In a significant step forward for its naval program, Russia has made operational a new nuclear-powered missile submarine for the first time in over 20 years.

Naval reinvigoration has been a central theme of President Vladimir Putin’s presidency. Russia has pledged tens of billions of dollars over the next few to revamp its naval fleet.

At the same time, the U.S. Navy fleet has dwindled since the Reagan years. The Heritage Foundation’s Brian Slattery explains the extent of the American decline:

The days of the 600-ship fleet have long since ended, and now U.S. naval leaders are struggling to find ways to meet a new requirement of around 300 ships. Currently around 285, the fleet will shrink further if more investment isn’t made in naval modernization.

Unfortunately, because of sequestration, our navy will continue to waste away while nations like Russia bolster theirs:

Predictions show current funding levels would reduce the fleet to 263 ships. While the sequestration cuts to defense have been temporarily delayed as part of the fiscal cliff deal, they are still a looming possibility and would shrink the fleet to its lowest level since 1915.

America needs to maintain a robust navy to protect its interests around the globe. But now that President Obama has delayed the development of a replacement nuclear submarine for over two years, we run the risk of falling short of our legally mandated 12-submarine fleet.

Do you think lawmakers should allow our defenses to wither as nations like Russia strengthen theirs?

Comments (21)

Rob - January 14, 2013

Lets be realistic about what is envolved here. 1) We now spend more on defense than all the other countries involved, and 2) the Defense Department seems to be inaccountable for how much they spend. I am for a strong defense, and we need to insure we are spending the money wisely. Until the Deparment is run like a business, and/ or is audited, I cannot support “throwing money” at defense.

P J MOCK - January 14, 2013

defense of homeland and freedom of the seas is a necessary part of our national existence.

Mike Todd - January 14, 2013

I sit and wonder what the agenda is under Obama.
I see the mid east ready to explode and we are making decisions to reduce our defenses. If anyone thinks Russia or china is not contemplating an attack on the US, they are out of touch with reality. And I am sure the mideast is seriously thinking about going after Israel.I hope we will back Israel and destroy the extremists.
I wonder if Obama will help Israel if it does happen however I doubt he will

John Derrick - January 14, 2013

Re US response to Russian new boomer submarine launch, I do not think a tit-for-tat Cold War type response is appropriate. Our FBM fleet is adequately sized in my view, although it does need to be kept “in tune”. As to the Sequester, this is an absurd way of sizing anything. We should advocate forcefully for Congress to thoughtfully consider the 21st century sizing of not just defense, but also the nation’s other needs and responsibilities, both on the revenue and expense sides. Senator Demint’s call and commitment to clarity of conservative principles should include the conservative’s perspective on process in reaching policy decisions in an ever more diverse polity.

Nelson Lazear - January 14, 2013

Government seems to repeat the same cycles on defense. Once the threat is removed (WWI WWII, etc) there is a wholesale shrinkage in the military and then we have to catch up. Technology is advanced to the point that there may not be sufficient time to scale back up. That said, there does need to be a responsible governance of the programs and waste, if any, at the Pentagon.

Rick Blackford - January 14, 2013

Our government needs to give the military what ever monies it needs in order to remain the world leader. Take the funds being given to all the welfare programs right now to the military and in a few years we will be back where we belong.

Diana - January 14, 2013

I just want to thank Jim DeMint for following his calling to gain our national sanity back. I pray the miracle will come to pass.

PaulE - January 14, 2013

Russia spends its defense budget on the defense of Russia. The United States spends its defense budget on the defense of the United States, defending all the NATO countries, defending Japan, defending South Korea, etc. etc. etc. In short, while Russia and China both spend their defense budgets to protect themselves, we spend ours to not only protect ourselves, but all of our allies as well. Do you see where this might pose a problem from a sustainability perspective?

Sharon - January 14, 2013

It seems obvious to me that Obama wants to weaken our defenses and put us in harms way.

Sally Vose - January 14, 2013

America will only be back on top once Obama is out of office. I only hope and pray that we can survive until then. I have never been so ashamed of America’s leaders until this administration. They have no regard for our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, or the American people.

Wayne - January 14, 2013

Yes, allow “withering” of our defense to happen. Defense
spending could shrink in half and still be much more than all other
countries combined, and certainly more than we can spend

Ramona Forestier - January 14, 2013

I believe our President wants us on our knees to his great
friends oversees. The only way is to put us unable to defend our

knowsit - January 15, 2013

This is the wrong battle to fight.
This is a distraction from Obama’s real goal, to eliminate our nuclear shield.
Remember his words to then Prime Minister about getting more flexibility after his re-election??

knowsit - January 15, 2013

Sorry, forgot to insert the name Medvedev into the above post

Mary K Jacobsen - January 15, 2013

With an impotent Navy, we will lose our ability to patrol the world’s oceans. It not only impacts our defense capability but has a direct impact on our economy.

Dean Ortinau - January 15, 2013

I agree in part with Rob. Accountablility is paramount. We elected individuals to do this job and they have failed the American people is watching how our tax dollars are spent. “keeping up with the Jones (Russians) is not a very impressive reason to spend money. Is our fleet effective now? What is the age of our existing fleet? What is our long term goals for all areas of defense not just the navy? Spending taxpayer money should be treated like a precious resource in all areas of federal, state, & local government spending!

Shirley Basista - January 15, 2013

Russia under Putin is increasing their military strength—they see Obama as very weak. Remember BHO telling Medvedev before the election, “Tell Putin I will have more flexibility after my election”?—what did he have in mind? Is reform needed in the military spending?—absolutely, but done carefully. Just the same as reform is needed in EVERY area of spending–but not recognized by this president. He said we DO NOT have a spending problem—what planet is he on?? Nominating Hagel is proof that he WANTS the military cut to bare bones and our National Security will be threatened for many years to come. He does not care regardless what he says–he does not speak the truth.
I have always believed that BHO has a plan to bring our country to its knees (“transform”) economically with the direction of George Soros, who has brought other countries down. America stands in the way of his New World Order—that was heard from his own mouth. I believe the future of our once great country is in a very precarious position. I pray the Conservatives are able to see the dangers and steer us in the right direction before it is much too late—-which is very close.

Marjorie Taylor - January 15, 2013

It’s madness to cut our defenses. All our enemies are busy building their weapons. Sadly, Obama is helping them by arming the Muslim Brotherhood. I wonder how many Israelis and Americans will be killed by weapons we’ve supplied.

Sherry - January 17, 2013

The only county that has given up on world domination is the US.

Michael Barbuck - January 17, 2013

Peace through strenght. We didn’t win the cold war with the USSR beause we downsized our military, but because we built it up

Holly Chapo - January 21, 2013

We must keep our defenses strong, efficient, modern and tailored to the current realities which includes being able to strike against terrorists. Let’s look at defense when we were at our best and use that as a model but with appropriate updates for our present time.

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