As the Department of Defense faces looming budget cuts, the various branches of the military must be scrambling to assure the administration as to the efficacy of their various programs. The service provided during war time it is clear and higher military spending is easily justified throughout the budget process. But when wars die down, so do military appropriations.
For any military branch looking to improve its funding chances, the maritime sector can provide a synergistic relationship that justifies appropriations in peace and war. Maritime, you see, is a critical partner in the national defense of the country. How else do the tanks, helicopters, and bombs get overseas? And when the military needs that cargo shipped, the vessels must be ready and willing to carry the cargo. And they are.
The problem is that the number of U.S. flag merchant cargo vessels continues to dwindle. At the rate the industry is going, eventually the only option our military will have for transporting its critical cargo will be ships that fly the flags of nations that may not have the best interest of the United States in mind. As a nation we need to grow our fleet of merchant vessels.
The Navy in particular could benefit from a larger fleet of American ships. As American cargo ships travel this increasingly hostile globe, they will require protection. Who better to protect American ships than the American Navy? As my Sea Power 101 instructor told us, this is the reason Navies were created in the first place. I can already see congressional budget line items for the Navy growing in size as the US merchant fleet grows, whether in peace time or war.
If DOD and the Navy leadership can join the maritime industry in convincing our legislators of the critical need for a growing US merchant fleet of ships, they will go a long way to ensuring continued funding for all of their programs even in the most challenging budgetary periods.