“The submarine-based deterrent is considered advanced and strong, the most survivable when we are attacked,” [Frank] Hoffman, [who until June 2011 was a senior Navy capabilities and readiness executive and now is at the National Defense University] says. “But since its purpose is to deter attacks, it is most survivable when it’s failed. It has huge investment costs.”
“The replacement being developed for the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine is expected to cost between $6 billion and $8 billion per copy, with the first purchased in the latter part of this decade. Hoffman warns that when the Navy, which now spends about $14 billion to $15 billion annually on shipbuilding, starts buying one ballistic-missile submarine a year, it will consume half of that budget over the ensuing 12 years.
““The rest of the Navy is going to shrink and erode, so you are not as present, you’re going to be late, you are going to respond later,” Hoffman says. “So the nation needs to decide where it needs to place its strategic-deterrent investment.” Hoffman suggests that the land-based and air-based deterrent would be sufficient, noting that nations such as China are already pursuing a “minimalist” deterrent capability.
“Within the military establishment, Hoffman’s argument is tantamount to blasphemy.” [emphasis mine]
Excerpted from Frank Oliveri’s excellent November 21, 2011, Congressional Quarterly article “Pentagon: The Power of Intertia”. Apologies for not providing a link; the story is subscription only.