The United States Navy will re-establish the Second Fleet to oversee Naval forces in the northern Atlantic Ocean as part of its new military strategy aimed at countering Russia.
“Our National Defense Strategy makes clear that we’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson announced Friday, according to the BBC.
“That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic,” he said.
— The Hill (@thehill) May 5, 2018
Richardson announced the return of the combat organization that oversaw naval forces in the North Atlantic throughout the Cold War while he was on board the USS George H. W. Bush in Norfolk, Virginia.
“Second Fleet will exercise operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and northern Atlantic Ocean,” Richardson said, according to Reuters.
The Second Fleet will also oversee maritime, joint and combined operations and training for those operations.
The Navy's Second Fleet is being reinstated in order to better counter Russia amid deteriorating relations with the West. https://t.co/apxk5cIpWp
— Axios (@axios) May 5, 2018
Who will command the fleet and which naval assets have been assigned have not yet been announced.
Initial accounts said the fleet will be staffed with 15 people to start.
Also on Friday, the Pentagon said it has offered to host a proposed NATO Joint Force Command at Norfolk.
“NATO is refocusing on the Atlantic in recognition of the great power competition prompted by a resurgent Russia,” said Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael, according to CNN.
The Second Fleet was disbanded in 2011, during the Obama administration, as a means to reduce costs. At its peak, the Second Fleet was made up of 126 ships, 4,500 aircraft and 90,000 personnel.
However, when Defense Secretary James Mattis presented the nation’s new strategy, which sets the stage for all policy decisions, he said China and Russia were “revisionist powers” that “seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models.”
“The re-establishment of the US Second Fleet is part of a wider strategy of re-orientating the U.S. armed forces towards a world of renewed big power competition and away from the counter-insurgency campaigns they have been fighting over recent decades,” noted Jonathan Marcus, a defense and diplomatic correspondent for the BBC.
“In this case, the focus is Russia — a response to its stepped-up naval activity of recent years. The new headquarters will give more coherent command arrangements for U.S. warships operating in the Atlantic,” he said.
Administration officials have voiced concerns over a more bellicose Russian attitude toward naval power in the Atlantic.
“They have launched a new submarine that I can safely say is closing the gap on some of our technologies,” Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told Congress last month. “But, we are hard at work, also, to make sure that gap does not close and that the rate of the gap does not increase.”
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