Mitt Romney’s Misleading Claims About The United States Navy

Mitt Romney is making claims about Naval readiness that are, at best, misleading.

Last night, amid a question regarding what the appropriate response might be to aggressive Iranian action in the Straits of Hormuz, Mitt Romney made this claim:

Under this president and under prior presidents, we keep on shrinking our Navy. Our Navy is now smaller than any time since 1917. And — and — and the president is building roughly nine ships a year. We ought to raise that to 15 ships a year, not because we want to go to war with anyone, but because we don’t want anyone to take the — the — the hazard of going against us. We want them to see that we’re so strong they couldn’t possibly defeat us.

It’s a comment I’ve heard Romney make before, most recently at the January 16th debate in South Carolina in the middle of a response to a question about the National Defense Authorization Act:

ROMNEY: I’ve still got time. So as long as I still have time I just want to go back and agree with what Governor Perry said, the most extraordinary thing that’s happened with this military authorization is the president is planning on cutting $1 trillion out of military spending. Our Navy is smaller than it’s been since 1917. Our Air Force is smaller and older than any time since 1947.

We are cutting our number of troops. We are not giving the veterans the care they deserve. We simply cannot continue to cut our Department of Defense budget if we are going to remain the hope of the Earth. And I will fight to make sure America retains military superiority.

As Jason Linkins notes, neither the moderator nor the questioners at the January 16th debate followed up with Romney about what sounds like a rather extraordinary and alarming claim about the state of our defense, and Brian Williams similarly failed to follow-up on Romney’s claim regarding Naval readiness last night. (So much for that liberal media, huh?) It would have been helpful if they did, though, because it turns out that Romney’s claim is, at the best, only half true and not very relevant to an honest assessment of the readiness of the American military.

Politifact took a look at Romney’s claims about the Navy after the January 16th debate and pointed out that merely focusing on the number of ships in active service isn’t really an accurate measure of the strength of the Navy:

Counting the number of ships or aircraft is not a good measurement of defense strength because their capabilities have increased dramatically in recent decades. Romney’s comparison “doesn’t pass ‘the giggle test,’ ” said William W. Stueck, a historian at the University of Georgia.

Consider what types of naval ships were used in 1916 and 2011. The types of ships active in both years, such as cruisers and destroyers, are outfitted today with far more advanced technology than what was available during World War I. More importantly, the U.S. Navy has 11 aircraft carriers (plus the jets to launch from them), 31 amphibious ships, 14 submarines capable of launching nuclear ballistic missiles and four specialized submarines for launching Cruise missiles — all categories of vessels that didn’t exist in 1916.

As for the Air Force, many U.S. planes may be old, but they “have been modernized with amazing sensors and munitions even when the airframes themselves haven’t been,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a scholar at the Brookings Institution. Human factors matter, too. “The vast superiority of the U.S. Air Force has little to do with number of planes, but with vastly superior training, in-flight coordination and control, as well as precision targeting and superior missiles,” said Charles Knight, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives at the Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Institute.

Ruehrmund and Bowie write in their report that “although the overall force level is lower, the capabilities of the current force in almost all respects far exceed that of the huge Air Force of the 1950s. Today’s Air Force can maintain surveillance of the planet with space and air-breathing systems; strike with precision any point on the globe within hours; deploy air power and joint forces with unprecedented speed and agility; and provide high-bandwidth secure communications and navigation assistance to the entire joint force.”

Increasingly crucial today are pilotless aerial vehicles, some of which are more commonly known as drones.

“The Air Force now buys more unmanned than manned aircraft every year, and that trend is not going to change,” said Lance Janda, a historian at Cameron University. “Within our lifetime, I think you’ll see an end to manned combat aircraft, because unmanned planes are more capable and a lot cheaper.”

For a sense of comparison, in 1947, “it took dozens of planes and literally hundreds of bombs to destroy a single target because they were so inaccurate,” said Todd Harrison, a fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “But thanks to smart bombs and stealthy aircraft, today it only takes a single plane and often a single bomb to destroy a target.”

Or as John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org, puts it: “Would anyone care to trade today’s Navy or Air Force for either service at any point in the 20th century?”

It strikes me that the answer to that question is rather obvious. The kind of mass aerial bombardments that we saw in World War II and, to a lesser extent, Korea and Vietnam, simply aren’t necessary any more because we can accomplish far more with cruise missiles, or a much smaller amount of Stealth bombers. The same goes for the United States Navy. We simply aren’t likely to ever see the kind of multi-ship battles that were a crucial part of World War II’s Pacific component. Today, our Naval resources are more about force projection to far corners of the world and protecting one corner of the nuclear triad. More importantly, even with recent Chinese advances there simply isn’t a Navy on the planet that can match our force today (and there barely was even with the Soviet Union still existed). When it comes to numbers, Romney seems to be correct to a large degree but, as Politifact notes, it’s the kind of fact that doesn’t really mean much of anything, and certainly not what Romney wants it to mean:

This is a great example of a politician using more or less accurate statistics to make a meaningless claim. Judging by the numbers alone, Romney was close to accurate. In recent years, the number of Navy and Air Force assets has sunk to levels not seen in decades, although the number of ships has risen slightly under Obama.

However, a wide range of experts told us it’s wrong to assume that a decline in the number of ships or aircraft automatically means a weaker military. Quite the contrary: The United States is the world’s unquestioned military leader today, not just because of the number of ships and aircraft in its arsenal but also because each is stocked with top-of-the-line technology and highly trained personnel.

Thanks to the development of everything from nuclear weapons to drones, comparing today’s military to that of 60 to 100 years ago presents an egregious comparison of apples and oranges. Today’s military and political leaders face real challenges in determining the right mix of assets to deal with current and future threats, but Romney’s glib suggestion that today’s military posture is in any way similar to that of its predecessors in 1917 or 1947 is preposterous.

Romney may as well be saying that the Army has fewer horses than it did in 1874. It’s true, but it means nothing.

It’s worth noting that one of the experts consulted by Politifact disagreed somewhat with their “Pants On Fire” rating for Romney’s claims (preferring to call it “Half True), and makes this observation of the context of the numbers themselves:

As for the issue of context, it cuts both ways. Certainly the Navy had to deal with rivals of varying strength and compositions throughout the era from 1917 to now, much as the Air Force was dealing with a peer competitor in the Soviet Union for most of its history. Likewise, newer technologies for the Navy and Air Force are probably more lethal, both absolutely and relative to most competitors, than they were in the past. So, given the geopolitical situation and the state of technology, it seems that the Navy and Air Force can stand to be smaller than they have been in the past. But there is a key contextual difference. Because the forces are so reliant on a small number of expensive and highly sophisticated ships and aircraft to to the job of large numbers of less sophisticated technologies in the past, the current technologies are more valuable and the overall system is more fragile.

If the Navy loses one carrier to enemy action, for any reason, that loss would be catastrophic in a way such a loss would not have been in the past. Likewise, the Air Force cannot afford to lose even small numbers of the highly sophisticated airframes of today. An additional contextual difference is that the U.S. military used to prepare during peacetime to mass produce weapons and material in the event of war. That is not the case today. For better or worse, the military is stuck with what it has for a long time once war begins, and regardless of losses (e.g.: the delay in producing up-armored Humvees and MRAPS for Iraq). In that sense, the small but sophisticated military is also risky.

This is a fair point, and it’s also worth noting that if a military disaster on the scale of Pearl Harbor occurred today, it would be a lot harder for the United States to rebuild a functioning Navy in the manner it did starting almost immediately after the smoke from December 7, 1941 cleared. The hull for the super-carrier USS Gerald Ford was laid in 2009 and construction isn’t expected to be completed until 2015. Replacing a ship like that wouldn’t be an easy or inexpensive task. Furthermore, there are fairly good arguments in favor of enhanced future Naval construction. Nonetheless, both of those are completely different issue from the one Romney is raising, which is a blatant claim that the President’s policies have weakened the U.S. Navy’s ability to protect American interest. That, quite clearly, is simply false.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Military Affairs, National Security, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    Romney probably thinks the Bismarck had more destructive power than one of today’s frigates!!

  2. Rob in CT says:

    We must not allow a mineshaft gap!

  3. Chris says:

    Of course our systems today are more advanced than 100 years ago. I think it’s a straw man to suggest he’s making the claim that one could compare the fleets only in terms of numbers.

    There are serious issues with naval and air force operational readiness and naval asset sea-worthiness that have been widely reported (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, among others).

    It is beyond counting ships or ship types, it is counting whether or not they can operate and perform the required mission. Suggesting the class of ship (i.e. a carrier) is the one thing that matters most is like investing in more battleships on the eve of Taranto. I think it is prudent to position the Navy as the premier power projection tool of the US and to ask serious questions about its ability to carry out the required missions in the 21st Century.

    As an aside, when it comes to numbers, extending the logic that numbers don’t matter would suggest we could decom many more ships and just keep the carriers. At some point, numbers DO matter. I believe Romney was suggesting we are at that point.

