Maritime Strategy coverTwo years ago this week, the CNO, CMC and USCG Commandant released the naval services’ new maritime strategy – A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower, at the International Seapower Symposium being hosted by the Naval War College in Newport, RI. The release of a new maritime strategy was significant given the length of time, post-Cold War, the naval services in general – and the Navy in particular, had planned, budgeted and operated without one. To be sure, there were iterations and evolutionary versions that followed the seminal 1980’s strategy that called for a 500 (later 600) ship navy to take the fight to the Soviet Union, but for the most part they were a ‘check-in-the-box’ and left on the shelf to collect dust.

In fact, during the earlier part of this decade, we were personally told on more than one occasion (forcefully and with exasperation at times) by senior Navy leadership that a new strategy was no longer required as we had moved beyond that and had Seapower 21 to guide our way. Selah.

Mid-decade though, that began to change with new leadership and a growing realization that new constructs and approaches would be required in the post-Cold War, post-9/11 world. Beginning with open and closed sessions with strategists, planners and “thinkers” drawn from across public and private enterprise, in venues reaching from local to national and international, a small team of planners, thinkers and writers – operators all, began to build the new strategy.

The new strategy was released with a fair degree of fanfare and was greeted with somewhat mixed reception, ranging from the enthusiastic to mildly curious and in some quarters, generally dismissive (some examples here, here, here and especially here). The blogsphere, especially the naval blogsphere that has evolved, was no less silent. Writing extensively and critically, the blogs pried deeper into the nuances of the strategy, seeking fuller meaning of the principles therein. Galrahn, CDR Salamander and Steeljaw Scribe, all devoted considerable column inch space to various aspects (and in some cases, opened our pages to direct response from the lead author of the strategy) of the strategy.

While there were compliments, there were also many concerns aired – chief of which went to the heart of strategy, the linking of ends and means. To wit, the new maritime strategy, while making bold declarations (and what could be more bold in the post-Cold War era than the opening statement “We believe preventing wars is as important as winning wars”?), the maritime strategy fell short in lacking an accompanying force structure plan and means to operationalize the strategy (e.g., a naval operating concept or NOC). Both, we were promised, would be forthcoming “soon” (although the former, perforce, had to be classified).

Two years on there has been neither and this in turn has prompted further concerns over naval vision and strategic direction. On the one hand, there has continued to be considerable drum-pounding, using the maritime strategy as justification or rational for any one of a number of actions, planned or as crisis response. Certainly the PA aspect of the maritime strategy has been and continues to be well resourced. Yet two years on we still do not have a long-range ship building plan (despite Congressional mandate) and the NOC is still MIA. The latter is increasingly important as planners inside and out of the naval services wrestle with new concepts and capabilities, the most recent example being the significant shift in BMD emphasis in the European theater from a land-based GBI system designed to protect CONUS from Iranian ICBMs to a primarily sea-based theater defense against MRBM’s using Aegis-BMD equipped ships and supplemented with a shore-based system (“Aegis BMD Ashore”). This redirection and the attendant gossamer-light expositions of how we will employ sea-based BMD in the maritime strategy has led to a fair degree of mis-information and erroneous assumptions as to general operational capabilities, requirements, and necessary force structure. More detailed explanation, as wouldbe found in a NOC would go a long ways to alleviate this condition.

That is but one aspect – there are many others including rationale for the next generation CG, numbers of carriers and big deck amphibs, operational concepts for emerging technologies in ISR and UAVs, ASW, integrated air and missile defense, presence operations…and the list goes on.

Two years ago we summarized our initial read of the new maritime strategy as follows:

“It is an imperfect and flawed document – but so was the 1986 strategy and almost any other similar document extant. Nevertheless, there are significant strengths to build upon and serve as a reliable starting point for further definition and refinement in the panoply of documents that will follow. Most importantly, it has CNO approval and, tacitly at least, that of SECDEF as well – and as such, serves as the maritime strategy of record. This bodes well for post-Iraq planning and budgeting if – IF it does not become fodder for collecting dust on a shelf someplace.” (steeljawscribe.com).

Today, in view of the concerns raised above and our contention that the maritime strategy serves as a starting vice ending point, we submit the following questions as to the efficacy and relevance of the maritime strategy and its role in shaping future naval forces two years after its release:

  1. What new requirements/capabilities follow from the maritime strategy?
  2. What direct influence has the maritime strategy had on naval shipbuilding plans and budgets?
  3. How has the maritime strategy been implemented and operationalized? In other words – what are we doing differently now or are in the in the process of changing (especially in view of #1 above) that we weren’t on 11 Oct 2007?

Crossposted at steeljawscribe.com

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Posted by SteelJaw in Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy
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  • Anathema

    Unfortunate, but the silence on this topic speaks more volumes than a hundred responses would…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Anathema,

    We find ourselves in agreement. (Don’t panic, I am sure it is transient.)

    Not much has worked out. The “cooperative strategy” never seemed based on hard realities or mission/scope analysis. What turned bad under WJC turned worse with GWB, and has fallen further here.

