Home » Budget Industry » CNO: New 2nd Fleet Boundary Will Extend North to the Edge of Russian Waters


CNO: New 2nd Fleet Boundary Will Extend North to the Edge of Russian Waters

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79) transits the Arctic Circle Sept. 5, 2017. US Navy Photo

ABOARD AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH – The boundaries of the Navy’s reestablished U.S. 2nd Fleet extends well past the old submarine stomping grounds of the Cold War and into waters north of Scandinavia and the Arctic Circle, near the submarine headquarters of Russia’s Northern Fleet, Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson said on Friday.

“A new 2nd Fleet increases our strategic flexibility to respond — from the Eastern Seaboard to the Barents Sea,” Richardson said. “Second Fleet will approach the North Atlantic as one continuous operational space, and conduct expeditionary fleet operations where and when needed.”

Richardson and new 2nd Fleet commander Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis stressed the standup of the new command was a reflection of the National Defense Strategy from Secretary of Defense James Mattis that signaled a return to “great power competition” with nation-states, rather than the low-intensity ground wars the U.S. has waged since 2001.

Then-Rear Adm. Andrew Lewis, then-commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, delivers remarks as the guest speaker during a change of command ceremony in the hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) on July 21, 2015. US Navy photo.

“We will not simply pick up where we left off. We are going to aggressively and quickly rebuild this command into an operational warfighting organization,” Lewis said.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work told USNI News on Friday the extension of the boundary to Russia’s doorstep was in line with the new Mattis-led strategy.

“This truly is about great power competition and demonstrating it to the great powers that we can operate in waters nearby when and where we chose to do so. It’s signaling we’re here. We’re ready to go,” Work said.
“In China we have a rival that is really has a full-spectrum naval capability. The Russians truly are more of an undersea competitor. The best way to get there is to operate in those grounds close to them and not let them break out into the open ocean.”

The official crest for the re-establishment of Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet. US Navy Image

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe retired Adm. James Stavridis told USNI News on Friday the extension of the border was a reflection of new realities in dealing with capabilities of the Russian Navy.

“The new battle space for 2nd Fleet reflects two critical elements: The first is Russia’s desire to extend the distance over which its fleet can roam,” Stavridis said.
“The second is new long-range attack technologies that allow Russia far greater maritime standoff distance.”

While on Bush, Richardson declined to talk to reporters about specific Russian capabilities he views as threats. However, it’s well known the Russian Navy has invested heavily in its attack submarine fleet and its new Kalibir land strike missile with about a 1,000-mile range.

Last year, Russian nuclear attack boat Severodvinsk launched a Kalibir almost 400 miles in a test of their capability to strike land targets from under the sea. The Russians have also demonstrated the missiles as part of Moscow’s military effort in Syria.

While new Russian surface ships field similar missiles, the construction of new ships has stalled due to loss of infrastructure after the Cold War and ongoing manufacturing delays. In contrast, the Russian Navy had always spent more time investing in its submarine force. Combined with the new missiles, Russian submarines can put mainland European cities at risk without leaving the North Atlantic.

Map of North Atlantic with the Barents Sea highlighted. Google Image

The increased capability and standoff distance the Russians can employ drives an increased focus on the North Atlantic, Magnus Nordenman, deputy director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council and author of the forthcoming book The New Battle for the North Atlantic: Emerging Naval Competition with Russia in the Far North, told USNI News on Friday.

“Giving 2nd fleet responsibility up to the Barents recognizes one of the most important aspects of the emerging naval competition in the North Atlantic,” he said. “The action will be in the high north, not around or south of the GIUK gap, and it will not be about defending allied convoys coming across the Atlantic”

While the ceremonial standup of the new command was Aug. 24, the Navy has already moved to employ more ships into the North Atlantic.

As part of the recent Truman Strike Group deployment, a major contingent of U.S. destroyers operated off Norway and in the North Atlantic. Until this year, U.S. destroyers – equipped with a very capable anti-submarine war suite – largely did not exercise in the region.

A Russian Kilo submarine passes the parade stand during the Russia Navy Day celebration in Vladivostok. US Navy Photo

“Our Atlantic coast guys need a chance to train against good submariners. … Either they’re doing it with the French or the British for training or for hope of finding a Russian submarine,” Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told USNI News in June. “You have to make a special effort to put them there.”

While the reconstituted 2nd Fleet was announced in May, the notion of increasing focus on the North Atlantic has been simmering since the 2014 seizure of Crimea by Russian forces.
In 2016, now-commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe Adm. James Foggo wrote in U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings that the Russian sub threat has continued to grow creating a Fourth Battle of the Atlantic.