  4. Rob in CT says:

    Chris, here is what he said:

    Under this president and under prior presidents, we keep on shrinking our Navy. Our Navy is now smaller than any time since 1917. And — and — and the president is building roughly nine ships a year. We ought to raise that to 15 ships a year, not because we want to go to war with anyone, but because we don’t want anyone to take the — the — the hazard of going against us. We want them to see that we’re so strong they couldn’t possibly defeat us.

  5. MM says:

    @Chris:

    It is beyond counting ships or ship types, it is counting whether or not they can operate and perform the required mission. Suggesting the class of ship (i.e. a carrier) is the one thing that matters most is like investing in more battleships on the eve of Taranto. I think it is prudent to position the Navy as the premier power projection tool of the US and to ask serious questions about its ability to carry out the required missions in the 21st Century.

    If it’s not about counting ships or ship types, then why does Romney point out number of ships and tie readiness to being able to build 6 additional ships per year?

  6. ed says:

    That, quite clearly, is simply false.

    Yeah, well, who’s gonna call him out on that (apart from a few responsible blogs)? Some say it’s not false. Some say that evolution is bunk and that the earth is not getting warmer. Views of earth’s shape differ. Team Romney understands how this game’s played. They’ve been taking notes since, I’m guessing at least 1999.

  7. dennis says:

    @Chris:

    “I think it’s a straw man to suggest he’s making the claim that one could compare the fleets only in terms of numbers.”

    You may think it’s a straw man claim, but it’s exactly what Romney is doing, comparing the number of ships in today’s fleet with the number of ships in the fleet of 1917. Despite your “here, here, here, here . . .” links, we’ve been hearing these doomsday prognoses since Jimmy Carter.

    Have you ever served in the U.S.. Navy? Have you ever seen battle group or independent submarine operations? If not, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Until you’ve sailed with the Fleet, you’ll never fathom how powerful is the U.S. Navy.

  8. mantis says:

    @Chris:

    At some point, numbers DO matter. I believe Romney was suggesting we are at that point.

    No he wasn’t. He was grasping at straws trying to find some way to say that Obama has made the country militarily weaker, despite the evidence.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    Romney has no interest in the truth. Why would he? Is there evidence he cares about anything other than money?

  10. ed says:

    @michael reynolds:
    He’s running for office, for Pete’s sake! He can’t have illegals factually accurate criticisms of Obama.

  11. Hey Norm says:

    Hard to see how he grows the at an accelerated rate, cuts taxes for the rich, AND balances the budget.
    Oh…that’s right…his tax plan raises the rates for the poorest brackets…I forgot.

  12. Hey Norm says:

    Oh yeah…and he wants to abolish Medicare a la Paul Ryan.
    For an idea what that Romney’s plan means…
    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3658

  13. Hey Norm says:

    Key takeaway from the link I posted above..

    “…By 2021, if the budget were balanced while taxes were cut, nondefense programs other than Social Security would have to be cut in half…”

    Good luck with that.

  14. anjin-san says:

    So we have an emerging GOP meme that Obama has gutted the military and now Latvia can kick our ass. Is anyone surprised by this?

  15. Ron Beasley says:

    This is not about defense or even US hegemony – there is big money to be made making ships, bottom line.

  16. Jenos Idanian says:

    At the end of World War II, we had about 30 fleet carriers. Under Obama, we’ll have about 11.

    Yes, any one of those modern carriers could probably sink all 30 World War II-vintage carriers.

    But how many places can they be at once?

    The best publicly available info shows one “forward deployed” (in port in Japan), three deployed (two in Arabian Gulf area, one returning to the US from Thailand), two “surge ready” (in port), and four in maintenance. Oh, and one being built.

    It isn’t just about raw power. It’s also about availability and flexibility. And Romney’s absolutely right — on the basis of numbers of ships, which directly addresses those two issues, we are at our lowest point since 1917. It isn’t just about having the ships, it’s about having them available and in the right places.

    Apparently, we currently have no carriers in the Mediterranean, and none near. Argentina’s getting frisky about the Falklands again, and we have none anywhere near the South Atlantic.

    Romney, on a purely practical level, is dead right here. Deal with it.

  17. Septimius says:

    I’ve still got time. So as long as I still have time I just want to go back and agree with what Governor Perry said, the most extraordinary thing that’s happened with this military authorization is the president is planning on cutting $1 trillion out of military spending.

    Yep. Let’s all ignore that part because cutting $1 trillion from the defense budget couldn’t possibly have any effect on military readiness.

  18. anjin-san says:

    Argentina’s getting frisky about the Falklands again

    Thank God someone is finally thinking about the Argentine threat. Wake up America!

    Tell me Admiral Mahan, the Falklands are of vital interest to the US exactly how?

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    Nonsense.

    It’s about threats and interests and whether we can deal with them. We don’t need a carrier in every body of water on earth. Oh, look, there’s no carrier in Lake Michigan ready to confront the Canadians.

    We need to knock off this absurd pay-any-price for 100% coverage of absolutely everything, everywhere, all the time. We are not God, we are not required to be omnipresent or omnipotent.

    Carrier task forces are instruments of the Cold War and of possible confrontation with the Soviets. Is there some other navy out there that presents a threat to us? Is there some coast in the Med that we can’t hit from our bases in Italy or Turkey or that our allies can’t hit? What exactly is the threat for which we need to park an entire carrier task force in the Med?

    We and our allies have control of the seas and coastlines greater than any navy in human history — including the Royal Navy at its peak. Enough. More than enough.

  20. michael reynolds says:

    @Septimius:

    What is the threat? Why don’t you explain to us the nature of the threat for which we need to maintain an infinitely large navy, and infinitely large air force and infinitely large army? Who do you think we’re fighting? We and our allies have an overwhelming, staggering dominance. No one even threatens us. No one comes close. There is effectively no threat.

  21. anjin-san says:

    It’s about threats and interests and whether we can deal with them.

    I think it’s pretty clear that if Argentina seizes a sheep station in the Falklands, it means we are a second class power…

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:
    Do you think he realizes we weren’t in the first Falklands war? But we’re going to jump into a second?

    Argen-freaking-tina. That’s the threat. By all means, let’s spend another trillion.

  23. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: A war, anywhere, is almost guaranteed bad news. A substantial US presence can often prevent fighting simply by being on scene. And preventing wars, in case it escaped you, is a good thing,

    We have no carriers in the Mediterranean right now. Which means we only have land-based deterrents in and around the Middle East and northern Africa, which are at the mercy of our hosts’ politics. Remember France refusing to allow overflights when Reagan bombed Libya? Italy meddling with our interception of the Achille Lauro hijackers? How fond of us right now is Turkey?

    North Korea’s latest nutter is likely to want to flex his muscles to show that he’s the new big boss. Currently the USS George Washington is in Yokosuka, Japan — essentially, in Tokyo. And the USS Abraham Lincoln is somewhere between Thailand and Norfolk.

    I realize that these places involve brown and yellow people, not white people, so you might not be so inclined to value their lives as much, but war is unhealthy for everyone. And a carrier task force can do wonders at preventing wars.

    Not to mention their inestimable value in disaster relief. Remember the role the USS Abraham Lincoln played after the Indonesian tsunami, the USS Carl Vinson helping Haiti after their earthquake, and the USS Ronald Reagan in Japan after their tsunami. It’s not their primary function, but a carrier is almost ideal for that kind of humanitarian mission — big airfields, lots of helicopters, capable of producing tremendous amounts of fresh water, hospitals and medical personnel, total fuel independence and surplus electrical capacity, and highly-trained and disciplined personnel.

    Which is actually good practice while keeping the carriers around for their primary, military role, as well as scoring significant diplomatic points that we couldn’t do any other way and no other nation could ever touch.

  24. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Feel free to plead ignorance about the discovery of oil around the Falklands — experts say there could be as much as 60 billion barrels down there, and exploration and development is already under way.

    Just how many sheep can you buy with 60 billion barrels of crude? More than enough, I’d say, to fill up your harem.

  25. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jenos Idanian: It is not the responsibility or the right of the U.S. to prevent other nations from fighting wars. Period. Nor are humanitarian concerns sufficient for spending hundreds of billions of additional dollars. I don’t recall a carrier shortage preventing the U.S. from responding for disaster relief at any time.

    Only in the mind of a self-absorbed american could having fleets, guns and armies pointed at every country on the planet win “diplomatic points”. The rest of the planet is scared to death of the U.S. as it is, and you want to go further down that road? Overwhelming military power isn’t winning America friends, it makes people suspicious of its motives while provoking fear and hate. It amazes me how blind so many people in this country are to how they are perceived by the rest of the planet.

  26. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian

    Are you proposing that we seize the oil by force? If not, I would say it is an issue that England & Argentina have to deal with. I for one, am not wiling to see a single US sailor in harms way to protect the interests of the British oil industry.

  27. Septimius says:

    @michael reynolds: No one ever said we need an “infinitely large” army, navy, and airforce. What does that even mean?

    And, yes, we do have an overwhelming dominance. That’s why no one threatens us. That’s the point. If we reduce our dominance, we increase the likelihood that we will be threatened.

  28. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    So, setting aside your gratuitously obnoxious crack about brown people . . .

