Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson this week addressed Defense Secretary Ash Carter's recent memo to Navy leadership directing the service to curtail procurement of the Littoral Combat Ship.
During a Jan. 11 luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, Richardson said "the specifics" of carrying out Carter's direction "are still to be determined," adding that it would be premature to discuss the fiscal year 2017 budget submission. But Richardson said he believes it's important to avoid getting trapped in a debate over "capability versus capacity" among U.S. naval forces.
"These are not 'either-or' decisions," Richardson said. "These are 'both-and' decisions. We'll always strive to balance within our available resources to deliver the Navy that the nation expects to execute our mission to protect America and protect our influence around the world, protect our sea lanes and prosperity."
"That's the real heart of it," he continued, "is to sort of, try not to get drawn into those 'either-or' decisions. There are real traps associated with that."
Carter's Dec. 14 memo to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus criticized the service for investing too much money in shipbuilding "at the expense of critically needed investments in areas where our adversaries are not standing still, such as strike, ship survivability, electronic warfare and other capabilities." Carter directs the Navy to cut the total LCS purchase from 52 ships to 40 and instead apply its resources toward additional Joint Strike Fighters, advanced munitions, destroyer updates and submarine upgrades.
The White House is expected to formally roll out the FY-17 federal budget request on Feb. 9.