‘We shall not fail!’ — The US Navy’s new submarine fleet commander vows to take on Russia and China

he Virginia-class USS North Dakota (SSN 784) submarine is seen during bravo sea trials REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout The new commander of US Submarine Forces — Vice Adm. Charles Richard — stressed Friday that the US Navy is locked in "major power competition," but added that America’s advantage beneath the waves will not erode on his watch.

Rival powers, China in particular, are attempting to bolster their submarine capabilities to challenge American military power, according to the head of Indo-Pacific Command.

Richard explains that "our nation expects and demands victory," reminding those in his command that "we shall not fail!"

As the new commander of US Submarine Forces took the reins Friday, he stressed that America will continue to dominate beneath the waves.

Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard relieved Vice Adm. Joseph E. Tofalo as head of US Submarine Forces and Allied Submarine Command Friday at a ceremony aboard the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Washington, according to a Navy release.

"The mission of our Submarine Force today is clear," Richard said. "We are back in a world in the midst of major power competition. In that competition our strength undersea is a key advantage that we have. That will not change on my watch. With so much at stake, we cannot let up and must execute our mission with a continued sense of urgency." The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, U.S. Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Kimber/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters "Prepare for battle! This was Admiral Tofalo’s direction, and it is mine as well," he added at the ceremony, "It is only by being prepared for battle that we can hope to avoid it. If we cannot, our nation expects and demands victory. We shall not fail!"

Richard’s comment on major power competition echoes the Trump administration’s focus on great power competition over other national security threats. "We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today, but great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security," Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said in January when he announced the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the first since 2014. The emphasis is now on China and Russia, with China being a particular point of concern.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy is the largest naval force in Asia, and China has made the modernization of its submarine force a priority, according to a 2017 Department of Defense report, which noted that China had, at that time, an undersea force of five nuclear-powered attack submarines, four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, and 54 diesel-powered attack submarines. Chinese Navy nuclear-powered submarine sails during an international fleet review Guang Niu/Associated Press China’s submarine force is expected to grow significantly in the next few years, and over the next decade, the PLAN will likely advance development of new guided-missile nuclear attack submarines to improve its anti-surface capabilities as well as its land-attack options. Expanded undersea capabilities would enhance China’s ability […]

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