On April 15, a report was issued by the United States Naval Forces Command that eleven “Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches of the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Firebolt (PC 10), USS Sirocco (PC 6), USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) and USCGC Maui (WPB 1304)” while they were conducting operations in the North Arabian Gulf. Along with this, the Navy also reported a Russian fighter jet flying within 25 feet of a United States surveillance aircraft. Likewise, a report issued on the same date by the United States Space Force stated that they were monitoring a Russian anti-satellite missile test that was being conducted.
The adversaries of the United States are taking advantage of the ceasing of military operations caused by COVID 19, and with over 2500 cases among military members so far, it is likely that operations won’t resume for some time. With the USS Theodore Roosevelt quarantined in Guam for an indefinite period, it is likely that China will try and take advantage of the chaos as well, especially considering that they are one of the first countries to begin recovery from the pandemic. With the USS Ronald Reagan receiving maintenance in Japan and the USS Nimitz being quarantined, China currently has the only aircraft carrier in the region. Because of this we may see more operations in the South China Sea in an attempt to expand their influence while the United States is sidelined. North Korea was also observed conducting several short-range missile tests the day before South Korea’s election.
The United States military’s plan to deter adversaries has, since World War 2, been to project power, and now their ability to do so has been severely limited. While these issues may pose no direct threat right now, our adversaries are keen to show that they have not been crippled by Covid19 and are just as powerful as they were before the pandemic. This coupled with the fact that the defense budget is likely to be cut after the two trillion dollar stimulus plan that was just released, it is up to the United States to deal with adversaries in a post Covid19 world on a smaller budget.