Navy undersecretary says service essential to new defense strategy
NAPLES, Italy — Despite pending challenges, the Navy will weather the coming Pentagon budget cuts better than other services because it is essential to America’s new defense strategy, the Navy’s No. 2 civilian told sailors Thursday in Naples.
Stopping here during a tour of Navy bases in Europe, Undersecretary of the Navy Robert Work touched on big Navy issues and things that directly affect sailors during a session at the Capodichino base.
With fewer ground troops in the Middle East once forces leave Afghanistan, the Navy will be even more essential to American power projection and will thus avoid the brunt of coming budget cuts, Work said.
Despite the early retirement of some ships and the delayed procurement or construction of others in coming years, the Navy does what America’s new strategy needs, Work said.
“The Navy-Marine Corps team did extremely well,” he said.
The sister services will be critical to a new defense posture that emphasizes containment and presence around the western Pacific and the Persian Gulf, areas where rising powers like China, Iran and “all sorts of crazies who are running around causing problems,” can for the first time deny the U.S. access to areas, Work said.
“We’re going to be damn sure we can penetrate and establish access,” he said. “Expeditionary is in our DNA.”
The new Navy will include “very, very buffed-up” SEAL teams, Work said.
He praised the Naples-based 6th Fleet and its variety of missions from Europe to Africa.
“You kick ass every day, and I am damn proud to be part of this organization,” Work said.
He reassured sailors that their pay won’t be cut and that their retirement benefits are safe. He said any future cuts in benefits will be felt by those who join after the changes take effect.
Troops can expect a 1.7 percent pay increase in fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014, but the raises will go down after that, he said.