Report to Congress on Afghanistan and U.S. Policy

The following is the Dec. 1, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy in Brief. From the report The aftershocks of Afghanistan’s watershed year of 2021 continue to reverberate within Afghanistan, throughout its region, and in the United States. In 2021, U.S. and international forces departed after nearly two decades of operations […]

The following is the Dec. 1, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy in Brief.

From the report

The aftershocks of Afghanistan’s watershed year of 2021 continue to reverberate within Afghanistan, throughout its region, and in the United States. In 2021, U.S. and international forces departed after nearly two decades of operations in Afghanistan; the internationally backed Afghan government and its military forces collapsed; and the Taliban, a Sunni Islamist extremist group that formerly ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, retook power. Afghans and Americans alike, including Members of Congress and other U.S. policymakers, continue to grapple with the reality of the Taliban’s renewed rule.

The Taliban government is dominated by former officials from the Taliban’s prior rule or longtime loyalists, indicating that the Taliban have prioritized internal cohesion over outreach to other segments of Afghan society or similar gestures advocated by the United States and other countries. Some signs of dissension in the group’s ranks along various lines have emerged, though the Taliban have a history of effectively managing internal disputes. Some Afghans have sought to advocate for their rights and express opposition to the Taliban in nonviolent demonstrations, which the Taliban have monitored and sometimes violently dispersed. Other anti-Taliban Afghans have taken up arms against the Taliban, claiming guerilla-style attacks against Taliban forces and calling for international assistance, and the regional Islamic State affiliate has conducted attacks against both Taliban forces and Afghan civilians.

Some Members of Congress have focused on a number of impacts of the Taliban’s renewed rule on U.S. interests:

  • Counterterrorism. The Taliban takeover has had different impacts on the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, historic Taliban adversaries and partners, respectively. With no U.S. military forces based in Afghanistan or neighboring states, the United States is pursuing an “over-the-horizon” counterterrorism approach.
  • Women and Girls. Taliban actions have been detrimental for the status of women and girls in Afghanistan, a longtime U.S. policy concern, with girls prohibited from attending school at the secondary level and women’s roles drastically curtailed.
  • Relocating U.S. Partners. Some Members of Congress have closely followed ongoing U.S. efforts to relocate remaining U.S. citizens, as well as the tens of thousands of Afghans who worked for U.S. efforts and seek to leave the country.

Some Members have also expressed concern about dire humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan has faced intersecting and overwhelming humanitarian and economic crises, a result of challenges both preexisting (such as natural disasters and Afghanistan’s weak economic base) and new (such as the cut-off of international development assistance, U.S. sanctions on the Taliban, and the U.S. hold on Afghan central bank assets). In response, the Biden Administration has provided over $1 billion in humanitarian assistance, issued general licenses authorizing various humanitarian and commercial transactions, and established a Switzerland-based “Afghan Fund” to disburse some of Afghanistan’s central bank assets to support the Afghan economy.

Congressional oversight of U.S. Afghanistan policy has featured numerous hearings, past and ongoing investigations, and the creation of the Afghanistan War Commission. Congress has also imposed a variety of reporting requirements to monitor dynamics in Afghanistan and their implications for U.S. policy. Going forward, Congress may consider further reporting requirements, resources, or investigative efforts related to various U.S. interests as it evaluates the Biden Administration’s budget request and defense authorization measures. Future reports from the congressionally created Afghanistan War Commission and other bodies may offer lessons for legislators

Congressional action is likely to be influenced, and likely constrained, by a lack of reliable information about events in Afghanistan and the historical legacy of U.S. conflict with the Taliban. Perhaps more challengingly, the Biden Administration and many in Congress seek to ameliorate humanitarian and economic conditions in Afghanistan, but without taking any action that boosts the Taliban’s position or that may be perceived as doing so. Pursuing these policies in tandem may prove complicated given the Taliban’s evident aversion to make compromises in response to international pressure and its apparent willingness to accept considerable humanitarian and economic suffering as the price of that uncompromising stance.

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U.K. Defence Equipment Plan 2022-2032

The following is the U.K. Ministry of Defence 2022 Defence Equipment Report released in November. From the report The 2022 Equipment Plan comes at a pivotal point in time for Defence, one where we are entering a new age of warfare and defensive planning. The Ministry of Defence has become increasingly in the spotlight over […]

The following is the U.K. Ministry of Defence 2022 Defence Equipment Report released in November.

From the report

The 2022 Equipment Plan comes at a pivotal point in time for Defence, one where we are entering a new age of warfare and defensive planning. The Ministry of Defence has become increasingly in the spotlight over the last year, as have our spending plans and capability investments been scrutinised in the wake of the Ukraine Russia conflict.

