Were one to suggest that the USA is stepping back from its historical (since 1945) role of global power projection and ability to intervene at time/place of its choosing, then a report such as this would be cited in evidence/support.
The proposed (or predicted) force structure, drawn from the author's analysis, shows a re-alignment towards a threat that is predominantly surface environment - supported by air (surveillance and offense). Would it be jumping to conclusions to suggest that it's Sinocentric? or that an assessment has been made that Russian submarine threat is low and lowering further?
Not withstanding the bias that the author displays, it is quite clear that there is reduced political interest, in Washington, to retain high levels of spending. That is fair, given the need to stabilise the US economy (or reduce the deficit) in the absence of an immediate threat. The risk lies in the accuracy of the strategic, long-term threat forecast. I hope it's more accurate than that of the UK's JIC, which has a 100% record (but not one to be proud of).
The reaction of the Chinese will be interesting to note.
The Navy makes clear the following planning assumptions.
•Battle force inventory of the "2012 Navy FSA" will remain the objective of this plan.*
•In the near term, the Annual budget for Navy shipbuilding will be sustained at the levels of the FY14 President's Budget (PB14) through the Future Year Defense Plan (FYDP). In the mid-term, annual budget will remain at appropriate (higher) levels,; and in the far term, be sustained at appropriate levels (slightly higher than current historical average).
•All battle force ships serve to the end of their planned or extended service lives. **
•The DoN will continue to acquire and build ships in the most affordable manner.
* FSA means Force Structure Assessment.
** Except for those that don't
I cannot explain the third point, except to say it is insulting. How can all battle force ships serve to the end of their planned or extended service lives when the Navy, down on page 21 of the same report, retires 7 CGs and 2 LSDs before their service lives are up? Glad you asked. Basically the Navy is moving these ships to a reserve status so the Navy can say those ships aren't technically retired early.
The submarine threat is soooooo last century, or it was, in MB, allegedly.
The real issue is that the US (and ourselves) have lost control of the cost of activities required to design and build ships and their associated weapon systems. Is there inherently more complex technology in todays ships compared to previous? I suspect in some cases yes, but in others, no and certainly no more complex than some commercial vessels.
What we do tend to do is spend an awful lot more time executing acquisition processes (not always from an informed pov) than we have done previously, which tends to defer immediate expenditure, but makes it more expensive in total. Most importantly, we do not understand how costs are actually incurred. The £675M quoted to install EMCAT on QEC is a case in point. That is somewhere between 7 and 12 million manhours of labour - the equipment cost, design costs and other engineering costs are elsewhere - I cannot conceive how one might actually expend that amount of labour on that activity - and I have built RN ships.
What the US is seeing is a decline in numbers which is being driven by a cost premium that they don't actually understand.....