Good evening, SJS readers.  I’ve spent a good bit of the day scouring the internet for reaction to the Maritime Strategy, and I thought I’d take some time to give some thoughts on issues raised on this blog and others. 

  • Climate change.  There has been some positive reaction to our discussion of climate change, the negative reactions have been really negative.  I think it is important to keep a couple of things in mind.  First of all, the strategy does not talk about man’s impact on climate change, simply, that there is evidence that the climate is changing.  We’re not hopping on the Kyoto bandwagon, we’re not becoming Euro-ninnies—we’re simply saying that climate change has the capacity to cause climatic instability.  With more people living near the coasts than ever, potentially stronger and more frequent storms—and just as importantly—global communication systems that broadcast the suffering caused by these events—maritime forces will potentially be called into humanitarian action more frequently than ever.  I take great personal pride in the fact that the very first mention of climate change in the strategy speaks to an opportunity that it may cause (melting of the NW passage) rather than the usual sky is falling predictions.
  • Who was it written for?  There are two communities that seem particularly disappointed with this strategy—Navy Officers (both active and retired) and those working in or around the defense industry (especially those who would like to see more ships built).  Still another way in which this strategy is differentiated from the 1980’s strategy is who it was written for.  By the time the strategy came out in unclassified form (five years after it was first developed!), the narrative that appeared in Proceedings (written by men who had NOTHING to do with the original strategy five years earlier) was as much written for internal Navy consumption as it was external.  Let’s face it—the vast majority of the shipbuilding buildup was already WELL underway by the time the article came out….that article pumped up the Navy officer corps, and helped create the offensive mindset that dominates to this day.  The 2007 strategy is should be read and understood by the Fleet—but the Fleet was not its primary audience.  I asked SJS to include the Huntington article in the site for folks to read—largely for his argument about how a service (or in this case, services) must connect with the American public.  That’s who we were after here—the American public and their representatives in Congress.  Are we talking to the Chinese?  Yes.  Are we talking to terrorists?  Sort of—though they aren’t listening.  Are we talking to the Russians?  Yes.  Are we talking to a world full of nations who are a little leary about us and the way we do business?  Yes.  Are we talking to OSD and the policymakers?  Yes.  Are we talking to the Joint Staff as they spool up for the next National Military Strategy?  Yes.  But we are mostly talking to the people who support us, tying what we do to their security and prosperity.

  • I remain amazed at some critics inability to objectively review the document if their own particular hobby-horse is not there.  The maritime industry folks are a prime example, as are the mine warfare lobby.  Of course there is also the “we need a bigger Navy crowd”, who seem much more concerned with building more ships than they are in having a story that would actually support such an expansion.  We didn’t have one a week ago.  We do now.

  • Style.  Wow.  Who knew there were so many professional editors in the Navy?  I’ve been in for 20 years now, and have made a reasonable service reputation as one of the guys who can write.  My team (USN/USCG/USMC) was lousy with writing and editing talent.  We had two professional (outside) edits done on late drafts…yet to read some of the reviews, this is the product of a million monkeys and their typewriters.  Yes, it was written by a committee.  I would love to have gotten locked in a room for a month with pizzas and word processors, banged out a document and shoved it down the other service’s throats.  My bosses saw things differently, and so we did it in a very integrated way.  Since we were writing it for a wider audience, we felt it had to be uplifting and inspiring—attributes we may not have achieved based on some of the reviews I’ve seen—though I’m not sure the professional navy officer audience wants to see that kind of thing anyway.

  • LCS and where it fits.  One poster on SJS had some questions about LCS—he didn’t’ think it fit well before, and he’s wondering where it fits in this strategy.  My personal opinion is that it fits much better…that the requirement for globally distributed, mission-tailored forces….global fleet stations…..interoperability with USCG and partners….is right up LCS’s alley.  I personally think we need an even smaller ship—in large numbers—to really flood the zone in some of these non combat force areas.

