It depends. There’s no substitute for exercising imagination in an effort to foresee what prospective adversaries want at different places, how much they want it, how many and what forces they might deploy to get it, and how they might wield those forces in times of strife. These—not arbitrary ship counts—are the metrics against which American sea power will be judged. Only through such acts of foresight can U.S. naval commanders and their political masters determine the composition of the future fleet as well as the best ways to handle the fleet in action.
TR and Clausewitz would tell wise radicals and wise conservatives to hop to it.
James Holmes is J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College and coauthor of Red Star over the Pacific. The views voiced here are his alone. This piece was originally published in November 2018 and is being republished due to reader's interest.