Click on the image to download the NOC


Three years ago this coming October the new maritime strategy (“A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower”) was published to some acclaim and much criticism. The new maritime strategy proposed a sea-change in missions and direction of the maritime services (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) in light of the emerging post-Cold War world. Leading the way was the signatory statement that “We believe preventing wars is as important as winning wars” which sets the tone for what followed. 

And what followed was a list of strategic imperatives that included the traditional (limit regional conflict, deter major war, etc.) and new (foster and sustain cooperative relationships, prevent/contain local disruptions, etc.) and laid out the capabilities necessary to to execute those imperatives. The one thing that was missing was a companion document that laid out how this strategic vision would (1) be operationalized and (2) be equipped to carry out these missions. In other words — a naval operations concept or NOC. To be sure, since 2002 the Navy has had a NOC in one form or another, but it was hamstrung by a lack of a new maritime strategy. Thus, when the new maritime strategy came out, it was with some relief and anticipation that we learned a NOC would be not far behind. And so we waited. 

And waited. And waited. 

Being one of the more vocal critics of the apparent lack of progress (especially frustrating since I’d seen advanced drafts as well as having a historical piece of the document) I note it’s arrival on the scene late yesterday. Where the Maritime Strategy was a relatively short 15 or so pages, the NOC is a meatier 112, including Annexes. With detailed chapters on such topics as forward presence, sea control, power projection, deterrence, it promises to be a deep read (and likely focus of most of my energies as part of my daytime job). I will especially be interested in the discussion on the sea as maneuver space (given a certain project am currently engaged with), the discussion of the relationship of the NOC (actually called NOC 10) and the Joint Concept Development and Experimentation process as well as the chapter I’m sure most of DC will dive right to today — Chapter 10, Force Structure, for that was one of the main criticisms of the Maritime Strategy – the lack of an accompanying force structure document. 

Stay tuned to these spaces as I’m sure the discussion will be animated in the days that follow. In the meantime, let me leave you with these opening statements: 

“The basic premise of our newly published Maritime Strategy is that the United States is a force for good int he world — that while we are capable of launching a clinched fist when we must — offering the hand of friendship is also an essential and prominent tool in our kit. That premise flows from the belief that preventing wars means we don’t have to win wars.” — General James T. Conway, USMC 

“We do more than respond; we prevent. In our Maritime Strategy we state that we believe that it is just as important to prevent wars as it is to win wars. That is done through our worldwide presence; our well-trained Sailors, and our very capable ships, airplanes, and submarines.” — Admiral Gary Roughead, USN 

“The Coast Guard completely subscribes to this strategy. It reinforces the Coast Guard Strategy for Safety, Security, and Stewardship and it reflects not only the global reach of our maritime services, but the need to integrate, synchronize and act with coalition and international partners to not only win wars — but to prevent wars.” — Admiral Thad W. Allen, USCG

(crossposted at USNI blog)