“Russian submarines are prowling the Atlantic, testing our defenses, confronting our command of the seas, and preparing the complex underwater battlespace to give them an edge in any future conflict,” he wrote. “Not only have Russia’s actions and capabilities increased in alarming and confrontational ways, its national-security policy is aimed at challenging the United States and its NATO allies and partners.”

  • NavySubNuke

    Will be interesting to see how this all gets integrated with the existing team in Naples and the rest of NATO who is used to working with them vs. working with a new organization in Norfolk.

    • Centaurus

      Yay…let’s see how the Russians react to a port-of-call in Riga, Latvia by the USS G.H.W. Bush !

      • NavySubNuke

        Forget how those prima-donnas react – how would the poor crew of the battle group feel?

        • Centaurus

          Well, presume it to be a “Show-the-flag” visit. “Think the targeting-cards would be in the CIWS’s ? Or Sea Sparrow.
          Sailors lining the deck would smile obediently.
          No Fear.

      • RunningBear

        Tallinn, Estonia on the Gulf of Finland would be a more interesting port visit, directly across from Helsinki, Finland by a new Virginia SSN. Locked and Loaded; stop by for a toast! and then fade away, 125′ depth.
        🙂

      • Leroy

        Or the HMS Queen Elizabeth! After all with the Russian Navy always poking around British waters, I’d say something like a QE-led battlegroup patrolling, conducting exercises and making port visits up there would simply be returning a favor. Not to mention poking fun at Russia’s pos counterpart – the Kuznetsov. Where is she homeported again? : )

        • Centaurus

          Kuznetsov ? That rusting copy of a BB that can only lob Cruise Missiles @ Syrian Civilians, because of their 80’s gyro-guidance ? Homeported in some can of paint to keep the corrosion from sinking it. Just send the Seawolf to make go plop-plop fizz-fizz.

        • Mali King

          Admiral Kuzie is back home in smoke town lol!

          • Leroy

            The ship was christened drunk, and it will die drunk – hopefully at the point of an American torpedo.

          • Mali King

            And at the point of a LRASM too lol!

      • Guntrain505

        I would hate to see us send a CBG into such constrained waters. However if we did, I would like to see any crew who receive liberty in Riga, receive a briefing on Black Balsam. It is without a doubt the most vile beverage I have ever consumed. Think of motor oil, 10k miles past the change by date, with a spoonful of molasses stirred in.

        • Centaurus

          That’s why we send in THREE CBG’s to pry the Russian frontier open like a can of rotten Caviar. With the Black Balsam sprinkled on top !!! Our kids can take liberty in Kaliningrad with panty raids @ all the local bars just for old times-sake. Or for the exalted memory of Cdr. John S. McCain III .

        • Duane

          We do not need a CSG in the Baltic, as it would be too constrained and too easy a target.

          What we do need in the Baltic is a heavy littoral fleet, consisting of LCS, amphibs, and a strong aerial fleet to totally control the seas and skies of the Baltic. And we (NATO, not just the US) need a heavy ground war force in the Baltic states, including armor, infantry, and strong air support.

          As of today, most of NATOs assets are not in or close to the Baltics, making that area an all too inviting target for Putin and his little green men

      • Lazarus

        The Baltic is a NATO lake now. It is the Russians that should be fearful.

        • Duane

          The Baltic is certainly no “NATO lake” as commenters keep repeating in this thread.

          Russia still has Kaliningrad, whose ASCMs and aircraft and ships can dominate both the seas and the air in the constrained and narrow Baltic. We really don’t have many NATO assets at all in the Baltic …. none of the Big 3 naval powers in NATO (US, UK, and France) have any of our respective warships or aviation fleets based in the Baltic. If the Russians made a move against the Baltic states today, they can easily turn the Baltic into a no go zone for NATO and dare us to kick them out.

          That is a very real military threat that we face today, and to date we are doing exactly nothing to address it.

        • NavySubNuke

          If it were still 1995 or even the early 2000s that would be true. Not so much anymore. Especially with Russia not only openly violating the INF treaty but also, according to reporting on FAS dot org rebuilding the Tactical Nuclear storage facilities in Kaliningrad.
          The Russian ships based in Kaliningrad aren’t worth much and Russia certainly won’t be able to control the Baltic —- but NATO won’t be enjoying any days at the lake during a shooting war either. Especially if Russia is able to establish a land bridge to Kaliningrad in the opening weeks of the conflict before significant US reinforcements can arrive.