The events of the last few months have demonstrated the instability and unpredictability of the threat to our nation’s security but have also exemplified the ability Defence has to react and adapt rapidly to those emerging risks. Despite the turbulent climate, we are confident that the spending decisions outlined in the following Plan remain relevant and resilient to the changing nature of Defence.

The uplift received from the 2020 Spending Review meant we were able to rectify an existing deficit and instil stability and confidence in current and future spending forecasts. This has enabled us to invest in cutting edge capabilities that ensure we are threat ready and resilient against emerging risks. Within this Plan, we have continued the task of developing investment decisions from the integrated review into detailed spending plans. The 2021 Equipment Plan was the first in five years that was not described as unaffordable by the National Audit Office (NAO). We have retained an affordable position for the 2022 Plan and continue to hold a contingency to ensure resilience against emerging financial pressures.

There has been significant change, both in Defence and the world since the publication of the last Plan. We are experiencing a period of rising inflation, we are witnessing large scale conflict in Ukraine, and we have welcomed two new Prime Ministers. It is paramount therefore that the decisions reported each year are sustainable and resilient against current and future pressures. While this report is based on data that closed in March, and so will not reflect for the most part the impact of recent pressures, we nonetheless remain aware and responsive to their significance, particularly as we move forward into the next planning cycle.

In the Autumn Statement the Government has recognised the need to increase Defence spending. The case for this will be set out in the Integrated Review which will consider the response to the emerging threat. The outcome of this will be represented in future Equipment Plans.

The Plan is not immune to risk, we have set ambitious savings targets and made hard decisions in spending priorities across the Commands. We are confident however that the capabilities we are investing in, and spending decisions made in the last year, remain in line with the developing defence landscape and ensure we have a stable financial footing for this and future Plans.

[signed]

The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, Secretary of State for Defence

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2022 Pentagon Report on Chinese Military Development

The following is the Nov. 29, 2022, Pentagon’s report to Congress, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China. From the report The 2022 National Security Strategy identifies the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the only competitor with the intent and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape the international order. The Department of […]

The following is the Nov. 29, 2022, Pentagon’s report to Congress, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.

From the report

The 2022 National Security Strategy identifies the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the only competitor with the intent and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape the international order. The Department of Defense (DoD) annual report on military and security developments involving the PRC charts the current course of the PRC’s national, economic, and military strategy and offers Congress insight on the tenets of Beijing’s ambitions and intentions. The PRC’s strategy entails a determined effort to amass and harness all elements of its national power to place the PRC in a “leading position” in an enduring competition between systems. As expressed in the 2022 National Defense Strategy, the PRC presents the most consequential and systemic challenge to U.S. national security and the free and open international system.

In this decisive decade, it is important to understand the contours of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) way of war, survey its current activities and capabilities, and assess its future military modernization goals. In 2021, the PRC increasingly turned to the PLA as an instrument of statecraft as it adopted more coercive and aggressive actions in the Indo-Pacific region. Having purportedly achieved its 2020 modernization goal, the PLA now sets its sights to 2027 with a goal to accelerate the integrated development of mechanization, informatization, and intelligentization of the PRC’s armed forces. If realized, this 2027 objective could give the PLA capabilities to be a more credible military tool for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to wield as it pursues Taiwan unification.

In addition to the development of the PLA’s conventional capabilities, the PRC has continued to accelerate the modernization, diversification, and expansion of its nuclear forces. The PRC has stated its ambition to strengthen its “strategic deterrent,” while being reluctant to discuss the PLA’s developing nuclear, space, and cyberspace capabilities, negatively impacting global strategic stability—an area of increasing global concern.

As the PRC seeks to achieve “national rejuvenation” by its centenary in 2049, this report highlights Beijing’s ambition to reform the prevailing international rules-based system. This objective requires an external environment supportive of the PRC’s strategic goals defined under the concept of a “community of common destiny,” led by Xi Jinping’s initiatives such as the Global Security Initiative and the Global Development Initiative.

This report illustrates how the CCP increasingly turns to the PLA in support of its global ambitions, and the importance of meeting the pacing challenge presented by the PRC’s increasingly capable military.

Report Scope: This report covers security and military developments involving the PRC until the end of 2021.

Download the document here.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Nov. 28, 2022

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Nov. 28, 2022, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Ships Underway Total Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Nov. 28, 2022, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Ships Underway

Total Battle Force Deployed Underway
292
(USS 236, USNS 56)
100
(USS 65, USNS 35)
 43
(41 Deployed, 2 Local)

Ships Deployed by Fleet

2nd Fleet 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
4 2 2 13 21 58 100

In the Philippine Sea

Capt. Daryle Cardone, commanding officer of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), speaks with sailors prior to Thanksgiving dinner on the mess decks, in the Philippine Sea, Nov. 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is underway in the Philippine Sea.

