USNI News and other news outlets carried the story (click here) that the U.S. Navy now has two guided-missile destroyers, USS Ross and USS Carney, cruising the Black Sea. Why the departure from recent operational patterns?
Clausewitz defined war as a trial of moral and physical forces, chiefly through the medium of physical force. Peacetime tests of strength such as in the Black Sea or South China Sea are trials of moral and physical forces, chiefly through the medium of perceived physical force. Our navy, acting on behalf of the Trump administration, is announcing that Washington will not be cowed into surrendering what geopolitics specialist Nicholas Spykman termed the “marginal seas” around the Eurasian periphery. Command of those seas was critical for the Royal Navy during Britain’s imperial heyday, and it’s critical for the United States and its allies today.
So the U.S. Navy is making a statement to Moscow about American resolve by doubling its destroyer presence in the Black Sea, and it’s making a statement to allies and friends in the marginal seas that America will be there when the chips are down.
I suspect the navy is also making a statement about its own ability to do its job after the annus horribilis that was 2017 for the surface navy. Yes, we have work to do . . . but we have no intention of withdrawing to homeport or ceding control of important expanses to predatory powers while we get the fundamentals right again.
Think of this as a dialogue between armed services—a process of challenge and reply—and you’ve got the idea.