10-Year, $100-Billion Navy Shipbuilding Program Advocated

Senator Gary Hart (D-Colo.), and former Senator Robert Taft Jr. (R-Ohio) have joined in drafting the 1978 edition of White Paper on Defense, entitled "A Modern Military S t r a t e g y for the United States," which calls for "new force structure, which combines smaller but more modern ground forces with a more effective Navy." Strong emphasis is placed on "new challenge to United States maritime security" posed by "the modern Soviet Navy" and role of U.S. naval power as "a more flexible foreign policy tool than ground forces." The White Paper presents detailed "10-year advanced technology naval shipbuilding program" which is summarized as follows: "This program includes, among other elements, one additional nuclear-propelled Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, 23 small aircraft carriers, 37 nuclear and conventional attack submarines, several types of air-capable escort ships, hydrofoils, surface effect ships, .and merchant ships converted to military roles. It would cost $100 billion over a 10-year period, FY 1979-88. Projecting the proposed FY 1979 shipbuilding budget of $4.7 billion as a base of comparison, the proposed program would cost an additional $53 billion in naval ship construction and related funding . . .

"In terms of direct shipbuilding costs alone, this would, at its peak, approximately double current ship construction budget.

For FY 1979, the Administration requested $4.7 billion for naval ship construction and conversion.

The proposed program begins at $6.8 billion in FY 1979, and climbs to a maximum of $9.7 billion in FY 1987 (all figures in FY 1979 dollars) . . ." To the question of "where is the money to come from?" Senators Hart and Taft responded in this way: "We have already noted that, r e a l i s t i c a l l y , the defense budget may not be able significantly to exceed present levels.

If there is no large overall increase over the period of years planned, the money must come from a reordering of priorities based on the realization that the United States is by nature a sea power, not a land power. We must reallocate our resources from land power to sea power, from expensive land power responsibilities that should be borne by those nations that are essentially land powers, to sea power."

Other stories from July 1978 issue

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