Carrier Strike Group 5

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), prepares to come alongside the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler, USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204), prior to a fueling-at-sea in the Philippine Sea on Nov. 23, 2022. US Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Carrier Air Wing 5

An MH-60S Knight Hawk, attached to the ‘Golden Falcons’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, takes off from the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), in the Philippine Sea on Nov. 23, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, is embarked aboard Ronald Reagan and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Royal Maces” of VFA-27 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
  • The “Diamondbacks” of VFA-102 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Eagles” of VFA-115 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Dambusters” of VFA-195 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Shadowhawks” of VAQ-141 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Tiger Tails” of VAW-125 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment 5 – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Golden Falcons” of HSC-12 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.
  • The “Saberhawks” of HSM-77 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Cruisers

Sailors enjoy a Thanksgiving feast in the mess decks aboard Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) in the Philippine Sea, Nov. 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Destroyer Squadron 15

Lt. Darren Paraiso, from San Diego, monitors surface contacts from the combat information center aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG-69) while operating in the Philippine Sea, Nov. 16, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 15 is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and is embarked on the carrier. Destroyers from Destroyer Squadron 15 are also assigned to the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group.

  • USS Milius (DDG-69), homeported in Yokosuka.

In Sasebo, Japan

Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Stacie Booth, from Portland, assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault carrier USS America (LHA-6), serves egg nog during a Thanksgiving meal in the ship’s galley in Sasebo, Japan, Nov. 23, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS America (LHA-6) remains in its homeport in Sasebo, Japan.

In the Pacific Ocean

Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Chad Waugh, left, and Engineman 2nd Class Lea Fernandez search for a shipboard casualty during a general quarters drill aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8), Nov. 17, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked has chopped into U.S. 7th Fleet. Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8), the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, left Naval Base San Diego on Nov. 9 for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific region. The ARG includes Makin Island and amphibious transport docks USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) and USS Anchorage (LPD-23). The three ships made a port call to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii last week.

The MEU includes the aviation combat element with the “Flying Leathernecks” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122 flying F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and the “Ugly Angels” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 362 (Reinforced) flying MV-22B Ospreys; the logistics combat element made up of Combat Logistics Battalion 13; and the ground combat element with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines.

In the Eastern Pacific

Sailors remove chocks and chains from an MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 on the flight deck aboard amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7) Nov. 26, 2022. US Navy Photo

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is in the Mid-Pacific, transiting home to San Diego, Calif. Tripoli departed Naval Station San Diego for an independent deployment to the Western Pacific on May 2.

In the Mediterranean Sea

Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) search for foreign objects debris (FOD) on the flight deck during a replenishment-at-sea with the supply-class fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE-8) on Nov. 27, 2022. US Navy Photo

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group is underway in the Mediterranean Sea.

Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2) is operating in the Mediterranean Sea. U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Scott Sciretta, who assumed command of the group on July 1, is embarked aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98) as SNMG 2’s flagship.

Carrier Strike Group 10

Culinary Specialist Seaman Ixshel Mendez, from Aurora, Colorado, assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), decorates a cake for a Thanksgiving meal, Nov. 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 7

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143, flies above the Ionian Sea with Italian AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, Nov. 23, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, based on Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked on Bush and includes:

  • The “Pukin’ Dogs” of VFA-143 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Es from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Jolly Rogers” of VFA-103 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sidewinders” of VFA-86 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Knighthawks” of VFA-136 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Patriots” of VAQ-140 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bluetails” of VAW-121 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Nightdippers” of HSC-5 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Grandmasters” of HSM-46 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Fire Controlman Martin Cabello, assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), lowers himself into the water during a search and rescue drill, Nov. 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Destroyer Squadron 26

Damage Controlman 1st Class Bryan Maccuish, assigned USS Truxtun (DDG-103), provides training to sailors during a chemical, biological, and radiological damage control drill on Nov. 16, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 26 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier. The following ships deployed with the strike group.

  • USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Truxtun (DDG-103), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Farragut (DDG-99), homeported at Naval Station Mayport.
  • USS Nitze (DDG-94), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

In Norfolk, Va.

The crew of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) man the rails as the ship returns to Naval Station Norfolk, Nov. 26, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (CSG) has returned to Norfolk. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) left Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 4, 2022, and exercised with allies and partners to operate and shake down ahead of next year’s regular deployment.

