Recruiting a 'Nuke'

For U.S. and allies, DOD official tells Congress March 6 The Defense Department’s nuclear deterrent is the ultimate protection for the United States while also assuring distant allies of their security against regional aggression, a senior Pentagon official told Congress March 6. Elaine Bunn, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee that while Defense Department modernization goals largely have not changed since 2010, some adjustments are on the horizon.

One such change, she reported, involves the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty force structure. “The administration is considering how to reduce nondeployed strategic delivery vehicles to comply with the limits of the new START treaty by February 2018,” she said, “and we will make a final force structure decision and inform Congress prior to the start of fiscal year 2015.”

Bunn expressed concern about Russian activity that appears to be inconsistent with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. “We’ve raised the issue with Russia,” she told the senators. They provided an answer that was not satisfactory to us, and we told them that the issue is not closed.”

With regard to recent ethical issues involving Air Force and Navy nuclear personnel, Bunn noted that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has created both internal and external special review panels. “Those reviews are not about assigning blame,” she said. “They’re about identifying, assessing, and correcting any systemic deficiencies that we may uncover and in applying the best practices for carrying out our nuclear mission across the nuclear force.” Bunn also said the recently released 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review makes clear the key role of nuclear forces in the DOD strategy.

“It … supports our ability to project power by communicating to potential nuclear-armed adversaries that they cannot escalate their way out of failed conventional aggression,” Bunn said. The department’s budget request for fiscal year 2015 supports DOD’s nuclear policy goals as laid out in the 2010 nuclear posture review, in the president’s June 2013 nuclear employment strategy, and in the 2014 QDR. Pentagon officials will continue to ensure that administrations have suitable options for deterring, responding to and managing a diverse range of situations, including regional deterrence challenges.

“We continue to work closely with our allies, some of whom live in very dangerous neighborhoods, to ensure continuing confidence in our shared national security goals, including assurance of our extended nuclear deterrence commitments,” she told the Senate panel. Critical to maintaining a safe, secure and effective force is the preservation of the nuclear triad: strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, Bunn said.

Admiral: Aging subs at Ga. Base Need Replacements

The Navy needs to replace the aging Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, and it needs to do it on schedule, the chief of naval operations said Tuesday during a visit to the base. "We have to build an Ohio replacement," Adm. Jonathan Greenert told an audience that included elected officials from Georgia and Florida. "It will happen, and it will be done right. The first ship will be on patrol in 2031." The British Navy is also planning to build a new fleet of ballistic missile submarines, and will share the same nuclear missiles as those on the next generation of submarines that will be built in the United States.

One looming concern is how federal budget constraints will affect the four major ship building companies used by the Navy. "They have the right kind of capabilities. We have to have the industrial base to build the future Navy. It does limit our options," he said of cuts.

He said the world is dependent on its oceans, where 90 percent of global trade travels and 80 percent of the world's population lives within 100 miles of an ocean.

"These places need to be stable or it affects the economy," he said. "We need to be where it matters, when it matters. If you're late, it's like you're not there."

With the Navy also assisting globally with recoveries from natural disasters, such as helping typhoon victims in the Philippines, an ongoing search for a missing Malaysian passenger jet and facing flash points in North Korea and Ukraine, it has only so many ships and personnel available.

"Our ability to respond is drastically reduced," Greenert said. "We distribute the ships the best way we know how. It's being where it matters anywhere in the world." Among the elected officials in the audience were U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-1.

Chambliss praised the sailors at Kings Bay, saying they are "second to none." "Kings Bay is an important part of national security in the United States," he said. "We are reminded of what a dangerous world we live in. We can never, ever afford to be second best." Kingston said he wants to ensure the military has everything it needs to keep the nation and world safe. He said he never wants the Navy to be in a fair fight, and the only way to do that is to ensure it has the best equipment and training possible to have the advantage.

U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville, praised strong support for the Navy in south Georgia and north Florida. "This demonstrates the great bond between the Navy and the community," he said. "It really is a triangle of excellence. It helps folks realize how important the military is." Greenert's visit Tuesday precedes a trip to the base Friday by Navy Secretary Ray Maybus.