    It seemed that the loudest “what now?” with the collapse of the Soviet Union came from the US Navy. Which I believe to be a direct cause of the present ill-starred circumstances.

  • Cap’n Bill

    A telling example of what happens when grand thoughts of our Military are not sufficently communicated to the political side of the Nation’s Leadership. Such grand designs require understanding by a large number of Leaders that can then lead to support from the citizens and a political commitment to fund the implementation of the plan.

    I reckon this was left to others to ensure or perhaps the matter overtaken by other events…..

  • http://steeljawscribe.com/ SteelJaw

    Well, there is also this:

    http://militarytimes.com/blogs/scoopdeck/2009/10/20/the-maritime-strategy-enters-the-terrible-twos/

    But Anathema’s point is spot on…

    – SJS

  • USNVO

    I take a somewhat more positive view of the “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power”. If you read the Strategy, it is really nothing new, a lot of Motherhood and Aple Pie. The only really unique contribution is that Maritime Security and Humanitarian Assistance are acknowledged as being on par with other operations. Even then, these were things that the US Navy (and most all navies) have done since the first navies were formed. The new strategy largely puts on paper what the Navy has been doing all along.

    What the Strategy does is spells out, in broad terms, the enduring strategic goals of the US Navy. As an enduring document, it is good. It, I feel properly, doesn’t attempt to form links to current threats, resources or long term shipbuilding plans. That is rightfully left to other documents. In this regards it is very much like the unclassified forms of the 1980s Maritime Strategy. However, as noted in the post, the problem is that the supporting documents are lacking. It is not a failure of the Maritime Strategy that those documents are lacking, it is a failure of the navy in crafting a plan of how to achieve the goals outlined in the Strategy.

    So in many respects, the questions asked are unfair. I would propose two different question.

    1. Has anything come to light that changes the basic tennants of the Maritime Strategy? In other words, did we get it wrong or are there new strategic threats or disruptive changes that require basic changes to the Maritime Strategy?
    To answer my own question, maybe. A shift to a largely sea based missile defense in Europe may require a type of persistent forward presence outside the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific not envisioned in the document. However, it is way to soon to make any broad statements.

    2. Are the current resources, long range resource plans (to include shipbuilding, aircraft, people, etc), and theater level implementation of the Maritime Strategy sufficient to achieve the stated goals of the Maritime Strategy?
    Unknown and too early to tell. As stated in the post, the lack of a Naval Operating Concept and Long Range Shipbuilding plans prevents a valid assessment but certainly the peacetime engagement of US Naval Forces in Africa, the Pacific, and South America in areas of Humanitarian Assistance and Maritime Security seem to be small steps toward the Cooperative Maritime Strategy.

    I think the new Maritime Strategy does a good job of providing the big picture. However, to date the details of how to achieve the big picture are lacking. Unfortunately, the easy part is the big picture. Just like the Revolution in Training, Network Centric Warfare, or Right Sizing, the big picture is easy. The devil is always in the details and the biggest challenge is making the vision reality. And in that, the Navy has largely failed to date. At least in the future resources part.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    USNVO:

    Re: item 2… NO! Lack of a balanced fleet of sufficient size to support deployment to all theaters required in numbers sufficient to be decisive is here to stay, through the end of the current administration at least, and the problem is getting worse. The fleet has insufficient auxiliaries, patrol assets, escorts, submarines, cruisers (small c classic meaning)or carriers to form, sustain and maintain sufficent task forces for amphibious tasks, aviation strike, or protection of US flag shipping in all the theaters required. There is no evident national will, plan, or increasingly, capability to design, construct, modernize, repair or maintain the vessels and aircraft on hand in the face of age and wear, much less add forces as required.

    And who, exactly, is a reliable, wealthy, and competent enough ally to sign up for and DELIVER assistance in a cooperative naval strategy? The RN is smaller than the USCG, for all their many virtues. The French take consistent unreliability and unpredictablity as a basic foundation of their national strategy.
    Allergic to the sight of their own blood best describes the Germans in Afganistan, probably just as well. Japan doesn’t have a bad track record, they stay out of harms way by national policy (initiated by some guy with a corn cob pipe). Spain and Italy don’t go out of home waters enought to be much help. Turkey?, Poland?, the Dutch? Fine brave sailors all, but unable to add much tonnage to the scale, just don’t have much (note to Netherlands, ante in a minesweeping squadron and get a big piece of the winnings, in time). The Arabs, don’t make me laugh. Canada, don’t make me weep. Israel? They still haven’t made a down payment on the blood debt of USS Liberty, and they get their money from US. Even absent an old grudge with the ball in their court to do something about, they’re a dependant, not an ally, and a tiny navy. The Phillipines are a reliable and old friend, and poor as church mice. ROKs and Taiwan are wealthier and have their own plate over full. China is well, COMMUNIST and not a friend. Russia is just not a friend.
    New Zealand is unable, by choice. Australia is worried about OUR reliability as an ally, and would have our back in any case (God bless all in Oz).

    Cooperative strategy? Hurmmmph.

