US Navy plans to revive tactical formation focused on Indian, Pacific oceans

The US Navy plans to revive a tactical formation that will focus on the Indian and Pacific Oceans and work with partners such as India and Singapore to cope with potential contingencies, a top American naval defence official has said.

Kenneth Braithwaite, secretary of the US Navy, made the announcement about establishing the First Fleet while addressing the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium on Tuesday.

The First Fleet, which will be one of the US Navy’s “numbered fleets” or major tactical units, could be based out of Singapore in the long run, said Braithwaite, according to a report by USNI News, the journal of the US Naval Institute. “We want to stand up a new numbered fleet. And we want to put that numbered fleet in the crossroads between the Indian and the Pacific Oceans, and we’re really going to have an Indo-PACOM footprint,” Braithwaite said.

“We can’t just rely on the 7th Fleet in Japan. We have to look to our other allies and partners like Singapore, like India, and actually put a numbered fleet where it would be extremely relevant if, God forbid, we were to ever to get in any kind of a dust-up,” he said.

Braithwaite’s remarks come against the backdrop of the navies of India, Australia, Japan and the US kicking off second phase of the Malabar exercise in the Arabian Sea. The move assumes significance because of the current focus on China’s assertive actions across the Indo-Pacific, especially the South China Sea.

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