US re-establishes 2nd Fleet to counter ′competition′ | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 04.05.2018
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US re-establishes 2nd Fleet to counter 'competition'

The US Navy has announced it would re-establish its 2nd Fleet after disbanding it to save money in 2011. The fleet will once again patrol the North Atlantic where Russian navy has been flexing its muscle.

The Pentagon announced on Friday a new naval command to boost the US presence in the Atlantic, as the US Navy said it was bringing back its disbanded 2nd fleet.

The 2nd fleet will be tasked with covering the US East Coast and the north of the Atlantic Ocean, presumably as a response to Russia's increased activity in the region.

Read more: The strenghts and weaknesses of Russia's military

"Our National Defense Strategy makes clear that we're back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex," Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said on Friday.

"That's why today, we're standing up Second Fleet to address these changes," he added.

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Un-pivot to Asia

Washington disbanded the 2nd fleet, which at the time numbered over 100 ships, in 2011. Many of its assets and personnel were assigned to other sections of the US Navy. The move was made ahead of the Crimea crisis as ex-President Barack Obama was urging a "pivot to Asia" to focus on China's growing power in the region.

However, Russia has increased its naval patrols in the Baltic Sea since the standoff with the West started in 2014.

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While presenting the 2018 National Defense Strategy in January, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described Russia and China as "revisionist powers" that "seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models."

The modern Russian navy is much smaller in size and strength than the naval forces commanded by Moscow during the Cold War. Notably, Russia has only one operational aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, compared to 11 in the US Navy. However, Moscow has engaged in a large-scale effort to modernize both its naval and land-based forces in recent years.

dj/bw (Reuters, AP)

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