There was tension in the House of Representatives hearing room July 31 as Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) called to order a meeting of the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces subcommittee. “This may very well be the most important hearing this subcommittee has held since our hearing last January on the procurement of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles,” Taylor said.
The MRAPs he referred to are specialized armored vehicles designed to protect U.S. troops from roadside bombs in Iraq, the biggest killer of Americans. Since 2006, the Pentagon has spent more than $10 billion in a rush to buy the 15-ton vehicles, which have reportedly saved scores of American lives.
The subject of the July hearing — the topic that had Taylor and his fellow committee members on edge — was a multibillion-dollar warship program that was an order of magnitude more complex than MRAP, five times as expensive and potentially as important. It’s called the DDG-1000 Zumwalt, a ship class that the Navy had hailed as the linchpin of a new military strategy.
But after more than a decade of development at a cost of billions of dollars, the Navy announced in July that it no longer wanted the new ship. Problem was, the sea service couldn’t come up with a coherent reason why.
(Art: Northrop Grumman)