A group of bipartisan congressmen, led by Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va.), sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in support of maintaining current aircraft carrier fleet levels, Defense News reports.
The 11 congressmen were responding to a Defense News story that reported the Pentagon is considering reducing fleet levels due to budget cuts.
"The Secretary of the Navy was right this past fall when he noted that a smaller aircraft carrier fleet would be unable to execute the missions described in the Defense Strategic Guidance," Forbes wrote. "Such a reduction in the Navy’s carrier force would profoundly damage U.S. national security, limiting our ability to deter aggression around the world and respond to crises in a timely manner. It is unacceptable to pretend that the United States lives in anything less than an 11 carrier world given China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific, rising instability in the Middle East and the persistent danger of global terrorism. As Rear Admiral [Thomas] Moore [the Navy’s program executive officer for aircraft carrier] has phrased it so starkly, we’re an eleven carrier Navy in a 15 carrier world." […]
Defense News reported that the Pentagon and the Navy are targeting the carrier George Washington as the most likely candidate to decommission. The ship, based now in Japan, is to return to the US by early 2016 to begin a planned three-year, $3 billion-plus refueling overhaul, a once-in-a-career event that would allow the ship to operate beyond two more decades.