CNO Starts Budget Chicken Game

Is this just the same drill that has gone on in years past, or is this year different because of the fiscal crisis?

Yesterday the CNO ordered his flags and SES-types to begin taking steps to cut the Navy’s budget. Some specific actions outlined in an official memorandum include the following (as reported by a Virginian Pilot article posted at Military.com):

— Plans to cancel maintenance for about 30 Navy ships at private shipyards between April and September.

— Plans to cancel depot maintenance for about 250 aircraft between April and September.

— Terminations of temporary civilian employees and a civilian hiring freeze. This will reduce the shipyards’ workforce by more than 3,000 people.

— Reductions in base spending and plans to cancel most repairs and upgrades of piers, runways, buildings and other facilities.

Adm. Greenert hints at his motivation for going public with these actions by writing that the they could be reversed if Congress ponies up the approriate funds before too long.

And so it goes, this game of chicken played between the services and lawmakers. And to be clear, this particular back-and-forth lives outside of the looming issue of sequestration. This one just involves the fact that Congress is holding the Navy to 2012 funding levels, which the Navy says will put it $4.6 billion short in 2013. If sequestration happens these sorts of reductions will seem modest by comparison.

So is this just the same drill that has gone on in years past, one that ultimately won’t result in the loss of jobs and work for companies, or is this year different because of the fiscal crisis?

Either way, Greenert wants an answer soon as any delay will cost the Navy money. “Much like putting off an oil change because you can’t afford the $20 service, we save in the short term, but shorten the car’s life and add to the backlog of work for later,” he wrote in the memo.