Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why Have a Navy?

In the era of two major ground wars, occupation, and counter-insurgency, it's a fair question that taxpayers and policymakers bring up when they ask about the value for the U.S. in maintaining the world's most capable and advanced surface Navy.

This week's precision raid into Somalia for the purpose of neutralizing AQ leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan demonstrates one major advantage the Navy gives you: forward basing.

Remember, you can position troops and aircraft anywhere in the world, but only with someone else's permission. In the recent case of Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, you might have a willing landlord until a third party raises a stink, only to see the rent suddenly vastly increased and you find you're allowed to stay after all.

Why go through all that heartache?

You can position any Navy asset that you'd like to 12 or more nautical miles off anyone else's coast -- legally, and without anyone else's express-written consent.

Of course, there are many more functions the Navy serves, not least of which is the major-league size deterrent that it serves to would-be bad actors internationally (and yes, while piracy sounds fascinating and garners the headlines, give a closer look to its actual cost).

But one of the big ones, right off the bat, is the forward basing/staging opportunity it affords the high-level decisionmakers.

3 comments:

C R Krieger said...

The reason to invest in a Navy today is that it takes so long to build/rebuild a Navy.  Today a Nuclear Carrier takes about eight years from authorization to commission.  Back in WWII, the Big One, not one big deck aircraft carrier made it to combat that had not been on order before Pearl Harbor.  USS MIDWAY almost made it, and would have, except for two nuclear weapons.

And, until we invest in a real foreign policy, with money for Department of State agencies, the US Navy, and the US Air Force, are the agencies for responding to disasters world wide.

Regards  —  Cliff

kad barma said...

I thought it was so that the Army football team would have somebody to play every December.

The New Englander said...

Guys,

And I thought the Navy was just a big taxi service for Marines, and Air Force for the Army...

..and yes, it sure is nice to have a floating hospital that can turn sea water into fresh water when pesky things like massive tsunamis threaten coastal populations in foreign countries we're hoping to infuence

..though I admit I'll probably face sudden-onset schizophrenia during this year's Army-Navy game!

best,
gp