(SANDBOX) – If war were to break out in the Pacific between China and the United States, the U.S. Navy would find itself in an extremely difficult predicament. While America does maintain the largest and most powerful navy on the globe, its security obligations are similarly far-reaching. America’s Navy serves as more than a defensive force for the nation and even more than a means of force projection to back American foreign policy. The United States Navy also serves as a stabilizing presence in shipping lanes the world over, ensuring the free trade of goods over heavily trafficked waterways that could otherwise be susceptible to the whims of bad state actors or even smaller pirate or terrorist regimes.
As a result of these obligations, the United States Navy can’t actually leverage the entirety of its sea-power in any one region without leaving security and stability operations elsewhere in the world ignored. And therein lies the source of a great deal of confusion when it comes to comparing military strengths on a global scale. Many Americans are quick to point out that the U.S. has the most powerful military force, and therefore, should be able to exact quick and definitive victory over the opposition posed by less technologically advanced forces like the People’s Liberation Army-Navy China employs to defend its interests in the Pacific. While a comparison of aircraft carriers suggests a rapid American victory, a comparison of forces that could actually be leveraged in such a conflict doesn’t paint quite as rosy a picture for American analysts.