Due to the seriousness of the news lately I decided to do a second posting in twenty four hours just for the fun of it.
”Senator Downs will not be rejoining us so let’s get this meeting started. I know all of you have questions.”
”First a couple of quick statements. In order to eliminate leaks to the media – both print and electronic – there are a variety of changes to security procedures in the Executive office building. In all of the White House all conversations, all discussions, all notes and all hand out materials will be considered classified top secret.”
”That is also why you were required to sign new security forms. I can promise you any leaks will be aggressively investigated and responsible parties will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” I said.
”I know all of you are upset about your phones being collected. I ordered that to end interruptions by texts and calls and to prevent recordings of the conversations spoken in here.”
”I will tell you that the daily White House press briefings may be discontinued soon. That decision is on hold pending legal advisement. However, if the press briefings are continued the number of press with passes will be greatly reduced,” I said.
”Some of you I know by name and some I do not, but know I am working to correct that shortcoming. Today, if you would, please state your name before you speak to help me,” I said.
”Who wants to go first, or do you prefer that I go down one side of the table and then the other?”
”Senator Bob Ajax, North Carolina. The press release has got Navy installations and shipyards on edge. Would you expand on your reasoning?” he asked.
”Yes. Since the attack on my convoy in Pakistan, and the double transition from Vice President to President there have been several changes to intelligence collection, including adding some new techniques and new locations that are proving beneficial.”
”Through them we have learned of Iran’s terrorist plans for the next year. Those plans include coordinated attacks on US installations in the Middle East as well on our allies in the region by Iran or Iran’s IRG trained surrogates. They also include a more aggressive posture in the Somalia, Yemen and Sudan civil wars and even building a base in Ethiopia.” I said.
”That said I was extremely disappointed to find that there were no carrier task forces available for at least four to six months – and then only one for sure – to respond the these possibilities. The rest of them were months or years away,” I said.
”General Ingram and I decided, based on the intercepted information, that more were needed. Much more and sooner than the months and years predicted. Too much dock time was being assigned to the Fordson and Kennedy.”
“Repairs to other carriers were being put off and the budgets used in an attempt to cure the unending problems to the Fordson class. We will have more carriers at sea sooner by halting work on the Fordson, Kennedy and Enterprise,” I said.
”Next.” I said.
”Senator Jack Daniels, Tennessee. You did not expand on the cancellation on the fourth carrier,” he said.
”The fourth and fifth in the Fordson class are on hold pending cancellation. In my opinion carriers are nearly obsolete now and certainly will be long before their life cycle ends. ”
”Unfortunately the Navy – and I should include the Air Force – are still using tactics developed in WW2 as a models. The carrier to carrier battles at two or three hundred miles by plane is a thing of the past.”
”The only reason China is building so many carriers is to project power to intimidate its small island neighbors. In a war their intent is draw our carriers close enough so they can use swarms of land based long range missiles and overwhelm their defenses.”
”That is why China went on an island building campaign. It was to extend and implement an effective swarm policy and make the South China Sea a no-man’s land for US surface ships in the event of a conflict.”
”By fortifying the South China Sea atolls , islands and coral reef into military bases, mainland China has essentially protected the mainland from any threat from foreign navies, eliminating one leg of the triad. The only threat would be submarines with cruise missiles, essentially no threat at all unless you go nuclear.”
”China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran have all grasped the swarm concept whether it be on the battlefield with small drones or at sea with missiles. What does it cost them to build a missile? Five hundred thousand? For a billion dollars – the cost of operating a carrier for a year – that is two thousand missiles. Do that math for a couple years.”
”Simultaneously launch one hundred every ten seconds for thirty seconds, how many missiles will get through? More than enough to take it out of the war or sink it.”
General Ingram interrupted, ”That’s a simplified assessment of some of the possibilities that the war college experts are predicting. Swarms present a new challenge in task force defense. As of yet there is no answer.”
”The one possibility is small yield nuclear anti-missile shells that would disrupt the navigation and electronics of a swarm based attack. The problem is – without violating treaties – there is no way to field test the theory and if you did, then the problem with the radioactive fallout is there,” the General said.
”We have gotten a little afar, so returning to the question: the Fordson, Kennedy and the Enterprise have a life of fifty years, possibly seventy years with refits and rebuilds. That takes us into the next century. Do you really think we are going to be launching planes off carrier decks in seventy more years?” I asked.
”The next Enterprise could well be the Starship Enterprise. Technology has moved so much in the last fifty years. The next fifty will make it look like we are still using the horse and buggy today.”
”The moon landings fifty years ago were calculated with slide rules. Today, most engineering students would have to go to a museum to see one. ”
”Artificial intelligence was once a pipe dream. It is now in use and the scholars and ethicists are debating how to use it and protect us from it. Just imagine what’s going to be developed in the next seventy years. You can bet we are not going to be launching fighter planes from carrier decks.”