Submariners Were Unsung Cold War Heroes

Sailors that served aboard the U.S. Navy’s nuclear ballistic missile submarines were unsung heroes of the Cold War. Their boats maintained a silent vigil beneath the waves while providing an ever-present deterrent to enemy aggression.

Ray Misiewicz, of Moreau, who spent 43 years designing nuclear reactors for Navy submarines, outlined the entire history of these underwater vessels during a Saturday presentation at the New York State Military Museum, with about 60 people on hand. “Leonardo da Vinci devised the first plans for a submarine,” Misiewicz said. “He kept them secret because he didn’t want war to be more violent and scary than it already was.”

The first submarine used for combat purposes was the Revolutionary War “Turtle,” designed by American David Bushnell to attack British warships by attaching explosive devices to their hulls. But they proved largely ineffective because drills couldn’t penetrate the ships’ copper sheeting that was typically installed to protect against parasites. The first successful submarine attack was by the Confederate Navy’s H.L. Hunley against the USS Housatonic, a wooden sloop, in Mobile, Ala. (they got it wrong - ed.)

Submarine use became more widespread and deadly during World War I when a German U-boat sank the Lusitania, killing 1,200 people. Germany and the United States employed submarines with great effectiveness during World War II against Great Britain and Japan, respectively,

However, these seafaring war machines took on a whole new role with the advent of nuclear weapons, starting with the USS Cusk that successfully launched the first submarine missile on Feb. 12, 1947 near Point Mugu, Calif. The first Polaris submarine missile was test-fired in September 1959 with a range of 1,200 miles. Today’s Trident missile can travel 6,000 miles “giving it the capability of striking from almost anywhere in the world’s oceans,” Misiewicz said.

Retired Master Chief John Mulcahy, of Wilton, served aboard the USS Sam Rayburn and USS Ulysses S. Grant during his 21-year Navy career. “Mostly it’s long periods of boredom interspersed by brief moments of terror,” he said. On his first patrol, in the Caribbean, he remembers hearing a loud frightening sound overhead that kept growing in intensity. “Whup, whup, whup,” Mulcahy said. “We almost got run over by a supertanker. That’s what the propeller sounds like.”

He also knows what it feels like to be on board a nuclear-equipped sub when a missile is test-fired. “The whole thing shudders,” he said. “It’s a real John Wayne moment.” Ballistic missile submarines are called “boomers” because of the loud sound that occurs when missiles are launched, he said. Before retiring, Misiewicz, originally from Clifton Park, worked on the nuclear reactors that power the Seawolf and Virginia class of nuclear attack submarines. These reactors have a roughly 40-year lifespan.

The first Trident missile subs will start being retired in 2029. Work has already begun on the design phase for the next generation of submarines that will replace them.

Previously, the United States had 16 Trident missile subs. That number has been reduced to 12 under the SALT II agreement. At present, seven nations including the U.S. have nuclear-equipped subs. Saturday’s presentation was hosted by Friends of the New York State Military Museum, a not-for-profit group that raises funds to support museum programming.

USS North Dakota Close to Complete

The nation's newest nuclear-powered submarine will be the USS North Dakota. Testing on the Virginia Class attack submarine has begun and commissioning of the craft has been scheduled for May 31 in Groton, Conn.

It will be the nation's most technologically advanced submarine, stealthy and capable of multiple missions. Appropriately, the ship's motto reads: "Strength from the Soil, Reapers of the Deep." Rear Adm. Richard P. Breckenridge was in North Dakota (the state) last week talking to people about the importance of the USS North Dakota to the Navy's mission and the nation's security. Ships take character from their names, Breckenridge said. In the case of the USS North Dakota, the ship and crew will express a rugged nature and a practical, down-to-earth spirit, much like the citizens of the state.

Capt. Douglas V. Gordon commands the USS North Dakota, which has a crew of 14 officers and 120 enlisted personnel. Master Chief Tim Preabt, the senior enlisted man on the crew, is a Minot native and a graduate of Mandan High School.

The USS North Dakota represents a potent weapon. It includes two Tomahawk payload tubes that operate sort of like revolvers, a weapons innovation that makes the submarine more efficient and deadly. In the submarine's control room, the cameras that replace the old-style periscope relay digital images to plasma screens. The submarine is operated using "a four-button, two-axis joystick."

