If I may make a brief Public Service Announcement for the Navy, a story from Aviation Week on 1 April provides a good opportunity to illustrate the utility of a Navy. Looks like the Air Force is trying to buy a little of the capability the Navy already has:
The F-22 could be carrying an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile, costing less than $1 million, in a few years if the military and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) decide to hone the capabilities of a new missile defense weapon from Raytheon.
A derivative of the Aim-120 AMRAAM, the Pentagon’s established long-range air-to-air missile, is once again being tailored for a new mission – this time the interception of Scud-type short and medium-range ballistic missiles.
But a senior U.S. Air Force official confides that the capability is inherently that of a cheap, rapidly-deployed, air-launched weapon for shooting down satellites in low-Earth orbit if the service or Missile Defense Agency were to order its further refinement and development.
I'm not sure whether this is just a case of the "me too's" or if the Air Force is hunting for arguments to buy more F-22s. I do know one thing, though. When the Army and Air Force start talking about being "rapidly-deployed", the Navy and Marine Corps not only are already there, we probably have been there long enough to know where the best fishing spots are. And we don't need the permission of another country to do what we do.
The Army and Air Force worked through some severe growing pains when the War on Terror began. They had little experience with extended forward deployments and the wear and tear on people and equipment deployments produce. Meanwhile, the Naval Services had spent nearly a century with Sailors and Marines deployed around the globe every day of the year.
Try as they might, the garrison services will never be able to buy the kind of enduring presence a suitable Navy maintains.