  • Ed L

    Anyone remember ASW hunter killer groups

  • Tom Dolan

    I appreciate recreating the 2nd Fleet as an organization is probably the way forward here but presently it largely consists of a staff of 150 with no ships assigned. At the same time neither the 5th Fleet nor the 6th Fleet has a Carrier Group operating in their theatre of operations while the poor seamanship in the 7th Fleet hardly inspires confidence in its ability to perform it’s duties competently. Theodore Roosevelt is famous for saying ‘talk softly but carry a big stick’. The talk is too loud and the sticks are tied to their piers in Norfolk, Diego and Bremerton

    • Leroy

      Speaking of carrier availability, this new 2nd Fleet should be able to coordinate patrols, exercises, port visits, etc. with the UK’s QE-class CVs. We are part of an alliance, and where we lack various assets NATO should assist. I’m sure they will, and QE carriers (eventually two) with F-35Bs on patrol in the Barents should get Moscow’s attention. Naturally they will be accompanied by U.S. Navy units so, we should be in pretty good shape (not to mention help from all associated NATO member-nations). We need to exercise close cooperation/coordination with allies. That should be one of this new Command’s top priorities.

      • tom dolan

        My understanding is that the first operational deployment of the QE will be in 2020 and that they are tenatively committed to a Freedom of Navigation exercise in the South China Sea in conjunction with the Aussies.

        • tom dolan

          I also believe that in order to make up insufficient numbers of F35B in the Royal Navy a USMC squadron will deploy on the QE with possibly a detachment of two Ospreys because the RN lacks an aircraft able to carry vital cargo and personnel to the ship at a distance. God Save the Queen lol

          • El_Sid

            Per above – it’s as much about the USMC/USN having more F-35B’s than ships to put them on, and a good training opportunity to have a squadron aboard who have recent experience of working off ships.

            The RN has managed with helicopters for COD since the 1970s, so it’s false to say it lacks any COD aircraft. V-22 does the same job at greater range – but at significantly greater cost, particularly since it would be a whole separate logistic chain to any aircraft the UK has at present. Sure, it would be great to have some on board, and I’m sure Boeing would view a QNLZ deployment as a sales pitch – but it’s more likely to be used to inform British thinking on what they need from future Leonardo VTOL aircraft.

            Swapping aircraft, particularly transport aircraft, around is just what allies do – much of the logistics for French activity in Mali is being provided by the RAF for instance. Vive la France lol?

      • muzzleloader

        The thing is, is that the Brits are never planning on deploying both of thier new CV’s at the same time, and have publicly stated so. They are going to do well to be able to assemble enough surface combatants to comprise one battle group, and have enough assets left for other global commitments, or even near home.
        The QE will be a welcome addition which will help take the pressure off of the US fleet, but I don’t know if we will ever see both the QE and PW deployed simultaneously.

        • Leroy

          I’m not sure that would be the case in a war. Perhaps the two battlegroups would be composed of ships from various NATO nations. A mixed force if you will.

          F-35Bs? Well, isn’t that what the Marines are training for? To have the capability to operate from QE carriers? How many of our “B”s would they need – perhaps 12 +/- (if any – I think they’re buying, what, 138 of them)?

          It’s doable, as is the deployment of two UK CVs in case of an emergency (assuming one or the other isn’t deep into a maintenance cycle, which I’d think would be easier to cut short in an emergency because the ships have no nuke powerplants, and they have no cats that need servicing).

          • El_Sid

            Arguably the USMC is becoming more closely integrated with the RN than the USAF. Putting a full squadron on QNLZ for the first operational deployment is regarded as something of a one-off, but there will be a lot of exchanges of personnel at a lower level (as has already been happening for years). And one of the big arguments for having F-35B is that you can cross-deck easily, in a way that can’t really happen for eg French carrier planes. I know it has happened, but flying the same type makes the logistics a whole lot easier.

            As for rushing a carrier when needed – qv Illustrious, who was commissioned en route to the Falklands as relief for Invincible.

          • Leroy

            When war is knocking at the door, cooperation among allies is critical and sometimes the book has to be thrown out and new rules created (your Illustrious example). As you know France has been landing their Rafaels on US CVNs lately and of course the plan is to integrate our F-35Bs with those of the UK. Just makes sense!

          • El_Sid

            The Rafale thing is a bit of a one-off as a way to allow training whilst CdG is in refit – it’s needed much of the CdG logistics setup to transfer to Truman. That’s not really practical under normal circumstances. If you haven’t got spares, weapons etc then cross-decking is just for show – normally a US CVN couldn’t replace as much as a fuel filter or punctured tyre on foreign aircraft. Compare with having ALIS and a common armoury all ready to go.

          • Leroy

            True, but if its the only place to land … even for an emergency divert.

