The number of warships in the U.S. naval fleet has not managed to get above 300 for two decades. Meanwhile, the country the Chief of Naval Operations describes as “our pacing threat,” China, is headed for 400 warships in its own fleet at mid-decade. The disparity is even worse than it seems, because Chinese forces are concentrated close to home, where Beijing also sustains a growing arsenal of long-range, antiship weapons. So what does the U.S. Navy propose to do? It wants to further shrink the U.S. fleet to around 280 warships later in the decade, in order to “build back better” at some future time. This is a bad idea because the planned renaissance in naval capabilities may not come before Beijing moves on Taiwan. In the meantime, the Navy is running down the industrial base for constructing surface vessels by delaying or eliminating efforts previously though to be part of the plan. The Navy’s repeated failures to fund a force up to the task of dominating the Western Pacific turns out to be detrimental not only to U.S. security, but also to the nation’s industrial capabilities. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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