According to a report from Politico, the Pentagon is considering creating a permanent naval task force for the Pacific region to confront and counter China, which has been identified as the Pentagon’s top priority.
Sources told Politico that the plan would include creating a named military operation for the Pacific that would allow the Pentagon to release more funding for Navy operations in the region.
The Politico report said the naval task force would be based on a Cold War-era NATO construct known as the Standing Naval Forces Atlantic (SNFA) that was established in 1968 and served as a permanent naval presence that would rapidly respond to a situation in the Atlantic. The SNFA usually consisted of a rotating force of about six to 10 ships from NATO countries that would sail around the region.
If the US established such a naval force for the Pacific, it would likely include Washington’s European allies and regional ones such as Japan and Australia.
The idea grew from a 100-day task force review of the Pentagon’s China policy that was led by Ely Ratner, a special advisor to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Ratner is a China hawk who came from the interventionist Center for a New American Security think tank. He was appointed to his position to appease China hawks who did not believe Austin had enough experience dealing with Asia.
Last week, Austin ordered the Pentagon to adopt initiatives recommended by the China task force review. Most of the recommendations are being kept classified, but Austin’s directive ordered the military to start acting like China is the top “threat” facing the US instead of just talking about it. A US official told Defense One that the task force found a “say-do-gap” between what the Pentagon is saying about China and the action it is taking.