The new unit comes at a time of doctrinal modernization for the U.S. Navy as it tries to shed off the past two decades of mainly supporting operations in the Middle East and once more become the leading edge of American military power abroad.
Task Force Greyhound
Task Force Greyhound was established in September to deal with the threat of Russian submarines in the Atlantic Ocean—long a submarine warfare battlefield. The Navy designed the new task force to provide the fleet with a predictable, ready, and fully certified fleet of destroyers that can conduct anti-submarine warfare.
Two destroyers (USS Donald Cook and USS Thomas Hudner) currently comprise the new task force, while several other additional warships are scheduled to join the unit as they are relieved of other duties. The Navy’s goal is to rotate ships that are awaiting maintenance and upgrades into the new task force for anti-submarine warfare duties, which are generally lighter on the crew and vessel.
“The strategic threat to the homeland has entered a new era and our key competitors have deployed and continue to advance a range of capabilities to hold the homeland at risk. The [Task Force Greyhound] ships will be ready to accomplish the full range of missions – including tracking Russian undersea activity in the Atlantic and maritime homeland defense for our nation,” Rear Admiral Brendan McLane, the commander of Naval Surface Force Atlantic, said during the activation ceremony of the new unit.
The creation of the new anti-submarine warfare task force is just the latest act in what is a rebuilding of a capable naval force that can deal with Russia.
In 2018, the Pentagon reestablished the 2nd Fleet, which is responsible for the Atlantic Ocean/East Coast area of operations. Russian submarine activity in the region was the prime reason for reactivating the unit.
In addition to the U.S. 2nd Fleet, the Naval Special Warfare Command (WARCOM) also recently reactivated SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two. This specialized unit conducts underwater special operations, special reconnaissance, and unconventional warfare. WARCOM is the maritime component of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
Are Submarines Still Relevant?
Two decades of war in the Middle East might have put question marks on the utility of submarines. But whoever thinks subs are obsolete or not useful is mistaken. Submarines are as deadly as ever, regardless of if they are nuclear or conventional.
During a war game scenario a few years ago, a Swedish diesel sub managed to “sink” the USS Ronald Reagan nuclear aircraft carrier in a mock operation. The U.S. Navy was so impressed—and alarmed—by the small Swedish submarine’s capabilities that it leased it for two years to run tests and create countermeasures against it. Of course, this was done with an eye toward China and Russia, which both possess several diesel subs.
A strong, capable, and well-trained anti-submarine force is thus an essential component to a global navy that faces threats from multiple state and non-state actors and has to cover numerous current and potential hot spots.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.