  • CDR Salamander hates everything but the strategic concept—which he appears to like.  He calls it 6-6-3 (which I like quite a bit).  He believes it must have been written by someone other than who wrote the rest.  Not so.  We wrote the whole thing together.  But the fact that someone as well-versed in things Naval as he is has glommed onto what is REALLY important in the strategy—and likes it—is gratifying. 

  • Read that Huntington Article from 1954…I think if you do, you’ll have a much better idea of the level we were aiming for.

I look forward to what tomorrow will bring, and I sincerely appreciate the great questions and feedback on the strategy.

- Strategy1

 

13 Comments

  1. Biggest thing I do not like about the new stategy is that HA/DR is not a war fighting mission and is not something we should resource to. Yes its true that Naval Ships can contribute a lot to helping people disadvantaged by events-but you can also charter commercial shipping to do the job and there are ways to ensure Naval Participation. You buy warships for the missions you always have bought them for: 1) Fused bombs on target on time. 2) Sea Control 3)Presence and preservation of the SLOCS.

    Yes I understand the importance of Theater Security Cooperation-but again that’s a by product of using what you have in your spare time when you are not sailing throught the Straits of Taiwan reminding the Chinese that its an international Sea Lane and that Taiwan is not theirs.

  2. MR T's Haircut

    Strategy,

    I am one of those disappointed with the climate change piece.

    Is the intent to document the requirement to maintain a NEO capability to assist after a storm? Is the intent to document climate change as a requirement to fund more “climate change” mission centric vessels? (LPD…) I am not buying it.

    We study and research and analysis over and ad nausea before acting in the Navy, and the jury is still out on the science behind climate change and we are making it a pillar of the strategy?

    Like I posted on Phib’s site

    “If we are going to talk the talk, we need to walk the walk. How hypocritical to choose to go down the “Climate Change” path, while we consume MASS QUANTITIES of fossil fuel for our military?”

    How exactly has the Navy taken a position on “climate change” being the root cause of “catastrophic storms”?

    We will spend 5 years making a new uniform for the fleet but will take at face value a volatile and arguably misguided theory of “climate change” as a national threat?

    We will name “Climate Change” as a strategic priority yet we will refuse to call out CHINA, IRAN and NORTH KOREA by name?

    What proof do we show and what policy did we sign on agreeing with the so called climate change camps? Does the US Navy and her Admiralty believe that global warming causes Hurricanes? The strategy leads you to believe that is so. ”

    The Climate Change piece really is a hard one to swallow. I just cannot fathom how that ended up in a strategy. I submit that AIDS is doing more to destabilize the African Continent then “climate change”. Gen Powell mentioned this 5 years ago.

    No sir the “climate change” piece sticks in my craw.

    r/
    MTH

  3. On 6-6-3

    Six Tasks:
    1. Limit regional conflict with forward deployed, decisive maritime power.
    2. Deter major power war.
    3. Win our Nation’s wars.
    4. Contribute to homeland defense in depth.
    5. Foster and sustain cooperative relationships with more international partners.
    6. Prevent or contain local disruptions before they impact the global system.

    Six Capabilities
    1. Forward Presence.
    2. Deterrence.
    3. Sea Control.
    4. Power Projection.
    5. Maritime Security.
    6. Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response.

    Three Priorities
    1. Improve Integration and Interoperability.
    2. Enhance Awareness.
    3. Prepare our People.

    Do we treat them equally? Do we treat tasks like “the deterrence of major power war” equal to “winning the nations war?” I ask because if we do, that is a big change and it is going to require changes in business.

    Was there ever any concern with the size and detail included in the strategy? For example, you give each section a few paragraphs a move on. Was there a debate regarding the depth of guidance would be provided within the strategy? 20 pages is good and all, but it keeps things fairly vanilla too. I get the sense that was intentional, but I’m not sure.

    You said: “Let’s face it—the vast majority of the shipbuilding buildup was already WELL underway by the time the article came out…”

    True, but stability and consistency are keys to the 313-ship plan, which means you need intellectual basis to influence change. That intellectual basis either comes from the meat in 6-6-3 or it doesn’t come at all in this strategy.

