Posted: November 22, 2013 10:54 AM
Navy League Holds Capitol Hill Fly-In
ARLINGTON, Va. — Members of the Navy League of the United States took their message to Congress for the first-ever Navy League Anchors Aweigh Fly-In on Nov. 14. Members visited their representatives and senators and congressional staffers as constituents to advocate on behalf of the sea services, emphasizing their economic and strategic necessity. The event was highly successful, with 83 Navy Leaguers visiting a total of 136 congressional offices.
Navy Leaguers focused on shipbuilding, sequestration, the damages of operating under a continuing resolution, readiness and operational tempo. With the Navy at its smallest fleet size since World War I and the average age of Coast Guard ships at 43 years, shipbuilding is a national concern. The ships of the Navy and Coast Guard maintain freedom of the seas so that American goods can be traded safely across the globe. The budgets of the sea services are under great pressure, made more intense from the draconian cuts under sequestration. These cuts harm the vital shipbuilding industrial base, numerous small businesses that shipyards rely on, delicate maintenance and repair schedules and the training of Sailors, Marines, Coastguardsmen and Merchant Mariners. Navy Leaguers urged Congress to pass a regular appropriations bill so that the military will not have to rely on a continuing resolution for funding. Such resolutions limit the military to the same funding levels as the previous year, resulting in money for programs that are already finished and no funds for new programs that need to be started.
Readiness and operational tempo were also main themes of the Fly-In. A lack of shipbuilding funding, sequestration and congressional reliance on continuing resolutions all harm the readiness of the sea services. Fewer new ships results in current ships in the fleet being deployed for longer periods of time, which increases wear in the vessels and equipment as well as leaving Sailors and Marines and Coastguardsmen tired and with less time spent ashore with their families recovering from the stresses of deployment. Sequestration and the prevalent use of continuing resolutions in lieu of an actual budget exacerbate these challenges, leaving U.S. forces less ready to respond to potential crises around the world.
Navy Leaguers brought a strong message to their members of Congress, specifically urging them to reject changes to the Food for Peace program, which U.S.-flag Merchant Marine ships rely on to maintain their civilian fleet — a vital part of our military sealift capability — and to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and the related appropriations bills as soon as possible.
The Navy League of the United States is a civilian nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to informing the American people and their government that the United States of America is a maritime nation, and that its national defense and economic wellbeing are dependent upon strong sea services — U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine.