The U.S. Navy Is in Big Trouble but Here's How to Fix It

TNI Staff
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Edward Guttierrez III/Released)

TNI Staff

Security, Americas

Many more ships.

The U.S. Navy Is in Big Trouble but Here's How to Fix It

For example, if “Russia and China combined in the Western Pacific,” the U.S. Navy would probably be on the defensive, a position it has not occupied since the early days (1941–1942) of the Pacific War against Japan.

In the decades after the Cold War, the U.S. Navy absorbed sustained budget cuts resulting in large force reductions. The total size of the fleet dwindled from nearly 600 active ships in 1987 to around 285 today. During this period, naval planners focused their substantial, yet shrinking, budgetary resources on large, costly, high-end platforms such as aircraft carriers at the expense of smaller surface warfare combatants such as frigates. This approach perhaps suited the range of global expeditionary missions that the navy was called upon to support in the 1990s (e.g. Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo), a time when the United States faced no proximate military competitors. However, its lack of platforms currently leaves the sea service in a parlous state as it faces intensifying major power competition from China and Russia. At a recent Center for the National Interest event, two leading authorities on naval strategy, operations and force structure, explained how the navy can take steps to create a more balanced force that will adequately prepare the fleet for a new era of great power naval competition.

(This first appeared in May 2019.)

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