I’ve recently found this Reuters article:
When earlier this year (on May 6th, IIRC), Gates questioned the requirements for 11 carriers and 33 amphibious ships, he was disproven by his own service chiefs and the USN’s weapons buyer!
Gates made false claims about the unit prices of American warships and claimed that because no other navy had more than 1 aircraft carrier (British Invincible class small carriers didn’t count), the USN doesn’t 11 such ships. Gates, who knows nothing about defense issues, is unaware of the fact that the USN needs 11 carriers to project military might across the globe, and deliver its fighterplanes wherever they may be needed, even if foreign countries don’t allow the US military to use their bases.
The Navy’s weapons buyer, Sean Stackley, and the Chairman of the JCS, Admiral Michael Mullen, himself a former CNO, said that the USN needs 11 aircraft carriers.
As for amphibious assault ships, Gates said that because America’s enemies have purchased, and continue to produce, access-denial weapons, amphibious landings are no longer feasible and therefore the USN doesn’t need amphibious warships and the USMC doesn’t need amphibious vehicles.
He was disproven by his own USMC Commandant (whom he recommended to President Bush in 2007), Gen. James Conway, who said that these ships and vehicles are absolutely necessary:
“In addition, he circled back to his doubts, first voiced publicly last April, about amphibious warfare. He repeated questions about a projected $13.2 billion Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program for the Marine Corps.
The Commandant, General James Conway, has said it is “an absolute critical requirement” for the Marines. (…) The Navy and Marine Corps have determined they can make do with no fewer than 33 amphibious warfare ships, Stackley, the assistant Navy secretary for research, development and acquisition, testified Thursday.
Lieutenant General George Flynn, the deputy Marine commandant for combat development and integration who also testified, said 33 such ships represented a “limit in acceptable risk” for two Marine expeditionary brigades to punch their way through enemy shores.”
Gates’s own CNO, Admiral Gary Roughead, also defended amphibious warships earlier this year, saying that they are extremely flexible and therefore, the USN needs them.
The new USMC commandant appointed this year, on Gates’s recommendation, Gen. James Amos, also says that the Department of the Navy needs at least 33 amphibious ships, because they’re flexible and can deliver troopers, military equipment and humanitarian supplies alike, wherever and whenever needed. He pointed out the important role played by amphibious ships of the USN during the Haitian crisis earlier this year, when the ships delivered supplies by sea, while the Port-au-Prince airport was clogged.
Gates, when corrected by his own service chiefs, should humbly apologize and correct his mistakes.