I'm going to start back again with numbers.
Nob Akimoto wrote:
Second, US Navy Force levels between the Cold War and modern USN aren't particularly helpful when you look at the composition of the ships employed.
To me it's more a numbers game. If we kept up the same number of ships from the Cold War and continued to upgrade them, we'd have more
capable ships today. Instead we have far fewer ships and that means we're less able to absorb losses if we were to be involved in a war.
Incorrect: we have more ships of the SAME TYPE, which means we are more able to absorb those losses than we would have been before; the loss of a single CGNs and a couple of Tico cruisers would have seriously compromised the Navy's planning in 1985; in 2005, you'd have to sink at least ten Aegis destroyers to cause the same disruption, and the Arleigh Burkes are considerably harder targets.
Ah but I'm not talking about old vs new. I'm talking about numbers of ships.
The U.S. Navy built and maintained not more than 70 guided missile destroyers at any given time between 1957 and 1993. The current tally stands at 62, with 5 more under construction. The FFG series is different matter, but there are still 12 Perry class frigates in active service compared to the 51 originally built (which is kind of impressive considering how laughably useless they presently are).
There's also the little fact that of the 52 SSN688s originally built, 40 are still in service, and the retired subs have been replaced by a mix of Virginias and Seawolfs for a total of 53 SSNs now in service; about as many as we had at the height of naval operations in the 80s. Most of the surviving 688s are equipped with VLS tubes and are capable of firing anti-shipping missiles and Tomahawks and are thus equivalent to submersible DDGs; there's also the Ohio SSGN conversions, which makes you wonder what anyone ever
saw in the old CGNs.
If you want to talk numbers, then at least recognize that the number of combat vessels hasn't changed much in the past twenty years despite the fact that -- with the advent of sub-launched harpoons and VLS weapon systems -- their capabilities have more than doubled over the same period.
Incidentally, this is approximately equivalent to what we see in Starfleet. In Kirk's time, we're told there are only about a dozen Constitution class starships in the entire fleet, in addition to an unknown number of lesser vessels. In Picard's time, about a dozen Galaxy class starships and an unknown number of lesser ones. However you interpret Starfleet's standing after the Khitomer accords, it's clear they actually got STRONGER, not weaker (especially since the ship that wound up replacing the Enterprise only a year later is larger and more powerful than anything Kirk had ever commanded).
Lastly, even this goes to assumes that the Klingons are the only or even the biggest threat to the Federation during the 23rd century. Even a cursory viewing of TOS shows this not to be the case; the Klingons are a recurring nemesis, but Starfleet logs repeated encounters with alien doomsday machines, star-eating space amoebas, carnivorous space monsters, and major population centers being attacked by omnicidal death probes not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES in the span of only fifteen years. In real-world terms: imagine if every naval vessel since 1905 carried equipment capable of dissipating thunderstorms and/or hurricanes. That's the world that Starfleet inhabits: their equivalent of "hurricane season" is a regular fleet action; they have fighter squadrons that specialize in shooting down tornadoes
. They're not going to demobilize just because one of the two-dozen hostile aliens they share a border with is going bankrupt. If anything, it'll make them less conservative and more willing to take risks on newer/bolder/untried designs.
In the end, there is one and ONLY one part of Starfleet that was ever considered for dismantling, and Spock lays it out plainly: The dismantling of our space stations and starbases along the Neutral Zone.
Nothing else happened; nothing else WOULD have happened. And in the end, we're talking NEGOTIATIONS: it's not even certain that all of those star bases were decommissioned, considering many of them could just as easily be converted to peaceful/scientific purposes anyway.