The U.S. Navy recently deactivated its only special operations support squadron, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 85, as part of a divest-to-invest initiative. While the decision aims to save around $300 million, concerns arise about the loss of operational flexibility in the Indo-Pacific and the potential weakening of the U.S.’s strategic position.
- HSC-85, known as the Firehawks, played a pivotal role in strengthening regional partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, participating in exercises like Cobra Gold and Talisman Saber.
- The disbanding of HSC-85 limits the combatant commander’s capability to address operational needs and crisis response in the region, possibly reducing the U.S.’s freedom of action.
- The decision appears inconsistent with a Department of Defense report highlighting concerns about the U.S. military’s mobilization capabilities in escalating scenarios involving major powers.
- HSC-85’s unique position as the only reserve naval helicopter squadron deploying from the West Coast means its dissolution creates a gap in ready reserve force capabilities.
- Historical patterns suggest the importance of maintaining capabilities like those of HSC-85, especially given past irregular warfare situations after large-scale combat operations.