Having read recently of the substantive cuts in manpower that face the military I wanted to comment on one area where substantial cost savings can be realized while simultaneously improving the United State's defense readiness.
Congress and the president agree that our newest aircraft carrier, CVN-77, must be ready by 2008. By adopting an accelerated schedule, Congress can see to it that the carrier is built on time and at enormous savings.
This "smart buy" schedule will save taxpayers $600 million because it recognized that carrier production lines cannot be turned on and off like a water spigot. By starting the carrier in 1998, rather than 2002 as currently planned, it helps ensure that the ship is delivered on time and without the extra cost of restarting production lines.
As a former member of the U.S. Air Force, I believe we should commit to maintaining our carrier fleet with the most sensible procurement plan. "Smart buy" is good for our economy and for our national defense. Certainly in this time of budget savings, both Democrats and Republicans, including Sens. Cleland, D-Ga., and Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., should find this plan suitable to all taxpayers.
Percy Toney, Augusta