    You have still not explained why we need a carrier task force everywhere at all times. You realize those things are expensive to build, man and operate, right? And that we have limited resources? And that there is NO OTHER NAVY on planet earth that matters? And that a carrier task force is a high value target vulnerable to damage by guys in Zodiacs?

    North Korea? Seriously? Because between us and the SK’s and the Japanese we don’t have enough firepower? Puh-leeze.

    And disaster relief? Really? We need combat aircraft on a massive floating airfield surrounded by subs and destroyers so we can fly bags of rice to people?

    These are not serious arguments. We have more than enough naval force. At the point where you’re going on about oil in the Falklands and Argentina you’ve lost all credibility.

    Try again.

  29. anjin-san says:

    I realize that these places involve brown and yellow people, not white people, so you might not be so inclined to value their lives as much,

    Ah, now I get it. US hegemony exists only to protect people of color around the world. It has nothing to do with advancing our own interests and consuming a disproportionate amount of the world’s limited resources! The democratic governments we have overthrown, the countries we have devastated in proxy wars… it was all to help out our colored brothers around the world…

  30. anjin-san says:

    If we reduce our dominance, we increase the likelihood that we will be threatened.

    Of course if we go broke, it is all kind of irrelevant. Bin Laden knew all about that, and he counted on it. Defense spending up 124% since 9.11. Does anyone actually think we are safer or stronger as a result?

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Septimius:
    How?

    Explain to me how having, say, one less carrier task force results in the rise of an opposition navy. Explain to me who exactly is going to kick our asses if we cut the number of carrier task forces.

    Did we use carriers in Iraq? No. Afghanistan? No. Libya? No. You’re fighting the last war and proposing we continue shoveling billions if not trillions into it. The future is non-piloted aircraft, missiles, subs, satellites, smaller and stealthier ships, not massive flotillas designed to defend a central carrier from submarine attack. Carriers are to the next war what battleships were to WW2: largely irrelevant.

  32. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Keep in mind Obama promised Brazil we’d be one of their best customers while they drilled oil offshore. And despite Obama’s best efforts, the UK is still one of our best allies. It’s nice when good things happen to friends. Plus that much more oil is bad for all the dictatorships and tyrannies that are entirely oil-dependent.

    In Libya, Kaddaffi loyalists are resurgent. We have no carriers nearby.

    See above for North Korea.

    Let me reiterate my point, as it was obviously too sophisticated for several people. The primary purpose of our carriers, and by extension, the rest of our Navy, is to provide for the national security of the US. They do so by maintaining the sea lines of communication, preserve the freedom of the seas for all nations (that’s a duty of all navies, and has been for centuries), and promote and serve the national interests of the US.

    Here’s a scenario: two countries are getting more and more hostile towards each other, Country A and Country B. Country B has very close ties with the US; Country A really doesn’t like us. Things are getting close to boiling over when a US carrier battle group shows up in the area. Meanwhile, Country B gets a very quiet message from the US State Department — we will defend them if they are attacked, but if they get aggressive, they’re entirely on their own. Meanwhile, Country A sees their adversary’s good buddy Uncle Sam show up with enough firepower to level both countries and say “howdy, pardner! Boy, I hope things stay nice and quiet, ‘cuz I don’t cotton to no big ruckuses.” Country A is intimidated into keeping things calm, while Country B is told to mind their manners, or we publicly wash our hands of them — and, possibly, give some very useful intelligence to Country A.

    Potential conflict averted with not a single shot fired.

    But the overarching point is this: our Navy can do tremendous things to advance our national interests all around the globe, in ways that nothing else can, as well as provide for our national security. And those capabilities are being eroded.

    Which Romney stated quite succinctly and accurately.

  33. Septimius says:

    @michael reynolds: When did I ever say anything about aircraft carriers? I made the point that cutting $1 trillion from defense spending will absolutely effect military readiness. A point that Romney made and was conveniently ignored by both Doug Mataconis and Politifact.

    Where do you think “non-piloted aircraft, missiles, subs, satellites, smaller and stealthier ships” come from? Do they grow on trees? Or, do we have to spend money to build them?

  34. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: My, aren’t you proud of your ignorance, chump?

    Did we use carriers in Iraq? No. Afghanistan? No.

    The following aircraft carriers deployed to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan:
    USS Kitty Hawk, 2 deployments
    USS Constellation, 1 deployment
    USS John F. Kennedy, 1 deployment
    USS Enterprise, 3 deployments
    USS Nimitz, 3 deployments
    USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1 deployment
    USS Carl Vinson, 2 deployments
    USS Theodore Roosevelt, 3 deployments
    USS Abraham Lincoln, 1 deployment
    USS George Washington, 2 deployments
    USS John C. Stennis, 1 deployment
    USS Ronald Reagan, 2 deployments

    At least 4 of those deployments involved air strikes into Afghanistan.

    So, anything else incredibly stupid you’d like to say, or are you done demonstrating your ignorance?

  35. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian

    How old are you? 20? Because you sound like a semi-bright 20 year old who does not realize that what he does not know vastly outweighs what he does know. You are not bringing any information to the table here that is not common knowledge & should probably stop patting yourself on the back for serving up such weak tea.

    You have not even touched on issues such as the effective combat radius of a modern CBG as opposed to the WW2 vintage, nor the vulnerability of a carrier to ASBMs that did not exist in WW2.

  36. mantis says:

    And despite Obama’s best efforts, the UK is still one of our best allies.

    So your basic assumption is that the president of the United States is trying his hardest to break an alliance, but somehow cannot do so? That alone reveals you to be a rather stupendous idiot.

  37. Jenos Idanian says:

    Whoops, I forgot: the USS Carl Vinson is the ship that consigned Osama Bin Laden’s corpse to the deep. So put another notch in her gun belt.

  38. anjin-san says:

    The following aircraft carriers deployed to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan:

    I’m curious. Beyond deposing the Taliban, which was done in short order, what have we accomplished in either country beyond casualties to our troops, a vast waste of national treasure, and the hatred of a lot of folks who did not hate us before?

  39. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    Deployed is not the same thing as either necessary or utilized. The fact that Navy brass insists on being included in the fun is not an argument for buying more toys.

  40. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: What I’ve said should be common knowledge, but it sure as hell doesn’t seem like it. In fact, I’m appalled that it isn’t — look at Mr. Reynolds cheerfully denying that the role our carriers played in Iraq and Afghanistan. What makes it even more appalling is that I’m sure you all still gleefully remember the “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner incident, but forget that it happened on the USS Abraham Lincoln on her return home from fighting in Iraq.

    My spelling out these things that should be “common knowledge” isn’t my way of saying how smart I am. It’s my way of saying how shockingly ignorant you (that’s the plural, collective “you”) are.

  41. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Sorry, not the point of the discussion. The point was making certain Mr. Reynolds’ “Did we use carriers in Iraq? No. Afghanistan? No. didn’t stand uncorrected.

    One doesn’t blame the tool for the purpose to which it is employed. The carriers were given orders, which they carried out with exceptional skill and valor. Your disagreement with those orders are utterly irrelevant to their service. Unless, of course, you’re making the argument that “a weakened US military is good, because it will make us more cautious and less likely to engage in conflicts I don’t like,” in which case it’s germane.

    Incredibly stupid, narcissistic, and suicidal, but germane.

  42. michael reynolds says:

    We deployed battleships in WW2 — deploying does not equal contributing. Cavalry units were deployed in WW1. In the Civil War we had Zouave unites dressed in lovely targeting-helpful red.

    The age of the carrier task force is over. As over as massed tanks or fixed fortifications or crenellated walls.

  43. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: Air support was a critical element of both campaigns. And having the aircraft available from nearby bases that were utterly secure from insurgents and the vagaries of host nation’s political considerations was an exceptionally useful advantage.

    See the above examples from the Reagan administration vis-a-vis France/Libya and Italy/Achille Lauro, plus the current hissy-fits being pitched by Pakistan. There are tremendous advantages to having a few square acres of sovereign US territory we can move around the globe at our convenience.

    Oh, and nice walkback from “no carriers were used in Iraq and Afghanistan” to “they weren’t really that necessary.” Have you determined where you’ll finally stand your ground, or are you open to more retreats if necessary? I think you’re safe on saying we only used land-based aircraft in Libya, but I might just verify that one as well.

  44. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: Yes, you’re safe on the Libyan front. The US Navy deployed a command ship, two gator freighters, two destroyers, three subs, and three other ships to assist the Libyan rebels, but no carriers. The Marines supplied some aircraft, but they were land-based or based off the amphibs.

    So take heart. You’re only 2/3 the idiot you might have been. But I suspect you didn’t know about the US Navy being involved in that little adventure, too.

  45. anjin-san says:

    Sorry, not the point of the discussion.

    In other words, you can’t answer intelligently. Well, you have already said so many stupid things in this tread that is no surprise.

    At the end of World War II, we had about 30 fleet carriers. Under Obama, we’ll have about 11.

    Let’s think about this for a moment. By today’s standards, a WW2 carrier battle group was effectively blind. They relied on reconnisance aircraft of limited range, and getting lucky with intel. There were no spy satellites, no vast arrays of sensors across ocean floors, no GPS. In other words, there were more carriers because there had to be. They did not know where the enemy was. We do.