    Why did the strategy say this:

    “Adversaries are unlikely to attempt conventional force-on-force conflict and, to the extent that maritime forces could be openly challenged, their plans will almost certainly rely on asymmetric attack and surprise, achieved through stealth, deception, or ambiguity.”

    That may describe the most likely conflict, but dismiss the possible? Earlier you said this document is intended for the Chinese audience. You do realize that really makes it sound as if the Navy just sold out Taiwan. For the record, surprise, achieved through stealth, deception, or ambiguity is part of combat with conventional forces as well. I would have suggested the strategy leave out the word “asymmetric” of the emphasis of it. We may need to be aware of the USS Cole incident, but it is a widespread USS Stark incident we are seeking to avoid.

  4. Strategy1

    Mr. T’s Haircut–I’ll take one more crack at this, then I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree. We are not making climate change a pillar of the strategy. We are raising Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief to core. We speculate–in the part of the document that is a lot of speculation–that climate change could cause increased climate instability. Marry this with more people living by coasts and Americans riveted to their TV’s by 24 hour news coverage of calamities–and we have an increased demand signal for something we and only we do–and do well. The strategy signs us up to planning to do it, rather than doing it on the fly. It additionally signs us up to preventive humanitarian missions, such as those undertaken by our hospital ships. No one involved has a political axe to grind and there is no “climate change” strategic priority.

  5. Strategy1

    For Galrahn:

    “Do we treat them equally? Do we treat tasks like “the deterrence of major power war” equal to “winning the nations war?” I ask because if we do, that is a big change and it is going to require changes in business.”

    I suppose you are speaking to the 6 imperatives. I think it is improper to think that all are equal. I raise as a “for instance”, winning the nation’s wars and sustaining cooperative relationships. Clearly, one is more important than the other.

    “Was there ever any concern with the size and detail included in the strategy? For example, you give each section a few paragraphs a move on. Was there a debate regarding the depth of guidance would be provided within the strategy? 20 pages is good and all, but it keeps things fairly vanilla too. I get the sense that was intentional, but I’m not sure”

    It was indeed intentional. Early direction was “10 pages”.

    “You said: “Let’s face it—the vast majority of the shipbuilding buildup was already WELL underway by the time the article came out…” True, but stability and consistency are keys to the 313-ship plan, which means you need intellectual basis to influence change. That intellectual basis either comes from the meat in 6-6-3 or it doesn’t come at all in this strategy.”

    I would hope that you aren’t advocating a strategy based on a fleet size. The 313 number was arrived at before the strategy, and both CNO and SECNAV use the number exactly as you suggest–to help stabilize the industrial base. You and I clearly disagree with whether or not this strategy is the intellectual basis you seek–I think it is, you don’t.

    “Why did the strategy say this:“Adversaries are unlikely to attempt conventional force-on-force conflict and, to the extent that maritime forces could be openly challenged, their plans will almost certainly rely on asymmetric attack and surprise, achieved through stealth, deception, or ambiguity.” That may describe the most likely conflict, but dismiss the possible? Earlier you said this document is intended for the Chinese audience. You do realize that really makes it sound as if the Navy just sold out Taiwan. For the record, surprise, achieved through stealth, deception, or ambiguity is part of combat with conventional forces as well. I would have suggested the strategy leave out the word “asymmetric” of the emphasis of it. We may need to be aware of the USS Cole incident, but it is a widespread USS Stark incident we are seeking to avoid.”

    “Unlikely” does not mean dismissal. We refer to great power war as unlikely, yet we plan for it anyway.

  6. “I would hope that you aren’t advocating a strategy based on a fleet size. The 313 number was arrived at before the strategy, and both CNO and SECNAV use the number exactly as you suggest–to help stabilize the industrial base. You and I clearly disagree with whether or not this strategy is the intellectual basis you seek–I think it is, you don’t.”