Preparations are being made for a celebration at the commissioning. It's being organized by the USS North Dakota Committee, according to chairman Bob Wefald of Bismarck. The Bismarck Elks Chorus has been raising funds to travel to Groton, where it will perform for the commissioning. About half of the $200,000 necessary for the celebration has been raised, Wefald says. This will be the second U.S. Navy ship named for the state of North Dakota, the first being a dreadnought battleship commissioned in 1910.

More than a weapon, the USS North Dakota extends the reach of America’s intelligence gathering and acts as a deterrent against foreign aggression. Having a Virginia Class submarine named for North Dakota is a matter of pride.

Parallel Parking in the Arctic Circle

NEVER thought I’d ever get to see what the Arctic ice cap looks like from the bottom up.

It’s quite stunning — blocks of blue ice tumbling around in a frigid sea amid giant, jagged ice stalactites. I was afforded that unique view while surfacing from beneath the Arctic Circle last weekend aboard the U.S.S. New Mexico, an attack submarine. I had spent the night on the sub as part of a group accompanying Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, who was observing the Navy’s submarine arctic warfare exercise.

We had flown into the Arctic by small plane and landed on a snow airstrip at the Navy’s ice research station Nautilus, 150 miles north of the North Slope of Alaska. When we got there, the New Mexico, which had been patrolling the waters below, had already found an opening of thin ice and slushy water. The sub used its conning tower, or sail, to smash through to the surface, then “parallel park,” as one officer put it, between two floating islands of thick ice, and pick us up. As we slipped back under water, the ship’s upward-looking camera (specially installed for underice travel where you can’t raise the periscope) carried a view of all the ice that had frozen around the sub in its few hours on the surface, which then cracked into huge chunks as we headed down. With the sub’s officers constantly checking the sonar and camera — and barking out speeds and directions to the two pilots steering the sub with a joystick and digital readouts that glowed in the dark control room — we gently submerged. The trick was to avoid the ice keels — forests of ice stalactites that extended down from the thicker surface ice into the arctic waters.

Once we safely descended about 400 feet, we proceeded on our way. Watching these officers maneuver an 8,000-ton nuclear sub, 377 feet long, through islands of unstable Arctic ice — we surfaced the same way — was a breathtaking and breath-holding experience.

But this wasn’t tourism. Climate scientists predict that if warming trends continue, the Arctic’s ice cap will melt enough that — in this century — it will become a navigable ocean for commercial shipping year round, and for mineral and oil exploration. Russia has already made extensive claims to the Arctic, based on the reach of its continental shelf, beyond the usual 12 miles from its coastline; these are in dispute. To prepare for whatever unfolds here, though, the U.S. Navy keeps honing its Arctic submarine skills, including, on our trip, test-firing a virtual torpedo at a virtual enemy sub, studying how differences in water temperatures and the mix of freshwater from melted ice and saltwater affect undersea weapons and the sounds a sub makes (vital for knowing how to hide), as well as mapping the Arctic’s seabed topography.

“In our lifetime, what was [in effect] land and prohibitive to navigate or explore, is becoming an ocean, and we’d better understand it,” noted Admiral Greenert. “We need to be sure that our sensors, weapons and people are proficient in this part of the world,” so that we can “own the undersea domain and get anywhere there.” Because if the Arctic does open up for shipping, it offers a much shorter route from the Atlantic to the Pacific than through the Panama Canal, saving huge amounts of time and fuel. You learn a lot on a trip like this, starting with the fact that I’m not claustrophobic. Sleeping in the middle rack of three stacked beds, appropriately called coffins, I now know that.

More important, you learn how crucial acoustics are when operating deep under ice with no vision and no GPS satellite to guide you. Or, as the New Mexico’s captain, Todd Moore, 40, put it: It’s like every day “engaging in a knife fight in a dark room: the only thing you can do is go after what you hear.” You can’t see the adversary. You can’t see the ice keels, but you can hear enemy subs, surface ships, whales, calving icebergs, schools of fish and bounce sound waves off them with sonar to measure distances. The New Mexico not only carries supersensitive sonar but also tows a giant electronic ear 1,000 feet behind it that can listen to the ocean without interference from the sub’s own engine noise.

