VIDEO: 18 Marines Become U.S. Citizens Following Naturalization Ceremony

There are 18 new American citizens Friday, after the Marine Corps held a naturalization ceremony aboard former battleship USS North Carolina. 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division held the ceremony Friday morning, bringing in 18 Marines from 14 countries to become U.S. citizens, one of the largest ceremonies for a Marine […]

U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, raise their right hand during the Oath of Allegiance aboard the Battleship USS North Carolina Dec. 2, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

There are 18 new American citizens Friday, after the Marine Corps held a naturalization ceremony aboard former battleship USS North Carolina.

1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division held the ceremony Friday morning, bringing in 18 Marines from 14 countries to become U.S. citizens, one of the largest ceremonies for a Marine Corps battalion, according to a news release from the 2nd Marine Division.

Since 2002, the United States has naturalized more than 158,000 service members, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In Fiscal Year 2022 alone, 10,640 service members became U.S. citizens, an increase of approximately 21 percent over the previous fiscal year.

The top five countries for service members who become U.S. citizens are the Philippines, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria and China, according to Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The 18 Marines came from countries including Burkina Faso, China and Colombia.

Although the 18 Marines have been serving already, their new citizenship will allow them to pursue different specialities or commissioning opportunities, according to the release.

“Today was a great chance to recognize a significant event in the lives of these young Marines” Lt. Col. William Kerrigan, the battalion’s commanding officer, said in the release. “They have already raised their hands and committed to defending this nation, without even being U.S. citizens. Now that they have earned their citizenship, I’m excited to see where it takes them.”

Between FY 2018 and FY 2022, 63 percent of service members who became naturalized citizens came from the Army, with 17.3 percent from the Navy, according to Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Marine Corps accounted for 5.9 percent of service members who became naturalized citizens.

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.

Download the document here.

Tough Military Recruiting Environment is About Much More than Low Unemployment, Experts Say

When it comes to military recruiting, economist Beth Asch is an optimist. Asch has been studying military recruiting for almost 40 years, during which she has seen good recruiting years and bad ones. Each time a new challenge arises, it’s treated like a crisis, she said during a Heritage Foundation discussion Tuesday. In the 1990s, […]

Recruits with the 64th Annual Recruit Cardinal Division stand at attention during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony inside Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall at Recruit Training Command, Nov. 4, 2022. US Navy Photo

When it comes to military recruiting, economist Beth Asch is an optimist. Asch has been studying military recruiting for almost 40 years, during which she has seen good recruiting years and bad ones.

Each time a new challenge arises, it’s treated like a crisis, she said during a Heritage Foundation discussion Tuesday. In the 1990s, recruiting was affected by the dot com boom when more people were being hired by the growing tech industry, Asch said in a November interview with USNI News. In 2005, a stronger economy and the war in Iraq led to less interest in joining the services.

But history shows that recruiting challenges can be overcome, Asch said, suggesting that the current recruiting issues are no different.

“Invariably, it can take a while,” she said. “It can take a lot of resources, it will involve mistakes, and it can be quite costly. And that has to be reckoned with but I am optimistic that things will get back on track. I mean they have to.”

Top military leaders have suggested that the strong job market might be the cause for the current recruiting woes, suggesting it can be difficult to attract talent who also have opportunities to work for large box stores like Amazon.

But a lack of recruits eligible to serve and decreased trust in the military, instead of a strong job market, are likely the leading factors for recruitment troubles, the top Marine Corps officer suggested in a November article.

Marine Corps recruits with Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, squat with a log during log drills at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Nov. 28, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

“The Marine Corps is struggling to recruit talented young Americans in a competitive economy and from a society increasingly distant from the military,” Marine Corps commandant Gen. David Berger wrote in a piece for Naval Institute’s Proceedings. “And we are not alone; all the services are experiencing similar challenges. This concerns me both as the Commandant and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because the Marine Corps relies on the other services, and they rely on us, across a web of interdependencies.”

The Marine Corps met its Fiscal Year 2022 recruiting goals, bringing on 33,210 enlisted active-duty Marines. But Berger, and other military leaders, have raised concerns that the branches won’t continue to meet those goals.

The Navy, which just barely met its recruitment goals in FY 2022, raised its age limit for new recruits last month as one way to increase the pool for eligibility. The sea service is also offering enlistment bonuses, a tactic the Army and Air Force also use.

A low unemployment rate in the United States has been one of the most cited reasons for the more difficult recruitment environment, but Berger argues that while it might be a contributing factor, it deserves less of the blame.

“Yet, some of our deepest challenges are chronic, indicating that the strength of the economy may be less critical than commonly thought,” Berger wrote. “For example, the Marine Corps has struggled—in good economic times and bad—to produce and retain an adequate number of pilots, even for the newest, most modern aircraft.”