    Keep in mind Obama promised Brazil we’d be one of their best customers

    Please tell us what navies have the ability to threaten the shipping lanes between the US and Brazil.

  46. anjin-san says:

    So put another notch in her gun belt.

    In my life, I’ve know men that fought at Bastogne with Gen. McAuliffe, at Frozen Chosin, at Khe Sanh, who were on a carrier deck during kamikaze attacks. None of them ever say things like “another notch in her gun belt”.

    Our troops are not in harms way so that no-dick kids in America can talk tough from the safety of their homes. Grow up, the world needs adults.

  47. steve says:

    Let me help you out Michael. Ask Jenos what kind of carriers we used to have. How many had wooden decks built as rush jobs for WWII? How quickly could they move? How functional would they be with modern airpower? Who else really has a carrier now? How many of Russia’s ships are able to leave port? How is that Chinese (sort of) carrier doing? The question is not do we have enough, but do we have more than we can afford?

    Steve

  48. anjin-san says:

    We have no carriers in the Mediterranean right now. Which means we only have land-based deterrents in and around the Middle East and northern Africa

    So the Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf is not a deterrent?

    US aircraft carrier sails through Strait of Hormuz
    Published January 22, 2012

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/01/22/us-aircraft-carrier-sails-through-strait-hormuz/#ixzz1kR39Dk00

  49. An Interested Party says:

    It’s so nice to see Armchair Admirals flexing their muscles about what they think the military should be…sadly for them, we cannot afford nor do we need what they seem to think we do…perhaps these warriors should pick up a Tom Clancy novel or play a computer war game to live out their fantasies…

  50. Romney’s comparison “doesn’t pass ‘the giggle test,’

    That’s probably why most people ignored it.

    Anyone sane heard “since 1917” and thought for themselves “what’s that guy on?”

    But it was foolish of Romeny. There are all kinds of questions his opponents or reporters can now ask to drive in the stupidity. “So, Mitt. You think we had a better navy in 1918? In 1924? Serious?”

  51. Scott O. says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Under Obama, we’ll have about 11.

    The entire rest of the world has zero of even remotely similar capabilities.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_carriers_in_service

    Here’s a scenario: two countries are getting more and more hostile

    Ships move. We can get one there in I’d guess 3 days tops.

  52. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    It’s also about availability and flexibility. And Romney’s absolutely right — on the basis of numbers of ships, which directly addresses those two issues, we are at our lowest point since 1917. It isn’t just about having the ships, it’s about having them available and in the right places.

    Numbers of ships is a bogus metric even in your scenario. Today’s Navy can do so much more that it makes numeric comparisons useless, especially to ships that ancient. The only reason to bring it up is to mislead people that don’t know very much about our military capabilities and don’t know how decisions regarding ship levels are made.

  53. anjin-san says:

    Here’s a scenario: two countries are getting more and more hostile

    Deep stuff indeed. One would ordinarily have to read the Journal of Military and Strategic Studies to get into strategy at this level.

    The GOP candidates can be sure of one thing. Every time they throw a line into the chump pool, they will get plenty of bites.

  54. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Oh, you wound me. Such a telling point. I should have noted how much more capable our carriers are today, versus what we had then.

    Oh, wait, I did. My bad; let me add “selectively illiterate” to your list of attributes.

    And even more selectiveness — I talked about two in the Arabian Gulf region, then talked about the “Mediterranean and Middle East” region. I didn’t specifically name the three carriers currently deployed, but they’re the Vinson, the Lincoln, and the Stennis. So yeah, I included her, but was referring not to the Iranian tensions, but the western Middle East — which, if you look at a map every now and then, you might notice is on or near the Mediterranean.

    @steve: “Wooden decks?” Nearly all of them. “Rush jobs?” Of the ones I cited, none. I only included “fleet carriers” in my estimate, and I meant the big ones — the two-dozen-plus Essexes, along with the pre-war survivors Saratoga, Enterprise, and Ranger. The “rush jobs” would have been the eight surviving Independence-class light carriers and the hundred-odd escort carriers, which I did not count.

    @David M: Call it “bogus” you want, but it’s a perfectly valid metric — unless you’ve mastered the trick of having one ship be in more than one place at a time.

    There are numerous metrics one can use to measure navies. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, nations measured by tonnage — “you can have as many or few ships as you like, they just can’t add up to weigh more than X.” Germany, after World War II, was limited in tonnage, numbers of ships it could build, and sailors.

    The metric you seem to want to use is totally unquantifiable. “Destructive power.” Our embarked air wings are smaller now than they were even ten years ago. We use a lot less destructive weapons, preferring smaller, far more precise munitions. Many ships have landed their nuclear warheads. And how do you characterize the various types of weapons — anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine, land attack?

    “Number of hulls” is a simple metric. And it has very practical applications that make it useful. I understand how you want a more nuanced tool that makes Obama look better, but judging by the gross ignorance demonstrated thus far, you really, really should stick to the simplest metric available. So many here simply aren’t capable of grasping the more… challenging ones.

    Ain’t that right, Mr. Reynolds?

    Oh, I did a bit more digging into the US involvement in the Libyan revolution. The EF-18s used weren’t a Marine squadron (my misassumption), but a Navy squadron — but based out of Sigonella, Italy, and not off a carrier deck. So the lack of a carrier’s use there was because we had a land base in a cooperative nearby nation. Lucky us.

    Again, I’m not saying I’m super-smart. All this is publicly available information, in forms easy for anyone to grasp, and much of it even counts as theoretically “common knowledge.” I’m just pointing out how dumb much of what is being said. I don’t mean to single out Mr. Reynolds as being especially intellectually challenged, but he did hang the “KICK ME” sign on his own back with his arrogant “did we use carriers/no” declaration.

    I must say, I am surprised to find so many Obama supporters echoing Ron Paul’s naive, racist, isolationist foreign policy holding so many backers. Especially in light of the illegal Libyan adventure.

  55. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian

    Thats good, you have been working the Googles. Go find some high school kids, maybe they will be impressed.

    So your point is that you understand that today’s carriers are far more capable, you just don’t understand why it matters? Gotcha.

    but was referring not to the Iranian tensions, but the western Middle East

  56. anjin-san says:

    but was referring not to the Iranian tensions, but the western Middle East

    Interesting, because that is not what you said. What you said was:

    We have no carriers in the Mediterranean right now. Which means we only have land-based deterrents in and around the Middle East and northern Africa

    You are about as convincing as Romney. No wonder you are a fanboy…

  57. David M says:

    It’s pretty simple, more older ships is not better. In fact, more ships at all is not necessary better, as the details matter quite a bit. “More ships” is so devoid of meaning, there are no words for how infantile this thinking is.

    Besides, there is no scenario worth considering where our current Navy isn’t large enough. Sure if every other country in the world joins the space aliens who decided to attack us, then maybe we need more ships. Short of that, we’re going to be ok.

  58. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: You’re grasping at straws more desperately than a man who’s been offered a million dollars if he can break a camel’s back. It’s obvious to anyone not blessed with your incredibly selective vision that a reference to the “Arabian Gulf region” followed by a reference to “Mediterranean” and “Middle East and northern Africa” is talking about two regions, not three. And I’m not much of a fan of Romney’s — he’s in many ways Obama Lite. But this particular line of attack is as contemptible as it is stupid.

    And yes, I did confirm a lot of what I’ve been saying here with a quick Googling. Doesn’t it embarrass you (the collective you) that it took so little to expose your ignorance?

    Actually, I don’t know if “ignorance” fits here. Ignorance can be easily cured. Unfortunately, I don’t know if there’s a word that truly captures “willful, obstinate, arrogant, deliberate ignorance that is resistant if not impervious to education.” “Stupidity” doesn’t qualify, nor does “idiotic” or “moronic” or “delusional.” Perhaps you can offer a suggestion.

  59. Jenos Idanian says:

    @David M:

    It’s pretty simple, more older ships is not better. In fact, more ships at all is not necessary better, as the details matter quite a bit. “More ships” is so devoid of meaning, there are no words for how infantile this thinking is.

    Such a sweeping scenario. And so, so wrong. There are times when sheer numbers is a far greater advantage than technological superiority. We taught that to the Germans in World War II, whose tanks were far more capable than ours. One German officer said, after World War II, “One Tiger can kill 10 of your Shermans, however you always had 11.”

    For a naval scenario, imagine a carrier task force in the Persian Gulf attacked by, say, 20 Boghammer speedboats loaded with explosives, much like what nearly sank the USS Cole in Yemen. I would rather have five old destroyers, such as a Forrest Sherman or Charles Adams, than a single brand-new Arleigh Burke as a screen.

    Besides, there is no scenario worth considering where our current Navy isn’t large enough. Sure if every other country in the world joins the space aliens who decided to attack us, then maybe we need more ships. Short of that, we’re going to be ok.