Carrier Strike Group 12


Carrier

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 8

Sailors assigned to the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN-78) air department observe flight operations during Carrier Airwing (CVW) Eight’s fly off following the ship’s inaugural deployment, Nov. 25, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 squadrons and detachments have returned to their homefields:

  • The “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Es – Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Ragin’ Bulls” of VFA-37 – F/A-18E – Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Black Lions” of VFA-213 – F/A-18F – Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 – F/A-18E – Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bear Aces” of VAW-124 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Tridents” of HSC-9 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Spartans” of HSM-70 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Seaman Alexa Gonzalez plays a boatswain’s pipe over an internal communications system to announce the start of sea and anchor detail on the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60) as the ship returns to home port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., after being underway as part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, Nov. 25, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Normandy (CG-60) returned to homeport at Naval Station Norfolk.

Destroyer Squadron 26

A sailor assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul (DDG-74) throws line to the pier upon returning to Naval Station Norfolk, Va., after completing a deployment in the Atlantic Ocean with the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group on Nov. 26, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 26 returned to Norfolk. The following ships returned to their homeports:

  • USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Ramage (DDG-61), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS McFaul (DDG-74), homeported at Naval Station Mayport.
  • USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753) homeported in North Charleston, S.C.

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units and more serving throughout the globe.

Japanese MoD Report on Chinese Gray Zone, Influence Operations

The following is the Nov. 25, report from the Japanese National Institute For Defense Studies, China Security Report 2023: China’s Quest for Control of the Cognitive Domain and Gray Zone Situations. From the report The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the Party’s army. It follows the Party’s command and defines its most important role as […]

The following is the Nov. 25, report from the Japanese National Institute For Defense Studies, China Security Report 2023: China’s Quest for Control of the Cognitive Domain and Gray Zone Situations.

From the report

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the Party’s army. It follows the Party’s command and defines its most important role as protecting the Party’s regime. Until President Xi Jinping’s military reforms, the Party exercised control over the military mainly through the PLA’s political work organizations, including the General Political Department, and political commissars. Such indirect control, however, was susceptible to communication issues and hindering the execution of joint operations, and caused widespread bribery and corruption in the PLA.

Xi Jinping’s military reforms drove the restructuring of Chinese military organizations, and in this context, the leadership of the Party has been strengthened. More emphasis is placed on direct control by the Chinese Communist Party, with focus especially on the implementation of the chairman responsibility system of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the Party committees in the military. Furthermore, military governance through laws and rules is underscored. The Party’s leadership has been reinforced not only over the PLA but also over other military organizations, and mechanisms are being developed for coordination between
the military and other governmental actors. These measures were developed also as a response to modern forms of conflict that actively use non-military means.

For influence operations, the Strategic Support Force (SSF) was established. The SSF appears not only to integrate functions related to cyber, electromagnetic spectrum, and outer space, but also to be deeply engaged in the struggle for the psychological and cognitive domain.

For gray zone operations, the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and the CCG were reorganized. The PAP was placed under the sole leadership of the CMC, while the CCG became subordinate to the PAP and in turn was also placed under the leadership of the PLA. As a result of the reorganization, the PAP specializes in maintaining public security in peacetime and contributes more easily to PLA joint operations in a contingency.

Download the document here.

Document: Statement from the Ninth ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting

The following is the Nov. 23, 2022, statement from the Ninth ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus). From the report Joint Declaration by The ADMM-Plus Defence Ministers on Defence Cooperation to Strengthen Solidarity for a Harmonized Security DO HEREBY DECLARE TO: 1. STRENGTHEN our collective efforts and practical cooperation to mitigate the impact of the […]

The following is the Nov. 23, 2022, statement from the Ninth ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus).

From the report

Joint Declaration by The ADMM-Plus Defence Ministers on Defence Cooperation to Strengthen Solidarity for a Harmonized Security

DO HEREBY DECLARE TO:
1. STRENGTHEN our collective efforts and practical cooperation to mitigate the impact of the current and emerging, traditional and non-traditional threats including pandemic, terrorism, violent extremism conducive to terrorism, natural disasters including those exacerbated by climate change, and maritime security challenges;

2. PROMOTE peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the region, including through the deepening of relations and effective practical cooperation, the adherence to the rule of law, good governance, the principles of democracy and constitutional government, respect for and the promotion of fundamental freedoms, and the promotion and protection of human rights, the right of every state to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion, non-interference in the internal affairs of one another, settlement of disputes by peaceful means; renunciation of the threat or use of force, and other principles and purposes enshrined in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), the United Nations (UN) Charter, and the 2011 Declaration of the East Asia Summit on the Principles of Mutually Beneficial Relations (Bali Principles), and noting that the political stability in ASEAN Member States is essential to achieving a peaceful, stable, and prosperous ASEAN Community;

3. REAFFIRM the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, prosperity, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight as well as the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes, without coercion, in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea;

4. MAINTAIN the importance of putting in place practical confidence-building measures that could reduce tensions and the risk of accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculation for maritime security by exercising such as the CUES and implementing the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea to ensure a peaceful environment conducive to sustainable development and prosperity in the region;

5. ENHANCE the spirit of solidarity and cooperation within ASEAN and with the Plus Countries in order to realise a harmonised security to promote peace, stability, prosperity, and resilience against current and emerging security challenges in the region;

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Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense

The following is the Nov. 23, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense. From the report The United States has been developing and deploying ballistic missile defenses (BMD) to defend against enemy missiles continuously since the late 1940s. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States deployed a limited nuclear-tipped […]

The following is the Nov. 23, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense.

