Projecting US power: the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, based in the western Pacific Photo: US NAVY/AFP/File
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Pentagon plans larger, 'more lethal' navy

23 Comments
By Conner D. BLAKE

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced Wednesday an ambitious plan to expand the U.S. Navy with a range of unmanned and autonomous ships, submarines and aircraft to confront the growing maritime challenge from China.

The Pentagon chief said a sweeping review of U.S. naval power dubbed "Future Forward" had laid out a "game-changer" plan that would expand the U.S. sea fleet to more than 355 ships, from the current 293.

The plan, which requires adding tens of billions of dollars to the U.S. Navy's budget between now and 2045, is aimed at maintaining superiority over Chinese naval forces, seen as the primary threat to the United States.

"The future fleet will be more balanced in its ability to deliver lethal effects from the air, from the sea, and from under the sea," Esper said in a speech at the Rand Corp in California.

The expansion will add "more and smaller" surface ships; more submarines; surface and subsurface vessels that are optionally manned, unmanned and autonomous; and a broad range of unmanned carrier-based aircraft.

The plan is for a fleet of ships more able to survive a high-intensity conflict, to project U.S. power and presence, and to deliver precision strikes at very long distances, he said.

An example, Esper added, is a new guided missile frigate program, producing ships with "increased lethality, survivability, capability and capacity to conduct distributed warfare."

He also said trials were underway on the Sea Hunter, a 132-feet (40 meters) trimaran drone that can autonomously survey the seas for rival submarines for more than two months at a time.

"These efforts are the next step in realizing our future fleet, one in which unmanned systems perform a variety of warfighting functions, from delivering lethal fire and laying mines, to conducting resupply or surveilling the enemy," Esper said.

"This will be a major shift in how we will conduct naval warfare in the years and decades to come."

Esper reiterated that China is the top U.S. security threat and that the Indo-Pacific region is the "priority theater" for the US military.

"Not only is this region important because it is a hub of global trade and commerce, it is also the epicenter of great power competition with China," he said.

A Pentagon report on the People's Liberation Army released early this month said that Beijing has the world's largest naval fleet with 350 ships and submarines.

Still, Esper stressed, the Chinese navy lags in strength and capability.

"Even if we stopped building new ships, it would take the PRC years to match our capability on the high seas."

Esper said reaching the goal of 355 ships means the navy will have to grab a larger percent of the Pentagon budget, but also that the United States has to put more resources into expanding and modernizing shipyards, where China has a clear advantage.

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments

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Just add that on to what we owe you already.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

All will be cancelled during a Harris/Biden administration. After all, don't want to offend and anger China.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

All will be cancelled during a Harris/Biden administration. After all, don't want to offend and anger China.

Don't count on it. The pivot to the Pacific was begun under the Obama administration and a lot weapons coming on line now entered development eight to ten years ago.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

70 cents of every US tax dollar goes to the military.  No wonder they are broke.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

 requires adding tens of billions of dollars to the U.S. Navy's budget between now and 2045,

Given Trump and his R's have cut taxes for the wealthiest I assume funds for infrastructure, healthcare, education, dealing with environmental problems and other things that benefit the general population will come from increasing taxes paid by the general population.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

70 cents of every US tax dollar goes to the military. No wonder they are broke.

No. The DoD is $700 billion out of a $4.79 trillion budget. That is fact. Where do these exaggerations come from?

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Cutting military spending and avoiding conflict, right? Right?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Given Trump and his R's have cut taxes for the wealthiest I assume funds for infrastructure, healthcare, education, dealing with environmental problems and other things that benefit the general population will come from increasing taxes paid by the general population.

The US undertaxes its citizens significantly. The standard measure of tax burden is total revenues from all sources as a percent of GDP. For the US total local, state and Federal revenues from all sources are 24.3% of GDP. That is among the lowest in the developed world. Only Mexico and Turkey consistently have lower tax burdens. From time to time either Japan or South Korea might be a percent lower than the US but all three trade places at the bottom of the list. The OECD average is closer to 36% of GDP. Total government expenditures at all levels of government in the US, meaning local state and Federal expenditures, are 34% of GDP based on data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (an organization near and dear to my economists heart). It is perfectly possible to have balanced budgets at all levels of government in the US without reducing services and still have a tax burden slightly below the average for the world's most highly developed nations, the 36 members of the OECD. All it takes is political will to accomplish this. Don't hold your breath.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Don't invest in educating, or your people might start asking awkward questions.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

No. The DoD is $700 billion out of a $4.79 trillion budget. That is fact. Where do these exaggerations come from?

The DoD hardly counts for all U.S. military/war spending and I think you know that. I am less concerned about exaggerations and more concerned about lies of omission like that. U.S. military/war spending is so very preposterously huge at this point that its hard to exaggerate.

So what did you leave out? What isn't in the DoD budget? For starters nothing related to nuclear weapons, research, production, maintenance, or clean up is in there. Can you even imagine the billions for those? None of the CIA operations are in there, particularly not the money used in operations that are hidden from us. Think of those billions. Then we have interest on the debt for past wars. That's handled by the Treasury Department along with soldier/mercenary pensions to the tune of more billions. Then you left out domestic military spending which is also not in the DoD budget. Things like anti-terror activities and weapons purchases and operations by the Department of Homeland Security as well as by the FBI. For all I know biggest of all you left out might be from the State Department and its financing of foreign arms sales.

