While North Korea threatens to shoot and sink American aircraft carriers and launch nuclear weapons, Pacific Command is running short of precision-guided munitions. And Pacific Command does not have enough surface ships, submarines and antimissile radars to keep up with current and emerging threats, its commander Adm. Harry Harris told the House Armed Services Committee today.
The admiral got a receptive ear from HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, who told reporters after the hearing that he would like to see Congress step up with more resources for PACOM. But Thornberry admitted that budget brinkmanship in Washington will make that unlikely.
Some of PACOM’s equipment and technology gaps are actually unrelated to the North Korea crisis but are a direct result of the battle against the Islamic State. Harris has loaned Central Command large stockpiles of small diameter bombs and air-to-air Sidewinder missiles. “We need more,” he told the committee. PACOM’s supplies of Mark 48 torpedoes also are dwindling.
Pacific Command may not spend munitions as fast as CENTCOM, but what it does use more than any other U.S. war command is submarines. PACOM today only has 50 percent of what it estimates it needs to keep tabs on North Korea, Chinese and Russian undersea activity.
“The numbers are low and getting smaller,” said Harris. The Navy’s entire attack submarine fleet of 52 is projected to shrink to 42 in a few years unless the Navy gets a big influx of new money. Should Trump’s proposed naval buildup happen, the submarine fleet would expand to 66.
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