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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024
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Editorial Fleet realignment bolsters San Diego

Before World War II, ports up and down the West Coast sustained much of the Navy’s activities.

Chief among the Navy’s hubs in its Pacific fleet was San Diego. Though the decision-making came from the Pentagon, San Diego played a key strategic role for the Navy’s ship and air forces.

World War II, however, forced the Navy to split its assets , and attention , between two oceans. The single-fleet Navy that was primarily based in San Diego quickly became a thing of the past.

But the concept of single-fleet Navy appears to be making a comeback. After a decade of military downsizing, a recent decision by the chief of naval operations to realign certain policies will likely bring a more streamlined approach to a Navy that sometimes appeared to function in two different spheres.

San Diego, which remains the single-largest U.S. Navy installation in the world, specifically will benefit from the changes. Several locally based admirals will have more power to set training, personnel and maintenance policies for Navy aviation squadrons and ships. They will also have a voice in such matters as budget and weapons debates.

Over the past half-century, the Navy’s split into the Atlantic Fleet and the Pacific Fleet has allowed for each to follow different courses. The evolution spawned disparate policies in training and accounting , common procedures that should be universal. Even radio communications weren’t uniform, as frequencies and codes differed between the fleets.

With the past decade’s drawdown, it became incumbent to create a more streamlined Navy, despite sometimes adversarial attitudes between east and west. And as more base closures loom, the Navy simply cannot justify the need for Atlantic and Pacific fleets without some measure of consolidation.

The policy shift, which likely will be implemented in October, also adds greater significance to San Diego’s Navy assets. Decisions on key surface and aviation commands will lie in the hands of San Diego-based admirals, though they still must pass muster with a four-star admiral based in the Atlantic Fleet. As one defense analyst noted, the Pacific again is becoming the Navy’s primary focus.

Though that bodes well for San Diego’s military community, the move isn’t being made to appease those in the Pacific Fleet. It is an effort to improve the Navy’s overall readiness and maintenance.

And as a nation, it’s a decision that benefits all of us.

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