Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Speaker, I wish to address an issue raised by Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell when they unveiled the `bottom-up review.' This review of our defense requirements outlined the administration's bold plan to meet the challenges we face in the post-cold war world.
It is obvious that the world is changing very rapidly in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Our national defense requirements are changing as well.
The United States faces new dangers that require new strategies. the post-cold war world will be highlighted by a wide range of nation states that are unstable and whose actions will be unpredictable.
As proven by the gulf war and as clearly enunciated in the bottom-up review, aircraft carriers are the centerpiece of our Nation's response to such regional conflicts.
Today I will speak about the need to maintain a flexible and capable carrier force. Specifically, I will address the need to fund CVN-76, the next Nimitz class aircraft carrier as soon as possible.
We here in Congress will play an important part in reshaping our military to meet the defense requirements of the next decade. Mr. Speaker, as a Nation, we are at an important turning point and the decisions we make this year on defense issues will help shape our armed services as we move into the next century.
In the past, Congress has been party to rapid downsizing of our military. After World War II, we dramatically reduced our Armed Forces and we did so very rapidly. We have found that after each major downsizing we have had to rebuild our forces to meet the continuing threats of a dangerous world.
Our Nation is again downsizing defense and it is important that we get it right! We must both gain from the victory in the cold war and still maintain a strong enough capacity to lead in the still dangerous world we face. These dangers are very clear when we think of what is now happening in places like the Balkans, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Nuclear proliferation, regional instability, and terrorism are but a few of the dangers facing this Nation. Some of these threats can be anticipated, but many cannot. In this environment, America needs to remain strong militarily. This can only be done if we have a modern, flexible, capable and mobile military force to meet all threats to our national security.
As our Nation continues to adapt to this changing international environment and the new kinds of dangers we face, it is important for Congress to help reshape our military forces to meet these new hostile challenges.
Clearly, the past 40 years of U.S.-Soviet nuclear confrontation are gone. Now we face a new world where regional conflict, ethnic wars, and economic competition are the rule. Further compounding these challenges is the fact that we are closing many of our bases overseas.
The Secretary of Defense has correctly stated that, in this environment, our national security strategy must give renewed attention to power projection, mobility and forward presence. We will need military forces that can move rapidly to meet any crises that endangers important U.S. interests. This can only be accomplished with a strong and well equipped Navy.
As Dr. Jacquelyn Davis of the Institute for Foreign Policy points out in her recently published monograph, `Aircraft Carriers and The Role of Naval Power in the Twenty-First Century:' `The routine deployment in key regional theaters of U.S. aircraft carriers could mean the difference between stability and crisis for people caught up in conflicts emanating from religious intolerance, ethnic rivalries, historical regional antagonism, resource disputes, or other conflict sources coming to dominate the post-cold war setting.'
Ultimately, aircraft carriers are the instrument called upon most frequently when aggression must be stopped. More importantly, they are the diplomatic instrument used to
contain conflict and prevent wars from breaking out in the first place.
We saw a clear example of the importance of aircraft carriers when Kuwait was invaded. Within 48 hours, U.S. aircraft carriers were in the region. Many people believe if the carriers were not there, Saddam Hussein may have invaded Saudi Arabia and quickly gained control of a huge portion of the oil reserves of the Middle East.
Mr. Speaker, very few people dispute the need for nuclear aircraft carriers. The core issue is quite simple. How many carriers are needed to complete the Navy's vital missions? Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and General Colin Powell make strong arguments that this Nation needs at least 12. However, I suggest no matter how many carriers we decide to maintain, the critical concern should be that these carriers are modern and capable.
As the newly elected Member of Congress from the Third Congressional District of Virginia, I have the privilege of representing the working people of Newport News, VA, and I have the privilege of having the largest and most capable shipyard in the world in my district.
Because I represent Newport News and because the issue of building the next aircraft carrier will be before the Congress soon, I have studied this issue very carefully.
I am sure, Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise that I support the aircraft carrier. It means hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs for the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. But that reason alone, is obviously not sufficient. There are strong arguments on the merits and I want to share with my colleagues some of the facts and some of the arguments which persuaded me that building CVN-76 is in our national interest.
The case for CVN-76 rests basically on four pillars: National security strategy; preserving the industrial base; cost effectiveness; and economic stimulus.
Mr. Speaker, each of these pillars has merit and I would like to outline briefly the arguments on each of these themes.
