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Admiral Details Tenets for New Maritime Strategy

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2007 – Any new U.S. maritime strategy must have at its core joint military capability, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command said here today.

World reliance on the maritime domain is only going to increase, Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating told attendees at the 37th Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis Fletcher National Security Conference.

“Each year almost 20 million containers move on the water between Asia and the United States, and 15 million between the United States and Europe,” Keating said.

More than 70,000 ships each year pass through the Straits of Malacca. These ships carry a third of global trade volume and more than a third of global oil trade, he said.

Pacific Command is covers the largest geographic area of any combatant command. It stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. Most of the command is water, and it has always been regarded as a “naval” command. Some of the most vigorous economic powers of the world are in the command: Japan, China, South Korea, the Southeast Asian nations and India, to name just a few. They understand that continued progress in the region depends on continued security and stability in the maritime domain, Keating said.

These nations have taken to heart the lessons of sea power. “They understand the direct link between the maritime domain and prosperity,” he said. The nations have the money to spend on developing naval power, and they have vital interests they want to protect on the seas.

Keating said any new strategy must be built on four tenets. The first emphasizes the importance of joint warfighting. “Our new strategy must integrate and leverage our great power of our joint military capability,” Keating said. “American sea power is more than just Navy,” and it has been that way since Battle of Manila in 1898.

The admiral stressed that real American sea power “is, and must remain, fully joint.” Pacific Command, out of necessity, focuses on the seas, oceans and waterways that dominate the region. Yet, “success in the maritime battle space is … fundamentally found in joint military power: naval, air and land power projection combined around the clock.”

Second, he said, any new strategy must be designed around continued U.S. military dominance across the full spectrum of operations. “We must retain the powerful overmatch we currently enjoy,” Keating said.

That overmatch can be based on numbers, capabilities or a combination of the two, but it is needed so the United States retains “the ability to dominate in any scenario in all environments without exception.”

This covers all aspects of capabilities from full-scale war to humanitarian operations. It also must contain guidance for countering weapons of mass destruction and proliferation and defending against ballistic-missile attacks.

While military force plays a large role in strategy, “truly winning the maritime domain requires much more from us,” the admiral said. The United States and U.S. Pacific Command encourage peace and stability in the area through cooperation, collaboration and good will.

The United States must always “be prepared to act decisively and, if necessary, alone,” he said. “We also understand it is in the best interest of all nations to act together and in a common cause in pursuit of the goals that most reasonable nations seek.”

Opportunities to act together on the sea, in the air, or on the land abound, Keating said, adding that the United States has excellent bilateral relations with many Pacific nations. The United States is a treaty ally of Japan, South Korea and Thailand; U.S. forces and the forces of South Korea and Thailand regularly participate in exercises and operations; and the U.S. military is also expanding exercises and operations with the Japanese Self-Defense Force.

“We begin by enhancing strong bilateral relations with our allies,” Keating said. “We intend to build on these relations as we expand toward broad collaborative multinational interactions, exchanges, exercises and operations.”

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Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN

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U.S. Pacific Command

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