    I wouldn’t imply or assume much from my questions or comments. I’ll question for clarification for a few days, but like I said from the very beginning, there is a lot to like here. For me this is the strategic guidance I intend to use (and was looking for) as the foundation for the next few years of my USN analysis and commentary, and if I imply otherwise, be it known I do see both the strategic vision and wisdom in the strategy. (In other words, hopefully you will tolerate a few days of my crap, because either way I will return a few years advocating and educating based on your substance.)

    A concern is that due to the condensed content details of the Tasks, Capabilities, and Priorities; the MS takes a very generic approach (from a professionals perspective) in explanation. Was that intentional for guidance purposes or for audience purpose, or for other reasons? The 86 MS was very specific, detailed even in direction and guidance for leadership or building doctrine. Was there a concern in presentation regarding a conceptional document vs a specific guidance document?

    For example, several specific initiatives didn’t get a mention, like 1000 Ship Navy or Global Fleet Stations. Was not including these specific initiatives a result of planning for audience reception, or for the purposes of re-categorizing initiatives into a more formal structure in handling a broader category of international partnerships?

  7. Strategy1

    Galrahn–MS86 was a wonderfully specific document, perhaps owing to the fact that the enemy was specific, our knowledge of his tactics was specific, and we had as close to a blank check as any service has ever had. I know that most readers consider this a lame explanation, but we chose to go more “conceptual” simply because there is another, classifed document (the Navy Strategic Plan) that lends specificity (risk guidance to programmers). The folks who developed the NSP work about ten feet away, and we kept them in the mix as to where the strategy was going all the way. Large portions of the strategy are in fact faithfully reproduced in the NSP. I realize how intellectually stifling it is to say, “well, we’ve thought of that, but it is classified”. But that’s what I’m going to say. What I will tell you is that the NSP is NOT what many are looking for–a shipbuilding strategy. I will stipulate that our shipbuilding program is on rocky ground. But it was that way before the strategy—before there was a coherent story about what it is we want those 313 to do. Now we have a story—regionally focused credible combat power in NE Asia and SW asia (the deployment hubs we currently fill) and globally distributed mission tailored forces (where we currently have little force structure applied, and even then only in an episodic fashion).

    As for 1000 Ship Navy and GFS (what I like to refer to as the “brand names”, largely to infuriate the crowd who hates all the business speak) don’t get mentioned for the specific reasons that they are not strategic. They are operational instantiations of higher strategic concepts….the building of cooperative relationships and the limiting of localized disruptions in the system (the full range of Maritime Security pursuits). The concepts remain important and valid–but they are simply means to achieve ends–we wanted to deal with the ends.

  8. rickusn

    LCS

    “LCS and where it fits. One poster on SJS had some questions about LCS—he didn’t’ think it fit well before, and he’s wondering where it fits in this strategy. My personal opinion is that it fits much better…that the requirement for globally distributed, mission-tailored forces….global fleet stations…..interoperability with USCG and partners….is right up LCS’s alley. I personally think we need an even smaller ship—in large numbers—to really flood the zone in some of these non combat force areas. ”

    That was me and Im willing to be convinced but NONE of my concerns/questions about this ship have been answered, just marginalised, belittled or ignored and that set off warning bells from the get go. IMHO the USN really needs to revisit the concept unattrative as doing so may be. Its extremely important for the USN to get this ship right and its not yet from my perspective as is Global Fleet stations. The CSG,ESG,SSG,GFS paradigm that can be combined into an NEF if necessary is right from my perspective but how LCS fits has me perplexed as Im sure you noted. Its ironic that in the past seen as LCSs defender as I understand the missions the USN wants it to do and need to be done. I just have increasingly had a hard time envisioning how it will be capable of doing them adequately much less superiorly. And now with the severe cost escalation combined with its perceived vulnerabilities and inherent limitations will it even be hazarded in the dangerous venues originally envisioned for its employment? Or as you seem to imply will it now only be assigned to “non combat areas”?

    Convince me my concerns are unfounded and I will become instantly an unabashed and ardent supporter rather than a questioner of the plaforms efficacy.

