US revives naval force to confront Russia in Atlantic
The United States Navy is planning to resurrect its disbanded Second Fleet in order to counter what American officials deem as a growing threat from Russia and other international players in the Atlantic region.
Admiral John Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations, made the announcement during a change of command ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia, which is home to the US Navy’s Fleet Forces command.
Once reconstituted, the fleet will have “operational and administrative authorities” over assigned ships, naval aircraft and landing forces operating from the East Coast and North Atlantic Ocean, the commander said.
“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,” Richardson said, referring to a President Donald Trump’s new national security strategy that identifies Russia and China as the greatest geopolitical and military threats against America.
“That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic,” he added.
The US formed the Atlantic fleet after the Second World War but was forced to shut it down in 2011 to drive down costs. Since then, Fleet Forces command has been carrying out the force’s responsibilities.
The decision falls in line with Trump’s aim to enter a power competition with other world powers, marking a major shift from the so-called anti-terrorism strategy that for years was used by the US military to justify its various missions across the world.
In fact, Trump’s new strategy document specifically calls for “sustained investment to restore readiness and modernize our military” to maintain readiness against Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.
“It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions,” the document reads.
The Second Fleet will operate from Norfolk, its original home. The headquarters will go operational with 15 personnel but the number will eventually increase to more than 200, according to BBC.
US military officials say Norfolk is the ideal home for the NATO military alliance’s proposed Joint Force Command for the Atlantic. The Western alliance, which has long been deploying troops to Russia’s borders, will make a decision this summer.