    Nope, naval decline is the order of the day and the bill for reconstruction and recovery will be paid in blood by our children and grandchildren. God help us all.

  • Cap’n Bill

    Grandpa Bluewater paints a sorry but IMHO an accurate picture. “No Money, No Cohesion, No Guts, No Glory”.
    We elderly folk have been very blessed to live our lives when America was strong, self reliant and able to do Right for ourselves.

  • USNVO

    Grandpa Bluewater,

    OK, now that the rant is over, what force structure to you propose?
    – “Lack of a balanced fleet of sufficient size to support deployment to all theaters required in numbers sufficient to be decisive is here to stay, through the end of the current administration at least, and the problem is getting worse.”
    1. Outside of the end of WWII (go 3000 ship Navy!) we have rarely if ever had that capability, nor has it been a significant requirement. The Navy can choose where to place emphasis and where not to. Do we really care about the Arctic? Baltic? Black Sea? North Atlantic? South Pacific? Med? South America? Outside of the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, where do we need to be in large numbers with high end capabilities?
    2. Please define “balanced fleet” and what is a sufficient size. We currently have something around 6 CVN/CVWs available at any time, even if that number was only realistically 3-4 what is going to take more than that? Additionally we have probably 30+ Aegis ships that are available or can be realistically available at any given time. What or who is the threat that requires that force structure to be increased? India? China? Russia? Iran? Pakistan? Somali Pirates? Brazil? Nigerian Pirates?

    – “The fleet has insufficient auxiliaries, patrol assets, escorts, submarines, cruisers (small c classic meaning)or carriers to form, sustain and maintain sufficent task forces for amphibious tasks, aviation strike, or protection of US flag shipping in all the theaters required.”
    So lets see, in Cold War, we had anywhere between 12 and 15 CVBGs and we could take on the USSR and do all those other things, but now that the threat is a fraction of its previous size and more geographically concentrated we can’t do anything? What requirements do we have today that are not being met? Why do we need hundreds of escorts against a threat that doesn’t exist anymore? Outside the Horn of Africa, where are US flag ships being threatened?
    I personally feel that we need a hundred or more patrol ships to support the engagement and maritime security mission so that high end ships can do high end things but beyond that we generally have sufficient forces to achieve Maritime Dominence anywhere we really need and/or want to.

    “And who, exactly, is a reliable, wealthy, and competent enough ally to sign up for and DELIVER assistance in a cooperative naval strategy?”
    Lets see, in the global maritime group policing the “maritime commons” around the Horn of Africa, we have off the top of my head the US, British, Germans, Dutch, Danes, Japanese, French, South Koreans, Chinese, Indians, Italians, Iranians, as well as others. Why? Because it is in their best interests to do that just as it is in their best interests to cooperate with each other despite national differences. Do I expect Estonia to support maritime security in the Straits of Malacca? No, but I can expect Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to do so and possibly India, Japan, Australia, and others as well.

    Is the fleet stretched thin? Yes, but much of that is the requirement to support Afghanistan and Iraq which at some point should decline. It would help to have more ships, but we have enough today to do the mission.

    Could we have a better balanced force for the requirements? Sure, but it takes a long time to build new ships. You have the Navy you can afford not the one you want. So we have Aegis Destroyers without helos chasing pirates. Not the best fit but its available.

    Would it be nice to see long range shipbuilding plans that reflect reality? Yes, and that has been the biggest problem with the Maritime Strategy, there are no supporting documents yet. Hopefully we will see them soon.

    The US Navy has problems, but compared to the rest of the world, it’s in pretty good shape today. And I think we currently have the right strategy, but the devil is in the details.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    USNVO:

    Delighted! The Devil is indeed in the details.

    Your excellent riposte deserves some thought. There is so much to say and little space to say it in. With your kind permission I’ll retire to the Gramp Cave and generate my response, EDD 24-48 hours. CincHouse has some higher priority tasks involving critical supplies being BB GrampGoFetchlocalmerchant and Casrep the garbage disposal C-4 (partlist sepcor notal 999 Bluewater Expedite) on the tcamo list. Regret late response. Preliminary brief follows:

    Briefly, the Army/AF paradime (sp?) of threat/intell/contingency plan/tpfidl/construct and purchase as req to resource the tpfd is a bad fit for maintaining an adequate fleet in being. Fine for divisions in garrison awaiting movement order for REFORGER, and taken advantage of to keep an adequate fleet in being for about 3 career generations/50 years. But a historical review shows USN/USMC has mostly been a ready forward deployed contingency force in being used for ad hoc response of the crisis du jour.

    Currently the army/AF has a multiple campaign (major) war to fight. They don’t have nearly enough to do so, so they have borrowed (kidnapped?) the Marine Corps, the Seabees, the Seals, USN EOD, a big chunk of naval air and anything else Navy they can use and order a la carte. Not their fault and not a criticism, given the the massive strategic FU of failure to a) go to Congress obtain a declaration of war and b) Mobilize the nation for a major war.

