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Old 02-20-2021, 05:36 AM
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Post U.S. Navy Reports On Arctic And North Atlantic

U.S. Navy Reports On Arctic And North Atlantic
By: U.S. Navy Reports on Arctic and North Atlantic & Naval News - 02-20-21

Admiral Robert Burke, Commander USN, provides insight as to the U.S. Navy’s presence in the Arctic and the Atlantic Oceans

In the pre-recorded webinar hosted by CSIS and presented solely by Admiral Burke, Burke said that he is responsible for “104 countries, 23% of the world’s population, 14 million square miles of land, about 30% of the land mass of the Earth, and more than 20 million square nautical miles of ocean, [and] 67% of the Earth’s coastline.”

Admiral Burke on NATO and U.S. Naval Coverage for Europe and the Atlantic
“I can tell you that my theater here remains that the forefront of great power competition, which is the very core of our current National Defense Strategy.”

“On NATO…President Biden has come out and contacted the Inspector General to reinforce U.S. commitment to NATO. It’s an incredible powerful and enduring Alliance and it’s more relevant today. Today [2021], NATO is 30 nations, united and dedicated to the ideals of Democracy and Freedom. …Ultimately, our job is deterrence, so we stand ready to deter, but if necessary, we would defend, and I’m confident that we would win, tonight, if called upon.”

Admiral Burke stated that his approach for the United States Navy’s European naval force coverage is to have a more tailorable, responsible, securable, flexible response options in the North and in the European theater of Operations.

Admiral Burke intends for the U.S. 6th Fleet to operate and patrol the Northern seas and the U.S. 2nd Fleet to guard the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. He also stated that there are now three Joint-Force Commanders (JTC) when there used to be just two Commanders, a Northern JTC and ADM Burke is the Southern JTC. Now there is an Atlantic JTC (the third). With three JTCs and two Fleets, the U.S. Navy can apply pressure all around, even if it’s at one point.

The Mediterranean Sea region has its share of Hot Spots—Syria and Libya, regional instability, and the Migrant Flow from (Northern) Africa. The U.S. Navy is seeing China increasingly present in the region with Chinese warships and investments. The Chinese are buying ports, such as one in Greece that used to be homeport for a U.S. Destroyer Squadron, and China is also working to buy a port in Croatia that did maintenance and modernization work done on U.S. Navy warships. “Today, the Chinese have a controlling interest in 12 European ports. So, are NATO countries going to be able to count on those ports for Free Trade, and if NATO has to defend Europe, will they allow us into those ports to refuel, resupply, do repairs, rearm? We don’t know if we can count on that. It’s a troubling pattern and our European partners are increasingly aware, and awakened to this potential threat,” noted the Admiral.

Photo link:
BALTIC SEA (June 16, 2020) Photoex with (left to right) Royal Norwegian Navy HNOMS Otra (M351), Royal Netherlands Navy HNLMS Zierikzee (M862), Royal Netherlands Navy HNLMS Urk (M861), Lithuanian Navy LNS Skalvis (M53), German Navy FGS Donau (A-516), Finnish Navy FNS PurunPAA (41), British Royal Navy HMS Ramsey (M110), German Navy FGS Groemitz (M1064) in the Baltic Sea during BALTOPS 2020, June 16. BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region, enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations. (Photo courtesy of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1)

The Black Sea is increasingly seeing Russian (naval) activity with the annexation of Crimea and Russia might deploy nuclear weapons in the region of Crimea. As a result, the deployment of U.S. Navy and NATO into the Black Sea resulted in 120 days for U.S. Navy ships operating in the Black Sea and 240 days if counting both U.S. and NATO ship presence. Even during the COVID pandemic, NATO and the U.S. Navy is pressing forward with presence.

