Thursday, August 14, 2014

Reputation Matters

Victor Hanson writes that the American 6th Fleet has kept a once-violent sea contested by great powers largely peaceful for 70 years (what happens ashore is another issue). He does not want us to remove the fleet. Too late.

Hanson writes about 6th Fleet:

As the world heats up, and as the U.S. global deterrent forces erode, there is no intrinsic reason why history’s most contested sea might not be so again. We should remember that when we talk of defense cuts, and before we pull too many American ships out of a maritime intersection where peace has usually been the exception.

He has a good point. And for much of the 70 years he cites, our 6th Fleet was a massive force confronting the Soviet threat and serving as a leading edge for our intervention capability.

But that day is long gone. Remember that Benghazi went unaided on September 11, 2012 because the administration claims it had no forces nearby.

The fact is, 6th Fleet is a phantom fleet that lives on in the memories of people who remember when it was a massive fleet.

Today, the fleet is a command ship and ships transiting the Mediterranean Sea between America and the Middle East (and thus available for a short time to maintain the illusion of a fleet).

I guess 4 new anti-missile ships to be deployed in Spain will be part of 6th Fleet. But that's not very much and their mission is narrow rather than sea control and power projection.

Don't tell me that reputation doesn't matter.