    Result: The Navy, living off the scraps of the Reagan administration, logistically and intellectually, until 9/11 – and strip mined since, has been underresourced for two decades. It’s been a long hard winter and it’s eaten too much seed corn and butchered to much livestock. The question for it, like the Norse Greenland colony, is should it keep on doing what it knows until everyone starves to death, or do we stop living out of communication with the rest of humanity and get back in circulation.

    I say it needs to get way less biddable and compliant. If the so called current strategy is going to be attempted it needs to get tougher on itself. I’ll happily bicker about how many ARS’s we need if you like, but here’s my bottom line:

    Improve the plan to match the war and post war plans that the Navy sees as appropriate.

    List the gear required (ships, aircraft, boats, vehicles, weapons, ammo, medical etc.) Justify it, advocate for it, and lie cheat and steal for it. Never quit, and never back off. Don’t not ask because you think you won’t get. Tell the boss what you need and why you need it. Then nag. There is a difference between smooth and spineless. Work on the silver tongue, and grow a spine.

    Then get serious, in house. 4 years is enough time to build a world class navy from an unready force. No more excuses.
    90 days is enough for a rough cut on strategy, forces required, and steel being cut. Ever hear of the home front winter of 41-42?

    You don’t win a war on “could we have”, “it takes a long time”, “it would be nice”, “hopefully we will see them soon”.
    That’s half the mental rot. The other half is pointless social engineering as a primary priority.

    THE WAR IS THE FIRST PRIORITY. Or you lose, and someone else sets priorities.

    Start with the fleet we had in ’88, subtract what we still have, then prioritize.

    Rough cut to you, Peck at it.

    More later, gotta go.

  • Warrant Diver

    Grandpa Bluewater

    “rough cut?” that’s better than many final products!

    When you mentioned ARSs this diver shed a tear for the HOIST, RECLAIMER, RECOVERY, etc.

    Institutionally the Navy has forgotten they are a warfighting organization that needs experienced people regardless of the cost that experience entails. I don’t think I need to go into too much detail. Training by computer insead of instructors, officers that can’t drive ships/subs because a simulator is deemed good enough, nobody getting enough sleep underway (ships manned at 70% of design manning), and a thousand other small reasons. Warfighting prowess should be our first, second, and third priority. It’s not even #1 now. And nobody quote to me all the pre deployment ISIC inspections that certify warfighting readiness.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Warrant Diver:

    I completely agree.

  • USNVO

    Grandpa Bluewater,
    Take your time, and I agree completely that forward presence requirements may actually exceed high end warfare requirements. So the USN/USMC/USCG requirements must be evaluated differentently than the USA/USAF. But just as an example to get things going, lets look at the “need” to maintain the 1.0 CSG/CVBG presence in various parts of the World.
    In 1988 we required 15 CV/CVNs to execute our Maritime Strategy not because of warfighting needs but because we desired to maintain 1.0 CVBGs in the Med, Indian Ocean, and Pacific. That worked out to roughly 5 CVs (and CVWs, escorts, auxillaries, etc) to meet the 1.0 requirement. By the same standard today says we would need roughly 10 CVNs to maintain 1.0 CVBGs of presence in the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans (as more or less called for in the new Maritime Strategy although not specifically stated), and remarkably, we have that. We have the ability to have one on station and a second there in 30 days or less, or to surge two into one area (leaving one area without any) without changing the long term rotations. Kind of hard to argue the Med still needs a permenant presence anymore. So by the logic of the Maritime Strategy in place in 1988, we have enough Carriers, Airwings, and high end CSG Escorts.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    USNVO:

    Let’s call this chapter one.

    “The new strategy largely puts on paper what the Navy has been doing all along.”

    True enough, and completely in the spirit of the preface or first chapter of Fleet Admiral King’s memoirs, where he lays out that a properly trained and educated naval officer shouldn’t need to consult the current edition of a doctrinal directive. A squared away flag officer will know pretty much what the situation requires. As theory I agree. In practice there are issues.

    “It is not a failure of the Maritime Strategy that those documents are lacking, it is a failure of the navy in crafting a plan of how to achieve the goals outlined in the Strategy.”

    Which is a very high tone way of saying failing to plan is planning to fail. Which any LT should know well, but seems to be a concept not much valued in the (for lack of a better word) US Admiralty in the last two decades. To be fair, a bad plan partially executed and abandoned for a worse one is the worst of all worlds and the kettle of fish we are in tastes like two full cups of that per gallon. I don’t know why a gran mal seizure of judgement, gross conceptual error, or faintness of heart has gripped the higher naval higher for the last two decades, but one leg on the three legged stool leads to a pratfall, not to the next higher level.

    “…did we get it wrong or are there new strategic threats or disruptive changes that require basic changes to the Maritime Strategy”?

    Got it wrong in my opinion. The Navy’s core business (hate that locution, but it fits, here) is to obtain and maintain Command of the Sea. While tactics may be defensive, deterrant, offensive, or policing the area – in both the boot camp and the law enforcement
    sense, the goal is the ability to go anywhere there is enough water to float a boat or keep the bottom of a hovercraft moist and make it a USN lake for as long as the Republic requires. Not just one lake at a time, either. See Mahan, the general stuff at the front of the book.

