Blumenthal Praises Subs' Role in Libya
By JAMES MOSHER
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Groton, Conn. — Submarines are reducing the likelihood that American ground troops will be deployed to Libya, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Tuesday.
After visiting the naval submarine base in Groton, he said gathering intelligence is becoming easier thanks to submarines and is reducing the demand for ground forces.
U.S. Navy submarines have been launching missiles aimed at getting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to halt moves against rebel forces.
“The submarine force will help us avoid this mission creep in Libya,” Blumenthal said during a press conference on the banks of the Thames River. Submarines’ usefulness extend beyond the current overseas crisis, he said.
“(They are) an essential component of our national defense future,” he said.
He urged Washington lawmakers to pass a budget with money to build two new submarines every year. Although Congress has approved the concept, the money to build more than one sub this year has become at least a temporary casualty of budget wrangling between Republicans and Democrats.
“The Congress has to fulfill its responsibility and adopt a budget,” Blumenthal said. “It’s that simple.”
Base vital to economy
Submarines are of great economic consequence to Eastern Connecticut. Electric Boat shipyard in Groton builds them. Both EB and the base employ thousands.
Blumenthal said he’s had preliminary discussions with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy about the base. Growing the partnership begun by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who invested millions of state money in the base, is something that interests Blumenthal.
“The state has a huge investment in the sub base,” he said. “I’m looking forward to having talks of greater depth (with Malloy).”
Malloy has a similar attitude.
“The governor is always interested in protecting jobs at the sub base and the highly skilled labor force driving those jobs,” press secretary Juliet Manalan wrote in an email. “The state committed funds for projects at the sub base that have already been completed, and there is more money that is available for collaborative efforts.”
Regarding Libya, Blumenthal sounded similar notes to those made Monday by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. The two men said they support President Barack Obama’s initial actions against Gadhafi. But additional military commitment is worrisome, the senator said.
Dan Reale, of Plainfield, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Connecticut and Courtney’s only declared challenger for 2012, said the president has too much power to conduct military actions overseas and called on Congress to curb that power.
Courtney called for Congress to end its recess and for its key committees, including Armed Services, to address the situation. Courtney and Blumenthal serve on the Armed Services panels in their respective chambers.
“I am concerned,” Blumenthal said. “I want to be sure that our involvement is limited in scope and duration. We are involved in two other costly wars right now.”
The sub base came close to being closed several years ago. No such efforts are on the horizon at present, Blumenthal said.
“But we need to be fully vigilant,” he said.