Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Seapower Manifesto

The Value of Preponderant American Seapower

Introduction.  The United States has been at war with Islamic extremists for nine years, a conflict that has made America safer while driving al-Qaeda and its associates into a largely disaggregated operational posture with diminished capabilities and even lower stature.  With the threat of al-Qaeda lessened, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq targeted for wind-down by the Obama Administration (and the Bush Administration before it), the nation will inevitably turn to a discussion of a military force posture appropriate to its long term strategic goals.  This will include a debate about continued global leadership and the attendant instruments of national power that underwrite it.  Protecting America’s national interests should be the starting point of such a discussion, along with a renewed commitment to traditional allies and alliances.  Central to the debate is the need for a renaissance in American Seapower and its role in underwriting US leadership when significant force levels ashore are unnecessary and/or undesired.  That debate has to some extent already begun, though divorced from any overarching strategic context.  In an article from early 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote “As much as the U.S. Navy has shrunk since the end of the Cold War, for example, in terms of tonnage, its battle fleet is still larger than the next 13 navies combined -- and 11 of those 13 navies are U.S. allies or partners.”[1]   In a speech to the Navy League’s Sea, Air, and Space Exposition in May of 2010, the Secretary expressed doubt as to the efficacy of current US Navy preponderance by repeating the statistic above and adding to it, listings of US Navy dominance in big-deck amphibious ships, fast-attack submarines and cruisers and destroyers equipped with vertically launched missiles.[2]  So it would appear that the Secretary of Defense is setting the stage for dramatic cuts in Navy force structure, a post-war pattern repeated several times in the United States since the end of World War II. 
 This is not the time for history to repeat itself.  Many of the challenges facing our nation are abidingly maritime in nature, rising powers are building navies to contest US Navy mastery of the seas, and the world economy remains utterly dependent on the free flow of goods across the maritime commons, the freedom of which is guaranteed by American Seapower.   Many of America’s strategic challenges, such as Iran, North Korea and China, will challenge freedom of the commons from ashore, making many naval comparisons irrelevant.  This fundamental geostrategic reality cannot be taken for granted.  Simply put, America cannot remain a global power without a global Navy, and that global Navy is under siege as policy-makers seek to reduce each discretionary part of the federal budget to fund America’s growing appetite for entitlements and to service its increasing debt.  This “entitlement” overstretch is not sustainable in economic terms, and it threatens to further erode the tools that U.S. policy makers have come to assume will always be robust enough to undergird our way of life and economic lifelines.  America is a maritime nation, and its resource priorities should reflect a simple truth: American Seapower plays a unique, critical, disproportionate and sustaining role in the security and prosperity of the United States, and it should be resourced at levels appropriate to its importance.  That importance will only rise as the nation faces a new geo-strategic reality of two rising powers making considerable investments in naval might, (China and India) as opposed to the latter half of the 20th century when only the Soviets were doing so.  
Text Box                                         What is American Seapower?      Text Box

For the purposes of this study, American Seapower is defined as the sum of the capabilities and effects that naval forces (the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard) can deliver in support of national policy while operating on, under and from the sea.

