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CURRENT ISSUE

ARM MERCHANT SHIPS?
Should merchant ships transiting high risk areas carry small arms for defense against pirates?

Selected crew should be trained and have guns available
Professional armed security teams should be hired
No guns on merchant ships, ever

June 1, 2009

Congressman wants Navy shipbuilding plan, now

Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, is not best pleased that when the Obama Administration produced the FY 2010 defense budget it was not accompanied by a 30 year shipbuilding plan.

In a statement on May 22 he noted that "Title 10, Chapter 9, Section 231 U.S.C. specifically mandated that the Secretary of Defense include with the defense budget a 30-year shipbuilding plan for the Navy and a certification that 'both the budget for that fiscal year and the future-years defense program' would be sufficient to meet the plan. If the budget could not meet the plan, the Secretary is required by statute to describe and discuss 'the risks associated with the reduced force structure of naval vessels that will resultÉ' The Secretary submitted none of this information with his budget."

"This information is essential for Members of Congress to analyze the defense budget and ensure the country will have a navy strong enough to meet our national security needs," said Rep. Forbes. "Without it, there are huge concerns that we will not have adequate funds for shipbuilding, ship repair, and ship maintenance."

The Administration wants to hold off on publishing a plan until this year's Quadrennial Defense Review is completed.

This isn't good enough for Rep. Forbes. He and seven other Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee have filed a "resolution of inquiry" directing Defense Secretary Robert Gates to file a shipbuilding plan.

The Armed Services Committee has only 14 days in which to consider the resolution of inquiry before it goes to the floor of the full House. Observers believe the full House will reject the measure, but Rep. Forbes will have ensured that the issue gets attention.

"At a time when China is rapidly closing the 23-ship gap between their navy and ours, and at a time when our Navy is operating with $4.6 billion in unmet requirements," said Rep. Forbes in a statement issued today, "Americans would be shocked to know that the Department of Defense cannot or will not produce a key plan for the future of our naval fleet."


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