Navy to conduct new force structure assessment in upcoming year

By Justin Katz / March 7, 2018 at 4:26 PM

The Navy intends to conduct another force structure assessment within the next year to account for the new national defense strategy, according to a senior Navy official. 

"There's a series of events that have to happen before we do the FSA starting with the combatant commanders all the way down to the defense planning guidance that leads us to the scenarios we need to plan for," Vice Adm. William Merz, deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems (N9), told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee yesterday.

He added that multiple studies on the Navy's force architecture all point to the service needing a larger fleet.

"We don't expect much of that to change with the next FSA. There may be some changes on the margin, there may be another number that we're shooting for, but it's going to be bigger than we are today. We have to move out and we have to move out aggressively as we go forward," he said.

Responding to concerns from Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), whose home state of Wisconsin houses shipbuilders that produce littoral combat ships, Merz also said the Navy will revisit the mix of its small surface combatants during the next FSA.

Merz was testifying about the fiscal year 2019 budget request alongside Navy acquisition executive Hondo Geurts and Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

Talking to reporters today after a House Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said, “The [2016] force structure assessment did account for a resurgent Russia, it did account for China, and all sorts of things so it wasn’t a completely uninformed dynamic."

Richardson was testifying about the FY-19 budget today alongside Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.