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America's Next Wars: Lose One, Hold One?

Austin Bay on

Can the United States only fight one war with a chance of winning?

According to Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations (CNO, Navy's senior officer) the answer is yes -- at least when it comes to the U.S. Navy fighting its share of the war.

According to Stars and Stripes, during a May 12 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo, asked Gilday: "What would the impact be on the Navy's ability to meet its operational requirements in (Europe) if we had to withhold Navy forces from Europe in order to deter Chinese aggression in (the Pacific)?"

Gilday replied that the current fleet of about 298 ships "is not sized to handle two simultaneous conflicts." The Navy is "sized to fight one and keep a second adversary in check, but in terms of two all-out conflicts, we are not sized for that."

Given the genuine threat posed by communist China -- whose navy is already larger than the U.S. Navy -- this is a jaw-dropping statement for the Navy's senior officer to say on the record.

Consider the information and narrative warfare elements -- and the Biden administration emphasizes "perception" above all. At the definite minimum Gilday's assessments rates as a diplomatic perception faux pas -- it signals weakness. At the hyperbolic maximum -- admittedly extreme -- Beijing's imperialist dictatorship could read it as an invitation to attack Taiwan. Given Russia's invasion of Ukraine, never dismiss hyperbolic and idiotic aggression by a dictatorship as impossible.

 

Major caveat: Ukraine's ferocious resistance to Russia's aggression should give Beijing aggressors second and third thoughts.

Alas -- Gilday exposes an unfortunate vulnerability. My American political explanation: He wants more money for the Navy and its current acquisition programs.

Another reason? Everyone sentient on the Senate Armed Services Committee knows the U.S. military is structured to "fight one and hold one."

The first "one" means a must-win war.

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