Mitt Romney's campaign put together a new ad after last night's final presidential debate in an attempt to highlight the differences between he and President Obama on Pentagon spending.
Romney often repeats the claim that the U.S. Navy is smaller now than nearly 100 years ago — the ad highlights the comparison between the 245 ships active in 1916 and the 285 active now, which Politifact calls a 'Pants on Fire' claim. His argument would be completely valid if our technology had not advanced in the past 96 years. Due to the changing nature of the Navy and Air Force, it is only appropriate that the numbers will decrease—but that doesn’t mean they don’t strengthen. Quality over quantity.
Romney's advising personnel also creates room for suspicion as to who will really be kept "certain and secure" as a result of military spending. John Lehmen, one of his most prominent naval advisors, has a lot to gain from fleet expansion as he has financial ties to the shipbuilding industry. Their relationship sheds a new light on the meaning of "highest responsibility" to Romney, as the ad posits, and questions just exactly what he considers "unacceptable."
Overlooked by Romney is the increase in naval support since Obama has been in office, which was lower in 2005-2008 under George W. Bush. The security of the American people does not rest on the ability to fight two conflicts at once, rather it relies on the advancements in strategy and technique created to put less American soldiers' lives at risk.
The fact remains that the U.S. military is the strongest in the world and by comparison is not lacking in power or numbers. Cutting or maintaining its funding would not have a huge impact on our international status, and would serve other domestic needs. So how does it make sense to budget money towards a program that isn't even asking for it? Trillions of dollars later and our global reputation would remain the same.
It would take a long time to reach Romney's goal of Pentagon spending at 4 percent of GDP. What would Romney's added money do anyway? Reverse the productivity of the armed forces by adding unnecessary numbers in the name of preparedness for yet-unknown needs? After all the debt we have put ourselves in there are more productive ways to spend money than increasing our number of warships, all while maintaining an effective military via a leaner, smarter budget.