– Newsweek – Considering that he earned his spurs in the culture of the KGB, Russian President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated surprisingly strong navalist tendencies over the past 18 months.
– War is Boring – The Government Accountability Office has slammed the U.S. Navy for badly managing its plans to buy new Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers. Too late to do anything about delays and soaring costs, the top government watchdog hopes the boondoggle will at least be a teachable moment.
– The Atlantic – In 12 of 16 past cases in which a rising power has confronted a ruling power, the result has been bloodshed.
– USNI News – Guided missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG-64) arrived at Naval Station Rota, Spain on Friday completing the forward deployment of four ballistic missile defense (BMD) destroyers as part of the U.S. European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to BMD.
– USNI News – China has completed a 10,000 foot runway on a reclaimed island in the South China Sea, according to a new round of satellite photos. The completed runway on Fiery Cross Reef could soon be operational and accelerate additional construction on the reclaimed island.
– USNI News – China has quietly begun construction on its first domestic aircraft carrier in the same northern Chinese shipyard that refurbished the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s current Soviet-era carrier
– Jane’s – Satellite imagery suggests that China may be building its first aircraft carrier at Dalian shipyard in northern China.
– RAND – Over the past two decades, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has transformed itself from a large but antiquated force into a capable, modern military. A RAND Project AIR FORCE report assesses trends in the relative capabilities of U.S. and Chinese forces in diverse operational areas, and at varying distances from the Chinese mainland, between 1996 and 2017. The overall conclusion is that although China continues to lag behind the United States in terms of aggregate military hardware and operational skills, it has improved its capabilities relative to those of the United States in many critical areas. Moreover, the report finds that China does not need to catch up fully to the United States to challenge the U.S. ability to conduct effective military operations near the Chinese mainland. To be clear, the goal is to avoid war, which the authors do not anticipate and which would be disastrous for both countries. Rather, this research provides an open-source assessment of trends that could affect U.S. defense and deterrence efforts and establishes a baseline for future analysis.
– Los Angeles Times – America’s most advanced nuclear submarine was slicing through the water off Hawaii last month, 400 feet under the surface, when a sonar operator suddenly detected an ominous noise on his headphones. It was a faint thump … thump … thump — the distinctive sound of a spinning, seven-bladed propeller on a Chinese attack submarine called a Shang by the Pentagon and its allies.
– Washington Post – The USS Theodore Roosevelt, whose homeport is San Diego, is a key element of the U.S.-led coalition known as Operation Inherent Resolve that is targeting the militants in Syria and Iraq. This island of steel in the Persian Gulf, some 1,090 feet (330 meters) long, is home to some 5,000 U.S. Navy aviators, sailors and Marine pilots, carrying about 70 aircraft involved in the fight.
– USNI News – The U.S. Marine Corps is in the midst of several acquisition programs that will extend the reach of the force and keep Marines safer while on the ground however the Corps is struggling how to fit the new kit on the Navy’s existing amphibious ships.
– UPI – The U.S. Navy reports that its Pacific Submarine Force has successfully demonstrated its capability at clandestinely deploying mines.
– BBC – Egypt has agreed to buy two Mistral warships originally built for Russia, the French presidency has announced.
– USNI News – Several Russian warships are bound for the Eastern Mediterranean for high-end exercises.
– USNI News – The Philippines’ armed services modernization program took a strange and alarming turn recently as President Benigno Aquino III’s final term comes to a close.
– USNI News – China’s creation of military-relevant facilities on its newly-created islands in the South China Sea is a cause for concern for countries in Southeast Asia, and several of its investments in the Indian Ocean are raising more questions over the possibility of China’s first dedicated naval support facility overseas.
– Japan Times – Robert D. Kaplan on Europe’s new strategic geography.
– The Guardian – At arms fair in London, Admiral Sir George Zambellas says navy plans to demonstrate a directed energy weapon at sea by end of decade.
– USNI – The four ballistic missile defense destroyers patrolling 6th Fleet will get a self-protection upgrade beginning this year, as the Navy integrates Raytheon’s Sea Rolling Airframe Missile (SeaRAM) onto its Aegis-equipped Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (DDG-51) for the first time.
– CBC – The U.S. Navy agreed to limit its use of sonar and other training that inadvertently harms whales, dolphins and other marine mammals off Hawaii and California in a settlement with environmental groups approved Monday.
– USNI News – Chinese officials again affirmed territorial sovereignty for a series of newly created artificial islands in the South China Sea and warned the U.S. against taking “risky and provocative action” by attempting to come within 12 nautical miles of the islands.
– War is Boring – Egypt’s military junta is going on a shopping spree for weapons. Remember those French amphibious assault ships originally intended for Russia that are now sitting out to dry? Cairo’s generals have their eyes on them, too.
– Esquire – After fourteen years of being immersed in the bloody wars of our era, C.J. Chivers came home..
– USNI News – The Obama administration is considering conducting more freedom of navigation missions in the South China Sea as a partial counter to China’s rapid artificial island expansion in the region, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs told a Senate panel on Thursday.
– RAND – his RAND study analyzes the development of respective Chinese and U.S. Military capabilities in ten categories of military operations across two scenarios, one centered on Taiwan and one on the Spratly Islands. The analysis is presented in ten scorecards that assess military capabilities as they have evolved over four snapshot years: 1996, 2003, 2010, and 2017. The results show that China is not close to catching up to the United States in terms of aggregate capabilities, but also that it does not need to catch up to challenge the United States on its immediate periphery. Furthermore, although China’s ability to project power to more distant locations remains limited, its reach is growing, and in the future U.S. military dominance is likely to be challenged at greater distances from China’s coast. To maintain robust defense and deterrence capabilities in an era of fiscal constraints, the United States will need to ensure that its own operational concepts, procurement, and diplomacy anticipate future developments in Chinese military capabilities.