By Rear Admiral William Lescher
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget
In a period of fiscal austerity, the Department of the Navy’s $148 billion FY15 budget balances investments in presence, capabilities and readiness to provide sustainable forward naval presence and invest in our people and capabilities core to our warfighting edge.
We all know this budget comes amid an environment of increasing fiscal austerity and uncertainty. There were tough choices made, but this budget allows us to preserve our warfighting capability in a thoughtful, responsible way.
To sustain our forward presence, we’ve prioritized funding in our operations and maintenance account-allowing our Navy to be forward when and where it matters. We’ll fund and maximize presence through forward basing, forward operating and forward stationing, and with the Optimized Fleet Response Plan, which we expect to streamline maintenance and deployment cycles.
The operations and maintenance account includes money for ship steaming, flight hours, maintenance and base operations. It supports the three BMD-capable destroyers joining the USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) in Rota in FY15, and it funds our amphibious ready groups and carrier strike groups – like the Iwo Jima ARG and Carl Vinson CSG – who will be deployed in FY15.
Investments in People and the Future
Investing in and retaining our quality Sailors and civilian personnel is a strong ongoing priority. We continue work to reduce manning gaps at sea, improve sea/shore flow, and make investments to improve Sailors’ Quality of Service, while maintaining a stable end strength over the next five years.
We also make deliberate investments in our future capability — buying seven new ships in FY15, including two destroyers and two Virginia-class submarines. We make critical R&D investments in priorities like our Ohio-class replacement submarine, the next generation jammer, and Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike, and prioritize electromagnetic spectrum and cyber capabilities.
With a $15B reduction in our FY15 budget from the level forecast in last year’s budget submission, there’s no doubt we’ve had to take a hard look at areas to cut back – slowing the growth of compensation costs, reducing our aviation procurement by 21 aircraft and maintaining an option to inactivate an aircraft carrier and it’s air wing. But we’re confident this budget makes the right choices where needed: it balances readiness — the ability of our ships, aircraft, Sailors and Marines to do the work they need to do — with our capacity — the full scope of platforms, payloads and weapons that we man and bring to the fight. Within our fiscal limitations, this is the budget to continue to ensure near- and long-term wholeness – and to remain the world’s most capable Navy.