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The Tipping Point?  In a widely discussed March 2010 study entitled “The Navy at a Tipping Point:  Maritime Dominance at Stake?”, authors Daniel Whiteneck, Michael Price, Neil Jenkins and Peter Swartz of the Center for Naval Analyses applied a term popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” to the question of “at what point might the US (Navy) cease to be globally influential”? [3]  As a Federally Funded Research and Development Agency (FFRDC), the CNA study responded to explicit Navy tasking, which included providing an assessment of what constituted “global influence” and options for force employment and deployment designed to maintain global influence.[4]  The study concluded that the Navy’s current strategy for maintaining forward deployed combat power and global influence was unsustainable in an era of declining resources and increasing costs.  Exactly when the “tipping point” would be reached (in this case, a Navy without global influence) is left to the reader to conclude, although there is a clear message that it is approaching. 
The Center for Naval Analyses is world renowned for the quality of its thinking, and this study is no exception.  It is a straightforward statement of a dim future for sustaining a global Navy, one able to deter adversaries, assure friends, maintain favorable security balances and catalyze maritime security in order to maintain the freedom of the maritime commons.  The study proposes a series of force employment alternatives for the Navy, each of which represents a departure from the status quo driven by resource constraints and to some degree, by notions of future alterations in American grand strategy.  In the “2-Hub Option”, credible combat power is maintained in East Asia and the Arabian Gulf/Indian Ocean at the expense of low end presence forces and amphibious shipping.  In the “1+ Hub Option”, such combat power is maintained only in East Asia, with a second, low end force dedicated largely maritime security and presence missions globally.  In the “Shaping Option”, high-end combat power would be sacrificed in order to maintain the global presence of amphibious and other forces designed to promote regional stability through increased cooperation with maritime partners.  In the “Surge Navy”, global presence would be sacrificed in order to maintain largely US-based combat power that would “surge” to hotspots as necessary.  The final option is to simply continue to shrink the “Status Quo Navy”, maintaining to the degree possible such high-end combat capability as is possible while continuing to maintain today’s deployment patterns as the fleet shrinks.  The fleet that is deployed is one with decidedly less superiority, with large amphibious ships replacing aircraft carriers and small escorts replacing cruisers and destroyers.   

Directed by the Navy to frame its analysis against the backdrop of declining resources, CNA put forward a series of logical and balanced recommendations for force employment.  That the Navy chose to bound the study in the manner it did represents a responsible approach to thinking about the future by an armed service operating within its own notion of budget constraints and the likelihood of diminishing resources in the future.    Where the study falls short is in its failure to ask potentially more important questions:  Is a preponderant, global Navy in the strategic interest of the United States? And Is such a preponderant Navy worth allocating additional resources to, even at the cost of other elements of U.S. military power? Dr. Andrew Krepinevich of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) frames the larger issue of allocating scarce resources to defense and security thusly:  “There is an opportunity here, if the Obama Administration is willing to seize it. It involves exploring all available options for diverting the country from its path toward a declining military posture, and doing so within the context of an overall integrated strategy.”[5]   As long as American Seapower is viewed as simply one of many equivalent tools of military power rather than as our nation’s strategic comparative advantage, Pentagon budget cuts will be doled out among the Services equally and will not reflect the choices that will most effectively support the nation’s interests.    