          • El_Sid

            Yeah, but emergency diverts are one thing, when people talk about cross-decking they generally seem to have visions of squadrons operating full-time from another country’s deck. We got a lot of that during the flip-flop over V/STOL vs catapults, the idea of Rafales and F/A-18’s operating off a “proper” carrier was much sexier than the reality that the US and European allies actually have more V/STOL ships.

          • Hugh

            And don’t forget, if push comes to shove, there are 2 RAN LHDs to cross-deck F-35Bs.

          • El_Sid

            How capable are they in reality? AIUI the Canberras have lost much of the F-35 capability of the Juan Carlos to the extent that they could refuel but not much more – so like Rafales on the CVN, it’s more something for show than a useful capability.

        • El_Sid

          Well at least we’ve moved on from mothballing one of them straight from the shipyard, the prime aim now is to have one carrier deployable at all times. That comes above everything else. But assuming that maintenance plans etc work out, then it’s possible you could see QNLZ on a “full” deployment to eg the Gulf, and PWLS going out for a few weeks for Joint Warrior off Scotland or the annual trips that Ocean used to do for amphibious exercises with France and other countries around the Med.

          We can scrape together the escorts, but given that the likes of the cloggies can’t afford a carrier but can afford some decent escorts, then it kinda makes sense for big European navies like the RN to be heavy on capital ships, and the smaller countries to provide escorts.

          • Natalya

            I applaud the RN for getting two CV’s. As far as having one carrier deployed at any given time, I believe the USN has found it takes three. Maintenance (pay me now or pay me later) and training are the two major items.

            Example: While carrier (A) is deployed, carrier (B) is in maintenance, and carrier (C) is either coming home from deployment where sailors get some shore leave or the opposite, preparing for deployment.

            Again, I might be wrong, but I believe that’s the rotation to have one single carrier deployed 24 hours a day in peace time. If things are hot, you can always surge the fleet. But like I mentioned, maintenance–pay me now or pay me later.
            Cheers!

          • El_Sid

            Deployable is slightly different to deployed – we’re talking about having a carrier ready in Portsmouth that is able to respond to eg another Falklands, rather than having a carrier permanently stationed in the Falklands. Not that the Falklands is under great threat at the moment, but you get the idea. So the current planning is for each carrier to be available for 200 days a year.

            Some of that is down to the greater reliability of modern kit (the main reason for 3:2 or 2:1 LCS manning is because the ships need less downtime than the crew. UK OPVs spend >300 days at sea.) and not having maintenance sinks like catapults and nukes, but also the pilots need less ship time for qualification thanks to simulators and STOVL vs CATOBAR.

          • Natalya

            Yes, I understand. Thanks for your clarification. Having two STOVL carriers, one would be deployable with some escorts at any given time should a crisis arise.
            Cheers!

      • jack anderson

        ya mean Germany might finally be able to get a U-Boat underway? Should be above the pay grade of a USN 3 star.

      • El_Sid

        It’s not been widely reported, but the RN set up a new Joint Operations Area a few days after the recreation of 2nd Fleet, that effectively gives a framework for coordinating ops in the North Atlantic.

        Of course, the whole point of the Queen Elizabeth class was that it was meant to represent the RN returning to bluewater ops across the globe, after decades trolling the Norwegian Sea for submarines – QEC weren’t meant to end up in the North Atlantic, they were meant to be doing the sexy stuff like slotting into the rotation of US carriers in the Gulf (a focus of the first deployment given the current chaos in the USN’s carrier maintenance plans).

        Yes, we don’t have enough F-35B’s – but the USMC has more F-35B’s than F-35B-capable ships, so it kinda makes sense to put a squadron on the first ship to be designed entirely around the F-35B. But there’s also a logical training aspect to this – the RN has been out of the carrier game for a while, so it’s useful to have a squadron on board that’s been on a carrier within the last decade.

        Whilst we’re on the subject of QNLZ – you guys will get a chance to see her soon as she’s currently heading for Norfolk for her first trials with instrumented F-35B’s from Pax River. A visit to New York is also planned, which should be fun for all concerned… It would have been Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday yesterday so the BBC had a performance of On The Town, about sailors on 24h shore leave in NYC. New York, New York, it’s a helluva town!

        • Leroy

          “A visit to New York is also planned, which should be fun for all concerned…”.

          Wow, I had no idea. That will be quite a treat, and as we have seen in the past, NY’ers love these visits, they love to perform grand welcomes for high-profile ships like this and they have the media presence that’ll make sure everyone around the world knows about it. Expect quite a bit of celebration and publicity, which is good for both countries as well as NATO. I look forward to it!

