Not Enough Maritime Capability. The Challenge of Reinforcing Europe

Popular scientific article

Russia’s resurgence has meant that the United States again must seriously consider a possible conflict in Europe in its military plans. Central to the defense of NATO allies is a requirement for U.S. reinforcement of Europe, and U.S. reinforcement in turn depends on U.S. maritime shipping, which faces a number of critical challenges.This paper examines the current capability and availability of U.S. shipping to meet U.S. strategic sealift needs. It describes efforts by the United States to modernize and sustain the capacity required for strategic goals, including the reinforcement of Europe, and examines how the United States could leverage allied commercial and sealift capacity to address potential gaps. Finally, the paper identifies recommendations for addressing these challenges.U.S. logistical capabilities that are required to rein-force Europe, including sealift capabilities, have atrophied since 1989. Competing naval requirements make addressing future sealift shortages unlikely to be a top funding priority, while complicated laws hamper quick solutions to filling maritime shortfalls. Until U.S. shipbuilding can fill the gaps, workarounds such as using allied maritime assets to ship U.S. reinforcements must be considered. The requirement to reinforce Europe is too urgent not to consider all alternatives to addressing future shortfalls.