The Search for a Grand Strategy.  The Global War on Terror (GWOT) never constituted a true “grand strategy”, nor was it ever put forward as one.  It was an exigency forced upon the United States by Islamic Jihadists bent on spreading a version of a “New Caliphate”.  As that war continues into its tenth year and the present administration openly talks of a draw-down, many observers are beginning to resurrect the dialogue of grand strategy begun in the early days of the George W. Bush administration.  Then (as in the 90’s) the US was faced with what some have called the “uni-polar” moment: that is, when the US reigned supreme (and without serious challengers) in diplomatic, military and economic might.  Forced to shelve serious discussions of a grand strategy appropriate to a uni-polar world, the United States instead spent most of the past decade pursuing two land wars in Asia against largely irregular and insurgent forces.  These wars have arguably made the United States a safer place by denying Al-Qaeda safe haven and by removing from the international scene a regime in Iraq that was a threat to its neighbors and its own citizens, that openly flouted the will of the international community, and that was thought by virtually every reputable intelligence service on Earth to possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
In those wars, US Joint forces have performed brilliantly, and the Special Forces and the intelligence communities continue to take the fight to the nihilist Jihadist enemy wherever it hides.  But this pursuit has come at a cost, as the United States spent nearly $1 trillion ($700B on Iraq and $300B on Afghanistan) on these campaigns, even as a serious economic crisis at home hobbled the economy.  The most powerful nation on Earth has expended considerable blood and treasure fighting shadowy, irregular forces in conflicts whose outcomes are still in doubt.  All the while, a rising international competitor focused inwardly on generating 10% annual growth even as it modernized and enlarged its armed forces, especially its Navy.  Although China has emerged as the United States most stressing strategic competitor, there is little evidence that a grand strategy appropriate to facing the challenge of extending and sustaining America’s position of global leadership is under consideration.  The Administration’s recently released national security strategy continues to focus on terrorist threats, particularly those wielding weapons of mass destruction, while giving little consideration to the ways the US will pursue its national interests.    If the nation truly does depend on freedom in the global commons, partnerships and counter-proliferation as described in the strategy, then the ways America will exercise leadership should be defined.  Seapower is a key element of each of these objectives.  Seapower is more suited to these missions than ground or air forces, whose permanence and impermanence respectively make them poor choices to secure free and legitimate movement without infringing on others’ freedom and sovereignty.
It is not the intent of this paper to propose a grand strategy for the United States.  It is the intent of this paper to advocate strongly for the proposition that irrespective of what form such a strategy takes, preponderant American Seapower will ineluctably be an indispensible asset.  To use a framework familiar to any student of international relations, should America choose a strategy of Primacy, the case for American Seapower is axiomatic.  Should the country choose a strategy of Selective Engagement, American Seapower provides the flexibility to intervene where and when desired.  Should the nation choose a strategy of Cooperative Security, no element of US military force is better suited to forging effective and lasting cooperative arrangements than is American Seapower.  And finally, if the country settles on a neo-isolationist strategy, or one of Restraint or Offshore Balancing,[6]  American Seapower will be called upon to re-establish favorable security balances where and when it is in the national interest to do so.  No element of American military power is as flexible, adaptable and useful as Seapower.  Irrespective of the direction American grand strategy may take, Seapower will play a disproportionate role in carrying it out.

Strategic Considerations.  The coming strategic dialogue will take place amid the backdrop of three potentially irreconcilable considerations.  The first will be a natural, increased hesitance toward land war after a costly decade or more in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Many Americans will eventually ask what was gained by the expenditure of over 5,500 lives and over a trillion dollars.  The second will be the growing appetite for domestic infrastructure investment and entitlement spending even as the nation confronts mounting debt.  The final consideration will be the desire of the American public to play the leading role in a world increasingly marked by the rise of Asia and the emergence of Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRIC nations) as counterweights to US and EU influence.[7]
The support of the American people for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been remarkably durable, but it would be unwise to think such support would extend to another land war of choice in the near term, a sentiment echoed by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who wrote that “The United States is unlikely to repeat another Iraq or Afghanistan -- that is, forced regime change followed by nation building under fire -- anytime soon.”[8]  While there are other foreseeable reasons the US might wish to employ massive land force, Afghanistan and Iraq appear emblematic of the chaos and untidiness many observers feel will mark the future strategic landscape.  This landscape will grow ever more dangerous as sophisticated weapons continue to proliferate into the hands of insurgents and terrorists.   If these types of conflicts are unlikely to summon similar US resolve, there is a question of continuing to sustain and resource those capabilities and capacities necessary to address such conflict at the same levels.  Might the nation be better off working to preclude these situations before they erupt, rather than react at great cost to the Treasury?
Grand strategy discussions will also reflect fallout from the diminished state of the American economy as a result of the recent recession and financial crisis.  Many economists are wary of growing levels of institutional debt in the US, and austerity measures are likely to be considered.  These measures will almost certainly include aggressive efforts to cut the defense budget, as automatic entitlement costs as a proportion of the federal budget grow.    Pressure to cut the defense budget is likely to result in equal or nearly equal shares being assigned each of the armed services, as such “Joint” burden sharing is the norm in a Pentagon bereft of inter-service rivalry in the post Goldwater-Nichols era.  While the defense budget is not the cause of the nation’s economic situation, policy makers will be sorely tempted to include it in the solution, rather than by curbing dramatically rising entitlement spending.  A final strategic consideration likely to color discussions will be the almost certain desire of Americans to continue to be the acknowledged global leader—diplomatically, militarily, and economically—even as the resources available to continue or exercise such leadership  are in jeopardy.  Political leaders in the US will pay a heavy price at the ballot box if seen by voters to be supporting or enabling a decline in US power and influence. 

