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Report: Russian submarine forces could ‘overwhelm’ U.S. fleet
U.S. Pacific Fleet / CCL
Russia’s new, aggressive moves at sea are threatening to overwhelm the aging United States Navy fleet. And some say the Navy is spreading itself too thin to adequately respond.
The growing Russian fleets in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans have President Trump’s administration working to protect miles of underwater fiber optic cables that transmit the most sensitive Pentagon secrets, The Washington Times reports.
Too Many Threats
After years of neglect from previous administrations, and increasing threats from Russia and North Korea and other hot spots around the world, the Navy is at risk of overstretching its aging submarine fleet, reports The Washington Times.
Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Washington-based Atlantic Council director Magnus Nordenman said that the “operational tempo is reaching Cold War-era levels.” “Clearly, there is more attention being paid by the U.S. Navy in the Atlantic due to the Russian threat,” he said.
NATO has become complacent while Russia has become more active, as demonstrated by the conflicts in South Ossetia and Crimea in recent years.
“We have practiced less and lost skills,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in December.
The United States currently has 70 nuclear-powered submarines, 52 attack submarines, 14 armed with ballistic missiles and four that have cruise missiles, according to The Times.
The Southeast Asian Theater
Analysts and former defense officials believe the increase in submarines is a direct response from Defense Secretary James Mattis to Russia’s increased activity, but there are other threats as well.
North Korea has 76 submarines, the most of any fleet in the world, but the majority of those are electric-diesel short range craft which patrols the coast, according to GlobalFirePower.com.
China, with 68 submarines, and Russia with 63, have more modern, nuclear-powered fleets.
Both China and Russia pose major threats to U.S. air and naval dominance around the world. This is likely why President Trump’s administration has refocused the military and defense apparatus on conventional war preparation centered on those two countries. The New York Times reports:
Now a new administration is again seeking to leave the terrorism fight behind. Mr. Mattis described increased “global volatility and uncertainty, with great power competition between nations a reality once again.” He declared the defeat of the Islamic State’s physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Tom Callender, a former Navy official, told The Washington Times that it is the cable used by the Pentagon that is the greatest concern and, he believes, Russia could be attempting to tap into it.
“Russians have had a capability … to do things with these cables for the last 20 to 30 years,” he said.
“If a nation desired to do something [to the cables], that would have a significant impact,” he said. Simply “having that capability is something we always must be aware of.”
This is a frightening prospect, but the president and his advisors seem up to the task. President Trump’s recently released budget proposes a considerable spike in military funding.
For a few decades now U.S. military and foreign policy efforts have been focused on combating terrorism. That era seems at an end as the military returns to its former role: protecting the United States from nations that would do us harm.
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