Navy resurrects 2nd Fleet amid heightened Russia tensions

Navy resurrects 2nd Fleet amid heightened Russia tensions
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The Navy announced Friday it will reinstate the 2nd Fleet, which oversaw forces in the northern Atlantic Ocean for the second half of the 20th century, amid heightened tensions with Russia.

The moves comes seven years after the fleet was disbanded and as the Pentagon puts countering Russia at the center of its military strategy.

“Our National Defense Strategy makes clear that we’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said Friday, according to Reuters.

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The 2nd Fleet will have authority over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the U.S. East Coast and the northern Atlantic Ocean, Richardson added.

The command will be based in Norfolk, Va., and have an initial staff of 15 people, which will be expanded to 200 people, officials said.

The move comes after years of Russia flexing its military might in regions like Ukraine and escalating tensions with the U.S. by backing the government of Bashar Assad in Syria.

In the new national defense strategy released earlier this year, the U.S. said that countering Russia and China would be a top priority, a shift of U.S. foreign policy that previously prioritized fighting Islamist militants.

Despite President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE’s efforts to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, tensions have continued to escalate over Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom that has been blamed on Russia.