“We can hear shrimp crackling 200 feet under water,” explained Lt. Cmdr. Craig Litty. They can also hear someone drop a wrench in the engine room of a Russian sub several miles away. You certainly learn how self-contained a sub is. The New Mexico repairs its own broken parts, desalinates its own drinking water, generates its own nuclear power and makes its own air by taking purified water, zapping it with electricity, separating the H2O into hydrogen and oxygen, then discharging the hydrogen and circulating the oxygen. The only thing that limits them is food-storage capacity and the sanity of the 130 crew; 90 days underwater is no problem.

My strongest impression, though, was experiencing something you see too little of these days on land: “Excellence.” You’re riding in a pressurized steel tube undersea. If anyone turns one knob the wrong way on the reactor or leaves a vent open, it can be death for everyone. This produces a unique culture among these mostly 20-something submariners. As one officer put it: “You become addicted to integrity.” There is zero tolerance for hiding any mistake. The sense of ownership and mutual accountability is palpable.

And that is why, said Adm. Joseph Tofalo, the Navy’s director of undersea warfare, who was also on the trip, “There is no multiple-choice exam for running the sub’s nuclear reactor.” If you want to be certified to run any major system on this ship, he added, “everything is an oral and written exam to demonstrate competency.” Late at night, I was sipping coffee in the wardroom and a junior officer, Jeremy Ball, 27, came by and asked me if I could stay for Passover. He and two other Jewish sailors were organizing the Seder; the captain and several other non-Jewish shipmates said they’d be happy to join, but there was still room. Ball said he’d been storing “a brisket in the freezer” for the holiday and would pick up matzo when they surfaced in Canada.

Thanks, I said, but one night’s enough for me. But I had to ask: How do all of you stand being away from your families for so long underwater, receiving only a two-sentence “family-gram” once a week?

“Whenever you board this submarine in port, that American flag is flying and you salute that flag,” said Ball. “And every time I salute that flag, I remember the reason I joined the Navy: service to country, being part of something bigger than myself and in memory for the attacks of 9/11.”

Remind me again what we’re doing in Washington these days to deserve such young people?

Major Submarine Accidents Remain Isolated But Costly

When the periscope of the USS Montpelier rose from the water during training off the coast of Florida on Oct. 13, 2012, the submarine crew saw a Navy cruiser approaching a mere 100 to 200 yards away. The cruiser USS San Jacinto tried to reverse, but it was too late. The Montpelier-San Jacinto collision was one of 906 submarine accidents from late 2004 through 2013, according to data obtained from the Naval Safety Center by The Day through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The submarine's commanding officer was relieved of duty, and the costly mistake also led to changes in the way the submarine force trains, plans for, and executes complex maneuvers.

The data provided by the Navy show that the most severe accidents, including this collision, account for only 2 percent of submarine mishaps over the past decade, however. In far more cases, someone was electrically shocked while working on a submarine or hurt while repairing it. Some submarines lost expensive equipment.

Vice Adm. Michael J. Connor, the commander of the submarine force, said in a recent interview that the Montpelier-San Jacinto collision and other "near misses" around that time got his attention "in a very big way." But, Connor said, "on the whole, the submarine force is one of the most safe work environments in the country, when you consider the heavy amount of industrial work that we do in construction, overhaul, maintenance, ships in dry dock, that sort of thing, and the number of people we have doing that work."

A fleet of 71 submarines, about 17 of which are typically deployed each day, are maintained and operated by 17,000 people. The number of accidents ranged from 67 to 154 a year since fiscal 2005, according to the data from the safety center. Out of a total of 906 accidents, 18 were considered the most severe, "Class A," because someone was killed or permanently disabled, or there were damages of $2 million or more. Another 18 were "Class B" because someone was partially disabled, several people were hospitalized, or there were damages of $500,000 to $2 million.