The commandant, in his article, also evaluates the shrinking pool of eligible candidates. Most recent numbers suggest that 77 percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 21 are not eligible to serve in the military, retired Rear Adm. Robert Besal, who works with advocacy group Mission Readiness, told USNI News.

The top three reasons for ineligibility are failure to pass entrance exams, health concerns and prior criminal activity, including drug abuse. One of the main health concerns is childhood obesity, which Besal said counts for 30 percent of those who are ineligible.

Mission Readiness is attempting to fix the pool of eligibility by trying to get funding for educational and nutrition programs, Besal said, but that requires getting congressional and other legislative officials to think in the long term.

Programs that would help childhood obesity and failure to pass entrance exams should start with children as young as three years old, Besal said. But the payoff will not be for another 15 years, when that child becomes eligible for service.

Gen. David H. Berger makes remarks during the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific change of command ceremony on Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Sept. 7, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

But while Mission Readiness looks at what can be done for the future, there are limited options for the services right now to fix the ineligibility problem, Berger wrote.

“Military leaders have few levers to pull to increase the number of Americans eligible for service, and the biggest and most immediate lever—lowering standards—is not one military leaders or most Americans want,” he wrote. “To effect enduring change requires understanding and addressing the declining propensity to serve.”

The economy can contribute to recruitment challenges, but it is a cyclical factor, Asch, who is a senior economist at RAND, told USNI News

Historically, when there is low employment, it’s harder for the military to recruit, she said in an interview Nov. 2. This could be the case for the military right now, but it’s all speculation, she said.

“I don’t think it’s an either-or situation,” Asch said. “I think it’s a matter of understanding the array of factors that could be having an effect and then teasing out their relative importance and for what particular groups, under what circumstances.”

Berger also points out that recruitment challenges persist even when the unemployment rate is higher, which generally is associated with better recruiting, suggesting that the economy, while a factor, is not the sole cause for recruiting woes.

Berger pointed to a lack of trust in the military, a factor that Besal also highlighted.
The military used to be one of the most trusted institutions, Besal said.

“There’s been, I don’t want to just call them all scandals, but there’s been some missteps whether in the active force, whether individual or collective, and some things that should have never occurred,” Besal said. “And so I think that’s something that really will have to take a strain inside the service to straighten that up. Because I think that you’re gonna get fewer people listening to you when you make this plea.”

People have inaccurate views about the military, which does not help the trust issue, Asch said. As an example, people do not always know the difference between the branches of the military or what it means to be a noncommissioned officer.

“People have a lot of ignorance, and that’s increased,” she said.

That ignorance is similar between those who enlist and those who do not, but the difference is that those who choose military service have positive values associated with the military.

Trust in the military is a new problem, but it will take more resear

A recruit embraces with a family member as he is picked up for Recruit Training Command’s (RTC) Thanksgiving Adopt-A-Sailor program. US Navy Photo

In Berger’s piece, he points to a shrinking pool of people who have familial ties to the services.

“A growing percentage of those serving in uniform have a close relative who also served (or is currently serving),” Berger wrote. “In other words, those who are most familiar with the military are most likely to enlist.”

This does play out in recruiting, Asch said, where many recruits do have a family connection.

However, this could hurt the military, as the Military Family Advisory Network’s most recent survey found that military members are increasingly less likely to recommend a military career to a family member.

There was an 11 percent drop between 2019 and 2021 among family members who would recommend service, said Shannon Razsadin, president and executive director of the Military Family Advisory Network.

Approximately 62.9 percent of military participants surveyed by Military Family Advocacy Network would recommend military service to family members, according to the 2021 annual survey. That’s down from 74.5 percent in 2019.

The drop is attributed to low pay, leadership challenges, frequent moves that make it difficult on families, and military benefits that no longer outweigh the challenges that come with service, Razsadin said.

But Berger points out that the pool of eligible military recruits could shrink to those with a family connection if the military does not do more to reach out to those unfamiliar with the military, and the family pool could be shrinking as well.

“Definitely you’re pulling from a smaller pool, because when you had the draft, you know, everyone had the requirement of service,” Razsadin said. “And so these are people who are choosing to make the sacrifices, they’re choosing to serve. And so, of course, it’s gonna be a different percentage than if you had the draft and mandatory service requirements.”

USS Tripoli Nearing San Diego After Almost 7 Months at Sea, Makin Island Now in U.S. 7th Fleet

USS Tripoli (LHA-7) has entered U.S. 3rd Fleet and is preparing to return to its homeport in San Diego after a nearly seven-month deployment, according to the USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker. As of Monday, the amphibious warship has been deployed for 210 days since leaving San Diego on May 2nd. Tripoli’s independent deployment […]

USS Tripoli (LHA-7) pulls into Sydney harbor on Nov. 4, 2022. Royal Australian Navy Photo

USS Tripoli (LHA-7) has entered U.S. 3rd Fleet and is preparing to return to its homeport in San Diego after a nearly seven-month deployment, according to the USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.

