Fleet Forces Re-Designation to Atlantic Fleet On Hold, CNO Says

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, right, during a February visit to San Diego. Gilday says the plan to bring back the name U.S. Atlantic Fleet is on hold pending the ongoing Global Force Posture Review. U.S. NAVY / Theresa McKenrick

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s plan to bring back the name “U.S. Atlantic Fleet” is on hold, the Navy’s top officer said.  

“Right now, implementation is on hold, based on the findings of the ongoing Global [Force] Posture Review,” said Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Michael Gilday, speaking April 5 to the Defense Writer’s Group, answering a question about the planned re-designation of U.S. Fleet Forces Command to U.S. Atlantic Fleet.  

The Global Force Posture Review was announced by Feb. 4 by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. 

“At the direction of the president, the [Defense] Department will therefore conduct a global force posture review of U.S. military footprint, resources, strategy and missions,” Austin said. “It will inform my advice to the commander-in-chief about how we best allocate military forces in pursuit of national interests. The review will be led by the acting under secretary of defense for policy, in close consultation with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” 

Gilday said on Jan. 11 in a webinar of the Surface Navy Association convention that then-President Donald Trump signed off on the proposal of then-Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite to re-designate U.S. Fleet Forces Command as the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. No timetable for the change was announced, but Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Chris Grady then was engaged in the planning for the CNO’s review.  

The move to the return of the Atlantic Fleet moniker was deliberate. Braithwaite announced the re-designation plan Dec. 2 during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Readiness and Management Support sub-committee, noting the changing world requires the Navy to evolve to meet the threat. 

“Our existing structure operates on the premise that we still live in a post-9/11 state, where NATO’s flanks are secure, the Russian fleet is tied to the pier and terrorism is our biggest problem,” Braithwaite said. “That is not the world of today. As the world changes, we must be bold, evolved and change with it. Instead of perpetuating a structure designed to support Joint Forces Command, we are aligning to today’s threat. 

“To meet the maritime challenges of the Atlantic theater, we will rename Fleet Forces Command as the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and will refocus our naval forces in this important region on their original mission, to controlling the maritime approaches to the United States and those of our allies. The Atlantic Fleet will confront the re-assertive Russian navy, which has been deploying closer and closer to our East Coast with a tailored maritime presence, capability and lethality,” Braithwaite said.