"The resignation of one of my predecessors, Jim Webb, was prompted at what he thought was the outrage of falling below the 600-ship Navy," O'Keefe said. "You look back on it as if it was the seminal moment of some strategic shift and it wasn't. It was less a statement of capability and more of just a marker on the wall of what's a measure of merit."Will it still be a navy with 271 ships instead of 300? Sure, I suppose. Could it theoretically be as capable with 271 ships as 300? Sure, or even more, depending on the exact mix of ships.
Webb wasn't immediately available for comment.
However, is the ~300 ship navy as capable as a 600 ship navy? We'd have to say that increases in ISR and telecommunications and other technologies have improved the capacities of our ships versus the Reagan administration, and that's a big deal for the Navy. Probably one ship can control more sea than it used to do.
Nevertheless, it's not an idle question. 300 ships is just not 600 ships. 250 ships is not 300.