2nd photo link:
USS Hershel “Woody” Williams Conducts Tracking Exercise with Ivoirian, Italian Navies. The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), right center, conducts a tracking exercise with Ivorian Navy ships OPV C.F. Sekongo and OPV L’Emergence and Italian Navy frigate ITS Federico Martinengo (F 596), top, in the Gulf of Guinea, Sept. 26, 2020. Hershel “Woody” Williams is on its inaugural deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of responsibility in support of maritime missions and special operations. US Navy picture.

The Admiral said that Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) 4 USS Hershel “Woody” Williams and Expeditionary Fast Transport UNSN Trenton (EPF-5) in the Mediterranean are new capabilities and Admiral Burke thinks of them as heavy-duty trucks, able to haul cargo, vehicles, and be configured. ESB 4 did a very successful set of operations, last Fall, off the West Coast of Africa by Guinea in a French-led Exercise called “Grand African Nemo” that brought 30 ships, 14 different allies and partner nations, and did a tremendous amount of training with U.S. Marines and naval integration. In February of 2021, ESB-4 is off of the coast of Somalia and working with special operations forces to defeat Al Shabab.

Admiral Burke on the Arctic Threat

“What we do know though is that what happens in the Arctic has a gullible impact because the region really is at a crossroads of geopolitical, economic, and even security trends. There’s economic potential because of the abundance of natural resources now with the ice melting the promise of opening maritime routes. Russia, for example, is investing heavily to improve its economic sectors along the northern coast, and at the same time, they’re militarizing the northern flank. China is in the Arctic as well, trying to expand their economic influence, and we see them positioning themselves to expand their military influence as well.”

To the U.S. Navy, the real military threat is Russia in the Arctic. “[Russia’s] militarization in the Northern Coast is the most concerning,” said the Admiral who added that the Russians are putting Kalibr cruise missiles on one icebreaker and that means that they can add them to more icebreakers. In addition, Russia is placing Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs) at choke points in the Arctic passages and parading 9K720 “Iskander” short-range tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs) in Crimea and putting neighboring Baltic nations at risk. Russia is also weaponizing the Mediterranean by influencing conflicts in Syria and in Libya.

China wants a “Polar Silk Road,” which is a clear extension of their “Belt Road Initiative,” said Burke. If Russia and China play by the International established rules and norms, that is fine, but will they? pondered Burke to the viewing audience, and he added, “We’re open; we’re transparent, and we collaborate (and I think that is what distinguishes us from the Russians and the Chinese). Our shared values and goals, our openness and our collaborative spirit make our Allies and partners want to work with us.”

Admiral Burke on the U.S. Navy and NATO’s Arctic Coverage and Response
“The Arctic is changing, which is why it’s a discussion point and a critical juncture. The U.S. is an Arctic nation and the Navy has been up there for quite a while.
“I would just like to say, for the Record, [that] they [China] are not an Arctic Nation. They’re 900 nautical miles from the Arctic Circle, although they have an Arctic Policy Document where they refer to themselves as a near-Arctic nation, but they are not.”

Admiral Burke, U.S. Naval Forces Commander, Europe and Africa
According to the Admiral, NATO views itself as having a defense and deterrence in NATO-related Arctic nations by providing a 360-defense. NATO’s posture is to look for threats that may impact NATO.

“Clearly, NATO does not have a policy in the Arctic, but they clearly view that they have a role in the Arctic, and I think that’s just fine. Of the eight Arctic nations, five are NATO.”

The U.S. Navy is watching these trends and released a new Arctic blueprint in January 2021 that calls for modernizing the U.S. naval force to preserve its advantage at sea while continuing to enhance the Arctic presence and work with our Allied partners to strengthen our relationships in the region. Burke noted that the U.S. Navy had a continuous presence of surface ships in the Arctic from May through November, and according to Admiral Mike Gilday, USN Chief of Naval Operations, the current surface warships work just fine in the Arctic waters.

“We got parts of the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Arctic nearly continuously since I took command last July [2020],” said Burke, and the U.S. Navy is learning from Allies and partners on how to operate better in the Arctic.