    And another question. I surely dont understand this. For what purpose?
    “to really flood the zone in some of these non combat force areas. ”

    In particular and specifically what need to “flood…noncombat force areas”?

    IMHO whatever surface warships the USN buys must be first and foremost combatants capable to effectively carry out assigned missions and survive in combat areas.

    Its also my main concern with the three LHA(R)/LHD dedicated soley it appears to the seabase. In effect “concentration” overshadowing “dispersion, flexibility and mobility”. Although those three are the main tenets, from my understanding, behind the CSG/ESG/SSG/GFS paradigm. Am I that confused or is the USN?

    “An MPF(F)
    LHA(R) is distinguished from an Expeditionary Strike Group
    (ESG) LHA(R) by its simplified command and control system and
    lack of active defense systems.”

    “The MPF(F) LHD will be a decommissioned
    LHD from the fleet, modified for MPF(F).”

    Which of cousre brings us right back to LCS fails on all three counts they have to be concentrated to be effective rather than dispersed, they are inflexible once
    mission-tailored and immobile due to a lack of endurance and seakeeping which is even worse if its so-called imperative, although not yet met high-speed requirements are realized and actually used.

    Yet LCS is it.

    Because the USN rejected further frigate construction 20 years ago, and again recently not to mention the “mothership concept” which is the only way smaller combatants which you want can be supported. And those were a rejected option also when the current LCS program was decided on.

    I must be missing something, misconstruing or not understanding the issues.

    “but they are simply means to achieve ends–we wanted to deal with the ends.”

    OK, done and now its “time to deal with the” means.

    And LCS is not it.

    But the USN conciously painted itself into a corner and could God Forbid end up with nothing. But to tout or justify the LCS because of that does nothing to increase the efficacy of this ship.

    Again IMHO its become a goldplated MCM ship that has all the potential to grieviously harm the USNs effectiveness for decades to come.

    As strategys can be written interminably and unlimitedly but the windows of opportunity to acquire the appropriate “means” are extremely limited and the effects of success or failure are far-reaching and long-lasting.

    And that is why all to often what means exists drives a strategy rather than strategy driving the acquistion of means.

    Oh I know many will say not my job!!!

    But without a guide to proper means a strategy document is empty rhetoric IMHO.

    Id rather be proven wrong than to be right about LCS so……

    Please take my questions/concerns in the spirit they are intended and that is to maintain(or regain? to attain?) a navy that is powerful, relevant and effective.

    Thanks in advance for any enlightment.

  9. Strategy1

    RickUSN—sorry, I’m about tapped out on the defense of LCS front.

  10. MR T's Haircut

    Strategy,

    In case you missed my earlier post on a thread down below:

    First of all, thanks for the energy and effort. I see the humor in your dilemma with being rerouted to work VADM Morgan’s tasker. Death by PPT.
    Thank you for the insight into the development. I do know that you have an enormous amount of time invested in the strategy. I hope you will not take our resistance or questions as an offense against you or your comrades. Like my old Chief used to say, “If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be bitching so passionately.”

    The MS86 was long on clear plain talk regarding the enemy threat. Calling the Soviets out by name. There was opportunity to do so with this new strategy yet that remained silent. No China, No Iran, No Syria, only nameless, faceless, “transnational actors”.

    I am pleased with one point of the strategy however, and that is deterrence. The “Major Power War” deterrence mentioned in the document leads me to assume that when your teams were developing this strategy, it was realized that the value and theory of deterrence will only work against a “Major Power”. The review of the 86 MS showed that the center piece of that strategy was no longer viable, that true deterrence against asymmetrical threats will no longer work. What is your opinion of the definition of “Major Power deterrence” and do you think the Navy Warfighting leadership recognizes that deterrence has little value against “terror networks” and “transnational actors”?

