Shadowy Special Ops Sea Bases are a ‘Gap We Know We Have and We’re Working On,’ Navy Secretary Says by Kyle Rempfer - Military Times
The struggle between managing resources for the United States’ counterterrorism fight and an emerging great power competition has quietly begun.
While the U.S. Navy is building up the fleet, the focus on peer-level adversaries like Russia and China is at contention with the responsibility to provide off-shore staging areas for special operations forces.
The issue was put forward by Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst at a hearing on Navy and Marine Corps readiness Wednesday.
“Especially with our renewed focus on great power competition, naval resources will be strained as we continue to build up the fleet,” Ernst said. “The demands in the Pacific and in Europe mean that the Navy and SOCOM [Special Operations Command] will be required to find intuitive ways to supply capabilities to our SOF warriors.”
One way the Navy has explored bringing sea basing to SOCOM in the past is through afloat forward-staging bases, which offer littoral mobility, support and refueling of small boats and special rotary-wing aircraft. Military Sealift Command has also acquired commercial container ships, and outfitted their bays with special dive lockers, armories and surgical suites, according to federal contracts…