The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1000
Dear Mr. Secretary:
As you prepare the fiscal year 2008 budget for the Department of Defense, we write to urge that you increase the Navy's top line allocation in order to provide the necessary resources of $14 billion for new naval ship procurement.
Admiral Mullen, the Chief of Naval Operations, has submitted a 313-ship plan to Congress, and the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review endorsed building a larger fleet. According to the CNO, approximately $14 billion is needed annually to finance the ship construction outlined in the Navy's long-term plan. While the top line budget of the Department of Defense has increased over 50 percent since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, the ship procurement budget has been reduced by 17 percent, shrinking our naval fleet from 341 ships in 2001 to 280 ships today. Capability is important to be sure, but numbers also matter because of the need for continued global presence.
Our national security requires that a high priority be placed upon providing sustained funding to maintain and build up our naval fleet to counter existing and emerging threats. DoD's own reports have highlighted the rapid expansion of China's blue water Navy. Some experts have projected that China's Navy will outnumber the U.S. fleet by 2015-less than one decade from now. Intelligence reports have also underscored the fact that China is rapidly improving the capability of the naval ships it is building. A robust U.S. fleet, and the funding required to build and maintain that force, is essential to our nation's security.
Your support of the budget requirements outlined by our Navy leadership is critical if the decline of our fleet is to be reversed. Thank you for your leadership in this important area to strengthen our homeland and national security.