          • El_Sid

            As you know, carriers are as much about politics as military might. These flight trials have been planned for years but given recent comments about Europe and NATO, and cuddling up to Macron rather than May, it is not unhelpful to have 4 acres of sovereign UK territory turning up in sight of a certain New York penthouse…

            I’m not sure they’ve yet ironed out all the details with the NY authorities but one assumes she will visit in mid-October. As far as the testing goes then the first F-35 lands in mid September followed by two blocks of 3-4 weeks testing, with a break in between which would be the obvious time to go to NY. Depending on how the testing goes, she may also go to the Caribbean to show the flag and “test hot and humid performance” (right! ) – there’s also a plan should she need to break off testing for hurricane relief (again good domestic politics even if we have a Bay in the area already).

          • Leroy

            Nothing better in a sailor’s eye than shore leave in the Caribbean. Used to be Subic, but unfortunately when the U.S. left so did most of the fun (out in Olongapo, which I was fortunate enough to partake in). : )

          • El_Sid

            Thinking about it, I presume there’s not been many carriers visiting NYC in recent years – I guess anything nuclear is a no-no? So presumably a Kitty Hawk would have been the last “big” USN carrier there? ISTR both Vince and Lusty visiting in the noughties, but they were tiny in comparison.

          • Leroy

            I’m not sure when the last time a CVN visited NY, but I don’t believe there are any restrictions. At least none that I am aware of.

          • El_Sid

            QNLZ has now arrived in Mayport :

            twitter com/JoeD_TU/status/1037386874904633344
            twitter com/HMSQnlz/status/1037397672842412032

        • Leroy

          Like I said – can’t wait to see that beautiful ship sail into NY harbor (even if for me it is just on TV) with US tugs throwing up hundreds of thousands of gallons from their fire-fighting apparatus in a splendid arching water-ful welcome! Should create multiple rainbows if the Sun is out. Hopefully it will be!

        • Bubblehead

          Hate to bust your bubble but that beautiful ship is an easy target for a military like Russia. It might be able to handle Argentina though. It has very few ASCM defenses. A few 20mm CIWS are insufficient. F35’s lack range and capacity when stealthy. QE will no AEW, very little ASW, and no a2a refueling. And the British fleet has shrunken so much they hardly have the ships & subs available to protect it.

          • Hugh

            Hence why they will need to operate in a substantial multi-national group.

          • El_Sid

            The same is true of almost any ship taken on its own – you seriously think a few ESSM are enough to protect a CVN? You can never have too many sensors, weapons, range etc.

            Without wanting to do the F-35B thing again, it’s been done to death – I’ll just say it’s a massive improvement on the Harriers that we used to have.

            No AEW? Err – we have Crowsnest, which may not be an E-2 but helicopter AEW is the norm for most navies and has served us pretty well. Also, F-35’s are arguably a more effective form of distributed AEW than the single point of failure of an E-2. You could argue that US LHA’s could do with some organic AEW, or at least a modular system that could be flown on V-22/MH-60 when there isn’t fixed-wing AEW to hand; helicopter AEW/ASaC has also proven very useful supporting troops on the ground in Afghan etc.

            “Very little ASW”? Typically nine Merlin HM2 on board (plus any on escorts) for ASW, and an escort including at least one Type 23 with 2087 and an Astute, maybe a P-8? Each of those has a claim to being the best in the world of their type – and how many ASW helicopters does the average US CVN carry? That’s not to say QNLZ is submarine proof, but if she has very little ASW, then where does that leave the average US carrier group? About the only thing you could argue is that the RN could do with the all-weather capability of an ASROC-type weapon.

            Refuelling – nice to have, but don’t forget that geography means that in general the UK needs less range than the US or Australia, we’re not really buying systems for the Pacific. If we really needed it, we could probably do something with Voyagers – but regardless, we’re better off than when we had Harriers. The Voyager contracts (stupidly) make it difficult to procure naval tankers, even for helicopters.

            “hardly have the ships & subs available to protect it” – but we do. Again, more would be nice, but there is no money. And as I mentioned in another post, the fragmented nature of Europe makes it more sense to have the likes of the UK putting more effort into capital ships and the smaller countries providing escorts.

          • Duane

            F-35s have much MORE range (60% longer) than Super Hornet, whether stealthy or slightly less stealthy (not “non stealthy”). A F-35 with a full external weaps load is still far more stealthy and far more capable and lethal than a SH with a full weaps load.

  • Pete Novick

    Sure.

    In the TAO module of the SWOS Department Head Course in 1983, just about all we heard about was the Soviet Sovremennyy class destroyer, and how it was going to eat out lunch at sea.

    Well, it didn’t turn out that way, and today, the Russians have but three of the aging ships in commission. More importantly, the Russians have not commissioned a new destroyer type ship since 1994, when the last Sovremennyy class destroyer, Admiral Ushakov, was commissioned.