Icy-water Conditions
When asked if the U.S. Navy will armor their warships’ hulls to better operate in the Arctic’s icy waters, the Admiral pointed out that the Danish naval ships’ hulls are not all ice-hardened, but the Danish Navy routinely operate all their ships in marginal ice because their captains are very skilled.

Admiral Burke will leave icebreakers’ configuration, deployment, and future armament up to the Force Provider Commander’s decision and noted on the great partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and cited that icebreaking is the U.S. Coast Guard’s core business.

The Submarine Threat

3rd photo link:
BEAUFORT SEA, Arctic Circle (Mar. 07, 2020) — The crew of the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine, USS Connecticut (SSN 22), enjoys ice liberty after surfacing in the Arctic Circle during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2020. ICEX 2020 is a biennial submarine exercise which promotes interoperability between allies and partners to maintain operational readiness and regional stability, while improving capabilities to operate in the Arctic environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)

“2019 there was news source reports, open-source reports, of 10 Russian submarines operating in the Arctic and the North Atlantic. And from there, they head into the Atlantic, and they exercise their ability to hold Europe and continental United States at risk with land attack cruise missiles, and some of those missiles, in the not-to-distant-future, are going to be capable of hypersonic speeds. That’s a real threat and that’s something that we have to address.”

Admiral Burke, U.S. Naval Forces Commander, Europe and Africa
As a result, “Our submarines prowl the Arctic and we really dominant that area. I spent time up there and submarines do well up there,” said Admiral Burke.

A viewer then asked if the U.S. Navy has enough submarines to provide coverage for both the Atlantic and the Arctic Oceans. Admiral Burke replied that the U.S. Navy Atlantic, unlike the INDO-PACOM region represented by the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Ocean’s 3rd and 7th Fleet, has some amazingly-capable Allies in the Atlantic with navies that operate and look similar to the U.S. Navy. These NATO navies operate with the U.S. Navy every day and respond, “Heck, yes,” if called upon to assist.

“UK [and] France to name two extremely reliable [and] capable partners. Canada…Norway…all contribute significantly to the theater of undersea warfare fight. Denmark is expanding their capabilities. Now almost every one of those nations that I’ve mentioned now have significant airborne maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft, if not the P-8A version, closely resembling the P-8 capabilities. Many have bought versions similar to the P-8. Their surface combatants today are incredibly capable too.”

Admiral Burke, U.S. Naval Forces Commander, Europe and Africa
An example of this is the twelve U.S. P-8A Poseidon aircraft based at Keflavik, Iceland in October, 2020 and the Admiral said that the P-8s were very busy.

4th photo link:
KEFLAVIK, Iceland (Nov. 16, 2019) A P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft assigned to both Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 and VP-26 is parked on the apron of Keflavik Air Base. VP-4 is forward deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations and is assigned to Commander, Task Force 67, responsible for tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons throughout Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Juan S. Sua/Released)

Basing and Response Options
The U.S. Navy will have options and leverage one of the Northern ports and as far south as the United Kingdom. Search and Rescue (SAR) is one of those leveraged areas.

When it comes to mustering an Arctic Response, Admiral Burke said that it’s sometimes the U.S. (Navy) and the United Kingdom (Royal Navy), or sometimes the U.S. (Navy) and Norway. The varying combinations and the types of ships deployed depend on the mission and what the navies can contribute at that time. Such collaboration strengthens partnerships, said the Admiral, and if the U.S. Navy can and need to operate alone, the U.S. Navy will, but the U.S. Navy can also operate with NATO—-there are a lot of different naval ship surface force combination options. “We have pretty good options up there right now, but I’d like more options and more scope and more depth so we’re working that pretty hard.”

Such options might use destroyers and submarines based in Norway. Another option would be to use nuclear submarines from the United States. “More is better when it comes to those logistics options.”

Perhaps the greatest advantage the U.S. Navy and NATO possess over peer nations is the sense of companionship, comraderies, and partnerships. “The Russians are largely going it alone and we’ll work that to our advantage.”

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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