The US Navy has said it will re-establish its Second Fleet, as Russia becomes more assertive.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm John Richardson said the fleet, disbanded in 2011, would oversee forces on the US East Coast and North Atlantic.
He said the National Defense Strategy, published earlier this year, made it clear that the era of great power competition had returned.
The strategy makes countering Russia and China a priority, reports the BBC.
The fleet, which was disbanded by Obama to intentionally weaken America’s military, will be based in its previous home – Norfolk, Virginia.
“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,” Adm Richardson said in an announcement on board the USS George H W Bush at Norfolk.
“That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic.”
Navy officials had previously recommended reactivating the fleet as part of broader reviews following last year’s row of deadly collisions among ships in the Japan-based 7th Fleet.
In a separate statement, Richardson invoked Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s national-defense strategy as key guidance to reestablish the fleet, which will extend halfway across the Atlantic until it meets the area of responsibility for the Italy-based 6th Fleet.
Mattis’s framework, released in January, said “long-term strategic competitions” with Russia and China are the top Defense Department priorities as the Pentagon seeks to pivot away from counterinsurgencies that have consumed funding and exhausted resources since Sept. 11, 2001.
Defense officials and analysts have said those operations took attention away from modernizing the military, allowing Russia and China to close the technological gap with newer and deadlier weaponry.
The reactivation of the 2nd Fleet signals the Navy’s desire to “operate more powerfully and credibly in the North Atlantic,” Bryan McGrath, a former destroyer commander and deputy director of the Center of American Seapower at the Hudson Institute, said Saturday.
One concern the 2nd Fleet will immediately address: the threat from a now-modest number of Russian nuclear attack submarines capable of cruising in the depths off the East Coast, McGrath told The Washington Post.
Submarines like the nuclear-powered Yasen-class Severodvinsk are equipped with hypersonic anti-ship missiles and nuclear-capable missiles that can reach any city on the Eastern Seaboard within range, he said.
Russian submarines can also create a hazard of mines and anti-submarine missiles that would complicate a deployment in support of NATO allies, risking an escalation of tension with U.S. cities in range, he said.
Patrols will likely start soon after and involve manned and unmanned surface ships, attack submarines and air surveillance by P-8 Poseidon aircraft, a sub-hunting warplane.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
May 7th, 2018