    With an economy slightly smaller than Texas, and except for oil and natural gas, an economy largely not integrated in the global supply chain, Russia is an outlier. The line about Russia being a third world country with nuclear weapons still rings true.

    But the real deal is coming – and never mind the GIUK gap. Putin wants to take back the Baltic States. In 2004, all three joined NATO and the EU. On his first visit to Europe as president, Trump failed to voice support for Article 5.

    No collusion, indeed.

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      I have never been called the smartest man in the world — although in general I am in fact smarter than everyone else, they usually just take a little while to realize that — but I am failing to make the connections necessary to facilitate a discussion of Sovremenny-class destroyers — Sunburn missiles, Helix helicopters, all that good Communist stuff — and President Trump’s collusion or lack-thereof with Russia on an election. On the one hand, we have an anti-surface & anti-air warfare guided-missile destroyer of the Soviet Navy in, when did you say, 1983? On the other hand, we have the 2016 Presidential election. I can see how the average person would correlate the two.

      • Centaurus

        The first section of the first sentence is the only accurate one. The rest is smelly phart-gas.
        Try an oral laxative.

        • Amusing how the media pounds away at collusion while ignoring the Trump Administration’s military countermoves against Russia. Somebody explain why the USN’s top Admiral is openly boasting that the 2nd Fleet’s reactivation is to counter Russia if his boss in the White House is a Russian puppet. Explanation?

          And what about those 59 Tomahawk missiles Trump launched against Russia’s only Mideast (& Med) ally, Syria? Would a Putin puppet do that? And what about those dozens of Russian mercenaries in Syria killed by U.S. strike aircraft? They were fighting against U.S. backed Syrian rebels, so Trump killed those Russian civilians. Not exactly puppet-like. Explanation? New U.S. Troop deployments to Poland and the Baltics. Explanation?

          • Centaurus

            Trump consciously fails to read his Intelligence Brief in the morning since he lacks the brain-power to understand it. He has all the worldly awareness of a Tin Man robot-insectoid-clone. So what if he gives an order to throw X # of Cruise Missiles @ Syria ? The fact remains that his stupidity is legion and wouldn’t be capable of knowing if Putin were playing him like a puppet. Putin IS an old KGB lost-in-Hamburg-in-the-Cold-War loser. So now Trump has become US prez. and
            does as he’s told through the chip in his skull. Simple.
            “This is your brain on Drugs”

          • muzzleloader

            “This is your brain on drugs”
            The perfect description of your posts.

          • Centaurus

            Hey muzzlesmoker, smoke this….

    • tom dolan

      I would suggest to you that the power vacuum created by The German Navy being unable to field its six modern conventional subs for lack of spare parts and its reliance on dated formerly Dutch P3C flying wrecks to assume the ASW role in the Baltic has more to do with Russian aggression toward the Baltic states. I further suggest that if the useless parroting of assurances about Article 5 by past Administrations haven’t motivated the richest country in Europe to meet its NATO commitments perhaps a slice of bluntness might work. Freedom isn’t free.

      • muzzleloader

        Not to mention that almost the entire Kriegmarine surface fleet is inoperable, or for that matter, the entire German armed forces.

      • Bubblehead

        In many ways NATO is a paper army & Russia knows this. Germany, as stated, is an absolute joke. They showed up for a NATO exercise with broomsticks in their tanks because they had no machine guns. Every single sub of theirs is currently unavailable. The list goes on and on. All of NATO could not even support operations in tiny MALI without US assistance. NATO was running out of munitions just in the tiny Libya operations.

        When you look at the numbers of NATO equipment vs Russia it is very deceiving. You can forget about Turkish assistance. And they have a sizable army, navy & AF. Italy & Greece and mostly France fleet & Army would be holed up in Med if Russia attacked Balkans. Britain is well trained and have good equipment but their numbers and readiness are not what they used to be. Poland is rapidly becoming one of NATO’s most powerful military’s. Thank god for Poland. If Ru attacked Balkans, it would be mostly Poland, Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia on their own for several weeks. British, France & America would start to show up after a few weeks with some meaningful equipment.

        Its not just Germany’s military that is a joke, but their government as a hole. You really have to wonder about their allegiance to NATO at all. They are building that massive pipeline with Russia which is just treasonous. That pipeline is a direct threat to every NATO country. That pipeline is a stab in the back to every European country.

  • Marcd30319

    We need an Ocean Venture 2018!

    • Lazarus

      Or at least hope that people read John Lehman’s new book “Oceans Ventured.”

      • Marcd30319

        Or know something about the U.S. Navy.

