While visiting India last week, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) said the U.S. must work with allies and partners to counter China’s growing military capabilities because it cannot outspend China.

In response to an Indian media conference call asking about how the U.S. will address China’s increasing military capabilities and potential in the region, CNO Adm. Mike Gilday on Oct. 12 said the key is focusing on asymmetric advantages of allies and partners.

“So the key piece here is allies and partners, right? And so we are not going to outspend China. And so where do we focus on key capabilities that we think are most important as a nation, number one. And so I don’t want to get into specifics on where those investments are, but it’s focused investments that we have to be concerned about ourselves to make sure that our own national interests are sufficiently protected,” he told reporters.

“But secondly, the real asymmetric advantage – and I want to underscore asymmetric advantage – that the United States has is with its partners and allies, not only in the region and globally, but India is a supreme example of that, of a partner that we have common interests…and that in a tangible way our navies can come together to protect those interests, and to cover down on gaps that we each might have in capabilities in order to make us stronger against not just one particular nation, but anybody that wants to interrupt a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Gilday continued.

The CNO argued that since World War II and the post-war international framework, navies have been a major part of maintaining security on the seas. 

“And that security has led to prosperity for billions. You know, I like to say that the global economy floats on seawater. And so the Indian Ocean I just talked about with factors and figures of the importance of it to everybody, not just – not just to the United States, not just India, not just the people of New Delhi or Washington, D.C., but around the globe.”

Gilday participated in the media call during a five day trip to India where he met with Indian government and navy officials.

Separately, he hosted 12 Indian Navy officers aboard the USS Carl Vinson on Oct. 14 during the MALABAR Phase II Exercise. Visitors included Indian Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Karambir Singh and, Commander in Chief, Eastern Naval Command, Vice Adm. A.B. Singh.