When Vice Admiral "Hammerin Hank" Mustin, shown here discussing the details of a Second Fleet exercise with Captain Frank Lugo, wrote the 1986 fighting instructions for his commanders, the Navy had almost 600 ships available to train, maintain, deploy, and - if necessary - fight.
The U.S. Navy has been in steady decline qualitatively, quantitatively, and culturally in its ability to wage naval warfare against a peer adversary since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Navy has lost the corporate knowledge and cultural ethos to fight a peer navy and to prosecute an offensive naval campaign successfully. The causes are many, but of particular note are geopolitical shifts, budgetary pressures, and training focus. The Navy must move swiftly and seriously to escape its predicament while adversaries challenge the United States around the globe and several build blue-water navies and land-based anti-access systems specifically designed to defeat the U.S. Navy.