    ” A shift to a largely sea based missile defense in Europe may require a type of persistent forward presence…” Yes, indeed. In range, in communications, C-1 in detection, ready to launch, manned, trained, reliable, and decisively defended, 24, 7, 365. For several career spans laid end to end.

    A lot of cruisers, and kiss them goodbye for any other use, just like the boomers.

    “Are the current resources, long range resource plans (to include shipbuilding, aircraft, people, etc), and theater level implementation of the Maritime Strategy sufficient…”

    Nope. See post above.

    (to be continued)

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    USNVO
    (call this episode 2)

    “the lack of a Naval Operating Concept and Long Range Shipbuilding plans prevents a valid assessment”

    Uh, not exactly. The lack of an op concept and long range shipbuilding strategy, plan, or clue makes an assessment dead easy. Assessment: Incomplete. Do over. This time do it right, do it all, and ASAP. Or get a failing grade. (Just remember history/destiny’s gradebook is written in blood. The “F”‘s are big and very red.)

    “the Revolution in Training, Network Centric Warfare, or Right Sizing”

    I will leave comment to others, as I feel my peripheral vision narrowing, a red haze over my vision and the blood draining from my face…I’m too old and fat to go AMOK and hope to come back.

    “Please define “balanced fleet”. You don’t know? Oh, right, rhetorical question. Why not?

    (continued in the next episode)

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Grandpa’s Definition: “Balanced Fleet” –

    1. (strategic level) That selection of ships by type and quantity which establishes the entire inventory of ships, craft, boats and aircraft of a given Navy. Ideally it which provides near optimum capability to deal with the entire spectrum of operations envisioned in the Nation’s naval and joint strategy; as well as forseeable humanitarian and deterrant operational tasks which are seen as likely to arise, but are not specifically predictable. Implied is a shore establishment of sufficient size and capabilitity with appropriate geographic siting to adequately support said fleet, and a nationl technical and industrial base adequate to forestall decisive obsolesence by new construction or repair.
    2. (Operational level) The possession of sufficient combatant, combat support, and combat service support ships (et al.) in terms of numbers, capability (absence of obsolesence), and maintainability to assure that contingency operational plans are immediately and (to an adequate degree) simultaneously executable. Additionally a Naval Reserve, including organic and mothballed equipment, which is efficient, trains effectively for mobilization, and maintains unique skills and equipment in cadre status is assumed.

    Anybody interested is invited to comment/nitpick and kvetch before moving on to discussing a nominal stack of 1250’s with units of issue “ea” for ships, planes, craft, and boats for the current kettle of fish we find ourselves in.

    Note bene: Composition of the fleet is funded to the level required by the stategy and contingency plans selected, however, availability of funding also influences the selection of a national naval (and military) strategy. Long term threats and hardy perennial emergent missions also (one may hope) are taken seriously and taken into account.(For purposes of discussion I am assuming 3 Marine Division/Air Wing sets on active service and one in reserve.)

    OVER (If I’ve bored everybody enough that there is no response, OUT)

  • USNVO

    Chapter One Response:
    “It is not a failure of the Maritime Strategy that those documents are lacking, it is a failure of the navy in crafting a plan of how to achieve the goals outlined in the Strategy.”
    I was probably not forceful enough in how I stated this because I wanted to keep the discussion focused more on the Strategy and less on the lacking implementation part. The Navy has failed miserably in developing a roadmap to implement the strategy. The strategy itself clearly lays out what the US Navy wants to do and why but there is a huge missing how part that needs to be addressed yesterday at the latest.

    “Got it wrong in my opinion. The Navy’s core business (hate that locution, but it fits, here) is to obtain and maintain Command of the Sea…. …to go anywhere there is enough water to float a boat or keep the bottom of a hovercraft moist and make it a USN lake for as long as the Republic requires. Not just one lake at a time, either.”
    I could not agree more, and more telling the Maritime Strategy doesn’t ignore this either but it also points out all those other things that Navies (and Marines and Coast Guards) do that we must have the capability to do. For instance, Foward presence (support diplomacy), peaceful engagement (maritime training missions in Africa), maritime security (anti-Piracy) or humanitarian assistance (Tsunamis anyone).

    ” A shift to a largely sea based missile defense in Europe may require a type of persistent forward presence…”
    I used the word “may” since everything is currently still powerpoint slides and it will be several years at least before we can determine the impact of the proposed changes. It may end up being minimal or it may be huge, time will tell. Of course we rapidly (and relatively cheaply) build a pure BMD cruiser (BMD Boomer) using the LPD-17 hull and AEGIS combat system that could handle the mission, then we would need only 5 or 6 but I digress.

  • USNVO

    Episode 2 response:
    NOC, Long Range Shipbuilding, RiT, Right sizing, etc.- Target
    I purposely picked things that I felt were train wrecks and clearly similiar feeling are held by others. How does changing the Maritime Strategy impact any of these?

