States is zeroing in on Malacca Straits choke point near Singapore to set up a
full fledged naval base, First fleet since the Seventh fleet based in Japan
cannot provide effective shield to its allies in the region to combat the
increasing naval presence of China
The US Navy
Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite called for the Navy to establish a new numbered
fleet closer to the border of the Indian and Pacific Oceans – perhaps out of
Singapore – to more fully address the naval challenges in the U.S. Indo-Pacific
Command area of the world.
said he hadn’t had a chance to talk to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher
Miller about the plan but had otherwise “crossed all the other T’s and dotted
all the other I’s.” (due diligence)
We’re really going to have an Indo-PACOM
“We want to
stand up a new numbered fleet. And we want to put that numbered fleet in the
crossroads between the Indian and the Pacific oceans, and we’re really going to
have an Indo-PACOM footprint,” he said.
made clear that the U.S. alone cannot stand up to China
Braithwaite said he would be traveling to India in the coming weeks to discuss both their security challenges and how the U.S. Navy can
uniquely help them, but also how India can help the U.S. Braithwaite made clear
that the U.S. alone cannot stand up to China and that nations around the
Pacific and around the globe needed to assist in pushing back militarily and
economically if there was a chance for deterrence to work.
just rely on the 7th Fleet in Japan. We have to look to our other allies and
partners like Singapore, like India, and actually put a numbered fleet where it
would be extremely relevant if, god forbid, we were to ever to get in any kind
of a dust-up,” Braithwaite continued.
importantly, it can provide a much more formidable deterrence. So we’re going
to create the First Fleet, and we’re going to put it, if not Singapore right
out of the chocks, we’re going to look to make it more expeditionary-oriented
and move it across the Pacific until it is where our allies and partners see
that it could best assist them as well as to assist us.”
official told USNI News that Braithwaite had come up with the idea to stand up
1st Fleet several months ago and had been in talks with former SECDEF Mark
Esper, who was onboard with the proposal.
1970s era US 1st Fleet logo
announced his intentions on November 18th while speaking at the Naval Submarine
League’s annual symposium.
He said at
the beginning of his speech that “the Chinese have shown their aggressiveness
around the globe. Most recently I was in a trip to the Far East: every single
one of our allies and partners are concerned about how aggressive the Chinese
have been. I would argue with anybody that not since the War of 1812 has the
United States and our sovereignty been under the kind of pressures that we see
Today, the US Navy's 7th Fleet operates out of Japan and
covers a massive amount of space from the International Dateline to about the
India-Pakistan border. U.S. 3rd Fleet operates out of San Diego and covers from
the International Dateline to the U.S. West Coast.
Adding a 1st Fleet would alleviate some
of the strain on 7th Fleet
1st Fleet would alleviate some of the strain on 7th Fleet and allow two fleet
commanders to give more attention to a smaller number of allies and partners
and a smaller amount of geographical space.
provided no details as to how large a staff the fleet would have, if ships
would be forward-deployed to 1st Fleet, how exactly the area of operations
would be split between 1st and 7th Fleets, or how fluid or rigid a boundary
there might be between the two INDO-PACOM fleets.
spokesman Capt. J.D. Dorsey told USNI News on Nov. 18 that “no decisions have
been made regarding the establishment or location of an additional numbered
fleet in the Indo Pacific.