Defense budget proposal could impact LCS program

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon announced a military cut plan Monday that could greatly impact some workers in our area.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel advised the Navy to buy 32 littoral combat ships, instead of 52.

The ships are being built at Marinette Marine and another contractor. Roughly 2,000 jobs are linked directly with the program in Marinette alone.

Hagel says he is worried the Navy is relying too heavily on the LCS program.

“If we were to build out the LCS program to 52 ships, as previously planned, it would represent one-sixth of our future 300-ship Navy. Given continued fiscal restraints, we must direct future shipbuilding resources toward platforms that can operate in every region and along the full spectrum of conflict,” said Hagel.

Lockheed Martin, the general contractor for the program, released the following statement: “We are currently reviewing the Pentagon’s spending plan as outlined today by Secretary Hagel, and we’ll continue to assess the budget once the President delivers it to Congress and they begin their appropriations process.”

The proposal from Hagel is just a proposal. Congress can change it. It was part of a broad plan to reduce the size of the Army and close some military bases.

Rep. Reid Ribble, a Green Bay-area Republican, released a statement, it reads in part: “The future of the LCS, or its next iteration, is far from settled and there are numerous debates and discussions that will be occurring in the days and weeks ahead. I have had dozens of discussions with the Navy, Marinette Marine, and the Department of Defense on the needs of the Navy and the future of the LCS and I will continue to work aggressively on preserving our national security during an era of limited defense budgets.”

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, released a statement, it reads in part: “In a very dangerous world, the last thing we should do is displace defense funding priorities to fit ideological or political wishes. We should accurately assess the threats our nation faces, then structure our forces to meet and prevail over those threats. Congress and the Obama administration should then budget appropriately to ensure those challenges are met.”

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin also released a statement, it reads in part: “I have fought for and will continue to fight for this program because it employs thousands of hardworking Wisconsinites and positively impacts not only the local community but has a ripple effect across the state, boosting our made in Wisconsin economy.”

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