Why Seapower?  American Seapower is the most flexible of the various instruments of military power, and the one most uniquely able to accommodate the foregoing strategic considerations.  Even more, it is an essential element of an effective grand strategy, along with a strong economy and useful alliances.  As policy-makers begin to think seriously about an appropriate grand strategy for the Post War on Terror world, American Seapower should occupy a central enabling position.  Several obvious US national security imperatives are made possible by preponderant American Seapower.
Seapower Enables the Homeland Defense “Away Game”.  Naval forces operate for extended periods far from US shores without the permission of any sovereign government; this translates into the extension of America’s homeland “defensive perimeter”.  The ability to gather information, perform surveillance of seaborne and airborne threats, interdict suspected WMD carriers and disrupt terrorist networks without a large shoreward “footprint” is critical in a world of denied access and decreasing acceptance of American troops stationed abroad.  Dealing with these threats as far from our shores as possible gains decision space and engagement opportunities.
Seapower Bolsters Critical Security Balances.  Preponderant American Seapower underwrites East Asian security by demonstrating to friends and allies American resolve to maintain regional stability.  Additionally, the overwhelming advantage enjoyed by US forces in sea control and striking power is in and of itself, an inducement to maintaining security.  Absent such preponderance, a nascent Asian naval arms race has the potential to intensify.  In the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean, sustained preponderant US naval combat power serves to assure allies of the nation’s resolve to maintain stability in the face of an unpredictable regime in Iran. 
Seapower Provides an Effective Conventional Deterrent.  The visible presence of American Seapower operating freely in the maritime commons provides an effective conventional deterrent to those who would seek to threaten regional security and stability.  First, the capabilities and capacities of preponderant naval power are arrayed in a manner that causes an adversary to question the effectiveness of a pre-emptive attack (deterrence by denial).  Such capabilities include sea-based ballistic missile defense (BMD) and the striking power of carrier-based airpower armed with precision guided munitions.  Second, the likelihood of a prompt and painful counter-attack from the sea raises the costs associated with military adventurism (punishment).  In either case, recent scholarship in the study of conventional deterrence indicates that overall US conventional superiority is less likely to provide an effective deterrence than is the local regional balance of power.[9]  This suggests that in order to deter effectively, the US must be “present”—and no form of military power can be as consistently present in as many critical places at once as Seapower.  Presence should be re-evaluated to include a more robust paradigm of  “forward stationing”, or what the Navy refers to as “Forward Deployed Naval Forces” (FDNF).  These forces do not deploy from the U.S. on a rotational basis; rather, they are homeported forward, dramatically increasing their operational availability. 
Seapower Enables Diplomacy, Development and Defense.  American Seapower is the global guarantor of freedom of commerce on the world’s oceans, thereby promoting American economic stability and growth.  This role has been played before in history by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, but never before has it been played by a nation without imperial or colonial aspirations.  American guarantees to the global commons do not come with a colonial “tax” on other nations.  The overwhelming majority of world trade (by weight and by value) travels across the world’s oceans, to the benefit of all trading nations.  Additionally, America’s diplomatic power is increasingly enabled by its Seapower, a symbiotic relationship reminiscent of US foreign policy conduct throughout much of its pre-World War II history.  With the advent of US Navy Global Fleet Stations and the emerging concept of Sea-basing, American Seapower will provide its diplomats with new options for flexibly engaging friends, partners, allies and others.  This close relationship between America’s military and its diplomatic arm will be essential to promoting good governance in ungoverned spaces and building partnership capacity in nations facing critical security threats.
Seapower Provides for Modulated Military Response.  The world is an increasingly disordered and untidy place, with regional instability a constant feature of the strategic landscape.  Should deterrence fail (as it sometimes does), already present, combat ready naval forces are prepared to conduct prompt and sustained operations.  These operations range from shows of force, raids and demonstrations, strikes and special operations, all the way to the forcible entry of land power from the sea.  This menu of choices is a primary feature of American Seapower, and it provides the President with unmatched flexibility to respond, escalate, and de-escalate without having to flow additional forces into theater.  Should the nation find it necessary to transition to a punishing land war, American Seapower provides the means for assuring the entry of follow-on forces, as well as providing considerable combat power in support of ongoing land operations.
Seapower Provides America’s Survivable Nuclear Deterrent.  The Navy’s fleet of 14 ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) --each equipped with Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) armed Trident Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)—is its most survivable method of providing strategic nuclear deterrence.  With Russia remaining a powerful nuclear state and China upgrading its own nuclear stockpile—in addition to the nuclear mischief of North Korea and Iran—the US must continue to upgrade its SSBN force even as it considers new and novel ways to employ them. 
Seapower Shows the Best Face of America.  The purpose of American military power is to protect the United States by fighting and winning wars, and American Seapower is no exception.  That said, the staggering cost of military power demands a premium be placed on those forces with peacetime missions that also advance the national security of the United States. No nation on earth is as quick to provide humanitarian assistance in the wake of natural disasters as the US, and no element of American power is as critical to prompt and sustained recovery efforts as American Seapower.  Whether it is the direct provision of food, water, and shelter, emergency medical care, or security in a chaotic environment, it is American Seapower that answers the nation’s call when its considerable sympathy moves it to act[10].  