    (lastly did you guys shoot the guy that came up with the gauche Jack Bauer buzzwords?)

    r/
    MTH

  11. Strategy1

    MTH–I don’t think there is any mystery why MS86 had such clear, plain talk regarding the enemy threat—we had an enemy, a sworn enemy. Is China a sworn enemy? I’m not sure that is national policy; putting that aside for a moment, I’m not sure seeing them that way is wise. Clearly they are a competitor, and someday they may become and adversary. Iran, Syria? We’re one big student-led revolution away from a regime change in Iran (remember 1979)–why start naming enemies who may be gone in a year? We were trying to write a document that could have some longevity–I think folks will be sophisiticated enough to see that discussions of major power war and regional conflict–buttressed by where our combat forces will continue to operate–means we know who we’re dealing with.

    Your deterrence thinking is interesting, and tracks very closely with the way Navy leadership sees things. Major power deterrence seems still to be possible and relevant….nation-states seek legitimacy and whether we talk conventional or nuclear deterrence, they still seem to be subject to the same forces as they once were. Terrorists are a different story, especially where nukes are concerned. For a nation state, the use of a nuke is not as important as the possession of a nuke. Not sure this applies to terrorists. They seem to get much more of a bump out of actually using one if they had one. The strategy effort–specifically the deterrence discussions–has created an ongoing effort led by the Naval War College to really deep-dive into modern deterrence. There is a workshop there this week, and CNA did one about a month ago.

  12. MR T's Haircut

    Strategy,

    I can see the holdback on naming China a sworn enemy in an official document as a matter of national policy. I can also see the value of naming her officially. I think we are somewhere between an “enemy” and a “competitor” regarding China. The problem with that line of thinking is we are not setting the terms of the definition, China is. Only China truly knows her status. For years we have been prodding for transparency, yet we have not received it. Mistrust of an enemy leads to misunderstanding. That can be catastrophic. I am not the expert on Chinese affairs, but I am curious if they would be clear on OUR intentions and not leave it “between the lines” as Kaplan states.

    One value of naming China an enemy, threat or whatever (or however it is couched) in writing is it puts China on notice! That can serve as a form of “Deterrence”. I think we missed an opportunity to put China in the strategy in writing.

    The really beautiful thing about MS86 was the calling out of the Soviet. We adjusted the tactics of the strategy to force the Soviet to REACT, to us and our tactics and this forced a transparency regarding the Soviets. We learned what they would do and we forced them to adjust to our timetable by our exercises, by our movements and we engaged politically and diplomatically. We developed the tactics to defeat the threat based on our action causing the reaction. There is a deafening silence regarding China. We do not “provoke”, we do not exercise in her waters, we do everything short of “training how we fight”, that tells me we are not “training” against China because we have no plans to fight her. I would prefer more training fleet wide problems against the last true “major power” threat. If nothing else than for deterrence.

    Iran and Syria, I am not sure “hope” is a good course of action. I submit they are both proxies of China. We have been hand wringing over Iran for a decade, afraid to be punitive or react to Iranian provocations because we are afraid we will “galvanize” the masses against us, so we wait, we hope for a revolution. That is allowing the march of time to continue.

    I would like to have seen “a say what you mean, mean what you say” strategy naming Iran a proxy of China. Naming Iran the rogue state supporting the “transnational actors”. I may be missing something diplomatically that prevents this.

    Deterrence in the new “global system” is whole new topic for discussion…

  13. rickusn

    “RickUSN—sorry, I’m about tapped out on the defense of LCS front.”

    I was afraid of that but then maybe force structure, formations and ships really arent appropriate in a discussion of strategy.

    All I know is the USN has a unique window of opportunity like it did in the early 1980’s only much shorter like six months to a year to secure its future relevance and and I dont sense an appropriate sense of urgency.

    At least in the 1980s we got the Burke class program securely established although not w/o setbacks .

    Maybe LCS will shake-out OK too and Im oevrly concerned and worried about nothing.

    Hope so.

    But until I see concrete evidence of its utiilty, flexibility and effectiveness Ill remain loyally sceptical.

    Of course being a submariner I struggle somewhat with the concept of building “targets” of any type by nature. LOL

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