Navy Fleet: What’s the Bottom Line?
By Sandra I. Erwin and Stew Magnuson
Since he became chief of naval operations last summer, Adm. Michael G. Mullen, has consistently identified as his top priority the rebuilding of the fleet, which has dramatically shrunk by more than half since the end of the Cold War. His goal is to increase the number of Navy ships from 281 to 313 within the next three decades. But in a recent speech in Washington, D.C., Mullen said he was determined to not allow the fleet to go below 281.
By stating his absolute bottom line, Mullen may have given away too much information, especially at a time when he is trying to rally political support for the 313-ship fleet, says Owen R. Cote Jr., associate director of the security studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Usually, when you identify a floor, things very rapidly get to the floor,” Cote said. “It’s not a good idea to identify the floor for that reason.”