by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Florida Republican governor, an Iraq War Navy veteran, promised to reboot America’s national security posture with a rebuilt Navy at the heart of the country’s hard power, during his Oct. 27 address at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation’s “Mandate for Leadership” speaking speakers series.
“As Winston Churchill noted, it’s important to keep open and active the saltwater highways that make our world tick,” said Ron DeSantis, who served as a legal advisor to Navy SEAL operators in Iraq during his 2007 deployment there.
“To that end, I’m proposing a four oceans Navy, 355 ships by the end of the first term, 385 by the end of the second term, and a pathway for 600 ships within the next 20 years,” he said.
The governor, who left the Navy as a lieutenant commander, gave the speech to a packed-out Lehrman Auditorium at the forum co-hosted by Epoch Times, leaned into his military experience and his admiration for President Ronald W. Reagan.
DeSantis’ pledge for a 600-ship Navy was not a coincidence. There is no institution in Washington more committed to the national security legacy of Reagan, and the 600-ship Navy was one of Reagan’s great goals. …
… The governor’s call for a four-ocean Navy is another nod to Reagan’s Navy build-up. President Jimmy Carter’s Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Thomas B. Hayward told an interviewer his Navy was stretched out in the late 1970s, “trying to meet a three-ocean requirement with a one-and-a-half-ocean Navy.” …
… DeSantis has made a point of associating himself with Reagan. His rhetoric shares the rhythms and flourishes of the president and two months before his May 24 campaign launch, the governor spoke to a sold-out audience at the Reagan Presidential Library, \hosted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.