    Another advantage of numbers is redundancy. Suppose a carrier is taken out of action by, say, an accidental fire aboard. It’s happened many times, most recently in 2008. That summer, an accidental fire aboard took the USS George Washington out of service for four months. And right now, the USS George H. W. Bush is having major plumbing problems aboard, to the point that it is actually adversely affecting the sailors’ health.

    This is such a simple principle, I am embarrassed that I have to spell it out: increased numbers increase options. Decreased numbers decrease options. Take Michael Jordan at his prime. How well would he do alone on the court against, say, five high-school all-stars? Mohammed Ali in his prime fighting four welterweight boxers?

    Yes, in a lot of cases superior technology and firepower is the deciding factor. But not all. I’d even say that it wasn’t a guaranteed majority. Romney is weak in a lot of areas, but in this one case he’s absolutely right. The Navy has never had better ships than now, or better sailors, but it also has never had as much responsibility with so few ships to manage those responsibilities.

  60. Ben Wolf says:

    For a naval scenario, imagine a carrier task force in the Persian Gulf attacked by, say, 20 Boghammer speedboats loaded with explosives, much like what nearly sank the USS Cole in Yemen.

    You’re right: carriers are too vulnerable in the modern age and should be phased out.

    Suppose a carrier is taken out of action by, say, an accidental fire aboard. It’s happened many times, most recently in 2008. That summer, an accidental fire aboard took the USS George Washington out of service for four months. And right now, the USS George H. W. Bush is having major plumbing problems aboard, to the point that it is actually adversely affecting the sailors’ health.

    Yes, and if Cap’n Crunch on board the U.S.S. McFleebldyfloob trips and spills his linguini into the reactor, then another carrier will be out of action until the engineers can find white truffles to go with it.

    You’re getting creamed in this thread, kid.

  61. Rob in CT says:

    Wow. Soooooo desperate to make a throw-away line in a primary be, like, totally right.

    We have the most powerful navy on the planet (indeed, in History). It is unmatched. Defense spending is way up, contributing to the deficit we all know Jenos cares soooooo much about. The Navy is more than capable of handling threats to US national security. It is also capable of dealing with a number of things that really aren’t our problem, but we choose to do anyway.

    There is absolutely no reason to look at the present status of the US Navy and say “OMG! It’s dangerously weak!” Which is what Romney is saying.

    For a naval scenario, imagine a carrier task force in the Persian Gulf attacked by, say, 20 Boghammer speedboats loaded with explosives, much like what nearly sank the USS Cole in Yemen

    Yeah I played Strike Fleet on my computer when I was a boy too.

  62. Rob in CT says:

    In conclusion, clearly we must close this mineshaft gap!

  63. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Ben Wolf: Yes, I am. Facts and reality are no defense against the devastating weapon of ignorant sarcasm. Oh, I am slain!

    I’m going to recap; tell me where I’m wrong.

    1) Romney states that, in terms of number of ships, the Navy’s smaller than it has been in nearly a century.

    2) A quick check of the numbers in question show Romney is correct.

    3) Obama shills immediately start arguing that numbers are totally meaningless, and therefore Romney’s statement is misleading and therefore a lie.

    4) Several people dispute that and note several scenarios where numbers do matter, and numerous historical examples where numbers did matter — where quantity triumphed over quality. I did that here, but I was hardly alone on this.

    5) The same Obama shills ignore all the above and double-down on their ignorance to insist that capabilities are all that matter, and that numbers are never ever ever important.

    And that doesn’t even mention Mr. Reynolds’ astonishing idiocy in proclaiming that US carriers served NO role in Iran and Afghanistan.

    I hope you people left a trail of breadcrumbs. Because you’re so far in the tank for Obama, you’ll never find your way back to reality without serious assistance.

  64. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Ben Wolf: Actually, Ben, you prove my point for me.

    You and your fellow ignoramuses don’t have quality on your side of the argument, just quantity — it’s basically me alone against several of you. You’re proclaiming that I’m “getting creamed” here based purely on the numbers of people on your side, Anjin is resorting to selectively quoting and deliberately misinterpreting what I’m saying, Mr. Reynolds is just making up things, and those who can’t even muster that much energy (like you) are just sniping and getting sarcastic. I’m embodying your argument — that quality always triumphs over quantity.

    And you very well might win out. As noted, I’m outnumbered and am growing bored with the futility of teaching this particular group of pigs to sing. Which would, in the meta sense, prove my point perfectly.

    Give maturity a try some time, Ben. It might suit you.

    Probably not, but it could be worth a try.

  65. Rob in CT says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    1) Which is basically irrelevant.
    2) See 1.
    3) Yes, everyone who disagrees with you is an Obama shill. You keep telling yourself that.
    4) None of those historical scenarios are remotely plausible today. You’re bringing up WWII, for goodnessakes? Hello? There is no Nazi Germany, Facist Italy, Imperial Japan… all of those nations are now our Allies! China is a long way away from projecting power with its navy. The enemies you seem to fear so much are second-rate powers at best (and terrorist groups, and pirates). Argentina? Dude, Britain smacked Argentina around back in the 80s. They could do so again, most likely, without us lifting a finger (just like last time).
    5) See 3.

  66. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jenos Idanian: And out come the ad hominems. When your attempts to persuade fail you resort to name-calling? Fascinating you still don’t get that no one is listening to you because your argument is poorly structured. Eveything you’ve written is based on a priori reasoning and is therefore vulnerable to false axioms. Nor have you revealed any facts not generally known, which is why you’ve become such a bore. Every what-if scenario you’ve conjured up is the stuff of dime-store technothrillers and souless banality.

    I’m sorry. I’m sure you mean well, but you don’t have the intellectual chops to follow through on this one.

  67. Just to mention a thing: PRECISELY because there is oil in the Atlantic South the own presence of British Forces in South America is problematic. Sending any kind of American Military Presence there would be suicidal.

    (By the way, as a Brazilian, I would be happier without any kind of American Carriers or British Colonies in this side of the continent).

  68. Jenos Idanian says:

    @André Kenji de Sousa: I don’t start ad hominems, but neither do I ignore them.

    You dismiss the “number of hulls” argument as utterly irrelevant; I say that it sometimes — hell, often — is very relevant. And I cited historical examples of where numbers made the difference, as well as more recent examples of how ships can be taken out of commission quite unexpectedly.

    Further, I never said that quantity will always triumph — only that both factors are important.

    Seems to me that the burden is on your side to show how quality will always triumph over quantity, and that quantity is never relevant.

    One thing I will concede — that in a straight-up fight, no foreign navy or navies could defeat the US. Which is why there is so much concern about opponents using unconventional methods. In Yemen, two guys with a speedboat and less than half a ton of explosives crippled and nearly sank a billion-dollar destroyer. Instead, they put her out of service for three years.

    In the case of the George Washington, it was also (most likely) two people who took her out of service — one sailor who didn’t properly stow some very flammable chemicals, and one sailor who sneaked a smoke where he wasn’t supposed to. Oops — there goes one entire carrier for several months.

    Finally, your citation of ‘a priori” is flawed. I’m not arguing “because it happened before, it can happen again,” not “because it happened before, it will happen again.” You’re the one making the flawed argument — “it happened before, but now it can never happen again.”

  69. Jenos Idanian says:

    Er… that last was addressed to Ben. My error.

  70. Rob in CT says:

    Your historical examples are ridiculous, though.

    If/when a major power starts seriously ramping up a navy to challenge US/Nato superiority (China, someday, maybe?), then your argument might start to make sense. It doesn’t make any sense now.

    Where is your concern about the deficit, eh? We can’t possibly afford to spend money on the health and welfare of our citizens, but we absolutely MUST spend more money on more warships, even though we already have – by far – the most powerful navy on the planet, and pretty much any others of consequence are our allies.

    A strong navy is a good idea for the USA. We already have one.

  71. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rob in CT: You know, you’re right. We need to sink more and more money into “investments” like Solyndra and LightSquare and First Solar and Evergreen Solar and SpectraWatt and Eastern Energy and SunPower and Beacon Power and Fisker Motors and EnerDel and a host of others. We need another stimulus to pump more money into shovel-ready projects Democratic donors. We need to give more money to the Justice Department, so they can buy more guns to give to the Mexican drug cartels. We need to spend even more on public employee pay and pensions, so they can keep giving money to elect Democrats. How foolish of me. Where are my priorities?

    We have a strong Navy. We have a strong military, period. I’m in favor of keeping it that way. I’m not in favor of paring it back until it’s “just strong enough.” Because that has never worked well.

  72. Jenos Idanian says:

    Dammit, I erred the tags. Only “shovel-ready projects” should have been stricken through. Obama himself has admitted that the phrase was total BS in relation to the “stimulus,” and recent documents have confirmed that its main purpose was to advance his agenda and reward his backers, not actually boost the general economy.

  73. Rob in CT says:

    You’re a tool. Your entire list amounts to a pittance in expenditure compared to the military budget year-in, year-out. The biggest # on there is the Stimulus, which was ~1/3 tax cuts anyway. Your assertions about it being a pile of pork for D-connected folks may have a grain (a grain) of truth, largely because the entire GOP refused to work on it. Not one GOP vote for it = no say in how it was done.

