Since the Navy announced their goal of reaching a 355-ship fleet, policymakers at the branch have seen that as a key goal. However the plan is seeing some potential changes as the nature of warfare continues to evolve. A new proposal looks to cut the fleet number significantly, and utilize unmanned systems to take up the slack. Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow & Director of Research for Foreign Policy at Brookings says that while the cuts don’t impact the current structure, it will change the future of the Navy.
“We should take note that the 287 ships is more or less where we are today. In terms of future plans, we’re talking about cuts. In terms of actual force structure, We are talking about accepting a steady state rather than the 20-25 percent that the Navy aspired to since the end of the Obama administration,” O’Hanlon said.
Daniel Goure, Senior Vice President of the Lexington Institute, is skeptical of the plan, as it relies on technology that might not be ready.
“We are years away from knowing if you can in fact develop, operate, command, control these kinds of unmanned systems,” Goure said. “What you have now is a very well thought out program for advanced ships that can be built, can be operated, can be commanded and integrated. Why at this point leap ahead?”