Ninety-six percent of the accidents were less severe. There were 264 in the Class C category, with $50,000 to $500,000 in damages or an injury that caused someone to take a day or more off from work, and 606 in the Class D category, with $20,000 to $50,000 in damages or a recordable injury or illness not otherwise classified. Connor said he has made changes in the past year based on what the submarine force learned from the Montpelier-San Jacinto collision, to make sure the risk of operating a submarine is at an "absolute minimum, given the fact that we do not operate in a risk-free business."

Fiscal 2011 was the worst year for submarine accidents, with 154. Three were in the most severe category, including the USS Ohio hitting a sonar array when the order to abort was given during acoustic testing. That same day, Dec. 18, 2010, the Ohio hit a buoy, according to the data.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., questioned why there would be a spike in 2011, two years after the USS Hartford, a Groton-based submarine, hit a Navy amphibious ship in the Strait of Hormuz, and leaders of the submarine force said they would use the lessons learned from that accident to prevent other accidents.

"Whatever they did in the wake of the Hartford apparently was not enough," Blumenthal said after looking at the data obtained by The Day. "I guess that's the conclusion because the mishaps, both serious and otherwise, continue to happen. I think the overall takeaway is that whatever has been done so far has to be revisited and upgraded.

"Ideally what we should be seeing is a trend down," he added, "but we're not seeing that trend." After the Hartford collided with the USS New Orleans on March 20, 2009, it rolled about 85 degrees, damaging its sail, hull and port bow plane. The Navy paid Electric Boat in Groton about $120 million for the repairs and Navy investigators concluded the crew of the Hartford was at fault.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said he, and many others in Congress, felt confident the Navy took the Hartford incident seriously.

"It takes some time to really absorb what happened and develop new best practices," he said. "I think in fairness, it just takes a while for the process to sort of get into the bloodstream of the workforce." Both the senator and the congressman, however, surmised that the submarine force's decision, around the same time as the increase in incidents, to extend some deployments beyond six months could be a factor in the 2011 spike. That decision was made to compensate for fewer submarines in the fleet.

If submariners are at sea longer, without time to refresh, Courtney said, "it would just seem, intuitively, that would increase the potential, if for no other reason than fatigue, the potential for problems." But, Courtney said, he did not have a way to quantify that.

Connor, the sub force commander, said the submarine force has become "increasingly sensitive over the years" to the time a submarine is deployed and how busy the crew is during the deployment, and carefully manages how long a submarine works in a challenging environment "to manage just that type of factor."

"The submarine force did react to 2011 because we drove the rate down to near zero for major mishaps in 2012," he added. There were no Class A mishaps in fiscal 2012 and only one Class B. But there were four Class A mishaps in fiscal 2013, including the Montpelier-San Jacinto collision, and one Class B. Because of that collision, submarine crews must now train more often on how to operate in more challenging scenarios than they would likely encounter at sea, Connor said.

Junior officers now stay on submarines for 36 months instead of 32 for their first tour, to gain more experience at sea. The submarine force is changing the work rotation aboard submarines so sailors sleep for eight hours at about the same time every day instead of six, based on findings from the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory in Groton, he said. It is easier for submariners to report small issues that didn't seem quite right but did not lead to a mishap, he added, and the planning process for exercises with multiple ships was improved to ensure everyone involved has a detailed understanding of the safety plan and "we know that they know it."

The submarine force, Connor said, is doing everything it can to prevent accidents. Broken fingers, lacerations The Navy's data showed that nearly 22 percent of the reports were about personnel - about 200 of them - who were electrically shocked. In other accidents, hatches fell on heads and hands.

On the USS Toledo in 2009, a sailor who was getting food out of storage caught his hand in a hatch. Two fingers were broken and his pinky finger was cut badly. Chief Hospital Corpsman Aaron McKnight was the independent duty corpsman, the sole medical provider, on the Toledo at the time. McKnight said he immobilized the hand and stopped the bleeding. He started an IV and gave the sailor medication for the pain. The submarine was at sea but not far from Groton. A small boat quickly arrived to take the sailor to shore for surgery. That was the worst injury McKnight said he has treated at sea. In port, he helped someone who fell in a bathroom on the pier and fractured his skull, and another sailor whose hand got caught in a periscope.

Most often, McKnight, who was the Submarine Independent Duty Corpsman of the Year for 2011, said he sutures lacerations because people bump their heads while working.