    The rest are small potatoes, from a budgetary standpoint. Solyandra, for instance, was $500 million, IIRC.

    We spend ~$800B/yr on the miliary, last I checked (and I think that number excludes things that arguably should be included) . That is a big potato, up there with the other big potatoes: Medicare & Social Security. When thinking about how to deal with our fiscal problems down the road, it has to be on the table.

    But no, we mustn’t touch it. Far better to slash the social safety net. After all, the Argentinians are getting frisky!
    Snark is the appropriate response to your drivel.

  74. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rob in CT:

    You’re a tool.

    And you’re a dumbass. Nice to make your acquaintance.

    Now that we’ve gotten the petty name-calling out of the way, let’s actually get substantial. You mentioned Defense, Medicare, and Social Security. Note that under Obama, Defense will get the only actual cuts; the other two are planned for “Washington cuts” — getting less of an increase than they want. At least I presume so; it’s been almost three years since we actually had a real budget. (The Democrats own that one lock, stock, and barrel. Pelosi’s House didn’t pass one, and Reid’s Senate stopped Boehner’s. I won’t even bring up Obama’s “budget,” which, as I recall, had 93 no votes in the Senate.)

    Also, I recall Obama announcing raises for federal employees the same day he announced his planned Defense cuts.

    Yes, it’s about the money. But it’s also about priorities. I don’t agree with Obama’s.

  75. anjin-san says:

    Guys I think we should just let Jenos hop in the bathtub with Mitt. Maybe his mom will let them play with the toy boats, and they can recreate the Great White Fleet. Then we will be safe from the Argentine threat, and probably the Hezbollians too…

  76. Rob in CT says:

    Last I looked, the proposed defense cuts were “Washington cuts” as you define them as well.

    And yes, I see where your priorities are.

    Note: there has been a federal employee wage freeze for the past year or two, if I recall correctly. Apparently Obama is now lifting it. How much money will that cost, in comparison with a Romney/Jenos-approved # of warships?

  77. anjin-san says:

    Here’s a scenario: two countries are getting more and more hostile towards each other, Country A and Country B. Country B

    I am thinking this should be passed along to the war college. It’s not often we have someone with this kind of vision among us.

  78. Rick DeMent says:

    I’m not the first one to ever have said this but it bears repeating, there are only two kinds of Navy ships. Submarines and targets. Expanding the Navy is a loser.

  79. tyndon clusters says:

    Jenos, you make some good points, but you are missing the bigger picture and thats why you are getting flamed.

    I am sure you were one of the zealots during the Cold war warning everyone about the russian bear and how woefully underfunded and outnumbered we were vis-a-vis the russkies.

    I remember one debate over the number of tanks the eastern bloc had versus our numbers of tanks which were vastly over-matched in numbers compared to the Warsaw pact.

    But then a military strategist told me that we vastly outnumbered the russians in anti-tank technology and whereas they would build a tank for $20 million, we would build a missile to destroy that tank for $300,000. A much more cost effective way to defeat the enemy (which we did btw, it was in all the papers)

    But dolts like you and Romney would have at the time, bitterly complained that Jimmy Carter was weakening our defense and hates america bla bla because we had less tanks than the soviets.

    Romney could have come out and said that under Obama we have far less propeller driven bi-planes than we did in 1917 and he would be factually correct, but look completely ridiculous for making that point – just as you have been in arguing picayune details about carrier deployments and the number of ships we had.

    Its like arguing, “what if Napoleon had B-17s”

  80. Rob in CT says:

    Yes, how about the # of aircraft. We no doubt have fewer military aircraft now than we did in, say, 1950.

    Is that a problem too?

  81. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Finally, your citation of ‘a priori” is flawed. I’m not arguing “because it happened before, it can happen again,” not “because it happened before, it will happen again.” You’re the one making the flawed argument — “it happened before, but now it can never happen again.”

    That you wrote this means you don’t understand the point. A priori reasoning is devoid of experience or empiricism and depends entirely on subjective deduction, just like everything you’ve written. From what I can see you simply looked up the literal translation of the term without realizing its epistemological significance. This is exactly why I pointed out the intellectual vacuity of your arguments, so that you might make an effort to improve them instead of doubling down on the silly.

    Here’s another term for you: tautology. Your assertion that we need more carriers rests entirely on the assumption that carriers are needed; you’ve provided not a shred of empirical evidence our national security has been and is being harmed by having too few.

  82. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    “One German officer said, after World War II, “One Tiger can kill 10 of your Shermans, however you always had 11.”

    That’s actually a crap statement. The German tanks had many MANY issues which decreased their effectiveness (and mobility). The Shermans with the larger guns were also quite capable of one shotting tigers in about the same situations. It’s a myth that German tanks were somehow entirely in a league beyond our capabilities and all we did was overwhelm them with numbers. Now I will say in the early days of the wars the German tanks were quite superior but once the American’s joined in that superiority was debatable.

  83. John D'Geek says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    As noted, I’m outnumbered …

    Not necessarily.

    I recognized the “don’t bother me with the facts, I’m to busy with my hatred” pretty soon in, which is why this will be my only post on the subject. Anyone who thinks that Carriers will be going the way of the Battleship clearly has no clue about the military.

    Don’t get me wrong — Romney was incorrect, but not for the reasons most people are spouting.

  84. Rob in CT says:

    @matt:

    The way I learned it, German superiority with armor was mostly about tactics.

    @John D’Geek:

    What facts, exactly?

    Most of the people in this thread have not, in fact, been arguing that carriers are obselete. Some have, some haven’t.

    Oy, with all the navy talk, I missed the fact that Romney DID claim what I mockingly asked about a couple of posts ago:

    Our Air Force is smaller and older than any time since 1947

    Yes, and so what? Is the ASAF unable to perform its mission (and let’s not just ignore the scope of the mission in our discussion)?

  85. Rob in CT says:

    USAF, sorry. Damn typos.

  86. anjin-san says:

    Anyone who thinks that Carriers will be going the way of the Battleship

    I don’t think that – clearly, carriers still have a useful role. On the other hand, our resources are limited, and we need to be smart about how we use them. I have still not heard a compelling argument for a larger navy/more carriers, and I don’t think I will.

    Also, I can’t help thinking about how a few guys with boxcutters did vast damage to the US, We need to keep track of what century we are living in.

    Eishenhower’s warning about the military-industrial complex is a message we should pay attention too. Unless Jenos also thinks he is better versed on this topic than Ike was.

  87. Ben Wolf says:

    @anjin-san:

    Also, I can’t help thinking about how a few guys with boxcutters did vast damage to the US, We need to keep track of what century we are living in.

    This is the major flaw in the argument for expanding our military. Despite its overwhelming power, on the day we needed it most our military was nowhere to be found, useless, guarding South Korea more effectively than it did New York. We will never be 100% secure no matter how many resources we devote to war.

  88. anjin-san says:

    We will never be 100% secure no matter how many resources we devote to war.

    And we will be less secure if we expend too much national treasure on military adventurism and fancy hardware with a questionable ROI and unclear mission.

  89. An Interested Party says:

    Jenos Idanian smells suspiciously like Jay Tea…

  90. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rick DeMent: I’m not the first one to ever have said this but it bears repeating, there are only two kinds of Navy ships. Submarines and targets. Expanding the Navy is a loser.

    I’ve heard that before, and it has a lot of truth, but it omits one key distinction about the roles of subs and surface ships. Subs are all about area denial — the presence of a sub immediately challenges any other vessel’s continued existence. Surface ships can do that, but they also represent power projection — the ability to assert positive control over an area. And carriers have a huge area they can project power over. To steal a line from a novel I read years ago, a carrier battle group represents a sphere several hundred miles in diameter where nothing exists but by their sufferance. And yes, in all three dimensions.

    @anjin-san: I have still not heard a compelling argument for a larger navy/more carriers, and I don’t think I will.

    I’ll take a swing at that. For years, we had twelve carrier battle groups. (Carriers by themselves are just too damned vulnerable.) We now have eleven, with that to drop to ten soon. According to Global Security, those eleven are currently disposed of as follows:

    Forward Deployed (in port in Japan): 1
    Deployed (at sea on patrol): 3
    Surge Ready (in port, but ready to move out at short notice): 2
    Post Deployed (home from patrol): 1
    In Maintenance: 4

    The USS Enterprise is slated to be decommissioned this fall, to be replaced by the USS Gerald R. Ford — which won’t be in service until 2015.

    The rule of thumb is that half of our carriers are available at any time, and a couple of those can be returned to service in fairly short order in an emergency. That’s seven carriers to cover 70% of the globe. As noted before, carriers are primarly used to assert US power and protect US interests, but also serve many other functions. Their most prominent use in the past few years, besides ground-attack missions in Iraq and Afghanistan (did you catch that, Mr. Reynolds?), has been disaster relief — carriers were among the first to respond to the Japanese and Indonesian tsunamis, and the Haitian earthquake. The USS Truman was also essential in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

    Carriers are hugely expensive, but more than worth the investment. And the fewer we have, the harder it will be to deal with crises. With fewer carriers, the chances of them being on the scene or close is decreased. With fewer carriers, we have lesser redundancy should we unexpectedly lose the use of one or more for whatever reason. Ten is, quite frankly, marginal for our needs — and only one bad accident or very unlucky day from being “not enough.”