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Naval Shipbuilding
The Navy has come under increasing criticism for failing to control costs in its shipbuilding programs, and much of this criticism is justified.  Program managers routinely underestimate construction costs in order to gain Congressional support and compound the problem by failing to suppress rampant “requirements creep” that drives costs higher in order to insert new technology in a mature design.  The Navy’s credibility on Capitol Hill has diminished as a result.  Additionally, there have been several well-publicized instances of the Navy accepting ships for delivery only to find within months major deficiencies in critical propulsion and operating systems.  The shipbuilding industry must shoulder some of the blame for this, although the Navy’s decreased ability to properly oversee ship construction is troubling.

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Threats to American Seapower.  There are two primary threats to the future of American Seapower.  The first is a series of technologically advanced, networked weapons and sensors designed to deny US naval forces the freedom of maneuver from which all other benefits of Seapower derive.   The second threat is domestic in nature, and it is the tendency of the US to dramatically reduce the fleet in post-war draw-downs.
Attempts to Deny Freedom of Maneuver.  America’s uncontested dominance of the seas for the past two decades is increasingly threatened, as other nations—principally China—have fixed upon strategies of denying US Naval Forces freedom of maneuver and action in order to mitigate the US ability to operate and concentrate combat effects, primarily to erode the US relationship with allies it seeks to reassure. While the US invested heavily in its ability to project striking power ashore after the Cold War, it failed to invest sufficiently in its ability to gain and maintain sea control.  China’s aggressive construction programs in surface ships, submarines and missiles are all designed to contest America’s ability to exercise sea control as China seeks the ability to extend its own influence in East Asia.  Particularly vexing has been China’s development of an “anti-ship ballistic missile” (the DF-21) which is thought to be designed specifically to neutralize the US aircraft carrier force.  Missiles, mines and submarines are the world’s answer to US naval superiority, and the technology behind these threats is advancing.[11]  The ongoing “Air-Sea Battle” project between the Navy and the Air Force is an interesting development in more aggressively contesting Chinese (and other) anti-access strategies, but it is unclear what impact this project will have on the resources necessary to implement it. [12]  Whether or not the US ever has to fight a naval war with China is an open question; it seems logical to assume it will eventually fight against advanced weapons wielded by other nations that have proliferated widely.
Post-War Defense Draw-downs.  Much of the thinking in this study stems from an assumption that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are likely to be drawn down in the near term.  This, plus the previously mentioned downward pressure on defense budgets as a result of increased entitlement spending and US debt load, creates a “perfect storm” for a dramatic decrease in naval power.  Recent post-war draw-downs (Korea, Vietnam, Cold War) have resulted in a historical average of a 33% decline in Department of the Navy resources.  Each of those wars however was accompanied by a nearly equally dramatic increase in resources to buy ships and manpower.  What will be different in a near-term drawdown is that even as the Navy supported the wars of the last decade, its battle force shrank by 18%  and its total manpower decreased by nearly the same.  Put another way, any “post-war” cut administered on today’s Navy will impact a force that grown dramatically smaller, older and worn out while fighting two wars.