From the report

The United States has been developing and deploying ballistic missile defenses (BMD) to defend against enemy missiles continuously since the late 1940s. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States deployed a limited nuclear-tipped BMD system to protect a portion of its U.S. land-based nuclear ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) force in order to preserve a strategic deterrent against a Soviet nuclear attack on the Homeland. That system became active in 1975 but shut down in 1976 because of concerns over cost and effectiveness. In the FY1975 budget, the Army began funding research into hit-to-kill or kinetic energy interceptors as an alternative—the type of interceptor technology that dominates U.S. BMD systems today.

In 1983, President Reagan announced an enhanced effort for BMD. Since the start of the Reagan initiative in 1985, BMD has been a key national security interest in Congress, which has appropriated well over $200 billion for a broad range of BMD research and development programs and deployment of BMD systems here and abroad.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is charged with the mission to develop, test, and field an integrated, layered, BMD system (BMDS) to defend the United States, U.S. deployed forces, and U.S. allies and partners against ballistic missiles of all ranges and in all phases of flight. The FY2023 budget request is $24.7 billion for missile defense, $9.6 billion of which is for MDA.

Ballistic Missile Threats

After an initial powered phase of flight, a ballistic missile leaves the atmosphere and follows an unpowered trajectory or flight path before reentering the atmosphere toward a predetermined target. Ballistic missiles have an effective range from a few hundred kilometers (km) to more than 10,000 km. Short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) range from 300-1,000 km and are generally considered for tactical military use. Medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) have a range from 1,000-5,500 km, although most are armed with conventional warheads and range less than 3,500 km. ICBMs range further than 5,500 km and are generally considered as strategic deterrent forces.

Most of the world’s ballistic missiles belong to the United States and its allies and partners; however, China and, in particular, Russia also have significant numbers of ICBMs. Russia continues to possess intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles (3,500-5,500 km), which led to the U.S. withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The 2022 Missile Defense Review additionally identifies ballistic missile threats from North Korea and Iran.

North Korea likely has an arsenal of hundreds of SRBMs that can reach all of South Korea and perhaps dozens of MRBMs (whose reliability at this point remains uncertain), capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases in the region. North Korea has flight-tested two types of road-mobile ICBMs that have the range to strike the U.S. homeland. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has assessed that “North Korea’s continued development of ICBMs, IRBMs, and [submarine-launched ballistic missiles] demonstrates its intention to bolster its nuclear delivery capability.”

Download the document here.

Defense Primer: Naval Forces

The following is the Nov. 15, 2022, Congressional Research Service, Defense Primer: Naval Forces. From the report “Naval Forces” Refers to Both the Navy and Marine Corps Although the term naval forces is often used to refer specifically to Navy forces, it more properly refers to both Navy and Marine Corps forces, because both the […]

The following is the Nov. 15, 2022, Congressional Research Service, Defense Primer: Naval Forces.

From the report

“Naval Forces” Refers to Both the Navy and Marine Corps

Although the term naval forces is often used to refer specifically to Navy forces, it more properly refers to both Navy and Marine Corps forces, because both the Navy and Marine Corps are naval services. For further discussion, see CRS In Focus IF10484, Defense Primer: Department of the Navy, by Ronald O’Rourke. For a discussion of the Marine Corps that focuses on its organization as a ground-combat force, see CRS In Focus IF10571, Defense Primer: Organization of U.S. Ground Forces, by Barbara Salazar Torreon and Andrew Feickert.

U.S. Strategy and Naval Forces

U.S. naval forces give the United States the ability to convert the world’s oceans—a global commons that covers more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface—into a medium of maneuver and operations for projecting U.S. power ashore and otherwise defending U.S. interests around the world. The ability to use the world’s oceans in this manner—and to deny other countries the use of the world’s oceans for taking actions against U.S. interests—constitutes an immense asymmetric advantage for the United States.

As discussed elsewhere (see CRS In Focus IF10485, Defense Primer: Geography, Strategy, and U.S. Force Design, by Ronald O’Rourke), the size and composition of U.S. naval forces reflect the position of the United States as a Western Hemisphere power with a goal of preventing the emergence of regional hegemons (and otherwise defending and promoting U.S. interests) in Eurasia. As a result, the U.S. Navy includes significant numbers of aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered attack submarines, large surface combatants, large amphibious ships, and underway replenishment ships.

