Saturday, January 09, 2016

When Pivot Meets Math

We're committed to a "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific region to better resist China's rising military power. Deploy the smoke and mirrors.

Despite our pivot to Asia, our Navy's presence in the Pacific is getting smaller---just less small than in other theaters:

The Pacific Fleet currently has 182 vessels, including combat ships like aircraft carriers as well as auxiliary and logistics vessels, said spokesman Cmdr. Clay Doss. That compares to 192 nearly two decades ago.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy has more than 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships and patrol craft, according to the Pentagon's Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy report released in August.

This all comes as China has grown more aggressive in asserting claims to islands also claimed by U.S. allies, including the Philippines in the South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea.

The Navy protests that the vessels are getting better. But that's irrelevant. In any given time our ships will get better. New ships have new tech.

The question is whether the vessels of our Pacific fleet are getting better or worse relative to their likely opponents. Or more accurately, whether the fleet can defeat its likely opponents given relative quality, quantity, and support (from allies and other services).

And just 2-1/2 years ago, I complained that our pivot would add just ten ships to the Pacific fleet. Times change.

And this reduction is happening even after changing the rules on what counts as part of the battle force fleet.

Oh, and the Army is shrinking, too. So the next time we need to use the Army, remember that right now we are building the army we wish to have then--even if it isn't the army we will need to go to war at that time.

Threats multiply. Our military does not keep up.

UPDATE: More on China's carrier program. With references to our big decks, too.