Eleven years after Russian warships returned to the Atlantic and eight years after the disestablishment of U.S. Joint Forces Command, it is time to decommission the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Forces Command and recommission a reorganized and reprioritized U.S. Atlantic Fleet. This would return control over the man, train, and equip functions of the Navy back to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and allow naval forces in the Atlantic region to focus on what they were built to do—control the maritime approaches to the United States and its allies. Both results are essential if the Navy is to adapt itself to a security environment shaped by great power competition.
1. GEN James Mattis, USMC (Ret.), Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America (2018), 9.
2. These are listed on www.public.navy.mil/usff/Pages/mission.aspx, edited for brevity.
3. David Brunnstrom, “Overflights Question Russia’s Georgia Role: NATO,” Reuters, 15 July 2008; Thom Shanker, “Russia Melded Old School Blitz with Modern Military Tactics,” The New York Times, 16 August 2008.
4. Andreas Schmidt, “The Estonian Cyberattacks” (January 2013) (draft version); Jack Stubbs, “Russia Deploys Iskander Nuclear-capable Missiles to Kaliningrad: RIA,” Reuters, 5 February 2018; Julian Borger, “Kaliningrad Photos Appear to Show Russia Upgrading Nuclear Weapons Bunker,” The Guardian, 18 June 2018; Christopher Woody, “Russia Reportedly Warns Mattis It Could Use Nuclear Weapons in Europe, and It Made Him See Moscow as an ‘Existential Threat’ to U.S.,” Business Insider, 14 September 2018; “Canada Monitors Russian Subs off East Coast,” CBC News, 12 August 2009.
5. Shane Croucher, “Russian Nuclear Submarine Commander Says He Sailed near Navy Base on U.S. Coast—But Pentagon Doesn’t Seemed Concerned,” Newsweek, 16 March 2018; Alex Hollings, “U.S. Navy to Bring Back Northern Atlantic Fleet after Russia Claimed Their Subs Infiltrated U.S. Waters,” Newsrep, 7 May 2018.
6. Christopher Woody, “The Navy Thinks Russian Subs are a Growing Threat to Europe, and It’s Mounting a Full Court Press to Counter Them,” Business Insider, 4 September 2018.
7. Under the direction of President Vladimir Putin, Russia is willing to experiment with concepts that other navies have not countenanced, such as the Status-6 Kanyon, a very long-range nuclear-powered torpedo (or unmanned underwater vehicle) with a nuclear warhead. Whether Status-6 is a practicable weapon, there are more such ideas from where that came from.
8. ADM John M. Richardson, USN, A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, Version 2.0, December 2018, 10, 13.
9. RADM Mike Smith, USN, “Why Is There a Board of Inspection and Survey?” Surface Warfare 48 (Fall 2015).
10. CNWS does primarily strategic-to-operational level research. CMOW and JMO teach operational planning. NWDC works at the operational-to-tactical level.
11. The question of how to shape the Persian Gulf naval forces would remain to be solved.