Preponderant American Seapower, the likes of which produces the seemingly disproportionate statistics cited  by the Secretary of Defense earlier in this paper, is both the result of American investment, and the influence that investment has in causing other nations not to invest.  Put another way, building US naval power causes other nations not to build theirs, especially those who side with the US.  This is often known as the “free rider” effect, but in terms of naval arms buildups, it is a particularly stable situation.  While it is clear that some nations are building their navies (China and India among them), were the US to follow Secretary Gates’ logic and begin to whittle away at its naval preponderance, subtle messages of detachment would be sent to friends and allies who heretofore have looked to the US to stand up in the role of global naval hegemon.   Japan, Australia, Singapore and others are closely watching for signs of US disengagement in East Asia, and any move to decrease naval preponderance there would increase pressure for those nations to respond with their own building programs.  While these nations may be able to modestly increase their shipbuilding programs, none can create a fleet capable of replacing US naval presence.   Absent US naval preponderance, such buildups are likely to prove counter-productive.  The world has seen before the dramatic costs of naval arms races, and the stability resulting from the overwhelming US advantage in Seapower must be seen as a strategic advantage not to be thrown away lightly in a reflexive round of budget-cutting.

How Should the US Sustain Preponderant Seapower?  In order to provide the United States with maximum strategic flexibility, the Congress should take the following actions to ensure that the US remains an overwhelming naval power:
·         The Congress should resist efforts to fund domestic entitlements from the defense budget in general and the Department of the Navy budget in particular.  Additionally, the Congress should require that the Navy provide a “resource unconstrained” fleet composition appropriate to meeting the requirements of the Navy’s 2007 maritime strategy “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower”[13], and an analysis of what capabilities and missions called for in that strategy are at risk given  current/planned fleet size and resources.  This study should include options for additional “forward stationing” of US Navy vessels and proposals for new classes of ships designed specifically for low-end naval presence missions.
·         To relieve additional pressure from already strained Navy shipbuilding budget, design and construction costs of the Navy’s new replacement ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) should be added from outside Navy budget controls.  This would represent recognition of the truly national, strategic mission carried out by these submarines.  Without additive resources, the defense industrial base and the nation’s conventional advantage at sea will be sacrificed to recapitalize the strategic force. 
·         To increase confidence in Navy Shipbuilding budget estimates, the Congress should mandate a set of consistent costing methods for use by OSD, the Navy and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in order to alleviate wide variance in cost estimates based on divergent methods of calculating.  Additionally, the Congress should mandate that the Secretary of the Navy certify the wholeness of design of any new ship class before authorization of the first hull. 
·         The Navy should seek and the Congress should approve the appointment of a four-star Admiral to the position of Chief of Navy Shipbuilding.  This position would be appointed for a term of eight years (analogous to the existing “Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion”  overseeing all of Navy nuclear power), and would oversee design, acquisition, construction and life cycle management of all surface ships, aircraft carriers and submarines.  Current “Program Executive Officers” (PEO) for ships, submarines and aircraft carriers would report to this new executive who would report in turn to both the Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of the Navy. 
·         To maintain US freedom of action and thus influence in the face of adversaries wielding anti-access capabilities, the Congress should require the Navy to report on its “Air-Sea Battle” initiative with the Air Force, and it should consider funding  relevant acquisition initiatives designed to overcome predominately Chinese anti-access threats.    
·         The Congress should hold hearings into the status of the Goldwater-Nichols Act after nearly a quarter century of existence.  Specifically, it should investigate whether the rise of “Jointness” as a combat and acquisition construct has created an atmosphere within the Department of Defense in which the Services cannot effectively advocate for their unique capabilities, even if doing so is arguably in the nation’s strategic interest.  Military “group think” in the face of a fluid strategic environment is tantamount to an abdication of moral responsibility by our military leaders.