”Back to today’s reality, these fifteen billion dollar carriers with their billion plus dollar aircraft and billion dollar a year operating cost are consuming too much of the Navy’s budget. To be spending such a limited time on the open seas and so much time at the dock for the amount of funds they consume is unfathomable,” I said.
“Senator Randolph Scott, Ohio. I’m reading between the lines but I think to respond to the threats you are anticipating a Naval and Air Force response versus troops on the ground,” he said.
”The generals and admirals will control any battle but they need tools to do that and those tools cannot be out of service at the dock. Bomb the hell out of them, make anything or place of military value a wasteland and ignore the collateral damage before I even consider troops,” I said.
”Opening Pandora’s box will prove very costly and deadly to them,” I added.
The conversation went on for another hour before they ran out of questions and were satisfied. In the end a new conversation on defense spending was started and asking if we were getting our money’s worth.
I did know one thing; I was going to have some expert Pentagon computer war games players do some war games for me. I had several scenarios I wanted played out to see the results.
Then I met with the VP of Newport News Ship Building. He was not a happy camper and quickly blamed the problems on the Navy. I soon let him know that the fault was spread between them. I told him that once the Nimitz class ships were all back at sea, they could resume work on the Fordson and successful tests of all systems would determine the fate of the last two in the line.
After this morning’s meeting with the Senators, the last two were as good as canceled. But the good politician in me said to dangle the carrot – after all it was an election year.
It was 1300 when the kitchen brought my lunch to me in the Oval Office; today’s lunch was a BLT. Marcy had already eaten and been in contact with the office and the girls. There had been no sign of any Iranian fast boats today.
The listening posts were operating sixteen hours starting today. Tiam was still trying to get more groups to go active on the African continent through normal channels.
Connie came in with President Thomas’ travel schedule. We had discussed it lightly several days ago. President Thomas had agreed to participate in a continuous string of fund raisers until the convention to support the party. The party chairman – Carl Isham – had asked if I would do them.
I talked with Marcy and the girls last weekend about them, wanting the girls to have some input. All of them had had fun at the Atlanta fund raiser and as I expected were more than ready to do more. The next one was next Wednesday at Las Vegas. Then on Saturday night there was one in New York.
This time would be different – we would all fly in Air Force One, it would be a family experience. The second thing would be I had President Thomas’ speech writers working for me now.
The only thing they had to go on was all the news conferences I had given over the years and the fund raisers I had done as VP.
Adam Pierce was the lead writer and I liked him right off the bat. He had one of those sly senses of humor like Ronald Reagan. It sneaked up on you and before you knew it, you were laughing.
Frank Love knocked and then walked in, ”I came to ask about the listening post.”
”The listening post started monitoring sixteen hours today and will go twenty four on Friday. Andy says there are places for you to have one person twenty four seven at the two sites on the Strait, including berthing. There are places for as many as you want at Mirbat,” Marcy said.
”Marcy says there will be extra charges for logistics,” Marcy added with a straight face before breaking into a smile.
Troy and I started looking over – of all things – the budget by looking at the Excel spreadsheet that came with it. The budget for one year was eight trillion five hundred million dollars with one trillion five hundred million in red ink. To me this wasn’t going to fly.
It was an election year; Congress was spending money on any foolhardy idea to make things look good for their district.
The budget was supposed to be passed by October first. In days it would be the first of February – five months spending had already been completed. To make any cuts truly make any real difference, they would have to be drastic in the seven months left.
The spreadsheet had the real numbers without all the special perks to the member’s districts broken down.
It was a three column spreadsheet; one column was last year’s actual spending numbers, then this year’s agency request and the third was the numbers the House and Senate committees had agreed upon.
If I wanted to see the pork (as it was called) for any agency and how any congress person received special funding for his district or special interest, I had to find that section in the budget stacked on the table.
I found I had to read through dozens or hundreds of pages of double spaced appropriations mumbo jumbo. Actually it was nearly garbage level reading.
I finally decided on a plan after Marcy gave Troy and me some pointers on what to look for. We compared last years spent numbers with this year’s budget congressional numbers on the spreadsheet. If there was more than a five percent increase for that item it got a red X.
An aide went through the stack to find out why the difference. Some things were given as much as twenty five percent increases. The reason for it in most cases was simply pork.
We finished one hundred of three hundred Excel pages today. Tomorrow we would complete the rest and then I was going to veto the budget. I would send them a list of my objections to the funding.
I wanted to go through it to be able to say I had read it, politics being what it is. The continuing resolution expired on Friday at midnight.
I hope Congress has a supply of candles and midnight oil.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read By Bob W.