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NATO has been celebrating the launch of a major new fleet based in the United States that, it said, is preparing to fight “the battle of the Atlantic” against Chinese and Russian forces.
Joint Force Command Norfolk, the first such command to be located in the US, will join similar Nato commands in Brunssum, Netherlands and Naples, Italy.
At a ceremony on Friday, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff General Mark Milley said: “It’s the mission of this command to fight the battle of the Atlantic in the event of armed conflict.
“Think about that: If you know your history, and you know World War II, you know how important that was.
“The survival of Nato, the success or failure in combat in a future war … in Europe would largely depend on the success or failure of this command, and success or failure of the battle of the Atlantic.”
Vice-Admiral Andrew Lewis warned that Nato “can no longer assume we have control of the Atlantic, as we had at the end of the cold war,” insisting that that Russia and China pose a threat with an increased sea presence.
Gen Milley claimed, without a hint of irony, that the world could be entering a period of instability, “with some nations, terrorist groups and rogue actors working to undermine systems of international co-operation and collective security that have existed since the end of World War II and its devastating violence.
“That’s what this international order that’s been in existence for seven-and-a-half decades is designed to prevent. That’s what JFC-Norfolk is all about: it’s to prevent that outcome,” he said.
The US-led military alliance was accused of “hyping up the so-called China threat” last month at the Nato summit in Brussels after it claimed that Beijing posed a challenge to “international order and security.”
That meeting was the first since US President Joe Biden came to power in January, and he used it to shore up support for Washington’s bid to contain China.
Beijing insists that its military development is “justified, reasonable, open and transparent,” with a policy that is “defensive in nature.”
But it has been subjected to numerous US provocations, including battleship exercises in the South China Sea and last week’s US military plane landing in Taiwan.
The US has about 800 military bases across the world, about 400 of them surrounding China.
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