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Cut two Navy Carriers

WASHINGTON An internal Office of the Secretary of Defense assessment calls for the Navy to cut two aircraft carriers from its fleet, freeze the large surface combatant fleet of destroyers and cruisers around current levels and add dozens of unmanned or lightly manned ships to the inventory, according to documents obtained by Defense News.

The study calls for a fleet of nine carriers, down from the current fleet of 11, and for 65 unmanned or lightly manned surface vessels. The study calls for a surface force of between 80 and 90 large surface combatants, and an increase in the number of small surface combatants between 55 and 70, which is substantially more than the Navy currently operates.

The assessment is part of an ongoing DoD-wide review of Navy force structure and seem to echo what Defense Secretary Mark Esper has been saying for months: the Defense Department wants to begin de-emphasizing aircraft carriers as the centerpiece of the Navy's force projection and put more emphasis on unmanned technologies that can be more easily sacrificed in a conflict and can achieve their missions more affordably.

A DoD spokesperson declined to comment on the force structure assessment.

"We will not comment on a DoD product that is pre-decisional, said Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt.



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