Sea Services Unveil New Maritime Strategy
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2007 The new U.S. maritime strategy elevates war prevention to the same level of importance as warfighting. (Video)
Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations; Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps; and Adm. Thad W. Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard, today unveiled “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower” at the International Seapower Symposium, in Newport, R.I.
Representatives from 98 countries attended the symposium. Roughead said it was fitting that the new strategy was briefed at the event, because it is an outgrowth of talks with allies that began at the symposium two years ago.
“The American people expect -- demand -- that we as a Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard remain strong,” the admiral said. “They also expect our services to defend their territory and to be able to protect our citizens.”
This is the traditional mission of a maritime strategy, but the American people also expect U.S. naval forces to cooperate with maritime forces of other nations. U.S. security and prosperity “is completely linked to security and prosperity of other nations around the world,” Roughead said.
The new maritime strategy calls on the Navy to develop certain strategic imperatives. “We believe we must be a global force, a globally positioned force,” the Roughead said.
U.S. maritime forces must have credible combat power “that can limit various regional issues, that can deter conflict, and that can fight and win when called upon to do so.” The Navy must be able to work with others, but also must be able to fight and win without allies, if needed, he said.
U.S. naval forces will be globally distributed but will be concentrated in two general areas: the western Pacific and the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean region. Those forces must be able to be moved, brought together, shaped and structured so the U.S. Navy can conduct operations around the world, Roughead said. They also need to be able to work with long-standing allies and new partners.
Maritime forces must be able to conduct sea-control operations, and they must be able to project power. “When access is denied, we must have the capability to project power and to maintain those capabilities as enduring capabilities,” the admiral said.
But in addition to maritime security, the strategy calls for an expanded core capability: disaster response and humanitarian assistance. The Indonesian tsunami that ravaged the Indian Ocean basin in 2004 is a case in point for the need for this capability. Maritime forces of many nations converged upon the area and saved countless lives.
But there has to be a basis for those forces to come together. “We develop the relationships; we develop the procedures; we develop the methods that allow us to be more effective should something like that happen,” Roughead said.
And this is not just an international issue, as the military and maritime response following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 proves, he said.
The key to the maritime strategy is trust, Roughead said. “We believe that trust cannot be surged. Trust is not something that has a switch and you can turn on and off,” he said. “Trust is something that must be built over time. Trust is built through discussions, operations, activities and exercises and through initiatives that each of us may undertake and bring others into. It is built on seeking opportunities to work more closely together.”
The admiral said he especially wants young naval officers and sailors to participate in military-to-military exchanges. Relationships with members of other navies must be developed so that when the maritime forces serve together it is not the first time the sailors have met.
Conway said the Marine Corps absolutely agrees with the new strategy. But, given the pressure of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it may be some time before his service can embrace it fully, he added. “We are closer to the United States Army than we have been for a long, long time,” Conway said. “We have been operating alongside them -- intertwined with them really -- over the last four, five years.”
The Marine Corps is an expeditionary force by nature, and having 26,000 Marines in a land battle in Anbar province takes some of that capability from the corps. “We go down to the sea in ships,” he said. “But right now, we are very much taking on the profile of a second land army.
“We have to go through an expeditionary filter when we get out of there to get back to a lighter, faster, more hard-hitting capability that is deployable aboard our nation’s ships.”
Allen said the U.S. Coast Guard completely subscribes to the strategy. “It reinforces the time-honored missions we carried out in this country since 1790,” he said. “It reinforces the Coast Guard maritime strategy of safety, security and stewardship, and it reflects not only the global reach of our maritime services but the need to integrate and synchronize and act with our coalition and international partners to not only win wars … but to prevent wars.”
Allen called the new strategy a “convergence of ideas and leadership” and said it represents a step “forward in a very uncertain future and an era of persistent, irregular conflict.”
Roughead said the global system in place today requires this maritime strategy. The global system changes every day as changes occur among people, nations, economies, law and knowledge. “Change is a good thing, because change gives us the opportunities to make adjustments to pursue new initiatives, and that’s what the strategy is about,” he said.