One of the major foreign policy challenges facing Donald Trump will be how to deal with Communist China’s ambition to achieve hegemony in the South China Sea and to deprive the United States of allies in the region. In a shameful series of actions and inaction, Barack Obama (probably because of the importance of Chinese manufacturing to his green energy nutbaggery) encouraged Chinese expansion, acquiesced as China created geographic facts in the South China Sea, and allowed our allies to be intimidated.
While this was going on, the US Navy amused itself by focusing on really important stuff like ensconcing women on nuclear submarines, allowing its ships to be taken captive and generally harassed by Iran, and eradicating the suffix “-man” from job titles. Things may be changing:
The United States Navy will likely be in good hands under the incoming Trump Administration.
Outgoing Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-VA)—chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee—is one of the leading candidates to become the new Secretary of the Navy (SecNav) according to multiple sources.
Forbes is universally respected within Washington’s national security circles as a staunch advocate of American naval power. Even those conservative stalwarts who vehemently oppose president-elect Donald Trump’s candidacy were exuberant at the possibility that Forbes would become Secretary of the Navy. “I think he would be the perfect choice,” said naval expert Bryan McGrath—who along with several other well-known conservative foreign policy experts—led the “Never Trump” movement.
Forbes in not only a believer in sea power, he sees the Chinese challenge very clearly:
In September, Forbes asserted before Congress that “more than rhetoric is required to counterbalance China’s growing military power and assertiveness,” referring to China’s artificial island building and militarization in the South China Sea, as well as China ignoring an international court ruling that said its claims in the region were illegal.
China has declared “no fly” and “no sail” zones in international waters in the Pacific that have gone unchallenged by the US in the last few years. Increasingly Beijing bullies ships from its neighbors, some of whom are US allies.
Forbes’s ability to act to stymie Chinea will largely be determined by the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and National Security Council but there is more than enough work to do to get the Navy back to the same level of respectability that it held just eight years ago. He can stop bullying the Marine Corps into creating mixed sex infantry units that have been demonstrated to perform an much lower levels than all male units. He can fix the troubled F-35 and Zumwalt-class destroyer problems that call into question the ability of the Navy to function in the future. He can instill pride and self respect and maybe never again will we hear a Navy officer pat himself on the back for allowing ships under his command to be taken captive without a shot being fired.