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
The Defense Department defines readiness as the military’s ability to execute the national security strategy of the United States. By that standard, the Navy has continued to satisfy most of the maritime force requirements of combatant commanders. However, meeting those demands in the face of a shrinking fleet has resulted in deferred maintenance, aging ships, and worn out personnel. Without significant changes to the fleet’s size, operational tempo (OPTEMPO), or maintenance budget, the Navy will be at risk of suffering a precipitous drop in readiness in the years to come.
The policy of the United States and its close allies in the South China Sea has failed. Repeated statements of limited interest accompanied by occasional ship and aircraft passages have failed to prevent Beijing’s program of island creation, nor have they meaningfully forestalled China’s quest for military dominance in the region.