  • Lazarus

    It’s all about the Greenland, Svalbard, North Cape Gap.GIUK Gap is just the southern boundary of the battlefield.

  • James Obrasky

    The US 2nd Fleet AOR will evolve into a new NATO command -a SACANT. The readers should know that the USN reorientation toward PAC/IO will soon result in 60% of the US Fleet oriented to that region with 40% oriented to the Atlantic.

    The aggregate European NATO maritime force by 2020 will be very nearly the size, have about the same capability, and be at least as professionally able as the US Atlantic Fleet. The new “SACLANT” organization must learn how to fully employ such a massive maritime capability. The NATO military geography has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War. The aggregate European NATO economies are better than 10 times larger than Russia’s and THE RELATIVE FORCE BALANCE reflects that FACT!! We should not exaggerate the threat. Rather we should focus on enhancing NATO maritime cooperation in areas of peacetime presence and small scale crisis response an in expeditionary power projection.

    The maritime sea control challenge is actually fairly tractable. Consider that European NATO fields 8 SSBN’s,12 SSN’s, and 30+ SSK’s all at least the technological equals of the Russian submarines and operating at a generally higher level of competence. The US Atlantic Fleet will operate at least 12 SSN’s and host at least 5 SSBN’s in addition. The MPA NATO force size is at least as impressive and the ocean surveillance systems are still in place and can be modernized. This force dwarfs its Russian competition. It is sufficient to tag and trail all Russian submarines that exit ports into the Atlantic for their entire cruise while conducting Cold War quality ISR

    • Tom Dolan

      I agree completely that the ‘threat’ of the Russian Navy worldwide is largely a fiction. If you look at their order of battle you see a very dated force with only 3 modern SSBNs, 1 modern SSN and 7 modern conventional subs(all in the Baltic). The surface force is not a credible threat either with dated platforms entering the end of their service lives. The Russians are however a useful boogie man to help rebuild a neglected USN with modern ships and aircraft so that it can continue to dominate the world’s oceans.

      • James Obrasky

        And the new military geography makes the Baltic a NATO lake!!

        • James Obrasky

          By the way, the USN operates the second largest air force on the planet after the USAF and the USA operates the third. The issue is not building modern ships and aircraft. The issue is modernizing the legacy fleet, working through a one year plus depot maintenance backlog, and establishing a personnel and promotion policy for the surface force that has the same quality as that of the submarine and naval air forces. It requires stabilized crews for the surface force with advanced training,supplied In trained teams and a small trained team replacement policy.

          • tom dolan

            Deployable aircraft for the US fleet have not been acquired in sufficient numbers to effectively make use of the available carriers currently active. The F18 is at the end of its service life and although Super Hornets are still a mainstay they were never acquired in adequate numbers. The imminent arrival of the F35C to the Fleet will be welcome but we are currently deploying air groups with numbers significantly below the capacity of the ships ability to field them. I’m not alarmed by this as a security issue so much as bothered by the inefficiency of fielding warships with depleted capacity. In a sudden conflict it’s unlikely that the shortage could be made up in time to be effective.

          • George Hollingsworth

            Flying a single-engine F-35 in the Arctic is pretty much a death sentence for the pilot in the all too likely event of an engine failure. Common sense left the Navy a long time ago.

          • But there are single engine F-16s in the Arctic, and the F-16 has suffered over 650 crashes over it’s nearly 40-year existence. The F-15 has over 150 crashes. The F-35, now flying nearly a decade, is the first tactical jet in history to reach operational capability without a single crash or fatality. Three years now since IOC in 2015 and still no crashes. Slam dunk unprecedented.

          • Bubblehead

            You do realize a F35 just made an emergency landing last week, and after it landed it fell flat on its nose because the landing gear never locked in. While this isn’t a crash in the sense we are talking about, those are 2 troubling and separate issues to crop up on a fighter at the exact same time.

          • Duane

            It was a test aircraft engaged in test flying, which is a high risk task .. not an operational fighter. Only suffered minor damage, with not a scratch on the pilot.

          • George Hollingsworth

            Actually it was an operational fighter, an F-35A, assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron at Eglin AFB – my old base.

          • Natalya

            Just a question:
            When you were at Eglin AFB, did you ever see a Eurofighter Typhoon or a version of a Dassault Mirage 2000 on the base? If you use Google Earth and copy/paste these coordinates – 30°29′06″N 086°30′39″W
            You’ll see a fighter which looks a lot like a Eurofighter Typhoon on the base.

          • So while F-16s fall out of the sky in front of widows, F-35 critics can only point to one nose gear issue in which the pilot walks away?