Conclusion.  The United States is faced with complex strategic choices, the resolution of which may define the nation’s ability to remain the world’s leading power.  It is difficult to consider any likely alternative future in which the US continues to exercise global leadership and influence without relying heavily on Seapower.  A reflexive impulse to cut the Navy’s force structure as the U.S. draws down from ongoing combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is consistent with America’s 20th Century post-war practice.  Such consistency would however, ignore both the extent to which the Navy has already been reduced and the critical flexibility Seapower gives to policymakers as they consider an appropriate Post War-on-Terror grand strategy.
At a time in which many politicians are considering dramatic reductions in military spending to fund domestic priorities and retire debt, thinking deeply about spending more on one facet of military power is out of fashion.  Such thinking must be encouraged however, as the benefits of shifting to a maritime influenced grand strategy will be realized in the sustainment and advancement of U.S. global leadership, while failing to do so sets the conditions for the military to do little more than manage U.S. decline relative to other rising powers.
As a maritime nation, the U.S. should apply its comparative advantage—Seapower— to the pursuit of its global interests even as it conserves its precious resources.  Costly Eurasian land-wars do little to extend U.S. power and influence in the world, and continuing to plan for them in the future creates a considerable drain on those resources.  American Seapower is the element of military power best suited to advance U.S. power and influence, and it should be resourced accordingly. 

[1] Robert M. Gates,  “A Balanced Strategy:  Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age”, Foreign Affairs, January/Februay 2009, at http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/63717/robert-m-gates/a-balanced-strategy, (July 1, 2010)
[2] Robert M. Gates, Untitled Speech, Speech at the U.S. Navy League Sea, Air, Space Symposium, National Harbor, MD, May 3, 2010, at http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1460, July 2,2010.
[3] Neil Jenkins, Michael Price, Peter Swartz, and Daniel Whiteneck, “The Navy at a Tipping Point:  Maritime Dominance at Stake?” Center for Naval Analyses Publication No. CAB D002262.A3, March 2010, p. 2
[4] Ibid.
[5] Andrew F. Krepinevich,  Jr.,  “National Security Strategy in an Era of Growing Challenges and Resource Constraints”, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments Perspective, June 2010,  p.10. 
[6] Offshore Balancing is considered here in its historical context, predominately the model practiced by the British Empire in which balancing actions were the work of naval power and not land commitments.  Several modern offshore balancing theorists shrink from even that level of commitment. 
[7] The author first laid out this framework  in an article in  the May 2010 issue of the Naval Institute Proceedings (p.41)
[8] Gates,   “A Balanced Strategy”,  (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/63717/robert-m-gates/a-balanced-strategy?page=show)
[9] Michael Gerson and Daniel Whiteneck “Deterrence and Influence:  The Navy’s Role in Preventing War”.  Center for Naval Analyses, CRM D0019315 March 2009 pps 45-46. 
[10] Secretary of the Navy stressed this “face of America” theme during a recent speech to the Current Strategy Forum at the Naval War College (Ray Mabus, Untitled Speech, US Naval War College, Newport, RI, June 9, 2010 at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/people/secnav/Mabus/Speech/CurrentStrategyForum610.pdf,  July 4, 2010).
[11] , Congressional Research Service, China Naval Modernization: Implications for US Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress, CRS #RL33153, May 28, 2010, p. 5. 
[12]  U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 2010, p. 32.
[13] U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard, A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower, October 2007, at http://www.navy.mil/maritime/Maritimestrategy.pdf, July 2, 2010. 

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