The administration of lame-duck U.S. president Donald Trump just tossed a hand grenade into the offices of president-elect Joe Biden’s naval transition team.
With just a month left in Trump’s term, his administration has begun rolling out a long-delayed shipbuilding plan—one that has little chance of surviving Biden’s budgets, but which could shape expectations in the Pentagon and Congress and result in avoidable controversy.
It’s not that the plan, which reduces planned construction of large warships in favor of smaller and robotic vessels, is a bad one. In fact, it reflects the broad consensus among naval experts that the U.S. fleet needs to grow and spread out in order to do battle with China’s own fast-growing fleet.
But the manner in which Trump is pitching his fleet plan actually undermines the strong, bipartisan consensus over naval shipbuilding. Trump for years all but ignored the Navy. It was only after he lost his reelection bid that his administration bothered to elucidate a plan for growing the fleet.
Which makes it obvious that Trump’s goal isn’t to help the Navy, but to interfere with Biden’s own budgeting and planning. “This is a very good plan that I like a lot,” said Bryan McGrath, director of the FerryBridge Group naval consultancy in Maryland. “I'm just sorry it is wasted on this cheap political ploy.” (end of excerpt)
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