    Balanced Fleet response: Sounds about right, is was a rhetorical question but is also instructive in that different people view things differently. Some might say we need to be able to handle every crisis at the same time with overwelming force to be balanced. I disagree. Where you decide to assume risk in the trade space is important in the discussion. For instance, the size of the Marine Corps. Beyond the law (which could be changed), why do we need 3 Divisions (or MEFs or whatever)? They should be sized to the requirement and if we only need two MEFs and 2 active divisions (note, I am not advocating this) or even one division, then that is the size we need to be balanced. And for many contingencies, the presence of potential Allies need to be factored in as well. For instance, if defense of Korea is a mission we need to support then the increasing capability of the South Korean Military (which one would assume will actively participate to defend its own country) reduces the need for the United States military to provide the same capability as before.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    USNWO:

    Working in reverse order of your posts (just to be onery, old men need hobbies, it’s one of mine):

    I will leave sleeping Marines lie. While they can be a trial, our leetle friends are surprisingly handy when you need to force entry on a foreign shore on short notice, a task that keeps coming up. The legally mandated size has worked well for half a century and they work cheap. The future trick will be to get them back from the Army, which so loves to use them to assault and take the difficult objective across the mine field, and has grown accustomed to the advantages of really good medium weight infantry led by folks who never got the West Point mind shutter installed. URR can fill in the details, my position is I’m with him.

    Strategy is at its core risk management by resource allocation. A balanced fleet is somewhat analogous to a balanced tire, weight distributed for safer and more efficient operation near the upper limit of dynamic forces imposed by high load, high speed operation.

    The current strategy is a pretty pamphlet, unresourced and unimplemented. It’s reliance on allies ignores the dictum that nation-states operate in their own self interest, at best. Long term reliance on allies to fill in for critical shortfalls in strategy and logistics is like operating a diesel engine with a jury rigged lube oil pump, a sometimes reluctantly accepted short term expedient which is a long term guarantee of disasterous failure unless properly corrected asap. The current strategy is a train wreck too, all that is required is a serious effort to implement it and the normal course of international relations. The failure to make a serious attempt to resource and implement one’s strategy, however ill concieved, is a worse train wreck, of course.

    While it’s nice we agree on some fundamentals, the basic thrust of my argument is that the Navy is undermanned, inadequately trained, equipped,and maintained to successfully pull off our de facto ad hoc strategy, even ignoring the ugly fact that the strategic subset of ship and aircraft design and aquisition (recapitalization, if you like) is a shambles.

    The current unrelenting lowering of funding and manning just continues fleet shrinkage, imbalance and overall decline. We need a larger, more balanced, more capable fleet. For twenty years we have continuously moved in the opposite direction. The current strategy is just more face powder on the skin cancer of consistent naval decline. The prognosis is grim.

    Some folks, way above my paygrade when I had one, don’t have their priorities straight.

    While harboring dark suspicions as to whom that might be, I really have no idea who, or why. But absent radical revision, naval decline will continue. My opinion, worth every penny you paid for it.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    I second Grampa’s emotion regarding the size and capabilities of the USMC. A force trained, equipped, organized, and tasked to project power ashore is not easily built. Access/entry denial has become the game of our adversaries. Despite the recent comments about whether amphibious operations are any longer desirable (shortsighted and lacking in background knowledge), the loss or truncating past usefulness of such a capability would be a potentially crippling blow to US military capability.

    For the price America pays for its three Marine Divisions, and three Air Wings, they get one heck of a lot of mileage. One of the reasons we are still here.

  • USNVO

    Grandpa Bluewater & UltimaRatioReg,
    No argument that we need the Marines from me, just pointing out that we need to continuously assess the balanced force we need for the present and future.
    I also agree with most of Grandpa Bluewaters points. Where I will digress is his comment that “The current strategy is a pretty pamphlet, unresourced and unimplemented. It’s reliance on allies ignores the dictum that nation-states operate in their own self interest, at best.”
    Several points,

    First, CS21 (for lack of a better acronym) does not rely on allies acting in anyway except in their own best interests. It acknowledges that most nations have a vested interest in protecting the “Maritime Commons” from disruptive actions. But it also recognizes that the US needs to maintain the capability to contain regional conflicts and win major wars. CS21 seeks to develop relationships so that we have reliable partners in accomplishing things like the Horn of Africa anti-Piracy operations.

    Second, the 1980s Maritime Strategy offers similar concepts. The emphasis of the 1980s Maritime Strategy was not to go after the Soviets, but rather to have forward deployed naval forces that controlled situations so that they did not become major conflicts. And it placed a great emphasis on allies acting in their own best interest. Delete the section about naval operations having a significant impact in distant theaters (no more Soviets), add a section on maritime security and humanitarian assistance, discuss the importance of building partnerships and defending the Maritime Commons, and you have pretty much what we have in CS21. And the reason they are similiar is that the enduring strategic thoughts are the same.

    Third, implementation is happening but it doesn’t appear to be because we have been doing it all along. Examples of this on the low end include Horn of Africa, Africa Station, Tsunami Aid, AH deployments, etc. In other areas such as Missile Defense, we are also working with partners to solve common problems. But then, we would have done all those things anyway, but now we have it written down.