As of Monday, the amphibious warship has been deployed for 210 days since leaving San Diego on May 2nd.

Tripoli’s independent deployment was in part to test the F-35B “Lighting Carrier” concept that would load up to two dozen of the Marine fighters aboard the big deck amphibious warship as an adjunct to a traditional carrier strike group. Following the 2022 Valiant Shield exercise near Guam, the warship transitioned into an amphibious ready force with the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 (Reinforced) embarked. Since the ship began its deployment in May, Tripoli has also had a detachment of MH-60S Knight Hawks embarked from the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23.

“We’re not an aircraft carrier,” Col. Chad Vaughn, commander of Marine Aircraft Group 13, told USNI News prior to its deployment. “We are an LHA that is very uniquely suited to aviation operations – whether that’s an assault or in this case, a lightning carrier. The traditional carrier has capabilities that are unique that we do not [have]. We do some unique things that we can help out the joint task force or the combatant commander and do unique things to help out those CVNs and help out the Marine commander on the ground, whoever it is. We have some unique capabilities, especially when you put 20 F-35s on here.”

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

Meanwhile, big deck amphibious warship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) is now operating in U.S. 7th Fleet after deploying earlier this month, according to Monday’s USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.

The warship pulled into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Nov. 20 and departed a few days later, according to ship spotters. The two other ships in the Amphibious Ready Group, USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) and USS Anchorage (LPD-23), were still at Pearl Harbor as of Monday morning.

Makin Island and Murtha departed Naval Station San Diego, Calif., for their deployment on Nov. 9 with no fanfare. Anchorage followed the two amphibious warships the next day. The ARG is embarked with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Makin Island is deploying with a full squadron of 10 Marine F-35B Lighting Joint Strike Fighters from the “Flying Leathernecks” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122.

The Navy has released little information on the deployment since the ships departed San Diego. U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Samuel Paparo told reporters earlier this month he had specific training objectives for the Makin Island ARG and the 13th MEU, “and that’s what’s informing why we deploy that force with no advance notice.”

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.

SECDEF Austin, Chinese Defense Minister Meet, Agree to Keep Lines of Communication Open

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized the need to keep open lines of communication and responsibly manage competition in his meeting this week with China’s Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe. Austin met with Wei on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) in Siem Reap, Cambodia. […]

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III meets with General Wei Fenghe, Minister of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Nov. 22, 2022. DoD Photo

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized the need to keep open lines of communication and responsibly manage competition in his meeting this week with China’s Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe.

Austin met with Wei on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Both defense chiefs last met in June in Singapore during the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Austin and Wei discussed U.S.-China defense relations and regional and global security issues and Austin emphasized the need to responsibly manage competition, according to a Pentagon readout on the meeting.

The U.S. defense chief also brought up the importance of substantive dialogue on reducing strategic risk, improving crisis communications and enhancing operational safety. He raised concerns about the increasingly dangerous behavior demonstrated by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region that increases the risk of an accident, according to the readout. The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, Austin said.

During the meeting, Austin discussed Russia’s war against Ukraine and expressed concerns about recent provocations from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). He called on the PRC to fully enforce existing U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding the DPRK’s unlawful weapons programs.

The U.S. defense chief told Wei that the United States remains committed to the longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances. Austin spoke about the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and underscored his opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo and called on the PRC to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan, according to the release.

China’s Ministry of National Defense also issued a release on the meeting stating that Wei stressed that the Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests and is the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations.

“Taiwan is China’s Taiwan. The settlement of the Taiwan question is the Chinese people’s own affair, and no external force has the right to interfere. The Chinese armed forces have the backbone, resolve, confidence and capability to resolutely safeguard the national reunification” according to the release.

During the talks, both sides agreed that the two militaries should implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, maintain communication and contact, strengthen crisis management and control and strive to maintain regional security and stability, according to the release. The two sides also exchanged views on international and regional situations, the Ukraine crisis, the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula issues.

The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN and its eight Dialogue Partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States (collectively referred to as the “Plus Countries”), to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region with the main meeting between the defence chiefs of the countries taking place on Wednesday. Cambodia as the current chair of ASEAN is the host for the event.

While the secretary of defense met with his Chinese counterpart, Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippines where she reiterated the U.S. commitment to the country.

Harris told Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that the U.S. stands with the Philippines in defense of international rules and norms as it relates to the South China Sea during her opening remarks on Monday.

An armed attack on the Philippines Armed Forces, public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments, “and that is an unwavering commitment that we have to the Philippines,” Harris said, echoing similar remarks made by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in July this year.

