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Getting a global, nuclear Navy

Walter Pincus wrote that the Navy faces a tough choice: It can buy 12 nuclear-armed submarines or it can maintain a global fleet, but not both. As a vice admiral put it, budget pressures could force the Navy down to “200 ships, at which point we may not be considered a global navy” [“Budget cuts could reshape the country’s ship supply, official says,” Fine Print, May 2].

The answer is to buy fewer nuclear subs. If the Navy buys eight Ohio-class replacement subs instead of 12, it could save $15 billion over 10 years and still deploy 1,000 nuclear warheads on submarines, as planned.

Navy planners argue that eight subs would not be enough to meet current nuclear war plans, which call for hitting hundreds of targets within minutes. But President Obama is expected to revise those plans soon, requiring fewer subs to be on patrol. If he does, the Navy could meets its nuclear requirements and maintain a global fleet.

Tom Z. Collina, Washington

The writer is research director for the Arms Control Association.

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