U.S. is key to managing the Western Pacific military buildup

The U.S. Navy maintains 271 ships in its “battle force” fleet, while the Pacific Fleet constitutes about 200 total ships (source: macpixxel for GIS)
The U.S. Navy maintains 271 ships in its “battle force” fleet, while the Pacific Fleet constitutes about 200 total ships (source: macpixxel for GIS)

The most important navies in the Western Pacific are growing in strength. Forces all around the region are improving, but the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy accounts for the lion’s share of new capacity, both in the number of vessels and technological sophistication. How the United States chooses to address this challenge will make the difference between war and peace in the region.

Numbers game

The imbalance in the numbers is stark. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, China has 303 combatant ships, including 79 large combatants and 64 submarines. Japan has 67 – 46 of them large combatants and 18 of them submarines. Indonesia has Southeast Asia’s largest nav...

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