Navy Ship Types

The Navy’s ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are dedicated to performing a singular mission of strategic nuclear deterrence. The Navy’s other ships, which are sometimes referred to as the Navy’s general-purpose ships, are generally multimission ships capable of performing a variety of missions other than strategic nuclear deterrence. The principal types of general-purpose ships in the Navy include attack submarines (SSNs); aircraft carriers (CVNs); large surface combatants, meaning cruisers (CGs) and destroyers (DDGs); small surface combatants, meaning frigates (FFGs), Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), mine warfare (MIW) ships, and patrol craft (PCs); amphibious ships, whose primary function is to transport Marines and their equipment and supplies to distant operating areas and support Marine ship-to-shore movements and Marine operations ashore; combat logistics force (CLF) ships, which perform underway replenishment (UNREP) operations, meaning the at-sea resupply of combat ships; and other support ships of various types.

The Navy’s aircraft carriers embark multimission carrier air wings (CVWs) consisting of 60+ aircraft—mostly fixed-wing aircraft, plus a few helicopters. Each CVW typically includes 40 or more strike fighters that are capable of air-to-ground (strike) and air-to-air (fighter) combat operations.

Size of the Navy

The total number of ships in the Navy is a one-dimensional metric that leaves out many other important factors bearing on the Navy’s size and capabilities. Even so, observers often cite the total number of ships in the U.S. Navy as a convenient way of summarizing the Navy’s size and capabilities.

The quoted number of ships in the Navy reflects the battle force ships counting method, which is a set of rules for which ships count (or do not count) toward the quoted number of ships in the Navy. The battle force ships counting method was established in the early 1980s and has been modified by subsequent legislation. Essentially, it includes ships that are readily deployable overseas, and which contribute to the Navy’s overseas combat capability. The Naval History and Heritage Command maintains a database on numbers of ships in the Navy from 1886 to the present. (It is available here: https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/us-ship-force-levels.html.) Since this database extends back to 1886, it uses a different counting method that is more suitable for working with older historical data. This alternate counting method, however, produces, for the 1980s onwards, figures for the total size of the Navy that are different than the figures produced by the battle force ships counting method. For this reason, using figures from the NHHC database to quote the current size of the Navy can cause confusion.

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Defense Primer: U.S. Special Operation Forces

The following is the Nov. 21, 2022, Congressional Research Service, Defense Primer: Special Operation Forces. From the report Special Operations Forces (SOF) are those active duty and reserve component forces of the military services designated by the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) and specifically selected, organized, trained, and equipped to conduct and support special operations. Special […]

The following is the Nov. 21, 2022, Congressional Research Service, Defense Primer: Special Operation Forces.

From the report

Special Operations Forces (SOF) are those active duty and reserve component forces of the military services designated by the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) and specifically selected, organized, trained, and equipped to conduct and support special operations. Special operations frequently require unique modes of employment, tactics, techniques, procedures, and equipment. SOF often conducts special operations in hostile, politically, and/or diplomatically sensitive environments, and are characterized by one or more of the following: time-sensitivity, clandestine or covert nature, low visibility, work with or through indigenous forces, greater requirements for regional orientation and cultural expertise, and a high degree of risk. SOF’s core activities are:

  • Direct action
  • Special reconnaissance
  • Countering weapons of mass destruction
  • Counterterrorism
  • Unconventional warfare
  • Foreign internal defense
  • Security force assistance
  • Hostage rescue and recovery
  • Counterinsurgency
  • Foreign humanitarian assistance
  • Military information support operations
  • Civil affairs operations

Selection of SOF Operational Personnel

SOF operational personnel (often referred to as “operators”) undergo a rigorous screening and selection process characterized by a low selection rate. After selection, they receive mission-specific training to achieve proficiency in a variety of special operations skills. SOF operators tend to be experienced personnel and many maintain competency in more than one military specialty. Selected operators have regional, cultural, and linguistic expertise. Some SOF personnel require highly technical and advanced training for anticipated missions such as Military Freefall training, Combat Diver training, and Sniper training.

Command Structure and Components

In 1986, Congress, concerned about the status of SOF within overall U.S. defense planning and budgeting, passed legislation to strengthen special operations’ position within the defense community and to strengthen interoperability among the branches of U.S. SOF. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 1987 (P.L. 99-661), established an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (ASD (SOLIC)) and a new four-star command to prepare Special Operations Forces (SOF) to carry out assigned missions and, if directed by the President or SECDEF, to plan for and conduct special operations.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (ASD (SOLIC))

The ASD (SOLIC) is the principal civilian advisor to the SECDEF on special operations and low-intensity conflict matters. The ASD (SOLIC) has as their principal duty overall supervision (to include oversight of policy and resources) of special operations and low-intensity conflict activities. The ASD (SOLIC) falls under and reports to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD (P)). Congress, wanting ASD (SOLIC) to exercise greater oversight of USSOCOM, enacted Section 922, FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 114-328) to facilitate and resource ASD (SOLIC)’s originally intended Service Secretary-like authorities.

