Top Navy Admiral Cites Increasing Competition from Russia, China

‘Our competitors are focused on taking the lead’

Navy Adm. John Richardson / AP
January 5, 2016

The U.S. military is facing increased competition from Russia and China and will need to innovate in order to address its competitors despite tight budget restrictions, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson wrote in a Navy strategy document released Tuesday.

Richardson specifically pointed to Russia and China as nations that are competing with the U.S., citing the advancement of their military and technological capabilities and their specific focus on vulnerabilities of American capabilities.

"For the first time in 25 years, the United States is facing a return to great power competition. Russia and China both have advanced their military capabilities to act as global powers," Richardson wrote in the document entitled "A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority." "Their goals are backed by a growing arsenal of high-end war fighting capabilities, many of which are focused specifically on our vulnerabilities and are increasingly designed from the ground up to leverage the maritime, technological, and information systems."

He further noted that Russia’s Navy is "operating with a frequency and in areas not seen for almost two decades" and that China’s is likewise extending its global reach.

Richardson also mentioned threats from North Korea and international terror groups that further demand the Navy’s attention in today’s international environment. He also wrote that, despite the nuclear agreement with Iran,  Tehran’s advanced missiles and capabilities "continue to pose threats to which the Navy must remain prepared to respond."

"The challenges the Navy faces are shifting in character, are increasingly difficult to address in isolation, and are changing more quickly. This will require us to reexamine our approaches in every aspect of our operations," Richardson said.

According to the top admiral, who took over the post in September, he intends to strengthen America’s naval power by "maintain[ing] and moderniz[ing] the undersea leg of the strategic deterrent triad," partnering with the Marine Corps to develop new concepts and capabilities to respond to threats, and "explor[ing] alternative fleet designs," including both manned and unmanned systems. Richardson also wants to revisit the organization of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, the Commander Pacific Fleet, and their subordinate commands so that leaders can effectively send forces to meet operational and warfighting demands.

"We will remain the world’s finest Navy only if we all fight each and every minute to get better," Richardson concluded. "Our competitors are focused on taking the lead--we must pick up the pace and deny them. The margins of victory are razor thin--but decisive!"