Since the President’s Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense came out last week, a lot has been written, pontificated, pondered, positioned, and puffed about it. A little bit of light, but a lot of heat too. Some don’t like it at all – some like me are, well, shrugable about it. This is in many ways a call to action for DoN. Let me explain.
This isn’t doctrinally perfect – but it is workable. Like all broad documents, it is the actions that follow that are important – and what money Congress decides to allocate in defense bills that follow. I go in to a little more detail over at my home blog, but let’s take some pull quotes that seem to nod toward the Sea Services the most and ponder them here.
There is nothing shocking in the document, but there is plenty “see Ref. A” quotes for people to use. For instance:
For the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to take an active approach to countering these threats by monitoring the activities of non-state threats worldwide, working with allies and partners to establish control over ungoverned territories, and directly striking the most dangerous groups and individuals when necessary.
“… monitoring … activities … worldwide;” “ungoverned territories;” “striking the most dangerous groups;” – what is the best tool the National Command Authority can use to do this? A little USAF – but that is a Navy and Marine Corps core competency. We can sell that soap.
There are echos of what regular readers of USNI’s Proceedings have already read and internalized….
Across the globe we will seek to be the security partner of choice, pursuing new partnerships with a growing number of nations .– including those in Africa and Latin America .– whose interests and viewpoints are merging into a common vision of freedom, stability, and prosperity. Whenever possible, we will develop innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives, relying on exercises, rotational presence, and advisory capabilities. The United States will continue to lead global efforts with capable allies and partners to assure access to and use of the global commons, both by strengthening international norms of responsible behavior and by maintaining relevant and interoperable military capabilities.
Buy Fords not Ferraris sound familiar to anyone? CAPT Hendrix; call your office.
What about the Primary Mission Areas outlined in the document? Can you argue with these?
- Counter Terrorism and Irregular Warfare
- Deter and Defeat Aggression
- Project Power Despite Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges
- Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction
- Operate Effectively in Cyberspace and Space
- Maintain a Safe, Secure, and Effective Nuclear Deterrent
- Defend the Homeland and Provide Support to Civil Authorities
- Provide a Stabilizing Presence
- Conduct Stability and Counterinsurgency Operations
- Conduct Humanitarian, Disaster Relief, and Other Operations
Well, of course you can; the order and emphasis may be different, but Rummy or Dick Cheney could have put that list out.
If you want to be parochial about it – out of the 10, at least half are over 51% DoN, and none less than 30% DoN. Time to get you’re A-game running Navy.
… We will resist the temptation to sacrifice readiness in order to retain force structure, and will in fact rebuild readiness in areas that, by necessity, were deemphasized over the past decade.
That has Navy written all over it – especially our amphibious capabilities. It nods as well to ASW, AAW, and ASUW, as those are the core of what was deemphasized over the last decade. If you don’t agree – look at the #3 PMA.
There is more in the document. If you have not yet, get a cup of coffee, send the phone to voice mail and give it a read. It is less than 20 pages with big fonts and plenty of white space.
Going forward, if we are willing to engage with the challenge, this sets the foundation for a lot of positive creative friction. This is a great opportunity for us to make hard choices, get lean, and set proper priorities – things we didn’t do well in the fat years. It is of little use to cry and scream at the darkness that is our budgetary and political environment; light a candle. If you think more money is coming; you are intellectually lost.
To get this right in the reality we have, we need an open, loud, sharp-elbows, and thick skin discussion of the pros and cons of different courses of action, policies, systems, platforms, and accepted norms.
A2/AD, “Influence Squadrons,” Asian focus, rebuilding neglected readiness areas – these are all Navy areas. We need to embrace them and lean in to the President’s challenge. Less money is always less fun – but it can also bring rewards if you take advantage of the opportunities it can present.
There is work to be done.