    Finally, while I agree completely that our future is a potential trainwreck for all the reasons you stated, the size of the current force is, in my opinion, the right size for today. We can keep two CVNs forward deployed at all times, we have a sufficiently balanced fllet to meet the requirements of today.

    I will withhold judgement on our future plans until I see the POM12 and the long range shipbuilding plan. But to date, I feel they have been severely lacking in a variety of areas.

    Bottom Line, as I see it, is the Strategy is good, the implementation sucks. Change the implementation but don’t touch the strategy yet.

  • RickWilmes

    A strategy and its implementation is only as good as the underlying philosophy that serves as it’s foundation. The dominant philosophy that is behind the U.S. Strategy is, in terms of ethics, altruism or self-less self-sacrifice.

    If other countries are acting in their self-interest and we are not than is it any wonder why our strategy is a failure?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    USNVO,

    “It acknowledges that most nations have a vested interest in protecting the “Maritime Commons” from disruptive actions.”

    I must comment that such a concept is badly flawed. Some nations, mainly our rivals and potential enemies, People’s Republic of China and a resurgent Russia(or one of their proxies like Iran, North Korea, Venezuela), would gladly disrupt the “maritime commons” if it meant economically or militarily pinching the US (or an ally, such as India).

    Such a situation will force those smaller nations to suffer possible disruption of maritime commerce or risk antagonizing a larger and unfriendly entity capable of defeating them. This is particularly true if the US is not able to bring overwhelming naval and power projection combat forces to bear on a key region quickly and decisively.

    If the US Navy is not a credible counter to Moscow or Peking, the self-interest of the nations in questions change dramatically. We have seen it on land, we will see it on the world’s oceans. http://blog.usni.org/?p=554

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    URR: 10-4

    USNVO: It is one thing to invite friends to the party that you are throwing and ask for a covered dish, another to plan a tailgate and assume you won’t need beer because somebody else will bring enough for two. The unmentioned assumption is that the contingency plans can assume away resourcing a section of the TPFDL because our friends will ALWAYS make up the shortfalls.

    Canada is a great friend and trading partner. They are under no requirement to provide military equipment and spill their (pitifully few) soldiers blood whenever we see fit. Sometimes, thankfully, they do. Not the way to plan.

    Yes, the same lighthearted foolishness crept into contingency plans in the eighties. The Saudis, for example, were to provide minesweeping for the Persian Gulf, should the USN enter it in strength in defense of Saudi Arabia. Didn’t happen. Reportedly, some Flags, at least, were warned, wouldn’t hear it.

    Nothing much has changed, except we have half the Navy we did then, and half the ability to correct for the absence or tardiness of reluctant “allies”. The fraction will get smaller.

    Down this road lies defeat.

    It is really bad to con yourself. The Con du jour is dependence on allies to make up shortfalls in capability so you can say “we have a sufficiently balanced fleet to meet the requirements of today”, and can kick that can down the road 8 years, and 8 years, and 8 years… How we doing for a mine warfare force today, hmmm?

    Here we part company. “We have a sufficiently balanced fleet”?

    NO. YOU DON’T.

    Why? Because the Navy is in decline, and will continue in decline.
    It may be (I pray not) that we have reached the point where only a humiliating defeat can put the helm over. IF so, let us pray it is not a crippling, humiliatiing defeat, just a stinging, humiliating one. Like the Desert One debacle.

    Hard times ahead.

  • USNVO

    UltimaRatioReg, Grandpa Bluewater,
    I regularly re-read CS21. I reviewed it again this morning. Please tell me which part, with citations please, that you find objectionable or what else we should do? We don’t live in a multi-polar world with a huge dependence on trade and free access to the maritime commons? We shouldn’t support maritime security? We shouldn’t have forward naval forces in the Indian Ocean/Arabian Gulf and Western Pacific to deter and limit conflicts? Were else do you propose having significant US Naval Presence? We shouldn’t do humanitarian assistance? We shouldn’t work with partners? We shouldn’t win our nations wars? As a strategy, it adaquetly explains why we have maritime forces and what we plan to do. No where does it call on the US to be dependent on anyone else.
    The how is left to other documents, which tragically and criminally (presenting a long range ship building plan is a legal requirement every year) are absent to date.
    The devil is in the details or in this case how you resource your forces (ships, planes, people, buildings, etc) and make your plans based on your strategy. Have there been major problems of having a coherent plan? no issues there. Have we foolishly degraded our training base (SWOS in a box anyone)? again, no argument. Have we weakened the maintenance support base? unquestionably. And I could go on, but the basic facts as I see it are these:
    1. Pending any major revisions in the next few years, today we have a sufficently balanced force for today’s missions (say until 2015 or so). How we got to this is more accident than plan, but the fact remains that 10+ CSGs, 80+ Aegis escorts, and yes, the 14 MCMs and 2 squadrons of MH-53Es, are today, assuming reasonable planning, enough to accomplish any mission envisioned with acceptable risk. Are they as ready as I would like? no, but the US Navy’s forces are significantly better than the other guys.
    2. Future resourcing plans are a shambles to put it mildly. And I don’t advocate waiting 8 years to do something about it. We need to take action now, but just to put it in perspective, if we built no new ships in the next 8 years, in 2017 we would still have a more powerful Navy than all reasonable enemies put together. The first budget submission that can really be influenced by CS21 is POM12. Hopefully, the Navy will develop a cohert vision by then, but I am not holding my breath.

