Will the Blue Angels Have to Hit the Pavement Because of the Supercommittee Fail?

Erika Johnsen
Posted: Nov 23, 2011 7:53 AM

Oh, hell no. Now that I can see some of the tangible potential consequences of our federal government's blatant malaise in reining in our out-of-control spending habits, this 'supercommittee' debacle just became real to me on a whole new level. Who might face the chopping block because of our irresponsible, bloated bureaucracy that's extended itself far and away beyond its Constitutionally intended functions? The Blue Angels. Totally unacceptable.

While of course I am always in favor of fiscal austerity and cutting frivolities from our national budget, the Blue Angels are not a frivolity--they are a necessity. Perhaps I'm biased, coming from a family with multiple generations having served/currently serving in the U.S. Navy (beat Army!), but if you've never been to a Blue Angels show, please trust me and make it happen. I'm going to try not to get too sentimental here, but I've had the privilege of watching the Blue Angels fly both in Seattle, Wa. and at the Naval Academy in Annapolis on several occasions, and their shows are among the most awe-inspiring events I  have ever witnessed. The planes whistle and scream and whoosh through the air above you, showcasing the raw power and technological might of our exceptional military. The highly skilled, highly trained pilots showcase our capabilities to an appreciative public, inspire young men and women to achieve through the military, and imbue us with patriotic pride. Equal parts motivation- and marketing-tool, the Blue Angels are truly an amazing sight to behold.

The Blue Angels have been performing their awesome aerial acrobatics for more than sixty years, and their budget sits around $37 million. Unfortunately, with these automatic defense cuts scheduled to trigger in 2013, some are calling for the Blue Angels to be the first thing to go:

The Pentagon spends $37 million for the Blue Angels, whose mission is to enhance recruiting for the Navy and Marines and to be their public goodwill ambassador. That's a fraction of the Pentagon's $926 billion annual budget, but that's not the point, critics say. They argue that lots of smaller programs will have to be eliminated to meet required spending reductions. ...

But Capt. Greg McWherter, the Blue Angels' commander, said his team fills a vital national security role by improving morale, helping with recruiting and presenting a public face for the nation's 500,000 sailors and Marines. The Navy says about 11 million people see the squadron's F/A-18 fighter jets scream and twist overhead during each year's show season, from March through November.

"We still live in a country that has an all-volunteer force. Everyone that signs up to join the military does so because they were motivated and inspired; maybe it was an aunt or an uncle, maybe it was a teacher or maybe it was the Blue Angels, you never know," he said.

"It is difficult to put a price on that and on the number of young men and women inspired by a performance." But, he said, it helps ensure "that the Navy and the Marine Corps is strong 10 to 15 years from now." ...

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the Blue Angels are important because they show the incredible skill level of U.S. military.

He said he thinks of the Blue Angels as "ambassadors for not just the Navy but for the entire American military across this country and around the world."

"We get way more than our money's worth for what they do," he said.

I highly doubt that the Blue Angels would ever actually be eliminated--they're far too popular--but the point is, why should we even have to discuss last-ditch options like this in the first place?