Hopefully by now you have taken the opportunity to read the contribution to the Maritime Strategy discussion by the Center for Strategic Studies written by Bob Work and Jan van Tol regarding the Navy's new Maritime Strategy.
When we talk about strategy on this blog, we discuss it as context, ends, ways, and means for a complete strategic vision. Building on the many discussions of seabasing off Liberia we had last week, we observe that by highlighting the purpose and methods of that operation is an excellent starting place for discussing the strategic concepts and the strategic questions surrounding the Cooperative Maritime Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (from here on called 21st Century Seapower).
The CSBA strategy assessment discusses seabasing in its conclusions as a critical omission, and we couldn't agree more.
A third obvious omission is the concept’s lack of any substantive discussion of “seabasing.” The idea of using the sea as a joint base of operations in both peacetime and wartime has been a central theme of the Navy-Marine Corps story since the mid-1950s, and especially since the late 1990s. Its absence suggests that this central theme no longer pertains in the Global Era’s cooperative phase. When asked why seabasing had been dropped from the Sea Services’ primary narrative, one of the authors of the strategy responded that the Services had purposely steered away from addressing or highlighting any specific “program.” This answer is itself quite revealing. It suggests that framers of the concept now view seabasing simply in programmatic terms (e.g., what platforms to buy) rather than as a strong foundation for any maritime strategic concept.
This is unfortunate. The rationale for seabasing is stronger than at any time since the end of World War II. During the Transoceanic Era/Cold War, the United States adopted a global defense posture that emphasized forwardbased combat forces in the theaters in which they were expected to fight. During the Global Era, the US has begun shifting away from this garrison posture toward one that emphasizes the forward-deployment of US combat forces from bases located on American sovereign territory. In such an expeditionary posture, the value of maritime forces in general, and seabasing in particular, naturally goes up.74 By omitting any discussion of the general strategic, operational, and tactical advantages of seabasing, the authors seem to have lost an important opportunity to further distinguish the Sea Services’ maritime strategic concept from those of the other Services. Moreover, this omission is inconsistent with the 2006 QDR, which stressed the need for innovative basing concepts to maximize US global freedom of action.
In the early discussions on the blogs regarding the Maritime Strategy, CDR McGrath (as Strategy1) used the description of "hobby horse" in the discussion of seabasing, fully representing this "programmatic" view of seabasing. We find it unconvincing that the strategists are looking at seabasing as a program when indeed the various applications of seabasing clearly represent a strategic concept, and in many cases we observe multiple applications of seabasing where none can be defined by any single program. The ongoing operation off Liberia clearly represents at least two different applications of the strategic maritime concept of seabasing.
We are reminded that the African Partnership Station (APS) is an example of Global Fleet Stations, which National Defense Magazine reported the Navy defined as seabasing.
The global fleet station, the Navy paper says, “is a persistent sea base of operations from which to coordinate and employ adaptive force packages within a regional area of interest.” Its primary responsibility would be “shaping operations, theater security cooperation, global maritime awareness, and tasks associated specifically with the war on terror.”By this definition the APS can be described as a maritime strategic concept intended to promote theater security cooperation, global maritime awareness, and tasks associated specifically with the war on terror (ends or purpose) by coordinating and employing adaptive force packages (ways or method to achieve the ends) to the participating nations of the APS. Within the context of 21st Century Seapower the 'program' element would be classified as the means (or resources) used to accomplish the ways. Instead the naval strategists are claiming seabasing is simply a program. If Seabasing is simply a program, why is the term 'seabasing' used to describe the execution of four different mission sets: Disaster Response to the 2004 Tsunami, Global Fleet Stations, Anti-Piracy operations off Somalia, and a joint Sea Base for supporting amphibious operations.
How can seabasing be a program if the implementation capitalizes on various types of resources (means) depending upon the strategic concept leveraged for seabasing? For the disaster response mission to the 2004 Tsunami the Navy used grey and white hulls for humanitarian operations. For Global Fleet Stations the Navy is using HSVs, amphibious ships, and RO/ROs. For Anti-Piracy operations the Navy is using amphibious ships and MSC T-AKEs, and for the Joint Sea Base the plan uses all the above and some.
Further to the point, in Liberia we observe a transshipment capability with INLS, enabling a port where none exists which would lead to a question, is the INLS program the Sea Base? The vehicles are moved to theater by the RO/ROs, tailored to the mission by the amphibious ship, and deployed to the objective by a HSV. However, we also have the SS Cleveland involved in the humanitarian delivery, which highlights yet another resource in use for implementation of a strategic concept. Is this really a program, or perhaps an omitted strategic concept being executed to support the maritime strategy?
