With endless partisan politics consuming Washington and myriad foreign policy challenges confronting us, we live in interesting times, to put it mildly. But as Congress grinds to a halt instead of tackling the important business of the nation, it’s worth remembering that there are some noteworthy success stories — of American strength, leadership and innovation. But to find those stories these days, don’t look for them in the marble halls of Congress. Look for them in the faces of our men and women in uniform — or within the hull of a ship.
The group that I run, Americans for a Balanced Budget, was formed in the 1980s in response to the out-of-control spending of politicians in Washington. How quaint our spending concerns of the ’80s seem today as our elected officials openly endorse a government takeover of health care, the Green New Deal and the like. At ABB, we agree with both former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who during their terms of office each identified spending and the national debt as ultimately being the greatest threat to our national security.
As commander in chief, President Trump has rightly focused on rebuilding our military after years of decay — and to his credit, he insists of getting a good deal for the taxpayer while doing so.
Take, for example, Trump’s focus on the next generation of aircraft carriers, known as the Ford-class.
Last Thanksgiving, during his holiday calls to our troops, Trump spoke with the commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan, an older Nimitz-class vessel, about technologies and capabilities offered by the new Ford-class ships. Chief among the president’s interest was a new technology, the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which is the catapult that launches planes off the ship, and how that system was performing.
As a man known to relish a good deal, Trump’s interest in EMALS should come as no surprise: EMALS promises to do more with less. It was designed to more efficiently and quickly launch aircraft; estimates vary, but the system is expected to increase aircraft launch capability by 33 percent over the Nimitz-class. It will also enable the Ford-class ships to accommodate both heavier aircraft and drones — something our current carriers cannot do and which can make a life-or-death difference to troops in harm’s way.
And EMALS does this while offering long-term cost savings to the taxpayer, requiring fewer crewmembers — as many as 900 fewer — while its more efficient, electric systems will require less power and cause less wear and tear on aircraft, extending their service lives. In total, this game-changing technology is predicted to generate $4 billion in cost savings over a carrier’s 50-year expected lifespan.
Trump’s dedication to both maintaining our military superiority and finding cost efficiencies helped refocus attention onto technologies such as EMALS that accomplish both. These capabilities will keep our troops safer while expanding our military capabilities and protecting the taxpayer. A good deal by any measure.
At a time when global adversaries such as China are rushing to catch up with our military capabilities — including developing their own version of EMALS — and bad actors like Iran have become increasingly assertive, especially at sea, we cannot afford to be complacent. But we also cannot be complacent with spending we cannot afford. Trump’s focus in looking both toward cost savings and our future capabilities is the kind of leadership we need to help steer America into the mid-21st century, retaining our strategic advantage and preserving our budget here at home.
And in these most interesting of times, that’s one small story we should all be happy about.