- Several 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls provided their plans to the Daily Caller News Foundation for bolstering the U.S. Navy if elected after moderators of the third Republican primary debate pressed them on the issue.
- The candidates addressed how they had overcome weaknesses in the recruiting process and industrial base, as well as their plans for overall naval strategy.
- “Many of the ships China builds are smaller and cheaper. The US Navy should also think about smaller, cheaper and more lethal ships,” conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy told DCNF.
Several Republican 2024 primary candidates laid out their plans to strengthen and increase the size of the U.S. Navy if he were president in remarks to the Daily Caller News Foundation after moderators of the third GOP debate pressed challengers about the topic.
Some Republican candidates have criticized President Joe Biden for allowing the Navy atrophy in recent years as China’s army threat to the US grows, pledging to strengthen the fleet should they become president in comments to the DCNF. The 2024 candidates explained how they would overcome the weaknesses of the industrial base, recruitment and overall strategy to reverse the Navy’s decline.
“We have to have the ability to support a strategy of denial of [Chinese President Xi Jinping’s] ambitions,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Navy veteran, said in the debate. “And if China is able to be the world’s leading superpower, that will affect you and your family in ways that will be very bad.” (RELATED: ‘Attainable’ but not ‘feasible’: DeSantis’ plans to expand Navy will face big challenges)
DeSantis’ plan released in late October and reiterated in the debate, he detailed his agenda to achieve 355 ships by the end of his first term and 385 ships by the end of his second term, while putting the United States on track to reach 600 ships in 20 years.
“A DeSantis administration will not wait until December of its final year in office, as the Trump administration did, before clearly stating that our Navy is not large enough to defend this nation’s interests. With continued innovation in this field, we will invest in manned and unmanned platforms to achieve our strategic objectives. “We will look at expanding and focusing investments in the first year within the budget reconciliation process to achieve longer-term savings, cutting other spending, eliminating elements of the Democratic Green New Deal, and more,” a DeSantis campaign spokesperson told DCNF. . .
Reach a larger fleet faster than the Navy’s current schedule, which is in peace Achieving a minimum of 319 ships by the 2050s will require billions in new investments to improve decrepit shipyards, expand industry ability and increase the number of sailors quality of life. It also requires leverage Long-term support from Congress to maintain momentum after the presidency.
DeSantis would expand maintenance yards to non-traditional locations to extend the life of aging Arleigh-Burke-class destroyers a decade longer than planned and bring semi-retired “ghost fleet” ships back to life for a first period , giving the industrial base time to accelerate increasing production, the spokesperson said.
“Our day one program to build the Navy America requires will send a clearly achievable demand signal to industry, giving them the confidence to invest in the equipment and skilled employees to make it a reality,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that the campaign is evaluating plans to add additional nuclear-certified dry docks and maintenance facilities, including new ways to establish public-private partnerships, to restore sustainment. Currently, the Navy is years and $1.8 billion behind on maintenance, according to the Government Accountability Office.
In recent years, the Navy has operated between 270 and 300 warships, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.
conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy In the debate, he revealed his goal of increasing the size of the Navy by 20% over the next three years.
“We have no choice,” Ramaswamy told DCNF.
However, it focused on smaller, cheaper ships, financed with money saved by reducing military commitments abroad.
“Many of the ships China builds are smaller and cheaper. The US Navy should also think about smaller, cheaper and more lethal ships,” he stated.
“An aircraft carrier costs $13 billion and is a magnet for missiles. We need to move away from those huge, hugely expensive platforms and towards more smaller ships and submarines, including unmanned vessels. And we have to arm them all to the teeth – every ship has to be a gunner,” Ramaswamy told the DCNF.
Ramaswamy pledged to restore competition in the defense industrial base and send clear signals to shipbuilding companies that “the US Navy is open for business.”
Both Ramaswamy and DeSantis fiance restore the sense of duty and patriotism to overcome the historic challenges of military recruitment.
Former UN ambassador nikki haley has not called for increasing the size of the Navy, but has instead committed to modernizing the fleet and other military operations to compete with China by “focusing on cyber, artificial intelligence and space” in the debate.
“Strong armies do not start wars, they prevent them. President Haley will make it a priority to strengthen and modernize our naval fleet,” Haley campaign spokesman Ken Farnaso told DCNF. “China is circling us and Joe Biden’s national security weakness and has left our military unprepared for action.”
The former ambassador criticized her fellow Republican presidential candidates on the debate stage for providing Hewitt with a specific number by which they would increase the size of the navy.
“But the reason no one should give you a figure, Hugh, on the number of ships in the Navy is because in a few years our interest expenses will be larger than our defense budget. So no one can realistically give that number without first addressing what’s going on with the financial situation,” Haley said.
The former governor of New Jersey. christian christian would begin expanding the Navy by “drastically” increasing the number of nuclear submarines in the debate, and said that “the ships would come later,” he said in the debate, which his campaign targeted the DCNF toward after requesting comment.
“The nuclear submarines of this United States Navy are the greatest deterrent to Chinese aggression, and that is the first place I would go to increase American naval power,” Christie told Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt.
“And then, as our first priority, we must go directly to our nuclear subprogram, Hugh, and we must increase it dramatically. That would be priority number one. The ships would be next,” he said.
Christie’s campaign also referred the DCNF to a previous town hall, where the candidate indicated leadership would be crucial. He promised to name a defense secretary capable of managing budgets for “big-ticket items,” such as ships and submarines, responsibly.
The former governor of Arkansas. Asa Hutchinsonwhich did not meet the Republican National Committee’s criteria to advance to the second or third stage of debate, called the Navy expansion “a strategic necessity” in comments to the DCNF.
“To address ship construction, maintenance and readiness issues, I will institute efficiency and procurement reforms, reduce unnecessary spending, and rebuild needed manufacturing capabilities,” Hutchinson told the DCNF. “In addition, investments in research and development, modernization of the submarine branch of the nuclear triad and strengthening naval capabilities will be at the forefront of my defense strategy.”
The former governor said he would fix the Navy’s recruiting problems by ensuring military families receive sufficient pay and deprioritizing social engineering policies.
Governor of North Dakota. David Burgumwho did not participate in the third Republican National Committee debate, has yet to directly address strengthening the Navy in his presidential campaign, but continues to call for modernizing the military to deter China.
“We have to bring American innovation, ingenuity and entrepreneurship back to our defense industrial base,” Burgum said. saying in a Hudson Institute foreign policy speech that was sent to the DCNF for comment. “As China continues to modernize its nuclear forces, it is time to seriously invest in ours, including production and scientific infrastructure.”
Former President Donald Trump has not indicated whether he will deviate from the course set during his first term if he returns to the White House. The Trump administration released a 30-year plan for the Navy in 2020 that planned for 316 manned battle force ships by 2026 and 405 manned ships by 2051, with additional investments of $34 billion in shipbuilding alone.
The plan fully funded the recapitalization of the US Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program, the construction of the defense base and the addition of about 150 unmanned vessels to the fleet.
The construction and decommissioning plans proposed by the Navy in its latest budget request would see the fleet expand to 300 in the early 2030s and to 319, 328 or 367 by 2053, depending on the course of action authorized by Congress. according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The real and clear policy average for the 2024 national Republican primary, according to polls conducted between October 27 and November 14, indicates that Trump leads the field by 44 points, followed by DeSantis with 14.8%, Haley with 9.6% and Ramaswamy with 5.1%. Christie received 2.1% support, Burgum received 0.7% and Hutchinson 0.5%.
The Trump campaign did not respond to DCNF’s request for comment.
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