U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)

Activated on April 16, 1987, and headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL, USSOCOM is the unified Combatant Command (COCOM) responsible for organizing, training, and equipping all U.S. SOF units. Headquarters, USSOCOM consists of approximately 2,500 military and civilian personnel, and overall, the command has more than 70,000 personnel assigned to its headquarters, its service components, and sub-unified commands. The USSOCOM commander is a four-star general officer from any Service, who reports directly to the SECDEF. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, USSOCOM’s responsibilities were expanded in the 2004 Unified Command Plan (UCP), assigning USSOCOM responsibility for coordinating the Department of Defense (DOD) plans against global terrorism and conducting global operations as directed. Since 2016, USSOCOM has also been assigned the roles coordinating authority over countering violent extremist operations (CVEO) and counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) operations.

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USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Nov. 21, 2022

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Nov. 21, 2022, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Ships Underway Total Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Nov. 21, 2022, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Ships Underway

Total Battle Force Deployed Underway
292
(USS 236, USNS 56)
106
(USS 70, USNS 36)
 62
(46 Deployed, 16 Local)

Ships Deployed by Fleet

2nd Fleet 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
4 5 2 13 27 55 106

In the Philippine Sea

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 units conduct tri-lateral operations with JS Setogiri (DD-156) of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and HMAS Stalwart (A304) of the Royal Australian Navy on Nov. 20, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is underway in the Philippine Sea. Last week, the strike group completed its participation in Exercise Malabar 2022, which wrapped up on Nov. 15.

Malabar started in 1992 with the United States and India, but now Japan and Australia also participate. This year’s Malabar exercise included aircraft and personnel from Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. in the Philippine Sea, off the coast of Japan, according to the NavyJapan was the exercise lead for 2022.

U.S. Malabar participants were USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), CSG 5, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) and guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG-69).

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force assets were JS Hyuga (DDH-181), JS Shiranui(DD-120),JS Takanami (DD-115), JS Oumi (AOE 426) and a P-1 aircraft.

The Indian Navy sent a Shivalik-class FFG, a Kamorta-Class Corvette, a P-8I aircraft. Marine Commandos (MARCOS) personnel also participated for India.

Australia sent Submarine HMAS Farncomb (SSG-74), frigate HMAS Arunta (FFH 151) and replenishment oiler HMAS Stalwart (A304). In addition, the Royal Australian Air Force P-8A maritime patrol aircraft participated in support of the Royal Australian Navy.

Carrier Strike Group 5

Ships from the U.S. Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Canadian Navy steam in formation during Keen Sword 23, in the Philippine Sea on Nov. 14, 2022. US Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Carrier Air Wing 5

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Evan Williams, from Columbia, South Carolina, attaches a C-2A Greyhound, attached to the Fleet Logistics Squadron (VRC) 30 Det. 5, to a catapult shuttle on the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), in the Philippine Sea on Nov. 18, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, is embarked aboard Ronald Reagan and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Royal Maces” of VFA-27 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
  • The “Diamondbacks” of VFA-102 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Eagles” of VFA-115 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Dambusters” of VFA-195 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Shadowhawks” of VAQ-141 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Tiger Tails” of VAW-125 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment 5 – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Golden Falcons” of HSC-12 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.
  • The “Saberhawks” of HSM-77 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Cruisers

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), steams in formation with Royal Australian Navy supply ship, HMAS Stalwart (A304), in the Philippine Sea, Nov. 20, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Destroyer Squadron 15

Seaman Juan Camacho, from Fantino, Dominican Republic, conducts duties as the helmsman aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG-69) while operating in the Philippine Sea, Nov. 16, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 15 is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and is embarked on the carrier. Destroyers from Destroyer Squadron 15 are also assigned to the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group.

  • USS Milius (DDG-69), homeported in Yokosuka.

In Sasebo, Japan

Capt. David Adams, Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS); Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Capt. Masayuki Kishimoto, JMSDF Sasebo Repair and Supply Facility commander; Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Col. Tetsuo Fukuzoe, JGSDF 16th Infantry Regiment commander; salute during the closing ceremony of Exercise Keen Sword 2023 at CFAS on Nov. 18, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS America (LHA-6) remains in its homeport in Sasebo, Japan

In Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

USS Makin Island (LHD-8) pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on Nov. 20, 2022. Photo by Ed. Schaefer used with permission

Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8), the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, left Naval Base San Diego on Nov. 9 for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific region. The Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked includes Makin Island and amphibious transport docks USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) and USS Anchorage (LPD-23).

