The United States is poised to achieve maritime supremacy under a new plan that utilizes billions saved from “ending endless wars,” according to Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
“For the first time, this administration is putting forward something that the president has long promised, and we’re putting forward a plan to actually achieve it. We’ve made progress each and every year to be able to build our Navy back to what it has been—to achieve maritime supremacy,” Vought told The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” program.
U.S. officials recently released a 30-year shipbuilding plan that proposes spending $167 billion for dozens of vessels, with the goal of having a 355-ship Navy by 2033.
Some of the funding will come from “shifting direct war costs,” according to an accompanying document from Vought’s office.
“We achieve savings by ending endless wars. We’re already—as a result of going down to 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq—achieving savings in what’s called the overseas contingency operations fund. We’ve achieved about $35 billion in savings there,” Vought said.
“But we also began to limit our growth in military personnel, which is about a third of all defense spending right now. We began to cap Army end-strength, because of what’s not needed overseas with these increased deployments that the president has pulled back on.”
President Donald Trump has drawn down troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere after promising to do so during his 2016 campaign.
The transition away from staying embroiled in long-running wars with no end in sight is part of a peace-through-strength framework that Trump’s administration has been championing, said Vought, who has been traveling across the country to visit shipyards.
“We want to achieve maritime superiority. If you look back in history at all the great countries like the United States—you saw the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff say it two weeks ago—they are maritime nations. Even as an Army guy, he saw the priority of that, in being able to make sure of that, as we orient the fight towards great power competition,” he said.
“In particular, the previous secretary of defense referred to China as our pacing threat. As we try to think through what’s necessary for that fight, an increased Navy is first and foremost.”
David Norquist, deputy secretary of defense, said the plan is consistent with the National Defense Strategy (NDS), which recognizes China and Russia as near-peer threats.
“To ensure that we maintain superiority over these threats, the NDS requires a modern, ready force to operate in the Pacific maritime region,” he said in a statement.
The plan itself states that one of the priorities is to “invest in increased lethality/modernization with the greatest potential to deliver nonlinear warfighting advantages against China and Russia in mid-to-far-term.”
Releasing a 30-year plan and emphasizing the savings from Trump’s adjustment of the U.S. military posture was done to let Congress know how much such an effort would cost.
“We believe that’s going to be the thing that Congress is most wanting, to be able to determine whether we can afford it as a country. My role as the budget director is to provide that kind of plan and detail, to be able to assuage those concerns,” Vought said.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) was among the members of Congress who reacted favorably to the proposal.
“Our nation’s ability to counter emerging threats from abroad is increasingly dependent upon a stronger Navy. The 30-year shipbuilding plan the President and his team released today sets a strong benchmark for a growing U.S. fleet. It addresses current challenges and prepares for the future,” he said in a statement.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure our U.S. Navy remains the unrivaled leader of the seas.”