    That probably isn’t convincing to you, but it’s the best I can do at this late hour.

  91. anjin-san says:

    Carriers by themselves are just too damned vulnerable

    Do you really think stating the obvious somehow establishes you as someone who knows what you are talking about?

    That probably isn’t convincing to you,

    Not really, like all the information you have presented, it is nothing new.

    One of the main reasons the Soviet Union collapsed was its unsustainable military commitments. If we are not careful, we may go down the same drain. Other advanced democracies need to start paying their own tab for defense, we cannot afford to carry them any more. Disaster relief is commendable – lets look at purpose built disaster relief platforms, not try to use humanatarian needs to justify a vasty expensive and complex weapons system.

    I dismiss the Iraq argument, we should have never been there.

    You have yet to mention a credible threat that justifies a larger navy. Not even one. Who menaces the shipping lanes between here and Brazil?

    We can’t afford to be the world’s policeman. If we do not start investing more in our country, we will face internal stresses that will be a greater threat to our society than any external enemy. WW2 is over, the cold war is over. Has been for a long time. We need to deal with the times we live in.

    There are a lot of people who derive vast benefits from the status quo. They will not simply embrace change, even necessary change. Eisenhower warned us about this long ago. We did not listen, and we are paying the price. On many levels.

  92. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: I apologize. I shouldn’t have bothered trying to be civil with you; I let myself forget your ignorance about the oil around the Falklands, your eliding over my noting that obviously today’s carriers are nigh-infinitely more powerful than the World War II-vintage carriers, you deliberately misrepresented my reference to “North Africa and the Middle East” when discussing the Mediterranean. You not only don’t engage in honest discussion, you seem utterly incapable of doing so. I’m tired of spending over half the time correcting your lies.

    @michael reynolds: We deployed battleships in WW2 — deploying does not equal contributing. Feel free to look up the 2nd Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and the Battle of Surigao Strait at your leisure. Oh, and HMS Warspite at the Second Naval Battle of Narvik — one of the most astonishingly unconventional and successful actions any battleship ever carried out. (Warspite was like that. And while I’m thinking of it, HMS Duke of York off North Cape — unless you want to argue that carrier planes could have sunk the Scharnhorst at night, in an Arctic blizzard. One of the boldest ships ever.) Then, if you’re up for your advanced studies, look into what might have happened had Halsey not let himself be decoyed away and he had kept his fast battleships close enough to have been involved in the Battle Off Samar.

    And that’s not even discussing their role in shore bombardment in the Pacific, North Africa, and Normandy, or the fast battleships’ value as carrier escorts.

    You really, really need to admit you have no effing clue what you’re talking about when it comes to this area, and limit yourself to areas where you have some expertise.

    You do have some areas of expertise, don’t you? Or do you specialize in making bold assertions where you have no idea what you’re talking about?

  93. Jenos Idanian says:

    Oh, man, the formatting on that last one… it burns…

    Lord, I apologize. Kindly ignore the whole linking. And I inserted the Duke of York story improperly — Warspite was one of the boldest ships ever, not the DoY. I’d put her history of valor right up there with the USS Enterprise (CV-6).

    I shouldn’t post so much before my first cup of coffee.

  94. anjin-san says:

    I shouldn’t post whine so much before my first cup of coffe

    FTFY

  95. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: That was a remarkably honest last comment, anjin. You once again rewrote what I said to suit your purpose, but this time you actually admitted it. Well done, sir. Bravo for you. Definitely a good sign for the future.

  96. anjin-san says:

    We have no carriers in the Mediterranean right now. Which means we only have land-based deterrents in and around the Middle East and northern Africa

    This is what you wrote, all I did was point out the it is nonsense, as we have a carrier in the persian gulf, and thus do have a deterrent in the middle east. You tried to walk it back and claim you said something other than what you said. Quit feeling sorry for yourself because you got called on you BS.

    Or you could just keep telling yourself that all of the people, and there are quite a few, who have been telling you that you are off base are liars/ignorant/biased. Do that, and you can wear your conservative merit badge with pride.

  97. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: You really are a simplistic twit. When presented with a statement that can have more than one interpretation, you immediately seize upon one that reinforces your point and pronounce it the only possible one.

    No, you’re not stupid enough to be a simplistic twit. You’re a lying sack. What you’re a sack of, I’ll refrain out of respect for the site’s rules. Let’s look at that quote of mine. I first mentioned the Mediterranean, then cited “Northern Africa and Middle East.” What I intended — and anyone with both a hint of a clue and a speck of honesty would grasp — was first a reference to a body of water, which is required to handle an aircraft carrier. Then, I cited the land masses around said body of water, which is the region stretching from Turkey to Morocco. This encompasses nations that are usually considered parts of the regions known as “the Mideast” and “Northern Africa,” and include nations like Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Morocco, and other trouble spots like the Gaza Strip.

    Tell me — have you had special training in being a lying sack, or do you come by it naturally?

  98. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    Probably time for you to run and tell mommy. The other kids think you are stupid and they are being mean to you.

  99. David M says:

    I still can’t figure out why anyone would defend Romney on his “less ships than anytime since 1917” BS. Even if you think we need more ships, defending nonsense like this does nothing but make you look like a fool.

  100. Jenos Idanian says:

    @David M: Um… because it’s factually true? I realize that many Obama supporters have trouble with that concept — witness how many still believe his lie about the Citizens United verdict — but it’s still important to some of us.

  101. Jenos Idanian says:

    @David M: Actually, a more germane example would be Mr. Reynolds’ astonishingly arrogant ignorance on actual naval history. He made assertion after assertion after assertion here that was utterly out of touch with reality. In his universe, aircraft carriers were never used in the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and battleships served no real purpose in World War II.

    I’d expect Barack Obama to release his Illinois legislative records before Mr. Reynolds would admit just how astonishingly stupid the things he said on this thread were.

  102. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian: You’re either completely clueless or a liar. (My money is on both.) It’s not even factually correct as 2007 was the lowest point since 1917. In fact, Bush’s last 4 years (282,281,278,282) were the lower than Obama’s first 3 years (285,288,285).

  103. anjin-san says:

    @David M

    It is also factually true that the army has fewer canons than it did in 1865, and fewer muskets than it did in 1797. You have been put on notice.

  104. David M says:

    @anjin-san: Muskets, horse cavalry, cannons…I’m not sure which is my favorite yet. I wonder if the Air Force had some hot air zeppelins at one point?

  105. anjin-san says:

    @David M

    One thing that does really grate on me is that our military moved away from vacuum tubes. I pay through the nose for vintage NOS tubes for my sound system. I blame the Kenyan Marxist pretender in the White House.

  106. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Hey, lying sack: if you include the Army spin-off Air Force, I’d be tempted to take that wager about cannons. (Not “Canons.”) A lot of Army vehicles carry cannons — 20mm, 25mm, and 30mm, just to name a few. Tanks, of course, also have cannons. Most of the Army’s helicopters carry cannons. And in the Air Force, fighters and ground-attack aircraft also carry cannons.

    So, have you ever contributed anything of substance, or are you only limited to snark and lies? Enquiring minds… well, really don’t give a crap, but have a mild curiosity.

  107. anjin-san says:

    Hey, lying sack

    Takes a real man to talk tough on the internet. My guess is that you don’t have heart for it in the real world. Run along skippy.

  108. Jenos Idanian says:

    OK, I have a smidgen of curiousity. How many cannons does the Army have today? Let’s work up some rough numbers.

    We’ve built over 9,000 M1 Abrams tanks, but we’ve lost a few. Call it 8,000. it has either a 105mm or 120mm cannon.

    We’ve got about 6,000 M2/M3 Bradleys, which has a 25mm autocannon.

    The Army has about 700 Apache helicopters, which carry a 30mm autocannon.

    In artillery (“classic cannons”), the Army has four models — the M102, the M118, the M198, and the M777. They have roughly 4,000 of those in total.

    Toss in the cannons that can be put on helicopters in pods, and that puts the total to around 20,000. And that doesn’t include cannons that are used as optional equipment on helicopters, let alone all the Air Force’s cannons.

    My, the stupid is strong in you.

  109. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: You should be glad I called you that. It gave you an excuse to ignore how I pointed out that you, like Mr. Reynolds, are both incredibly ignorant about things you are incredibly arrogant about.

    You can’t even be honest in your snark.

  110. anjin-san says:

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  111. Jenos Idanian says:

    I concur. Trying to deal with your idiocy is remarkably boring. You and Mr. Reynolds seem to positively revel in showing how little you know, and how proud you are of it.

    I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever seen anyone with so little modesty, and so much to be modest about…

  112. Rob in CT says:

    You’re doing an excellent impression of the Black Knight in Monty Python & the Holy Grail. Your leg’s come off and you’re going ’round yelling “it’s just a flesh wound!”

    Romney made a statement that most people granted was technically true (less ships now than at any time since 1917, though as pointed out by David he couldn’t even manage to get that quite right), but is pointless.

