The Trump Administration began work this week on its promise of an across-the-board enlargement of the U.S. military. The President-elect has thus far described his plan only in the broadest of terms, but those terms portend a sustained period of higher defense spending—something Congress has been unwilling to approve since it passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) in 2011. Chief among those who will shape the future of the American military is Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who waded into the debate last week with a strong, coherent outline that not only aims to restore the capacity of a significantly hollowed-out force, but also provides direction for how the force should evolve as it grows. There is a lot in this report, but we will restrict our comments to the larger context of the plan and its impact on American Seapower.
Now more than ever, the United States needs to formulate an effective defense strategy to preserve U.S. interests in a strategic environment characterized by looming international and domestic challenges.
It now seems obvious, if it wasn’t already, that Donald Trump is determined to pursue a policy of early and eager engagement with Russia. The signs are legion: the ongoing bromance with Vladimir Putin during the campaign, the appalling indifference to Russian meddling in the U.S. election, the proposal to condone Russia’s brutal military tactics and pursue counter-terrorism cooperation in Syria and perhaps elsewhere, and the forewarning that sanctions against Moscow may not be long for this world.
The Navy is paying the price for attempting to incorporate too many new technologies at once into a new class of ship. The Ford is an example of how short-lived strategic themes such as “transformation” can create long-term problems. The Ford carrier, Zumwalt destroyer, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter were all shaped in large part by services’ need to get them approved by the Bush administration, which was only interested in pursuing transformational new technologies at the time.
Key members of the Trump administration are shaping to confront China in the South China Sea. Last month Donald Trump tweeted: “Did China ask us if it was OK … to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!” Trump is clearly irritated by Beijing’s behaviour and senior members of Trump’s team are also expressing deep concerns.
Of President-elect Trump’s tweets since winning the election, the one drawing the greatest criticism may well be his comment last week that the United States "must strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." The next day, his critics went downright ballistic when the president-elect reportedly made the off-camera statement: "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all." The partisans at the Ploughshares Fund and their paid-for "echo-chamber" colleagues across the disarmament community