exactly what that is yet. It also means that, once training could resume, it would take us up to 12 months to deploy naval forces again.In short, it means most of the fleet will not be ready to go anywhere by 2014. One way to avoid this level of unpreparedness is to get Congressional approval to move unspent money from otheraccounts. But even that provides only temporary relief. If we move money from investment accounts – like ship and aircraftconstruction – into OMN, we will be forced to buy fewer ships, aircraft and weapons. That will likely have a dramatic affecton things like LCS and the Joint Strike Fighter. And breaking or renegotiating existing contracts will undoubtedly cause layoffsand severely injure an already fragile industrial base. Either choice – dramatically reducing OMN spending or moving unspent investment account money – results only in ashort-term gain and mortgages our future. And the uncertainty and inability to plan will likely ripple into the FY-14 or FY-15budgets because there will simply not be a reliable basis upon which to plan, and no certitude of funding upon which toallocate resources. The threat of an extended period of CR, plus the cuts required by sequestration, would fundamentally alter the Navy’sability to fight, train, and maintain our ships, aircraft, and other critical equipment. It makes us less able, if not incapable, inthe near-term of doing that which the nation expects of us. And in the long run, this “perfect storm” may affect our ability toretain the very talent we will need to function in an increasingly austere fiscal environment. One thing is certain, however. Your pay and benefits will remain intact. You may have seen a recent decision by Secretary Panettato limit your pay raise next year at one percent, but it is still a pay raise. And we have been getting pay raises each year for morethan 10 years. And even with all of this budget churn, that is the only impact to your compensation package. Navy leadership knows this uncertainty is difficult. But they are committed to keeping you informed and to trying topreserve our readiness as much as possible … as am I. We will do our very best to ensure that you are updated regularlywith the latest information and forecasted impacts“
As this applies to the U. S. Navy, it also applies to the rest of the armed forces. What is your opinion?