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U.S. Military Reliance on the Commercial Tanker Market Assured versus Assumed Access: Two Very Different Capabilities
Executive Summary: On the surface, the pool of Medium Range (MR) sized tankers trading commercially numbers approximately 3,000. This relatively large fleet allows for different views and approaches towards accessing commercial tankers based upon a defined set of demand criteria. Two areas, in particular, have a significant impact on the interpretation of assured versus assumed access. First, is an understanding of the nuances of the tanker commercial marketplace. Second, is the constantly evolving geopolitical landscape that influences foreign governments and company(ies) decision making. This paper will explore these two areas in more detail, alongside a contrast of U.S. policy versus China policy. There is no concrete conclusion to be offered here, simply due to the dynamic nature of the variables any conclusion may be invalidated in short order. Consequently, it offers a set of considerations U.S. defense decision makers should be aware of as they assess a posture of assured versus assumed access to commercial tanker capacity.
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