          • George Hollingsworth

            “..and the [single-engine] F-16 has suffered over 650 crashes over it’s nearly 40-year existence. The [twin-engine] F-15 has over 150 crashes”. Thanks for making my point. Twice as many F-16s built as F-15s but the F-16 has four times the number of accidents.

          • Duane

            The dfferential is not due to engine failures, which are extremely rare. The diffential is mostly due to fleet numbers. Over 4,600 F16s have been delivered vs. only 1,200 F15s. The accident numbers are totally proportional.

            Most aircraft accidents are caused by pilot error. Modern turbine engines rarely fail. And given that modern fighters carry both engines side by side in the fuselage, so that if one engine catches fire or explosively disintegrates, it takes the other engine out too.

          • George Hollingsworth

            Really? In four years as an aircraft maintenance officer at Eglin AFB we had FIVE squadrons of F-4s. Plenty of precautionary engine shutdowns and safe single-engine landings. Zero, none, zilch, non-contained failures.

          • Duane

            As I wrote, turbine engine failures are rare events.

            And there is an irrefutable fact to deal with: the probability of suffering a mechanical engine failure is directly proportional to the number of engines on an aircraft. A twin engine aircraft is twice as likely to suffer an engine failure as a single engine aircraft.

          • George Hollingsworth

            And the twin-engine aircraft with an engine failure has about a 100% probability of making a safe landing.

          • And yet the F-4 has killed dozens of pilots while the F-35 has killed none. All done with anecdotes? Ready to embrace the big picture?

          • Bubblehead

            Its not just shortage of fighters. There is a massive and growing shortage of pilots.

        • Tom Dolan

          It would if the Germans would meet their NATO commitments by buying spare parts for their six modern conventional subs which have been tied to their piers for two years and if they would give up on upgrading those former Dutch P3Cs and buy the P8 or some modern equivalent. P3 Charlies were last adequate in the early 90s.

        • Duane

          No it doesn’t. You are ignoring Kaliningrad, a hugely fortified Russian enclave on the Baltic coast.

      • Duane

        Actually, you are quite wrong.

        The Russian fleet is still the third largest naval warship fleet on the planet in tonnage and capability, only slightly behind China and though it is quite a ways behind US fleet numbers and capability, to dismiss it as “not a threat” is ridiculous.

        And, Russia poses a very large threat to US naval fleets with its large arsenal of long range ASCMs launched not just from ships but from land and aircraft. And the Russians have a sizeable fleet of capable nuclear submarines.

        In an all out naval war with Russia the US Navy would almost certainly “win”, but at what cost? Russia is highly unlikely to launch such a war, but it is very plausible to use its anti-naval assets to launch an invasion of the Baltic states and dominate the air and seas of the Baltic, and then challenge NATO to either accept a fait accompli, or risk a major land war and potential nuclear exchange, with Russia possessing a huge advantage in nukes in theater.

        The best way to dissuade the Russians from such an attack is to have staged in theater overwhelming forces that the Russians cannot bulldoze their way over and through. And such resources do not exist in theater today despite NATO’s strength on paper.

    • Ed L

      I doubt there will be the 4 carrier strike group for The Atlantic be available like in the past. And no Reforger reenforcements. Hopefully general Dynamics will get the Sosus upgrade done. They got the contract in 2016 it was in various news articles

  • jack anderson

    A Practical solution for a Navy that has far more Admirals than ships. While the PLAN commissions 4 heavy cruisers per year, with assorted small boys, we play musical chairs with our aged and dwindling fleet.

  • D4x

    The Arctic Council (TAC) needs to add military co-operation to it’s mandates, pre-empt the (mostly Canadian) urge to NATO-ize the Arctic. The Arctic’s Northern Sea Route is as important to Japan, South Korea, even India, as it is to China and the EU, including five of the eight TAC founding member-states: Norway, Sweden, Finland, USA, and Russia.

    It would be good for everyone to know when a Russian submarine is protecting one of the fleet of LNG icebreakers currently being built in South Korea for private fleet operators based in Japan, Norway, and Greece, who plan on picking up gas from Russia’s Yamal field. Also, one of those LNG icebreakers might be carrying Alaskan gas to Lithuania. You never know.

  • Duane

    The discussion in this post did not address the Baltic Sea area, which appears to be part of 2nd Fleet ops area. The Baltic area may be small and tight, but it is very critical to defense of the Baltic states and eastern Europe, with the small but strategically vital Kaliningrad enclave right in the center. Russia cannot invade or dominate the Baltic, Nordic, or east European states without control of the Baltic.

    • There hasn’t been a map issued yet to delineate the boundaries between 6th and 2nd fleets.
      Based on the best information, 6th fleet is still in charge of the Baltic region, but it’s still unclear where the geographical division will occur.