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US Bolsters Naval Presence in Atlantic in Response to Russia

FILE - Chief of U.S. Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson.

The U.S. Navy is reinforcing its presence in the Atlantic Ocean with the resurrection of a naval command in response to increasing assertiveness by Russia's military.

The Pentagon announced Friday the Navy was re-establishing the 2nd Fleet, almost seven years after it was disbanded for cost-savings and organizational reasons.

"This is a dynamic response to the dynamic security environment," Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson told reporters aboard the carrier George H. W. Bush. "So as we've seen this great power competition emerge, the Atlantic Ocean is as dynamic a theater as any and particular the North Atlantic."

The 2nd Fleet, which will be based in the mid-Atlantic waterfront city of Norfolk, Virginia and begin operations on July 1, was disbanded in 2011. Since then, there has been a sharp increase in Russian naval activity in the North Atlantic and in the Arctic. Russia has also become more assertive in conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, resulting in escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon announced a new national defense strategy that prioritizes Russia and China. It was the latest sign of shifting priorities after more than 15 years of fighting terrorism.

The Pentagon also said Friday it has offered to host a proposed NATO Joint Force Command at its naval base in Norfolk. A new logistics command is expected to be located in Germany.

A blueprint of the plan was approved by NATO defense ministers at a February meeting, as part of a larger effort to protect the security of sea lanes and communication lines between Europe and North America.