United States considering setting up a Naval base, the First fleet near Singapore. To seek India's cooperation in the venture says US Navy Secretary

2020-11-20 16:56:56 Marine News

United 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.

The SECNAV 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 footprint

“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.

Braithwaite 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.

“We can’t 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.

“More 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.”

A defense 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

Braithwaite 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.”

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

Adding a 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.

Braithwaite 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.

Navy 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. 

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