The Trump administration just sank the Pentagon's controversial plan to mothball an aircraft carrier decades early

US Navy/Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Scott SwoffordThe aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman transits the Atlantic Ocean, December 12, 2018.
  • Vice President Mike Pence, speaking aboard the USS Harry S. Truman Tuesday, said that the carrier won’t be retired decades early as the Pentagon had planned.
  • “The USS Harry S. Truman is going to be giving ’em hell for many more years to come,” he said.
  • Pence’s comments directly contradict those of top military leaders, who have repeatedly defended the decision to mothball the carrier before sceptical lawmakers.
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The Trump administration has decided not to send the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman into retirement two decades early, Vice President Mike Pence announced from the carrier’s decks Tuesday.

“We are keeping the best carrier in the world in the fight. We are not retiring the Truman,” Pence said, The Virginia-Pilot reported. “The USS Harry S. Truman is going to be giving ’em hell for many more years to come,” the vice president added.

President Trump asked Pence to deliver the message, he revealed.

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The Navy announced in its FY 2020 budget proposal that it had decided to mothball the Truman rather than go through with its planned mid-life refuelling. The move was intended to free up funds for the purchase of new systems to give the US Navy an edge against rivals China and Russia, technologies such as artificial intelligence, unmanned systems, and directed-energy weapons, among other things.

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“Great power competition has reemerged as the central challenge to US security and prosperity, demanding prioritisation and hard strategic choices,” the US Navy had explained.

US military leaders, including Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan, have defended the move before sceptical lawmakers in recent weeks. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson spoke in favour of the Navy’s decision Monday.

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The Pentagon wants to retire an aircraft carrier decades early, but Congress says that’s not going to happen

“The most mortal sin we can have right now is to stay stable or stagnant,” he said at a security forum in Washington, DC. “We’re trying to move, and that is exactly the decision dynamic with respect to what’s more relevant for the future. Is it going to be the Harry S. Truman and its air wing where there’s a lot of innovation taking place, or is it something else?”

But the Trump administration took a different view after overruled its military leaders.

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