Friday, November 20, 2020

U.S. "Navy Secretary Urges Creation Of New US '1st Fleet' To Deter China In Indian Ocean"

 A topic of abiding interest*

From ZeroHedge, November 20:

The US Secretary of the Navy has floated a controversial idea that could be a gamechanger in a region which China sees as its own sphere of influence.

Just ahead of the Biden administration's entering the White House in January, Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite this week urged for the reactivation of the Navy's 1st Fleet in order to rapidly beef up American's maritime might in order to challenge the growing Chinese military machine

"We want to stand up a new numbered fleet. And we want to put that numbered fleet in the crossroads between the Indian and the Pacific oceans, and we’re really going to have an INDOPACOM footprint," Braithwaite said at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium this week.

Currently the Navy's 7th Fleet is responsible for covering a massive stretch of ocean from where it is based in Yokosuka, Japan. This includes the maritime expanse from waters corresponding to where the India-Pakistan border is, all the way to Hawaii.

The 7th Fleet has some 20,000 sailors under its immediate command operating anywhere from 50 to 70 ships and submarines, along with 150 Navy aircraft. As summarized in The Drive, a numbered fleet based possibly out of Singapore would make for a greater concentration of forces able to more rapidly and effectively respond to any conflict potentially involving China:

When the Navy shuttered 1st Fleet nearly 50 years ago, it established U.S. 3rd Fleet in its place. That fleet remains active today with its headquarters in San Diego, California. Decades later, the service further redrew its operational boundaries in the Pacific, limiting 3rd Fleet's responsibilities to naval activities in the Eastern Pacific, while expanding the role of U.S. 7th Fleet, which is forward-deployed in Japan, to cover more of the Western Pacific. The 7th Fleet is also presently responsible for overseeing operations in the Indian Ocean.

"We can't just rely on the 7th Fleet in Japan," Braithwaite said, and crucially added, "We have to look to our other allies and partners like Singapore, like India, and actually put a numbered fleet where it would be extremely relevant if, God forbid, we were to ever to get in any kind of a dust-up." ...


*And if you are interested see also:
August 2020
India is Serious About Disengaging From China
July 2019
Energy key to luring India into US Indo-Pacific strategy
April 2018
Geostrategy: "In a remote corner of Sri Lanka, China built billions of dollars of high-end infrastructure that now sits virtually abandoned. Was that the plan all along?"
Dec. 2017
"The New Great Game moves from Asia-Pacific to Indo-Pacific"
November 2010
India Orders Firms to "Scour the Earth" for Energy Supplies as President Obama Heads Over

The Chinese approach works best if you have a blue water navy.
The Indian's currently have one aircraft carrier, the Viraat. Back in 2001 the Chinese bought a Soviet carrier from Ukraine for $20 mil. and said they were going to turn it into a, aahhh, casino, yeah that's the ticket. They've since started work on two more.
I have a hunch that American schoolkids today will be hearing a lot about the Indian Ocean before they graduate and might even be able to find it on a map.*
*I mean come on, just look at the land masses that border it:
Map of Indian Ocean
May 2012
Shadow War: We Told You the Indian Ocean Would Be Hot February 2014
Indian Ocean Geopolitics: China Goes to the Maldives
January 2015
"Is China Moving to Control the Indian Ocean?"
April 2015
"China’s Grand Plan for Pakistan’s Infrastructure"

Somehow related:
The Softer Side Of Clausewitz