McKnight has treated sailors who were electrically shocked by doing an electrocardiogram to make sure the rhythm of the heart was not disturbed and checking vital signs. The cases were not severe, he said.

Overall, McKnight, who has also deployed on the USS Springfield, said he feels a submarine is a safe place to work. There is an in-depth safety brief before any procedure to prevent injuries, and the submarine force "takes lessons learned really seriously," said McKnight, who is assigned to the Naval Submarine Support Center in Groton. But, McKnight said, while he has never dealt with a rash of injuries, in an industrial workplace "the potential is always there." Mistakes can be costly

The USS Philadelphia lost an exercise torpedo at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center range in the western Atlantic on July 10, 2008. Seven submarines damaged or lost the sonar array that trails behind a submarine. Each incident cost the Navy between $500,000 and $2 million. Mishaps throughout the Navy, including in aviation, cost the service a total of $441 million in fiscal 2013, according to the safety center. The center's data does not include the damages to the USS Miami that caused the Navy to scrap the submarine. The May 23, 2012, fire was deliberately set, rather than an accident.

Courtney said the Navy is operating in a "challenging budget environment" and has "every incentive in the world" to reduce the number of accidents. While some are unavoidable, Blumenthal said, the Navy should be able to prevent more of them, particularly the electric shock injuries.

"I'm perplexed and deeply interested in the data that I've seen because we ought to focus very intensely and immediately on trying to reduce those numbers," Blumenthal said.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Blumenthal said he will ask Navy leaders whether they have consulted an occupational health safety specialist. He said he wants to know how the submarine data compares with similar records for other Navy ships.

Connor said the submarine force has a process to review workplace safety. "We have valuable ships and very valuable people working on those ships," he said. "Because of that, we need to make sure they're all ready to perform."

Senators Encourage Navy On Potential Tobacco Sales Ban

Five Democratic senators have written to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus encouraging him to ban the sale of tobacco products on bases and ships.

Other lawmakers are opposing the idea, which is under considerartion by Mabus and other Navy officials and has been encouraged by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Three Republican members of Congress have written to House Appropriations Committee leaders asking for language to be included in the 2015 defense appropriations bill that would prohibit DoD or any service branch from implementing any policy or regulation that would limit or prohibit troops’ access to legal tobacco products.

According to sources in and outside the Pentagon, the Navy is moving toward eliminating tobacco sales on Navy and Marine Corps bases and ships. Changes may be coming to the other services, too, as DoD reviews its tobacco policies. A DoD memo dated March 14 seems to encourage the services to eliminate tobacco sales – and even tobacco use – on military bases, while stopping short of ordering specific actions.

The senators noted that the high rate of tobacco use by active-duty troops “is not only harmful to their health, but also costs the federal government significantly in the long term.” They noted that annual profits from all DoD-authorized tobacco sales are about $90 million, but that health costs and lost productivity costs are about 21 times greater than annual sales.

“We urge you to do everything in your capacity to address this issue for our military men and women, including moving forward with the proposal to stop the sale of tobacco aboard all naval bases and ships,” states the March 28 letter, signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

In a March 27 interview with Military Times, Mabus said he and his senior staff are taking a “deliberate approach” in considering a “whole range” of initiatives regarding tobacco, although he didn’t offer specifics. The senators wrote that officials should ensure that enough support is always available to personnel seeking to quit tobacco use, including existing efforts to offer tobacco cessation products and services.

“We recognize, support and thank you for your recent efforts to increase smoke-free areas on bases, eliminate smoking on submarines, and improve access to cessation services,” the senators wrote.

In an April 2 letter to the House Appropriations Committee leaders, Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; Richard Hudson, R-N.C.; and Tom Rooney, R-Fla., wrote that “given the current fiscal climate, the strain on the Navy to conduct global operations, the impending reduction to the size of the fleet and personnel, recent efforts to restrict access to tobacco products is a frivolous abdication of more urgent matters of national security.”

They said they support the services’ other efforts to provide troops incentives to stop smoking.

“Last year alone, tobacco sales in Navy exchanges decreased by 12 percent, indicating considerable success through DoD’s existing cessation program,” they wrote.

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