Archive for the 'ukraine' Tag
Many of you are familiar with the popular Navy recruiting poster that showcases one of our big-deck carriers and the caption: “90,000 TONS OF DIPLOMACY.” Warships send a strong message of resolve and by their very presence–they deter conflict. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the Black Sea, where our freedom of navigation operations, reassurance measures, and annual exercise plan contributes to the safety, security and prosperity of the Black Sea Region. However, under the terms of the Montreux Convention, an international treaty, a 90,000 ton aircraft carrier is prohibited from transiting the straits into the Black Sea, so we use our Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) in Europe and other deployed units to fill the void.
Despite how some nations in the region might behave, the Black Sea is in fact a body of international water, no different than the Mediterranean Sea or Baltic Sea, and is subject to customary international law and the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea defining the rights and obligations of both coastal states and non-coastal states — chief among these are the high seas freedom of navigation and overflight and the right of innocent passage through the territorial seas of a coastal state. Ever since the citizens of Troy guarded the entrance, the straits and sea have been a major thoroughfare for international trade and we must ensure that they always remain so. In 1936, the Montreux Convention was agreed to by all the Black Sea nations, to include the former Soviet Union. It ensured the continued freedom of navigation through the straits and in the Black Sea; while giving Turkey the right to some control over traffic through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus and putting in place a set of tonnage limits on both non-Black Sea and Black Sea nation naval vessels, to include a restriction on all aircraft carriers. Less than ten years later, but a whole world war apart, the shores of Crimea would host the Yalta Conference, an expression of the Great Powers’ desire for peace following the second war to end all wars. How ironic that Yalta, once a gathering place of world powers who would determine how to rebuild post-war Europe is now in “occupied” territory . . .
Of late, the Black Sea Region has been through some tumultuous times. A nasty border war between Georgia and Russia took place in 2008 causing significant setbacks to the Georgian economy, military and infrastructure. The United States was the first to come to Georgia’s aid. In 2014, Russian illegally annexed Crimea in Ukraine, occupied its main port of Sevastopol and confiscated over 50 percent of Ukraine’s Navy. Throughout the conflict, which continues today, the United States has maintained its support for Ukraine, especially in the Maritime Domain. In fact, we are currently in the detailed planning phase for the next multi-national Sea Breeze exercise, hosted by Ukraine and involving other NATO and Black Sea nations in 2016.
ADM Mark Ferguson and I have made several visits to the Allies and partners in the Black Sea Region. We arrange our visits to coincide with exercises and events that occur in Fleet concentration areas and we always receive a warm welcome from our Black Sea partners. Just recently, however, we tried something different. We brought five of the six Black Sea nations to our Headquarters in Naples, Italy for the first-ever Black Sea Forum. The CNOs of the Romanian, Bulgarian and Ukrainian Navy, the Commandant of the Georgian Coast Guard and the Chief of Staff of the Turkish Navy were all in attendance. They were joined by me and ADM Ferguson, Vice-Admiral Clive Johnstone, Commander, NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM), and Flag and General Officers from the European Command (EUCOM), U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe/Africa (MARFOREUR/AF), and U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR). The Black Sea Forum was a first-of-its-kind event to discuss maritime security in the Black Sea region which faces growing threats from terrorism, massive migration flows and asymmetric threats from the Russian build-up of Anti-Access/Area Denial systems in the Crimea, to include plans to homeport six new Russian Kilo-class submarines in the Black Sea (two of the six have already arrived). The coalescence of all these allies and partners at the Black Sea Forum speaks volumes about their desire for increased security cooperation in the region.
Our aim in bringing these nations together into one room was to create an opportunity for meaningful dialogue on how to proceed as maritime nations to secure the Black Sea in the face of a rapidly changing security environment. We were able to stitch together a program that allowed each nation to address the forum with their views of the region. All of the nations agreed that the sea afforded them the benefits of commerce, economic prosperity, and energy independence. They further agreed that increased Russian military presence in the region was a serious concern and potentially destabilizing. We concluded that operating together at-sea and in the air, with common systems and operating procedures, to build capacity and capability was the first step in ensuring we maintained that stability.
I have written frequently in this forum about the importance of partnerships in maintaining maritime security. From my posts about the revision of the Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (CS-21R), to my experiences during BALTOPS 2015, and my travels in an around this complex and increasingly important area of operations, I have stayed true to the notion that the presence of strong navies afloat across the globe underwrites the safety and security of the international system. With the CNO’s “Design for Maritime Superiority” now hot off the press, building the global network of strong partnerships necessary to realize those aims is a priority. The idea of a global network, though, does not imply that each member has to view their own interests in a global sense. The network is comprised of individual navies whose contribution is, more often than not, regional. By fostering regional cooperation, however, we can make inroads that will have global impacts.
In Europe and Africa, we are building this network on a regional level in exercises like BALTOPS in the Baltic Sea and the Express Series Exercises around the continent of Africa. The Breeze and Sea Breeze exercises accomplish the same broad objectives in the Black Sea region. The Symposium in Naples last month was just another data point of how we are helping to build cooperation between the navies that call the Black Sea home. The goal of stability within the region cannot be reached by one navy or one nation alone—we are indeed stronger together.
For the better part of a quarter century we have become comfortable reigning over a domain we do not have title to. Many know and are preparing for it – but as we rack-n-stack priorities, mitigating this critical vulnerability often gets lost in the crunch.
We have comfortably placed a significant portion of our weaponeering, navigation and other essentials at the mercy of peacetime access to GPS, and entire CONOPS assuming the access, use, and utility of networks reliant on the electromagnetic commons.
The warnings about about this complacency show up on a regular basis, and we have another one via DefenseNews;
… the commander of US Army Europe says Ukrainian forces, who are fighting Russian-backed separatists, have much to teach their US trainers.
Ukrainian forces have grappled with formidable Russian electronic warfare capabilities that analysts say would prove withering even to the US ground forces.
“Our soldiers are doing the training with the Ukrainians and we’ve learned a lot from the Ukrainians,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges. “A third of the [Ukrainian] soldiers have served in the … combat zone, and no Americans have been under Russian artillery or rocket fire, or significant Russian electronic warfare, jamming or collecting — and these Ukrainians have. It’s interesting to hear what they have learned.”
Hodges acknowledged that US troops are learning from Ukrainians about Russia’s jamming capability, its ranges, types and the ways it has been employed. He has previously described the quality and sophistication of Russian electronic warfare as “eye-watering.”
How is the Army doing on its rack-n-stack in keeping up with the evolving electronic threats?
… and it is developing a powerful arsenal of jamming systems, but these are not expected until 2023.
As we defined it awhile ago, that is over two worldwars from now. Hmmmm.
Maybe Ukraine will inform their priorities as they look at the challenge ashore with fresh eyes – and in a fashion – help us look again at the challenge at sea.
Sea Control discusses the Crimean Crisis, with three CIMSEC writers: Dave Blair, Viribus Unitis, and Robert Rasmussen. We discuss Russia’s aims and tactics, the Maidan movement, Ukrainian governance and passive resistance, and what this crisis means for Russia and the EU/NATO.