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NATO naval presence outnumbers competitors ‘two to one', says alliance maritime commander

The collective presence of NATO naval forces deployed across the Euro-Atlantic theatre is currently giving the alliance a ‘two-to-one' numerical advantage at sea over its competitors, according to the head of Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM).

“Today … we are outnumbering our competitors by a ratio of about two to one. That's typical. Sometimes, it's a lot more than that; but we very rarely see it in reverse,” Vice Admiral Keith Blount, a UK Royal Navy (RN) officer and NATO's Commander MARCOM, said in a keynote speech to the NATO Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence (CJOS CoE) annual ‘Maritime Security Regimes Roundtable', which took place virtually on 3-4 November. “That must have a strategic impact on our competitor. They must look at that. We are far more numerous,” he said.

Vice Adm Blount made this point while discussing NATO's continuing evolution of its maritime strategy thinking. Alongside the three enduring alliance maritime strategy themes of collective defence, co-operative security, and crisis management – with maritime security now emerging as a fourth theme – Vice Adm Blount explained that NATO “[has] identified … three principal functions that would define the role of maritime in supporting any strategy or concept”.

First is a strategic function. This, Vice Adm Blount explained, “is all about the physical presence of NATO's navies at sea and the strategic effect that creates”.

Second is a security function, including the increasing importance of maritime security operations.

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