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The US Navy Just Sent A Message To Russia And China With Major Shows Of Force
The U.S. Navy carried out two high profile aircraft carrier training events in key waters that send messages to both China and Russia, the U.S.'s two main competitors and the only countries close to matching the U.S.'s military might.
The U.S. Navy's Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group joined Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force's Escort Flotilla 4 Battle Group and conducted joint military exercises in the hotly-contested South China Sea Friday, Navy said.
Japan sent the Kaga, a small aircraft carrier technically classified as a destroyer, along with guided-missile destroyers to train with the US's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, the Reagan.
This training advanced the U.S. and Japan's vision of a "free and open Indo-Pacific," a key part of U.S. strategy to prevent Beijing from tightening its grip on the region by further militarizing the South China Sea.
But beyond just teaching U.S. and Japanese carriers how to fight together, the U.S. sent Beijing a message that it won't be pushed out of the South China Sea, and if a fight comes, it won't stand alone.
China, which illegally annexed about 90% of the South China Sea and has sought to unilaterally dictate who can use the resource-rich waterway that sees trillions in annual trade, has struggled to make allies in the region. The U.S. has moved to counter China's attempts at hegemony with deeper ties with Australia, Japan, and India.
On top of that, the U.S. just showed for the first time ever that it can update its supercarriers with stealth aircraft perfect for taking out island fortresses like Beijing's South China Sea holdings: The F-35C.
Russia checked by the 2nd fleet
Aircraft from the Freedom Fighters of Carrier Air Wing 7 fly in formation above the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Harry S. Truman.U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Brooks
Half a world away, the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Harry S. Truman carriers did joint training including the F-35C for the first time. But this drill likely had an additional audience in mind — Russia.
The U.S. recently decided to bring back the 2nd Fleet, a Navy command that countered the threat from the Soviet Union and was stood down in 2011 when it seemed like the Russia threat had waned.
As Russia's navy increasingly menaces the U.S. and looks to assert itself as a powerful navy in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, the U.S. has again found the need to defend the home waters of the near Atlantic.
Russia, which only has one inactive and shoddy aircraft carrier, cannot hope to compete with the U.S.'s multiple carriers and advanced aircraft.
The U.S. has recently reshuffled its schedule of aircraft carrier deployments to have more ships present to keep the pressure on Russia and China. New U.S. national defense and strategy documents from President Donald Trump's administration decidedly shift U.S. focus from a post-Cold War mentality when the U.S.'s enemies where small, lightly armed cells of terrorists hidden in hills to a full on competition between world powers, as it was in the World Wars.
Russia and China have taken notice, with Russian ships drilling in the Mediterranean, waters they wouldn't have normally reached before their incursion into Syria in 2015, and Chinese ships challenging U.S. ships and planes right to pass through international spaces.
Also in 2015, the US suspended freedom of navigation patrols, its main way of checking Chinese ambition in the South China Sea.
But now, the Navy is taking those challenges seriously. "We are the best Navy in the world, and given the complex and competitive environment we are in, we can't take anything for granted or settle for the status quo," said Abraham Lincoln Strike Group Commander Rear Adm. John Wade in a Navy release.
With a renewed mission and the world's first carrier-launched stealth aircraft, the U.S. has sent a clear signal to its main military rivals that US Navy power is back and on the move.
Read more from Business Insider:
- The U.S. Navy's next supercarrier is 50% complete — watch the latest 1,000-ton chunk drop into place
- U.S. Navy introduces new tactics to prep for major warfare against enemies like Russia and China in the open seas
- New video shows Russian warplanes training for a fight as massive offensive looms in Syria
- France's navy says its ready to get involved in a simmering seafood showdown with the UK
- The U.S. Navy is making a nearly billion-dollar bet on drones that can make aircraft carriers more lethal
Against a blistering 56 mph wind, an F/A-18F Super Hornet laden with fuel roared off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford and into the brilliant January sky.
Chalk up another step forward for America's newest and most expensive warship.
The Ford has been at sea since Jan. 16, accompanied by Navy test pilots flying a variety of aircraft. They're taking off and landing on the ship's 5 acre flight deck, taking notes and gathering data that will prove valuable for generations of pilots to come.
The Navy calls it aircraft compatibility testing, and the process marks an important new chapter for a first-in-class ship that has seen its share of challenges.
"We're establishing the launch and recovery capabilities for the history of this class, which is pretty amazing," said Capt. J.J. "Yank" Cummings, the Ford's commanding officer. "The crew is extremely proud, and they recognize the historic context of this."
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.