US Navy Surface Fleet Might Not be Up To Defeating China: New Report

A study of 77 current and recently retired Naval officers suggests that the US Navy Surface Fleet has shifted toward bureaucracy and away from warfighting. Which means that it may also not be up to fighting and winning against China as an adversary. The study was commissioned by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), but administered by USMC Lt Gen Robert Schmidle (ret) and Rear Adm Mark Montgomery (ret).

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The US Navy Surface Fleet

”What are the things the Chinese are concerned about? What are the things the Iranians are concerned about? Intel folks know that, but like there’s no general education about, ‘What are the wars we could fight, and how do we understand the context of these so we get in combat.’ We can have both the cultural and political understanding as well as the warfighting implications. And to me, if we’re focused on the front-line warfighting, we should know the worst we’re going into and what the greater context is,” one officer told the survey team. “There’s none of that right now.”


The Navy treats warfighting readiness as a compliance issue,” a commander told the survey team. “You might even use the term compliance-centered warfare as opposed to adversary-centered warfare or warfighter-centered warfare.”

Those surveyed also cited the Navy’s so-called “zero defect” mentality in creating a careerist environment that is risk-averse and intolerant of one-off mistakes, in addition to the fear of negative media stories ruining careers.

This was noticed during the disciplinary actions following the USS McCain and USS Fitzgerald incidents, where perception was that the military administered discipline based on public and Congressional outcry rather than the concrete root causes of both unique incidents,” reads the report…

The report offered recommendations to reduce administrative tasks at sea, expand wargaming and surface warfare training, encourage more risk-taking and limit social media use for sailors.

USNI (You can read the study about the US Navy Surface Fleet at the USNI link)

As the Military, and especially the US Navy Surface Fleet, swings toward “woke” it swings away from its purpose. Senator Cotton had this to say after grilling the Biden Administration’s nominee for Secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro.

 You’ve heard the report from Lucas and the questioning that I had for the nominee to be Secretary of the Navy today about the administrative burdens, the zero-defect mentality, the focus on training for things other than warfighting. Obviously, the Navy has a big and complex task, but the single most important thing we have our surface Navy for is to be ready to fight and defeat the Chinese Navy. And right now, I have real problems — real doubts – the Navy has instilled the kind of warfighting mentality that would allow us to accomplish that goal...

It’s true that we’ve allowed China to steal a march on us that relates especially shipbuilding. China has been engaged in a massive shipbuilding campaign. We need to do more of that in the United States as well. We need to build more ships, we need a larger Navy. But just as important is how we train our sailors, especially our leaders, on those ships. And this report shows that in some cases, surface warfare officers were simply given 23 DVDs and sent out to the fleet and told to read these in your spare time to get trained. We would never do that to a Navy aviator, we would never do it to a Navy nuclear engineer. We shouldn’t be doing it to our surface warfare officers either. They deserve a lot better, and the sailors they lead deserve a lot better as well.

Senator Tom Cotton to Fox
Senator Cotton questioned the nominee for Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro today at the Senate.

The Biden Administration cut the budget for the Navy regarding shipbuilding in favor of upgrading the fleet with new technology. China is on track to have a fleet of 425 Battle Force Ships by 2030. They only have two aircraft carriers, with two more under construction. They have invested immense resources in building their fleet, which currently stands at over 300. The US, by contrast, had a goal of 355 ships, but currently only has 293, and with a slashed budget that may be it. (National Defense Magazine) Del Toro promised today to be singularly focused on the China threat. (The Hill). Will he?


Featured photo: (all screenshots via Fox News) three of the US Navy mishaps

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