The head of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet called for an increased presence of US and allied aircraft carriers in the Asia Pacific to counter Russia and China.
Vice Adm. Karl Thomas made the call from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson as the US concluded 10 days of exercises in the Philippine Sea with Japan, Australia, Canada, and Germany.
Over the past year, there has been a regular presence of US aircraft carriers in the region, including in sensitive areas like the South China Sea. In October, two US aircraft carriers joined the UK’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth for drills in the region.
Thomas said the recent exercises showed “an incredible amount of power” but is calling for more. “When we think about how we might fight, it’s a large water space, and four aircraft carriers is a good number, but six, seven, or eight would be better,” he said.
Russia and China recently conducted their first joint naval patrols in the western Pacific as the two powers are deepening military cooperation in response to increased pressure from the West. When asked about the joint patrol, Thomas said it was important for the US and its allies to show a united front to “other nations that might be more aggressive and authoritarian.”
Thomas called for more aircraft carriers in the name of deterrence, but it’s clear that the increase in US activity in the region is raising tensions and is making China and Russia respond.