Beginning in 2002, the first four Ohio (SSBN-726)-class submarines are scheduled to be decommissioned. Rather than scrapping them, we could turn these large vessels into formidable Special Operations Forces/ offensive strike platforms as guided-missile submarines, by converting their 24 ballistic missile tubes into conventional weapons launchers. The time to make the call to add this capability to our armed forces is upon us.
The United States has given Saddam Hussein plenty to think about over the last several years, but the effort has presented lots of problems for our side. Conflicts like the one with Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosovic present another challenge for naval forces. First, in trying to be credible, we are tying up a disproportionate share of our military assets in several regions. The cost of our presence is measured in billions of dollars per year and in a reduction in our capacity to respond to other global crises. Less visibly, the burden of these efforts is increasingly borne, at great cost, by our men and women in uniform and their aging equipment.