The Abraham Lincoln Strike Group, pictured above, is one of twelve authorized carrier strike groups. Strike Group Lincoln consists of the supercarrier CVN72 USS Abraham Lincoln, guided missile cruiser CG71 USS Cape St George, Destroyer Squadron Nine – DDG105 USS Sterett, DDG97 USS Halsey, DDG92 USS Momsen, DDG86 USS Shoup – guided missile frigates FFG61 USS Ingarham, FFG60 USS Rodney M Davis, FFG54 USS Ford, and one or two Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines. That’s ten or eleven ships (depending on the number of subs attached), times the twelve strike groups accounts for between 120 and 132 capital ships, or over half of the 200-ship Navy that President Obama seems OK with. Add one more per strike group, as the each carries a support/supply ship, not counted above. That brings us to between 132 to 144 ships in our carrier strike groups.
We operate 14 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and four SSGNs, which are Ohio-class SSBNs that have been converted to deploy and recover special operators and wield 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles. We’re now up to 150 to 164 ships.
Expeditionary Strike Groups are revamped amphibious ready groups with the ability to disperse strike capabilities across a greater range of the force, increasing the striking power in the amphibious ready group. These consist of a Wasp-class LDH amphibious assault ship to transport and deploy Marine Expeditionary Units ashore using helicopters, V-22 Osprey and landing craft; an amphibious transport dock (LPD) that deploys and recovers larger landing craft for beach-style amphibious assaults; dock landing ship (LSD) that deploys and recovers hovercraft and smaller landing craft for beach- and riverine-style amphibious assaults; and a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine. The Navy has authorized 12 of these ESGs, but is currently funded for only eight. That’s another 32 to 48 ships, bringing us to 182 to 212 total ships.
These numbers don’t count oilers, non-associated (with carrier strike groups) support/supply ships, hospital ships, minesweepers, free-roaming fast-attack submarines (used to shadow non-US SSBNs), littoral combat ships (used for close-in support of land operations along coastlines), and so forth.
President Obama’s attempt to classify worries about absolute numbers of ships as irrelevant as buggy whips (“horses and bayonets,” in his words) is irresponsible when current numbers are already at or below Naval minimums.
In a world more prone to low-intensity warfare than to the great force-on-force warfare that characterized the pre-Cold War world, the Navy gains in importance as a power-projection instrument, especially if we wish to cut back on the forward basing of air and ground assets.
It’s clear from listening to the president in Boca Raton, that his shaping of the military is a budgetary matter rather than a strategic one. He has yet to lay out a strategic vision of where, when, how and why to apply American power, only how he would diminish it.
 Photo courtesy of United States Navy.
 See Donald Rumsfeld, Transforming the Military, in Foreign Affairs, May/June 2002, pp. 20-32 for the use of horses by US Special Forces.
 As it happens, the Pentagon deploys more bayonets today than it did in 1916.