Makin Island and Anchorage pulled into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam over the weekend.

John P. Murtha returned to port in San Diego to correct a casualty in the ship’s lube oil system. Repairs took two days and the ship departed again on Nov.17, reported USNI News.

The ARG/MEU includes the aviation combat element with the “Flying Leathernecks” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122 flying F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and the “Ugly Angels” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 362 (Reinforced) flying MV-22B Ospreys; the logistics combat element made up of Combat Logistics Battalion 13; and the ground combat element with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines.

In the Middle Pacific

Capt. John Kiefaber, commanding officer of amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7), speaks to the crew during an all-hands call in the hangar bay Nov. 17, 2022. US Navy Photo

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is in the Mid-Pacific – transiting home to San Diego, Calif. Tripoli departed Naval Station San Diego for an independent deployment to the Western Pacific on May 2.

In the Adriatic Sea

Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), guide an F/A 18E Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136, onto the catapult during flight operations on Nov. 13, 2022. US Navy Photo

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group (CSG) remains on station in the Adriatic Sea. Early last week, Rear Adm. John Meier, Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic, visited the strike group. The CSG is participating in NATO maneuvers in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea throughout November, bringing together five aircraft carriers.

As reported by USNI News last week, U.S. aircraft carriers USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) will exercise with aircraft carriers from France, Italy and the United Kingdom as part of a joint operation across Europe meant to show NATO interoperability, the Pentagon announced Thursday. The two American carrier strike groups, their embarked air wings and escorts will be operating in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Sea and Mediterranean Sea along with the U.K. Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), Italian carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550) and the French FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91).

Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2) is operating in the Mediterranean Sea. U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Scott Sciretta, who assumed command of the group on July 1, is embarked aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98) as SNMG 2’s flagship.

Carrier Strike Group 10

Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Shuheim Bradley, from Niagara Falls, N.Y., assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), monitors cameras on the flight deck, Nov. 18, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 7

A MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter attached to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, delivers cargo to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77), during a replenishment-at-sea with the supply-class fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), Nov. 12, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, based on Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked on Bush and includes:

  • The “Pukin’ Dogs” of VFA-143 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Es from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Jolly Rogers” of VFA-103 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sidewinders” of VFA-86 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Knighthawks” of VFA-136 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Patriots” of VAQ-140 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bluetails” of VAW-121 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Nightdippers” of HSC-5 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Grandmasters” of HSM-46 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Dennison, assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), participates in an air defense exercise with Italian navy frigate ITS Carabiniere (F 593), Nov. 15, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Destroyer Squadron 26

Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10, George H.W. Bush CSG, salutes side boys as he arrives aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG-99) on Nov. 15, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 26 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier. The following ships deployed with the strike group.

  • USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Truxtun (DDG-103), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Farragut (DDG-99), homeported at Naval Station Mayport.
  • USS Nitze (DDG-94), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

In the Eastern Atlantic

A view from USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) of the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) as it prepares to leave Portsmouth, England, Nov. 18, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is underway after a port call in Portsmouth, U.K. The CSG is participating in NATO exercises. According to NATO, “NATO navies are holding maneuvers in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea throughout November, bringing together five aircraft carriers, numerous warships and thousands of sailors. Carrier activities will include anti-submarine and air warfare drills, deck-to-deck aircraft transfers and at-sea resupplying.”

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) left Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 4, 2022, and will operate throughout the Atlantic, exercise with allies and partners and operationally employ the carrier air wing for the first time.

Ford features 23 new technologies, including the Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), the Dual-Band Radar, Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWE) and the new A1B nuclear reactor design.

Carrier Strike Group 12

Sailors hoist a flag staff aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) as part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, as the ship ports in Portsmouth, England on Nov. 14, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 8

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) transits to Portsmouth, England, for the ship’s second international port visit, Nov. 14, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, based on Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked on Ford and includes nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Es from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Ragin’ Bulls” of VFA-37 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Black Lions” of VFA-213 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bear Aces” of VAW-124 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Tridents” of HSC-9 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Spartans” of HSM-70 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

USS Normandy (CG-60) moors in its namesake region of France while underway as part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, Nov. 14, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Normandy (CG-60), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

Destroyer Squadron 2

Lt. Sephora Fortune stands on the bridge wing of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) as part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, as the ship departs from Portsmouth, England, Nov. 18, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 26 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier. The following ships deployed with the strike group.

  • USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Ramage (DDG-61), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS McFaul (DDG-74), homeported at Naval Station Mayport.
  • USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753) homeported in North Charleston, SC.

The CSG also includes fleet logistics ships USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE-5) and USNS Joshua Humphreys (T-AO-188).

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units and more serving throughout the globe.