On Tuesday, the vice president visited the Philippine island of Palawan, which lies around 320 km from the disputed Spratly Islands, which is claimed by Brunei, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. With the exception of Brunei, all the claimants maintained military stations on their claims in the area, with China expanding the capabilities of its military stations there in recent years. Harris conducted engagements with the fishing community, local officials and the Philippine Coast Guard in Palawan.

In a speech aboard the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) patrol vessel BRP Teresa Magbanua (MRRV-9701), the vice president repeated the U.S. commitment to the Philippines, saying that as an ally, the United States stands with the Philippines in the face of intimidation and coercion in the South China Sea.

“We must stand up for principles such as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, unimpeded lawful commerce, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, and throughout the Indo-Pacific,” Harris said.

The vice president also stated that the United States supported the 2016 ruling of the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal which “ firmly rejected China’s expansive South China Sea maritime claims,” adding that the tribunal’s decision was binding and must be respected. The United States will continue to rally its allies and partners against unlawful and irresponsible behavior and that when the international rules based order is threatened somewhere, it is threatened everywhere, Harris said.

The United States will provide new funding to Philippines maritime law enforcement agencies allowing them to combat IIU fishing, enhance their capabilities and upgrade their monitoring systems, Harris said.

Among the initiatives was the provision of $7.5 million in additional assistance to enhance the capabilities of Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies and that the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, pending Congressional notification, will support the Philippine Coast Guard in upgrading and expanding its vessel traffic management system (VTMS) to enable improved maritime safety and environmental monitoring, according to a White House release.

On Sunday, the White House issued a release about the new Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (ECDA) locations that had been identified to enable the United States and the Philippines to continue to work together towards achieving the agreed objectives under EDCA.

Currently, five EDCA locations have already been agreed upon, namely Cesar Basa Air Base and Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Luzon; Lumbia Airfield in Mindanao; Antonio Bautista Airbase in Palawan and Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Lieutenant General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro said in an interview with Philippine news channel GMA Network on Nov. 14 that the AFP had identified five sites for the additional EDCA facilities with two sites being in Cagayan, and one each in Palawan, Zambales and Isabela.

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.

Defense Primer: U.S. Defense Appropriations Process

The following is the Nov. 17, 2022, Congressional Research Service Defense Primer: Defense Appropriations Process. From the report The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse in Article I, Section 9, which provides that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” To fulfill this duty, […]

The following is the Nov. 17, 2022, Congressional Research Service Defense Primer: Defense Appropriations Process.

From the report

The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse in Article I, Section 9, which provides that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” To fulfill this duty, Congress annually considers appropriations measures, which provide funding for numerous activities—such as national defense, education, and homeland security—consistent with policies and priorities established through various enacted measures, such as the National Defense Authorization Act.

The congressional appropriations process includes various rules and practices that Congress has adopted to distinguish appropriations measures and facilitate their consideration. These measures generally provide funding authority in response to the President’s budget request for a fiscal year (October 1 through September 30).

Committees of Jurisdiction

The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations exercise jurisdiction over annual appropriations measures. Each committee has 12 subcommittees, each of which is responsible for developing one regular annual appropriations bill. These measures determine which department activities will be funded. House and Senate Appropriations subcommittee jurisdictions are generally parallel. The main subcommittees that deal with defense matters are:

    • Subcommittees on Defense, with jurisdiction over appropriations for the Departments of Army, Navy (including the Marine Corps), and Air Force (including the Space Force); the Office of the Secretary of Defense; defense agencies; and intelligence activities.
    • Subcommittees on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, with jurisdiction over appropriations for the Military Construction, Chemical Demilitarization Construction, Military Family Housing Construction and Operation and Maintenance, and Base Realignment and Closure accounts; the NATO Security Investment Program; the Department of Veterans Affairs; and other related agencies.
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, with jurisdiction over all defense-related activities of the Department of Energy, including the National Nuclear Security Administration. This subcommittee also has jurisdiction over the civil works activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, among other non-defense activities.

The Congressional Budget Resolution

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-344) provides for the annual consideration of a concurrent resolution on the budget, which allows Congress to establish overall budgetary and fiscal policy to be implemented through enactment of subsequent legislation. The budget resolution, in part, establishes a limit on total new budget authority and outlay levels divided among 20 functional categories—such as national defense, agriculture, and transportation—that set spending priorities.

Section 302(a) of the Congressional Budget Act requires the total new budget authority and outlays in the budget resolution to be allocated among all committees with spending jurisdiction. This establishes ceilings on spending for legislation reported from each committee that can be enforced procedurally through points of order during consideration of the legislation. All discretionary spending is allocated to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, which are required to subdivide this allocation among their 12 subcommittees under Section 302(b) of the Congressional Budget Act. These suballocations are also enforceable during consideration of legislation, preventing the consideration of amendments that would increase funding above these limits. In the absence of agreement on a budget resolution, the House and Senate may use alternative means to establish enforceable limits.

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