    The guy said, in the same statement, that we have fewer military aircraft now than we did in 1947. Well… yeah. Same problem. The USAF and the USN are massively more powerful now than they were in 1917/1947, relative the threats we face.

    It was a sloppy “Obama has made us weak” attack designed to rile up the base, nothing more, and here you’ve made a slew of posts trying to defend the indefensible. Having done that, you whine that everyone disagreeing with you is “in the tank” for Obama.

    Newslfash: half the time I find myself defending Obama, it’s only because of the ridiculous attacks being thrown his way. I’ve found myself in many discussions where I’m the guy ripping him (this is common on leftier blogs, regarding things like his detention policies, drone warfare/assassination, overfriendlyness to Wall St. insiders, healthcare reform, and his overall negoation stance vs. the GOP).

    The derision you’re encountering is due to the ridiculous argument you keep trying to defend.

  113. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rob in CT: Romney made a statement that most people granted was technically true (less ships now than at any time since 1917, though as pointed out by David he couldn’t even manage to get that quite right), but is pointless.

    The guy said, in the same statement, that we have fewer military aircraft now than we did in 1947. Well… yeah. Same problem. The USAF and the USN are massively more powerful now than they were in 1917/1947, relative the threats we face.

    Here’s a lesson in how the left plays, Rob. A conservative/Republican says something. The left immediately denounces it as a shameless lie. A little investigation then shows that it is actually true. So then the left has to “interpret” the original statement to show that while it might be literally accurate, it’s somehow misleading or irrelevant or in some other way dishonest.

    Read back. Only one side here is arguing in absolutes — and that’s your side, that numbers are totally irrelevant. I’ve been perfectly consistent — in many ways, quantity is preferable to quantity. But not in every case. And I cited several examples where quantity trumped quality.

    Your side could have taken the honest position — “Romney’s statement is technically accurate, but not overly relevant.” I’d have probably gone along with that — maybe quibbled with the degree, but that’s about it. Instead, your side (by which, I am not necessarily including you) doubled down again and again on stupid, insisting on their absolute definition.

    It’s symptomatic here. Mr. Reynolds made an absolute declaration about aircraft carriers serving no role Iraq and Afghanistan. He also said that battleships played no effective role in World War II. Anjin got all snide about how the Army has far fewer cannons today than it did during the Civil War, when they most likely have far more. And when I proved both of them wrong, completely and utterly and totally and laughably wrong, it was completely dismissed as irrelevant.

    Romney was right. Romney had a point. Feel free to disagree about how much of a point it was, but you don’t get to just dismiss it because of your own political prejudices.

    Oh, one more thing: I don’t have the patience to find who said it, but someone said Obama is not cutting the size of our armed services. Again, bullshit. We’re going to lose a carrier group very soon. The Enterprise is slated to be decommissioned this year, and its replacement — the Gerald R. Ford — won’t be in service until 2015 at the soonest. So under Obama, we’re going to go from 12 carriers to 11. The Enterprise, commissioned 50 years ago, is the second-oldest commissioned ship in the Navy — only surpassed by the USS Constitution, or “Old Ironsides.” It’s entirely possible that three or even four generations of sailors could have served aboard her.

  114. anjin-san says:

    when they most likely have far more. And when I proved both of them wrong,

    So you really don’t know the difference between you saying “most likely” and “proof” do you?

    At any rate, the canon/musket thing was a joke line, not an argument – you apparently can’t tell the difference, and off to the Google you go to do a head count on canon. Good Lord dude, get a life.

  115. Rob in CT says:

    Here’s a lesson in how the left plays, Rob. A conservative/Republican says something. The left immediately denounces it as a shameless lie. A little investigation then shows that it is actually true.

    Bullshit.

    What he said was actually both technically false and silly. He asserted that we had fewer ships now than AT ANY TIME SINCE 1917. Setting aside the sillyness of just counting the # of ships, as David M pointed out about THAT’S NOT EVEN TRUE.

    Further, “my side” (which is actually a large group expressing slightly different views) is generally arguing that we simply do not have a numbers problem: not that numbers are totally irrelevant. If we had 1 ship, no matter how powerful, that wouldn’t work for us. Duh.

    Your side could have taken the honest position — “Romney’s statement is technically accurate, but not overly relevant.”

    That’s the position “my side” took, you fool! That’s exactly the damned position taken by “the Left” in general, and the commenters here. The stuff about carriers in the Med, Iraq, etc. started after you came in, trying to ride to Romney’s rescue.

    And then it turns out that “technically accurate” wasn’t even right. So we granted “your side” too much it seems.

    Oh, one more thing: I don’t have the patience to find who said it, but someone said Obama is not cutting the size of our armed services. Again, bullshit.

    So, a (temporary) reduction from 12 to 11 carriers = reducing our Armed Forces. Don’t you think an analysis of the the other services might matter here? No, of course not. You’re so invested at this point in making what Romney said true that you don’t care.

    You haven’t a shred of intellectual honesty.

  116. Rob in CT says:

    Since you’re so wound up about the meanies in the comments, how about you refute Doug’s post?

    He’s making the same argument the rest of us are. And he’s no leftist in the tank for Obama.

    He just has a functioning frontal lobe.

  117. Rob in CT says:

    One last thing, and then I’m really done with this idiocy:

    So, a (temporary) reduction from 12 to 11 carriers

    Which you note involves replacing the oldest one with a brand new “supercarrier.”

    So in 2015 we’ll be back to 12, and it’ll be a more potent 12.

    Some gutting of the military!

  118. anjin-san says:

    @ Rob

    It’s also worth noting that Janos was not able to cite a single credible threat to our naval dominance, despite repeated requests to do so. All we got is that Jack Sparrow is somehow menacing British oil interests, therefore we need more ships.

  119. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Oh, that’s rich. The lying sack who has no clue about grammar and geography is lecturing me on “canons.” Unless we’re talking Church laws, it’s “cannons.” Thanks, I needed the laugh.

    As far as the threat to our naval dominance, I DID address that. We face no credible conventional, force-on-force threat. We face unconventional threats — Iran’s mines and diesel electric subs in the Persian Gulf can cause us problems. China’s working on a land-based missile that can threaten our carriers, even far out at sea. And we nearly lost a billion-dollar destroyer to two idiots in a speedboat suicide bomb. That’s just three, off the top of my head.

    Good lord, are you so mentally limited that you can only imagine like on like conflicts? Again, look at Iraq and Afghanistan. Having carriers gave us completely secure air bases that were utterly indifferent to both host country’s political whims and enemy counterattack. That’s utterly priceless. I know you want to go all off on arguing the merits of the conflict, but that’s irrelevant to the Navy’s role — they don’t make policy, they carry it out. And those abilities of carriers are virtually priceless. Experts agree that France’s refusal of overflight rights back when Reagan bombed Kadaffi most likely accounted for the loss of at least one aircraft and crew as they flew south from England, east through the Strait of Gibraltar, and then over the Mediterranean to get there and back.

    And as far as your oh-so-cute “Jack Sparrow” reference — fighting pirates has been a primary duty of navies for literally thousands of years. Fewer numbers of ships means less efforts against the pirates off Somalia. And that’s just the one spot that gets all the attention — it took the cooperation of three nations to make the Strait of Malacca safe again.

    And yes, that is our responsibility. Fighting pirates and maintaining the freedom of the seas is the responsibility of every Navy. As I said, it’s been that way for a couple of thousand years.

    I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone who has more condescension with less reason to feel anything but abject inferiority. It’s absolutely astonishing.

  120. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Here, educate yourself. 26 attacks or attempted attacks already this year, or one a day so far.

  121. anjin-san says:

    One last thing, and then I’m really done with this idiocy:

    Think I will join you. I’m kinda bored with the phantom menace to Brazilian shipping lanes and the threat of the US Navy being inadequate to battle Somali pirates.

  122. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rob in CT: I’m sorry, I presumed you knew that the administration is considering retiring carriers early and slowing down new carriers to save money — cutting the carrier fleet to 10 or even 9 ships. My apologies for the assumption.

    And even if that doesn’t pass, we’ll be down to 11 for three years at least. Yes, technically “temporary,” but a hell of a long time for “temporary.”

    As for Mr. Mataconis… he’s thoroughly denounced every single Republican candidate who’s held the lead or even come close, and pronounced that a second term for Obama wouldn’t be that bad. I’d feel fairly comfortable wagering that come October or November, he will “reluctantly” endorse Obama, holding his nose while he casts his vote.

  123. matt says:

    @Rob in CT: Yes superior tactics delectably provided the biggest advantage for the Germans.

    @An Interested Party: I was smelling that several threads ago but I didn’t want to say anything until others saw what I thought I saw.

  124. anjin-san says:

    Jenos Idanian smells suspiciously like Jay Tea…

    That’s a plausible theory. You have the same bone headed refusal to give up on a losing argument, and the same endless self-congratulations and proclamations of victory in the argument. Also the same barrages of Googled up facts combined with a complete inability to grasp the big picture. And JT fancied himself to be a military buff.

    I also get the same sense that I am talking to someone who is cranky because they never get laid.

    More will be revealed.