The first element is our national security. Aircraft carriers are a proven weapon system. Aricraft carriers have provided every President beginning with Franklin Roosevelt with an effective means of power projection and military force. Presidents Reagan and Bush used aircraft carriers in over 30 crisis situations, including the use of 8 carrier groups in the Persian Gulf war. Even President Clinton has found it necessary to deploy aircraft carriers in the first few months of his administration.
In fact, every President and every Secretary of State since World War II has come to appreciate the utility of the aircraft carrier as a crisis management tool; as an element of diplomacy; and, as we saw in the Persian Gulf war, a highly effective part of overall U.S. military forces in combat.
As Secretary Aspin stated in the bottom-up review, `The flexibility of our carriers, and their ability to operate effectively with relative independence from shore bases, makes them well suited to overseas presence operations, especially in areas where our land-based military infrastructure is relatively underdeveloped.'
The aircraft carrier has been and continues to be a cost effective element of our national security strategy. We do not have many of them and they have to cover every important region of the world. They are probably the hardest working elements of our military forces. We expect our aircraft carriers to be forward deployed. We expect our sailors to spend 6 or 7 months at a time at sea--away from their families. It is for this reason that I believe our carriers should be the most modern and capable the Congress can provide.
A second element, Mr. Speaker, is that building CVN-76 is important as a means of preserving our U.S. industrial base--particularly our nuclear shipbuiling industrial base. Secretary Les Aspin last year published a paper on the defense industrial base and that study emphasized the precarious situation in the nuclear shipbuilding industrial base. The bottom-up review also illustrated the need to maintain this base.
If we do not build CVN-76 in the near-term, our ability to build an aircraft carrier in the future will be in jeopardy. This is not just my view. It is the view of the Navy Department which has testified before Congress many times. Even a 1-year delay in funding for CVN-76 will result in the loss of critical skills which will take up to 5 years to reconstitute via new hires and training. A longer delay could cause a permanent loss in the skills necessary to maintain our carrier force.
Mr. Speaker, a third important factor with respect to CVN-76 is the question of cost-effectiveness. Carriers last a long time. They have a service life of more than 50 years and their costs should be amortized over this half century of service. A lot of this kind of cost benefit analysis is impossibly complicated and technical. Some of it cannot be quantified. How do you measure the costs or the cost savings
of the war that did not happen; you cannot measure the lives that were not lost; you cannot measure the economic hardship that did not happen because Saddam Hussein did not invade Saudi Arabia. These costs, or these benefits, are intangible in detail but they are nonetheless very real--and they are the reasons that the United States has been willing to shoulder the costs of a strong Navy in the past.
Mr. Speaker, there is another aspect of cost effectiveness that is important to consider. If we delay building a new aircraft carrier, the cost will go up. To delay funding from fiscal year 1994 to fiscal year 1995 will add an additional $300 million. A delay of 1 more year--to fiscal year 1996--would raise the cost by another $500 million dollars. Delay in building CVN-76 is not cost efficient. Funding CVN-76 as soon as possible is in the best interest of the taxpayer and it makes good business sense.
There is one more cost factor to keep in mind, Mr. Speaker, and that is that the costs of building another carrier are known and they are under control. Unlike so many other major defense programs where costs are really unknown, the costs of building the next carrier are certain. In fact, the man hours required to construct CVN-75 will be 19 percent less than the man hours needed to build CVN-71. Due to the learning curve, CVN-76 will be built more efficiently than any of its predecessors.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, the fourth pillar in the case for CVN-76 is an economic one--a jobs one--an economic stimulus one--and yes, a fairness one. There are tens of thousands of jobs hanging in the balance depending on whether we build CVN-76. There are more than 6,000 jobs involved just in my district. More important, there are many times more jobs involved around the country. In fact, there are suppliers in 43 States.
Mr. Speaker, I am also concerned that, if the carrier is not funded, a disproportionate share of the economic burden will fall on those who can least afford it. They are the skilled workers--highly trained. They are not minimum wage people. These are the hard-working people who are a critical part of the local community. And once these men and women lose their jobs, it is unlikely that equally high paying positions will be available. There is no reason for this to happen when their jobs are vital to our Nation. This country needs their skills and these people need their jobs.
Mr. Speaker, I don't believe jobs alone are a persuasive case for any defense program--even if a large portion of those jobs are in my district. However, as I have pointed out, there is a strong case for CVN-76 on the merits--on military, diplomatic and industrial base grounds. I urge my colleagues to consider these issues carefully. I am confident you too will conclude that building CVN-76 is in the national interest and should be supported.