It terms of money and percentages the U.S. is rivaling Sparta. The U.S. government spends our money on war way, WAY more than China, like five or six times more. The excuses about China are totally hollow. This is nothing but greed, lies and power tripping. The only reason China, after all these decades, is even trying to do things like make their first aircraft carriers is BECAUSE of the American threat that's been there so long. Americans are getting robbed blind by war heads.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Great! At least that will give us a much needed edge of China.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

It terms of money and percentages the U.S. is rivaling Sparta. The U.S. government spends our money on war way, WAY more than China, like five or six times more. The excuses about China are totally hollow. This is nothing but greed, lies and power tripping. The only reason China, after all these decades, is even trying to do things like make their first aircraft carriers is BECAUSE of the American threat that's been there so long. Americans are getting robbed blind by war heads

Don't know about you, but I sleep much better with a modern and more beefed up military that can protect us against a country like China that wouldn't hesitate to destroy the US.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

All this hardware won't be much good if its vulnerable to cyberhacking by Trump's Russian masters. The biggest danger is within America itself.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The US undertaxes its citizens significantly.

More omissions. America never taxed citizens income at the federal level until WWI. Plus what the government does is allow ordinary Americans to work for peanuts so that the rich can get richer and be taxed. And so often the rich reduce salaries or fail to raise salaries to keep up with inflation so as to make up the difference.

It is perfectly possible to have balanced budgets at all levels of government in the US without reducing services

Not while the interest on America's insane debt keeps skyrocketing. And again, that is so much to do with war spending. The debt is so huge it would make Cthulu shudder. Most Americans are blissfully ignorant of the horror that is going on. But I get the feeling you know but want to keep them in the dark about it.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Don't know about you, but I sleep much better with a modern and more beefed up military that can protect us against a country like China that wouldn't hesitate to destroy the US.

Its hard to figure if you are truly that paranoid or just that politically corrupt. America is all over China like white on rice. China never showed any interest in anything but what was immediately around China and they had some sort of historical connection with. The U.S. military is doing nothing but antagonizing China and creating the situations that lead to war. So NO, I don't sleep well because America has no enemies but those the U.S. government keeps creating for us. No war at all is easily better than a war with a perceived advantage.

The U.S. military is already crazy over-funded. You are like the guy with 100 guns in house who feels like he needs just one more to be on the safe side, as if you have more than two hands anyway. And you won't even look back when one of your kids accidentally kills one of your other kids, himself or a neighbor.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

At least that will give us a much needed edge of China.

A war with China right now would be the global example of bringing a knife to a tank fight. Meanwhile you cry America didn't bring enough tanks.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

All this hardware won't be much good if its vulnerable to cyberhacking by Trump's Russian masters. The biggest danger is within America itself.

All the more reason we need to teach kids and not turn them into obnoxious political activists. Kids need to learn more about computers and technology and less about ceramics and art, then they could compete with some of the best hackers on the planet.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The Pentagon chief said a sweeping review of U.S. naval power dubbed "Future Forward" had laid out a "game-changer" plan that would expand the U.S. sea fleet to more than 355 ships, from the current 293. The plan, which requires adding tens of billions of dollars to the U.S. Navy's budget between now and 2045, is aimed at maintaining superiority over Chinese naval forces, seen as the primary threat to the United States.

Well Mr Esper that's all well and good but you have a big problem - your Commander in Chief thinks your idea is bogus...and that you and your Generals are all grifters taking bribes from the defense industry...

*"I'm not saying the military's in love with me -- the soldiers are, the top people in the Pentagon probably aren't because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy," Trump told reporters at a White House news conference.*

Guess you're (secretly) hoping for Biden/Harris 2020 too...welcome to the team....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Its hard to figure if you are truly that paranoid or just that politically corrupt.

No, logically, rightfully and realistically concerned.

America is all over China like white on rice. China never showed any interest in anything but what was immediately around China and they had some sort of historical connection with.

What? You have got to be kidding me!

The U.S. military is doing nothing but antagonizing China and creating the situations that lead to war.

No, China for years have been stealing our technology in defense and intellectual property for years, reneged on every promise not to manipulate their currency and abide by all WTO rules and regulations, respect human rights and the rights of their own religious minorities as well as all global International regional territorial rules and they broke all of it, so yes, I do believe and know China is a threat as well as senior Pentagon officials. So if liberals want to keep their head in the sand like the last 3 Presidents, their choice and mistake and I’m glad Trump took on China, even Schumer for all of his faults (and he has a lot of them) he even supports Trump on this one.

The U.S. military is already crazy over-funded.

To a certain point in some areas, but overall, we need to update our military to keep it the best and up to date sharp and ready.

You are like the guy with 100 guns

No, I wish, but less than 10.

And you won't even look back when one of your kids accidentally kills one of your other kids, himself or a neighbor.

They wouldn’t because they’re trained properly and are responsible with it.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Don't know about you, but I sleep much better with a modern and more beefed up military that can protect us against a country like China that wouldn't hesitate to destroy the US.

Literally yesterday you were complaining about the military industrial complex.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Oil and (paranoid) military spending and consequent arms deals making money for the USA. American political agenda, Republicans or Democrats, in a nutshell.

They'll build up the navy and then sell it to someone who then become an enemy. God Bless America.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's just really sad the world over that so much money is funneled away from people and projects who really need it, into the pockets of arms dealers. It's not getting better any time soon is it, we need a big shake up of the people at the top.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Literally yesterday you were complaining about the military industrial complex.

And I meant it was far as going into wars we shouldn’t be in or countries we don’t need to stay in, but if it’s to safeguard our national interests and sovereignty, I support it.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

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