    However, none of the above changes the simple fact that the current Maritime Strategy is sound. We don’t need to change it, we need to improve our execution. Poorly planned amphibious operations (or airborne operations, etc) can fail, but that doesn’t mean the basic idea of amphibious operations should be scrapped. The same is true for CS21.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    I agree it’s a very nice idea. I’m not so enthused about the commitment to the strategic defensive or the acceptance of the status quo. Promising one’s self allies that will arrive in sufficient numbers and in time is a finagle factor, as such, folly.

    “the current Maritime Strategy is sound” If unimplemented. I am not impressed.

    Put it this way:
    The list of what to put in the diaper bag is sound. It’s a very pretty bag, pink with flowers, very nice. Where are the diapers, baby wipes, zinc oxide, baby powder? Haven’t bought them? Your sister was supposed to stop on the way and didn’t? Spent the money on a bottle and a rattle and hair clips and bows? Well, the baby has diaper rash, and is wet and stinky, What are you going to do about it?

    The ability to get from theory to practice to task accomplishment is called competence. Strive for it.

    “we need to improve our execution” Yes, we do. Hope is not a course of action.

    “what else we should do?” “We”? I’m a grouchy old retired gadfly and curmudgeon. I blog. As for the reader…You mean you don’t know?

    Well, see above. Ponder. Decide. Then act.

    Good luck.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    USNVO,

    I must say I consider CS21 to be a series of BFOs. Blinding Flashes of the Obvious.

    We don’t live in a multi-polar world with a huge dependence on trade and free access to the maritime commons? We shouldn’t support maritime security? We shouldn’t have forward naval forces in the Indian Ocean/Arabian Gulf and Western Pacific to deter and limit conflicts? Were else do you propose having significant US Naval Presence? We shouldn’t do humanitarian assistance? We shouldn’t work with partners? We shouldn’t win our nations wars?

    That CS21 addresses those issues at high level makes it no great document. Or strategy. I would expect such from a serious grad student in diplomacy, but it provides no particular insight. Though the document itself, it is true, makes no statement as to reliance on neighbors, what it spawned from the CNO sure as heck did. An “international fleet of like-minded nations”?

    From a Military.com forum:

    During the past two years, the concept, also known as the Global Maritime Partnership, has garnered support among senior U.S. Navy leaders who see it as a way for the service to continue to patrol the seas against a backdrop of restrained budgets and mounting costs associated with the global war on terror — a reality faced by numerous navies around the globe.

    Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Mullen said last year during a speech in Newport, “Our level of cooperation and coordination must intensify in order to adapt to our shared challenges and constraints. We have no choice in this matter. I am convinced that nobody — no nation today — can go it alone, especially in the maritime domain.”

    “Restraining budgets”?
    “Shared challenges and constraints”?
    “We have no choice”?

    Sounds less like a workable strategy for the world situation and more like a cost-saving sleight of hand to convince ourselves to drop below the bare minimum. And a direct descendant of CS21.

    The series of difficult questions remain unanswered, because it is likely the answer is not to the liking of the Big Navy. To wit:

    What should happen when similar (piracy) activity is being sponsored by Russia or China as they resurrect their considerable talents for fighting wars (and backing terrorists) by proxy, in order to further national interests or subvert the interests of military and economic rivals (the US)? This prospect is precisely the fear of many analysts who have watched events unfold. If traditional US allies are unwilling to face the Russians in Europe (reference to Ossetia and Georgia in 2008), what would make them, the key partners in The Thousand Ship Navy, more willing to challenge Russia or China on the world’s oceans?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Some smart guy once said of such foolish naivete:

    “When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

  • http://steeljawscribe.com/ SteelJaw

    Sorry – been a bit occupied elsewhere these past few days…
    Interesting commentary above and indicative of public perceptions of CS-21 — as it stands alone.
    Of course, that was never the intent, and I wait with bated breath for NOC09/10/whatever to hit the streets. In the meantime I have chanced to read through the Navy Strategic Planning Guidance for POM 2012 (signed by CNO a couple of weeks back) and while it is classified, a good portion of the “scene setter” analytical foundation isn’t. Of particular interest is the way they went about testing/stressing CS-21 using alternative futures to see what critical capabilities and requirements were needed for the coming decade in building the force. I would not be surprised to see this heavily borrowed for use in other venues, which would actually rebound to Navy’s benefit.
    Still, NSP-12 isn’t enough to make up for the missing legs. It needs a publicly releasable operationalization and force structure component to flesh out the high-level generalizations and make the document one that is useful and relevant.
    – SJS

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