Most recently, China has acquired their very first aircraft carrier. On Sunday, China announced the first landing of a fighter jet on the carrier. Over the past few years, China has steadily advanced their naval capabilities, while the United States has steadily decreased theirs. This poses a problem, given the fact that the U.S. naval force provides the most important defense for America.
First, it is important to analyze the current presence and capabilities of the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific region. Given the fact that our country once had 15 aircraft carriers during the Bush era and now only boasts 11, (soon to be 10) we can see that our presence at sea is steadily declining.
Heritage, a non-profit think tank recently released a report to reinforce this fact:
“For these enduring reasons, both the Congress and the Navy must work to ensure that a sufficient number of aircraft carriers remain in operation. During the Reagan years, the Navy maintained 15 carriers. In FY 2006, Congress required the Navy maintain at least 12 carriers.”
Ever since the mid 1900’s, the U.S. had maintained the largest naval force in the world. Naval forces have served to be one of the most important elements of our military. Without a plan to continue increasing our naval presence and only sustaining a minimal defense force in the Pacific Ocean, we are threatening our national security and the safety of our allies. Our Naval presence has continued to help in almost every military operation and remains to be the ultimate crisis management tool.
Second, we must take into account Chinas new naval expansion. As mentioned previously, China just recently acquired their first aircraft carrier. China is a country with an immense amount of power. China has the capabilities to create a very large threat to our country. As China continues to grow, we must not abandon our opportunities in the region. Up until now, there hasn’t been a reason to increase our naval presence, but now that China has upgraded their potential, it is in our best interest to secure our position in the Pacific.
Just last July, Forbes released an article revealing the absence of our presence:
“Providing less presence is an open acknowledgement that our country will not continue to influence the world in the manner we have in the past. There are critics who contend that our enemies will defeat us in the financial world, not on the battlefield. Maybe that will be our downfall in the end, but if we give up our ability to defend ourselves, the sea lanes and our allies anywhere in the world, our world will rapidly change in what I predict will be disastrous ways.”
It is clear that we must not desert our influence. The U.S. has and should remain the most influential at sea.