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Surface Navy 2021: Competition puts focus on US Navy readiness

The growing power competition is putting a premium on US Navy (USN) readiness, said Admiral Christopher Grady, commander of US Fleet Forces Command, on 13 January at the virtual Surface Navy Association 2021 National Symposium, which began on 11 January.

The USN’s need to deploy globally, face improved Chinese manufacturing, build more complex systems, and overcome logistical hurdles is putting a strain on that readiness, Adm Grady said.

“The enemy theory of fight is to execute a fait accompli upon nearby states where the adversary’s speed of action impedes our ability to respond in time,” Adm Grady said. “The tyranny of distance is one of the levers our adversaries use freely against us. They will never give us six months to build a mountain of supplies to prepare. So, to be an effective deterrent, we have to be ready, we have to be there. When we can’t be there, we have to be prepared to get there at best speed, and be lethal on arrival.”

He also said that the nature of the US industrial base has significantly changed. “For starters, we are no longer the world’s largest manufacturer. China surpassed us in 2010. And we do not have the capacity to build and repair like we used to.”

He added, “Likewise, the nature of modern warfare has changed. With long-range, multi-domain, precision weaponry and sensors concentrated on multi-mission platforms, everything about our modern equipment is more complex. It simply takes much more time and superior craftsmanship to build a fifth generation fighter like the F-35 than it took to crank out P-51 Mustangs in World War II. The same can be said of things like nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and high-end guided missile destroyers.”

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