Popular Tags
Additional Troops in Afghanistan Afghan National Army Afghan prosecutors Afghanistan Afghanistan justice system Africa African renaissance aircraft carrier Aircraft Carriers Al Qaeda Al-Qaeda America American control of sea lanes Amphibious Assault Anti-Intellectual Arent Fox Argentina ASEAN Assault on Guards Australian Navy Candidate’s Education Castro brothers Chavez China China’s Naval Expansion Clinton Corruption Corruption in Afghanistan Criminal cases Cuba Cut in Defense budget Cut in Navy budget Decommission Defense Cuts Democrats Developing Africa Diplomatic relations Emerging issues of U.S. Navy Falklands Foreign Policy George Washington Gitmo GOP candidates Growing economy of Africa Growing role of China in Sub Saharan nations Guantanamo Guantánamo Bay (GTMO) Guantanamo Bay terrorists House of Representatives Ill. Importance of Amphibious Assault Importance of building civil and military institutions Importance of coalition Indian Ocean International Arbitration International Committee of the Red Cross International Law International market International organizations in Africa Johnny Carson Joint Task Force Justice Reform in Afghanistan Lawyer Lawyers Liberal intellectualism Lie Litigation Low salaried Afghan prosecutors Millennium Development Corporation Narcotics trade National Defense National Security Navy Negative Consequences Negative Consequences of downsized Navy North Korea November Obama O'Brien Pacific People of Africa PLAN Navy Political awareness President Barack Obama President Obama Protests Raising Infrastructure of Afghan justice system Republicans Robert O’Brien Russia Shipbuilding budget South China Sea South Korea Sports in Africa State prison Street walk in Africa Sub Saharan Nations Submarines Summer 2009 Taiwan Taliban Thomson Threat to Thomson Residents Training Afghan forces Transfer of detainees at GTMO U.N. U.S. Government U.S. naval base UK United States United States competition with China United States Navy US Navy Wave election
« Why Jerry Hendrix Should be the Next Navy Undersecretary | Main | How Trump Can Build a 350-Ship Navy »

To Keep Control of the Seas and the World, Trump Must Rebuild the Navy

China and Russia have decided that the sea is the place to challenge America’s global leadership

It is time for the United States to respond strongly to aggressions upon the high seas and demonstrate its continued command of the oceans. American resolve will deter aggression and miscalculation by the increasingly assertive China and Russia. The most important step America can take in this regard is fulfilling President Donald Trump’s promise to rebuild the United States fleet to 350 warships.

Sir Walter Raleigh famously said, “Whosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world and consequently the world itself.” By winning the Battle of Midway 75 years ago, the United States ensured that no hostile power would command the seas for the three generations that have followed. Freedom of navigation through the world’s oceans ensured by the United States Navy has led to unprecedented economic growth for the entire world.

Now a power hostile to the international norms that govern the seas has emerged. China has sought to cordon off the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in international trade passes each year, treating a vast swath of the Pacific as a territorial lake. China also eyes naval bases as far afield as the South Atlantic to support its expanding naval forces. Its massive shipbuilding program provides the ships to realize its maritime ambitions. At the same time, Russia has signaled its return to the Atlantic with nuclear submarine patrols not seen since the Cold War.

Having watched America “lead from behind” with “strategic patience” for the past eight years, the Chinese and Russians clearly believe spheres of influence can be had or wars won through the application of sea power. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have decided that the sea is the place to challenge America’s global leadership.

Trump first announced his commitment to build up the Navy in Philadelphia two months before his election. He recognized that deep cuts in the nation’s military “only invite more aggression.” The then-candidate emphasized that the expansion of the nation’s Navy would be “a 50-state” effort that would create high paying industrial and high-tech jobs. Candidate Trump understood that the nation’s defense industrial base was as much a national security asset as its ships, aircrafts and tanks.

China’s shipbuilding program is large, complex and expanding. Chinese shipyards rapidly launch modern warships sporting 3-D air search radars and bristling with supersonic missiles. Russia, possessing a smaller economy and defense budget, is taking an asymmetric route, investing in fewer, but extremely silent submarines equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles and corvettes capable, as we have seen in Syria, of firing cruise missiles from 1,000 miles away.

China hopes to achieve naval supremacy in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean by 2030. The purpose of Russia’s stealthy submarines and its fast missile-laden corvettes is to effectively separate Europe from North America, shattering the NATO alliance, in the event of war. Russia can be more patient, knowing that if China can establish a Pacific maritime sphere of influence, it soon will have one of its own.

Achieving the president’s goal of 350 ships would deny China and Russia their strategic goals. Rebuilding the fleet in the short span of Trump’s eight years in office would convince China and Russia that it is not an opportune time to challenge the United States at sea. A fleet of this size would provide American presence in the 18 critical maritime zones we patrol and provide the punch necessary to win should push come to shove.

Unfortunately, budget-cutters and sequestration fans have ensured that the fiscal year 2018 budget submission to Congress is essentially President Barack Obama’s shipbuilding plan, which will never approach 350 ships. Its fiscal constraint betrays a belief that deficits and debts are more threatening than rising powers eager to carve up the world’s oceans into their own spheres of influence. Such thinking is naïve and fails the president by undermining his promise to the American people.

Trump’s words in Philadelphia show his understanding of a simple truth: American weakness is provocative. President Trump has summed up his national security policy the same way Ronald Reagan did: “peace through strength.” Like Reagan, who famously built the nearly-600 ship fleet, Trump knows that rebuilding the fleet to 350 ships within his two terms in office is the type of strength necessary to keep the peace.

Robert C. O’Brien (@robertcobrien) is a partner at Larson O’Brien LLP. He served as a U.S. representative to the United Nations General Assembly. His book While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis was released in September.

Capt. Jerry Hendrix, USN (ret) (@JerryHendrixII) is a retired U.S. Navy captain and award-winning naval historian. Hendrix is senior fellow and director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security.

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>