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Guest Commentary / Jun. 22, 2021

Is the Navy Capable of Countering Adversaries?

The proposed federal budget cuts our maritime and other military forces, emboldens our adversaries, and sets our country up for military failure.

By J.P. Jones

President Biden’s proposed $6 trillion budget, the largest in our nation’s history, cuts critical Navy program funding for shipbuilding and for training Sailors. Without more warships to counter their rapidly expanding fleet, this ill-conceived course of action will help China achieve its stated goal of replacing the United States as the only world superpower. Russia, which after the end of the Cold War had an aging fleet with few warships able to get underway regularly, is also building many more modern warships.

As of this writing, our national debt is $28.41T. Add to this all the unfunded government liabilities, which, as of January 2019, were underfunded to the tune of $122T. In the face of such enormous debt, a reasonable person asks if a $6T budget is truly necessary.

Certainly, if this monstrous budget is approved, our national security should be one of the higher priorities, but this is not the case! After years of Mainland Chinese cyber espionage and intellectual property theft from the U.S., especially militarily valuable information, and with threats of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) strikes against U.S. assets, it is quite clear that the People’s Republic of China (PRC), under the Communist Party, seeks to increase its global influence and ability to wage war. Recent large-scale, live-fire amphibious-landing exercises and the largest ever incursion into Taiwanese airspace by PRC Air Force jets are almost certainly more than mere saber-rattling.

Since World War Two, the United States has fought diligently overseas to keep Communism from spreading to the rest of the globe. A strategy of “containment” has been arguably effective, but the tyranny of distance means that our forces must deploy from remote bases or deploy all the way from bases in the U.S.

General Douglas MacArthur referred to Taiwan as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” of over 14,000 square miles. Much of the land there is well-suited for military bases, including one deep-draft port. The tremendous strategic value of this island has not been overlooked by the Chinese Communist Party, which has tried, through various military and diplomatic means, to take possession of what they refer to as a “breakaway province.”

The PRC is also currently pressing claims that nearly the entire South China Sea (SCS) belongs to China, including the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands, as well as any resources, such as petroleum and polymetallic nodules on the sea floor. Under international law, the SCS is recognized as international waters, in which each nation bordering the body of water has a 12-mile territorial claim. The SCS is bordered not only by the PRC, but also Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and Taiwan. In July 2018, an International Court rejected China’s claim. Yet the PRC has continued manufacturing militarized islands off the China shoreline by pouring concrete onto reefs, all to extend their claim to the SCS.

The SCS is also a tremendously important international trade route. A recent Defense News article stated, “Annually, around a third of all global maritime trade — worth approximately $3.5 trillion dollars — passes through the sea, including a third of all crude oil and half the global supply of liquefied natural gas.” The impact of the Chinese owning the SCS and charging a toll for use of “their” waterway would be unthinkable.

China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy is clearly occupied with war-fighting, whereas our Pentagon seems preoccupied with social issues, such as integrating transgender personnel into the ranks. It is time for our nation’s security and interests to come first!

(Jones is a retired Navy officer.)

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