We see the omission of seabasing as part of a larger issue of 21st Century Seapower, something the Navy needs to get its intellectual rigor behind to execute 21st Century Seapower successfully. There is a mission statement in bold and italics on page 4 of 21st Century Seapower, (PDF) it reads:
We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars.We see this phrase as the mission statement for the Navy's maritime strategy. The phrase has got a lot of attention, and is covered in the CSBA document as follows:
when used as part of a maritime strategic concept, the statement that “preventing wars is as important as winning wars” is much different than saying that “preventing war is preferable to fighting wars”—which, as mentioned above, goes without saying. Consistent with Huntington, the former statement implies that organizing the Sea Services (the third key element of any strategic concept) primarily for “Missions of Peace” is as important as organizing the Sea Services to win wars. This thinking would appear to conflate the idea of deployment strategies—how the Sea Services choose to employ the warfighting fleet in peacetime—with organizing and structuring the Sea Services primarily to meet an existing or emerging national security threat.
As Huntington wrote, this would be a great mistake:A military service may at times, of course, perform functions unrelated to external security, such as internal policing, disaster relief, and citizenship training. These are however, subordinate and collateral responsibilities. A military service does not exist to perform these functions; rather it performs these functions because it has already been called into existence to meet some threat.
Huntington goes on to say that when the American people and their elected representatives decide to devote resources to the maintenance of a military capability, “it is necessary for the society to forego the alternative uses to which these resources might be put and to acquiesce in their allocation to the military service.” There are far cheaper ways to allocate resources for “Missions of Peace” than building or organizing military units dedicated solely for these purposes. However, as Huntington suggests, allocating resources to build and organize forces to meet a national security threat, and then using them to conduct “Missions of Peace” when the threat is quiescent or in check makes perfect sense: it accrues a higher rate of return on the resources allocated by the American public to the service.
CSBA is making brilliant observations here, 21st Century Seapower is promoting a broad strategy in that the mission statement can be read to say warfighting is as important as peacemaking, which becomes a critical point in the execution of the Navy's maritime strategy. The implication is to the point of duality in purpose, as the object of maritime strategy is no longer simply Command of the Sea in the context of Mahan or Corbett, rather in its duality the strategy seeks a second object that promotes conditions that prevent the outbreak of war.
My read of Huntington is that he would disapprove of the Navy's duality approach in 21st Century Seapower, but my read of Thomas Barnett is that this is an important requirement, and absent a SysAdmin force for executing peacemaker roles, the military is filling the gap. The question remains, is it the job of the Navy (or Marines) to be the SysAdmin force, or is that a role for another agency? I do not blame the services for filling the critical gap here, the rest of government has shown a remarkable lack of initiative to fill the capability gaps for these SysAdmin roles, and I do not observe any political leadership willing to force the changes needed for other agencies to fill those roles. It doesn't change the question, but in some ways it explains the Navy's decisions.
Assuming this duality in strategy is executed with equal priority, if 21st Century Seapower is to be executed successfully in pursuit of both objects outlined in strategy, the Navy is going to need to spend considerable intellectual rigor in developing principles of peacemaking for the maritime strategy, and do so with a clear understanding of what contributes to peacemaking and warfighting in regards to naval resources and capabilities.
For example, if we apply the maritime strategy of duality to the strategic concept of AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense, the strategic concept behind ballistic missile defense must be evident in both warfighting and peacemaking. In that regard, we can make a pretty good argument to support the warfighter in the defense of ballistic missiles, but as was discussed at the blogger roundtable (transcript here), we can also make an intellectual argument for peacemaking in regards to escalation control. The issue going forward is to produce the intellectual rigor in how to leverage AEGIS BMD for escalation control in pursuit of the second object "that prevent the outbreak of war."
Another example is seabasing. The contrast between a seabasing operation for supporting a humanitarian mission (like what we are observing off Liberia) and supporting an amphibious assault mission (as defined in the program of record) demonstrates the warfighter and peacemaker capabilities of seabasing within the context of 21st Century Seapower.
Is Ballistic Missile Defense a program? Apparently not, it is discussed in 21st Century Seapower as a strategic capability. Is Seabasing a program? Apparently it is seen that way by the strategists, because it is not discussed in 21st Century Seapower due to it being a 'program'. Our concerns regarding 21st Century Seapower is that in order to execute the duality nature of the Strategic Concept presented, a considerable amount of intellectual rigor will be required to define the peacemaking aspects that are given equality to the traditional warfighting aspects. In this way the Navy can demonstrate a lack of strategic vision whenever it executes programs that do not demonstrate pursuit of both objects outlined in the strategy, or equally damaging when the Navy omits strategic concepts that are in pursuit of both objects.
Others are discussing Maritime Strategy today as well:
SteelJaw Scribe - Contributes an excellent discussion regarding the CSBA assessment.
CDR Salamnder - Contributes an excellent discussion regarding the CSBA assessment.
I will update as other contributions are made. We will further expand our thoughts on the duality nature of the maritime strategy tomorrow.