May 4th, 2010
02:47 AM ET

Gates warns of emerging threats to U.S. Navy

U.S. adversaries are developing sophisticated and longer-range combat systems that will threaten the U.S. Navy's dominance in the regions vital to U.S. security interests, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Monday.

Speaking to Navy officers and civilians at a U.S. Navy association's annual expo, Gates said countries like Iran and China are developing systems that could destroy new classes of Navy ships and aircraft and cost the U.S. billions of dollars in losses.

"Potential adversaries are investing in weapons designed to neutralize U.S. advantages, to deny our military freedom of action while potentially threatening America's primary means of projecting power," Gates said.

He said these countries are developing these weapons to, "neutralize U.S. advantages," because they cannot afford to build the number of ships required to challenge this country.

Gates said Hezbollah used anti-ship missiles against Israel's navy during the 2006 Lebanon war, and Iran is combining ballistic and cruise missiles,anti-ship missiles, mines, and swarming speedboats to challenge the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf.

soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. matt

    This is not a particually new threat, the Soviets put a lot of effort into hypersonic anti ship missile technology ( eg sunburn missile) when they realised they could not compete with US bluewater navy spending. Some of these missiles are very sophisticated and have the ability to distinguish an aircraft carrier from its escort ships. These type of missile are also very hard to defend against due to their incredible speed.
    This is another form of asymetric warfare and as with all warfare of that type the stronger party cannot guarantee victory through strength of arms.

    May 4, 2010 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. Silas Scarborough

    I do appreciate this update as I've been lying awake at night worrying about Iranian speedboats. If Mr Gates had provided other examples of weapons of mass destruction then perhaps there would be yet more things keeping me awake but, fortunately, he didn't. It seems to me that it would be much cheaper if we just sent the Iranians water skis.

    May 4, 2010 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sapientia

    "Projecting power" is a term describing a military's ability to make it's influence felt over certain distances. A military without any ability to project power is not really a military at all. While the US must protect it's interests and citizens, we must also take care to not stray into empire. Finally, although someone may happily do business with you today, that does not mean they will not happily stab you in the back the next. There are no such things as "friends" in international relations; only allies and trading partners.

    May 4, 2010 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Gregory Filipowicz

    OIL, gotta have it, gotta get it.

    May 4, 2010 at 6:30 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jim P

    "as for Iran, well they would be swamped by the U.S easily considering they are sourrounded both sides by U.S troops in Iraq and Afghanistan." It dowen't seem to me that we've "Swamped" either Iraq or Afghanastan. Unless by "Swamped" you mean stuck in the mud and can't get out.

    May 4, 2010 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. matt

    On another issue – to all those Canada bashers out there, Here in Britain we remember that Canada joined WW II immediately that Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939 without any direct threat to there territory. Please note that we had to wait for over 2 YEARS for America to join the war and they did this only after the attack on Pearl Harbour.
    Canadians also experience disproportionalely high losses in Afghanistan.

    May 4, 2010 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sarah

    For all of you who don't think we should be spending money to protect our country, just remember back to Pearl Harbor and September 11th, 2001. When we let our guard down someone will come up and hit us, plus some of the best paying jobs come from military spending. This is a great country and we need to protect it from China. They own more than half our nations debt and when they want to collect and we can pay what do you think they will want to do? Can anyone say invasion! No-one will ever try and invade as long as this country is protected by our military. If our country needs ships or planes then let's build them that is the best way to spend my tax dollars.

    May 4, 2010 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bosco Bustemante

    Judging from the comments by "just a crazy canadian", apparently they're not spending any money on education, either.

    May 4, 2010 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. Guy Kimble

    Gates is worried about our Navy while the illegals attack our six. This country needs a new direction. Where's the change?

    May 4, 2010 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. gretchen

    hey, "crazy canadian-"- just as you aptlycall yourself-you're the same type of brain-dead,bitter anti-US zombie that has been benefiting from having the US as your southern neighbor for an undeservedly long time- so go stick one thumb in your mouth and keep it there, and place the other one where the sun don't shine, and leave the rest of us mercifully in peace.Thanks!

    May 4, 2010 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rob Levy

    Everyone is paranoid...America should concentrate on and its own problems, period. We should stop bad mouthing each other and help each other.Time is too short

    May 4, 2010 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mecca4BA

    What? Are we not up to the challenge?

    May 4, 2010 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Hairman

    Arrogance at it's finest. " America number 1" you should tax us for protecting our freedom? Last time I checked, we have forces fighting terrorism in afganistan, we just lost another soldier today. does that life mean so little to you that you would sling mud in our face? Grow up, last time I checked and prayed to my God, we were on the same team. i'm glad your not a leader in your country because you'd lose allies really fast. By the way I am proud to be Canadian and love my neighbours to the south. Don't make Americans look bad by opening your mouth with that garbage again.

    May 4, 2010 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Clarence

    The world is covered with 75 percent water which means if you control the oceans and seas of this planet you control the world. A majority of trade and commerce is done by sea and world leaders know this fact. Who ever has the strongest Navy will dominate the planet and remain supreme. Nations are building stronger navies to compete with the United States for this reason. The United Sates have to my opinion made some great errors in remaining ready to deflect an aggressor on the sea, the first is lowering boot camp standards, mix gender combat crews, lax punishments for those who challenge authority.

    May 4, 2010 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. Rich Simcsak

    I was at the luncheon SECDEF spoke at and he did give the group the opinion that ship construction will not increase and infered that any changes would be to the type of shipping we will need in the future to fight the new battles. He spoke to the high cost of the main naval units, but did not refer to the high overruns of JSF that are driving the cost of fleet operations even further higher. But he was proud to state that that the Department of defense is standing on the decision for no more C-17 aircraft and only one engine builder for the JSF.
    Rich S.

    May 4, 2010 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
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