WINDHAM — Regarding the buildout described in the Dec. 17 Portland Press Herald (“Big Navy request might boost Bath Iron Works,” Page A1):

Currently, our Navy has 88 destroyers and cruisers; 16 more would bring the total to 104. There are a total of 224 destroyers and cruisers in the world’s navies, of which 73 belong to our allies, 51 to China and Russia and 12 to North Korea and Iran.

This means that 72 percent of the world’s destroyers and cruisers belong to the United States and our allies, and 28 percent to our adversaries. Why do we need 16 more destroyers and cruisers?

Currently, our Navy has 75 nuclear subs; 18 more would bring the total to 93. There are a total of 526 submarines in the world’s navies, of which 135 belong to our allies, 128 to China and Russia, 103 to North Korea and Iran, and 85 to other navies.

This means that 40 percent of the world’s submarines belong to the United States and our allies, 44 percent to our adversaries and 16 percent to others. If we limit the discussion to nuclear submarines, 63 percent of the world’s nuclear subs belong to the United States and our allies, 36 percent to our adversaries and 1 percent to others. Why do we need 18 more submarines?

Currently, our Navy has 11 fleet-type carriers (including short-takeoff and catapult carriers; excluding helicopter carriers); one more would bring the total to 12. There are a total of 19 fleet-type carriers in the world’s navies, of which three belong to our allies, two to China and Russia and three to others. (Only the United States, France and Russia have nuclear carriers.)

This means that 74 percent of the world’s fleet carriers belong to the United States and our allies, 11 percent to our adversaries and 16 percent to others. Why do we need another fleet carrier?

It is not a trivial matter that the above analysis does not consider naval efficacy, i.e., that sizes and/or capabilities of the vessels in our Navy, and those of our allies, are far superior to those of our adversaries. On the other hand, Russia and China have announced plans to augment their navies. That said, U.S. funding commitments need to be based on verifiable adversary buildouts and proportional responses made in conjunction with our allies.

As President-elect Donald Trump has correctly said (paraphrasing), the United States can no longer afford to be the world’s policeman on our nickel alone; our allies need to step up and pay their fair share of the cost of our military might. Our national debt is $20 trillion and has been climbing at an average rate of $2.5 billion per day since Sept. 30, 2012, according to the website www.brillig.com/debt_clock.

Measured in 2016 dollars, the cost of the buildout described in the Press Herald is estimated to be $110 billion to $120 billion over the next 30 years. (A more realistic estimate is $170 billion.) We need a heck of a lot more explanation and justification than “a Navy assessment of future needs to counter emerging threats recommends achieving a 355-ship fleet” before committing to such a costly program.

The term “zero-based budgeting” comes to mind, as does a Washington Post editorial in the Dec. 9 edition of this newspaper discussing how Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work tried to bury an internal study concluding that the Department of Defense “could save $125 billion over five years” and avoid “bloat and wasteful overhead.”

The root cause of this unsustainable fiscal situation is that our U.S. representatives and senators in Congress believe (with some justification) that – regardless of cost effectiveness or verifiable need – their job is to bring home the bacon to companies like Bath Iron Works, which employs around 5,500 workers depending upon workload. Legitimate reasons for exorbitant Defense Department expenditures need to be articulated and communicated to our citizens. Obscenely irresponsible fiscal behavior needs to stop. It is way past time for our elected officials to start exercising fiscal restraint and end the out-of-control downward spiral that is corporate welfare spending and a major contributor to the bankrupting of our country.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column has been changed at the author’s request to provide more information about the figure cited in reference to the daily increase of the national debt.