17:51 GMT +321 October 2016
    US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen

    GOP Leaders Want More Naval Muscle in South China Sea Dispute

    © REUTERS/ US Navy
    Asia & Pacific
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    Republican lawmakers are using Washington's dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea as an opportunity to call for a stronger US Navy.

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on Thursday said tensions with China highlight the need for a strong Navy that can serve as a deterrent. He criticized the Obama administration for proposals that would reduce the US naval fleet.

    "This just shows that we need to have a strong Navy," Ryan said at a news briefing. "We should not have a president proposing to lower our ship count to pre-World War I levels. This means we need to have a strong military and a strong Navy, and a real foreign policy, which we do not now have."

    Several Chinese civilian planes recently have landed on islands Beijing has constructed in the disputed South China Sea.

    "We're concerned by all of these activities being conducted by the Chinese in disputed islands in the South China Sea," Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook said.

    China claims nearly all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have overlapping claims to territory in those waters.

    Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said, if elected, he would sail US ships through the disputed South China Sea to challenge China's claimed air and sea rights and work with other allies in the region.

    In October, the Pentagon began conducting patrols within 12 nautical miles of China's man-made islands in the region.

    "We need to reinvigorate our Pacific military alliance, and that begins with the United States investing the resources necessary to rebuild our Navy," Rubio, a senator from Florida, told Fox Business Network.

    The assertion about the smallest US Navy since WWI has become a popular talking point among Republicans, but has been widely discounted because contemporary ships are far more advanced and significantly larger than those in use a century ago, Reuters reported.

    Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Navy's Pacific Fleet, this week said he would take the Navy he has today – and its advanced technology – over the Navy of 20 years ago.

    World War I, US Navy, Scott Swift, Peter Cook, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, China, South China Sea, United States
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    • Baybars
      Marco Rubio! Where you going to get the money to build all these ships? You and your family going to be on board the first missile cruiser to sail towards a Chinese frigate? I thought not.
    • coolerheads
      Prior to 9/11, U.S. military spending was dropping every year and was down to around $400B per year. After 9/11, it immediately was raised to around $700B per year. If you look at what it was during the cold war and adjust for inflation, you're looking at $1T-$2T annually. If things with China heat up any more, you can expect another major increase in U.S. defense spending. It could push up to around $1T annually. Every time Chinese leadership speaks, the stock prices of U.S. defense contractors go up.
    • coolerheadsin reply toBaybars (Show commentHide comment)
      Baybars, in combat, U.S. ships aren't going to sail towards Chinese ships. Carrier launched fighter aircraft will be responsible for the U.S. Navy's offense. The F-18 has a combat radius of 500 miles. It carries anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 miles. It can target Chinese ships or missile launchers from 2,000 miles away. U.S. aircraft carriers will stay 1,000+ miles away from Chinese ships or the Chinese coastline. The U.S. federal budget is around $4T per year. They only spend about 17% of that on defense. During the cold war, they spent half the federal budget on defense. They can spend anything they want on defense. They will just shift the funds away from domestic programs if they need to, or raise taxes a little bit.
    • Baybars in reply tocoolerheads(Show commentHide comment)
      coolerheads, Sad though, isn't it? All that hubris and arrogance from someone who will not be personally affected by the raising of taxes, the reduction of social spending or the sacrifices of the military.
    • coolerheadsin reply toBaybars (Show commentHide comment)
      Baybars, it's very interesting to an outside observer. A new state-of-the-art hospital in the U.S. costs about $100M. One new Ford-Class Stealth Aircraft Carrier costs $10B. For the cost of one Ford-Class, you could build two brand new state-of-the-art hospitals in all 50 U.S. states. Although, the U.S. constitution doesn't say anything about schools or hospitals. It does however, require the federal government to maintain a Navy. American politics are pretty fascinating at times.
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