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Preparing for War at Sea

October 30, 2017

Hugh Hewitt conducted an interview on MSNBC with the new Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer. Only now, ten months into a Trump Administration, has this important appointment been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. I tried to find out more about Secretary Spencer, but the DOD website had posted no information, but one of my colleagues referred me to this summary of Richard Spencer’s background.

Hugh Hewitt’s interview was instructive because Secretary Spencer outlined some issues that he must deal with including how to beef up the U.S. Navy by increasing the number of ships to 355. A 355 ship Navy would bring the U.S. Navy up to levels achieved during the Reagan Administration, and will include, according to Secretary Spencer, “various platforms whether undersea, on sea or in the air.”

The issue of our Carrier force was mentioned, but I didn’t hear any cautionary remarks by the Secretary about the vulnerability of Aircraft Carriers that was exposed during the Falkland War.  The Argentine Navy in 1982, using French Cruise Missiles, sank a British carrier causing one astute strategist at the time to conclude that carriers “floating coffins.”

I remembered that warning and contacted two colleagues who are military strategists.

One reported “Carriers, being floating airfields, are absolutely overwhelming weapons WHERE THERE ARE NO AIRFIELDS. That is, in the middle the ocean. For controlling the middle of the ocean, there is nothing like them.”  But, he cautioned, “Recent hubris has led to using carriers to attack enemy shores.” In other words bringing Aircraft Carriers closer to the enemy.

My other colleague replied, “I believe the threat to aircraft carriers is more concentrated on land-based cruise missiles that are able to target aircraft carrier battle groups out to 4,000-km.”

My other colleague then wrote, “THE strategic navel weapon close to an enemy shore is a BASE on land. As the Romans  taught (mare nostrum) and the Chinese are about to teach us, control the sea is best done from land. Ships are nice adjuncts.”

Wow, I thought, we’re in a bit of pickle because of decisions made by former Presidents.

FDR carried out the U.S. post-World War II decision to de-militarize Japan.

Under President Truman the Korean War led to a stalemate that left South Korea vulnerable.

President Nixon played the “China card” and that led to recognition of the People’s Republic of China and abandonment of the Republic of China on Taiwan.

That weakened three land bases in Asia on which the United States must rely in the 21st century to sustain American influence in Asia.  South Korea, Taiwan and Japan are more stable platforms for fighting the next war than American Aircraft Carriers.

President Trump has directed three U.S. Aircraft Carriers to the Pacific: the USS Nimitz, which has left the Middle East and is heading toward North Korea, the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which are already deployed in the Pacific.

Waiting for them is a powerful Cruise Missile force developed by the People’s Republic of China.

Here’s a link to a report that my colleagues have shared with me that describes the PRC’s “Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile. This Friday, President Trump will tour Asia and meet with the PRC’s General Secretary whose increased authority as “General Secretary” was affirmed at the recent meeting that began on October 18 of the Central Committee of the PRC’s Communist Party.

The PRC is ready for any eventuality and we’ll find out next week what that means. Hopefully it doesn’t mean war at sea.



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