Monday, October 22, 2007

Maritime Strategy Monday: the new one

Hey Shipmates, like you may have gathered on Friday, I am on another "limited availability" period, as the taxpayers have decided to send me off on one of those things that prevent regular Internet access. I also have not had the time I wished to edit, revise, and extend my initial emotional response to the new Maritime Strategy.

Yes, I said emotional - because this is a critical time for our Navy. We have pi55ed away the better part of a decade chasing ghosts. Ghosts that have produced poltergeists in the creatures of LCS, DDG-1000, LCS-17 and a few smaller unaffordable programs that looked great on the PPT and from the silver-tonged salesmen called contractors - and hey, let's admit; by LPD-19 they got the LPD-17 program off running well - but at a price that we simply will not have a Fleet of significant size to do what needs to be done. The Tiffany Navy is not going to get us to anywhere near 313.

Let me get back on course here. There are a few entering arguments we need to understand on what we are reading. This is not something you will be able to take real action on. By its nature, it is broad and open as its target audience is not the professional Naval officer. That is clear. It is sad, but we have produced the best of "Business Best Practices;" we have produced a marketing document. This is aimed at the general public, politicians, and ourselves.

It also reads what it is - a product of a committee. In that, it has good and rough spots. I'll leave it up to you to round out the below. Again, apologies for not having a better product. And speaking of which - I won't be back until Thursday this week - you stay on your best behavior. Mr. T's Haircut - keep everyone in line; and Sid, use the "Cluebat of History" where needed.

Like I said
last week - time to chew on the new Maritime Strategy.

What we have here are four very different documents rolled into one. First, though not words per se, we have the pictures and layout. Pictures mean things. They are important. On the serious side of the pictures, we have to ask what the pictures tell the reader the message the Navy wants you to take away. How the Navy sees itself, what the Navy wants you to think it feels is important, and what its priorities are. Going through the pictures, lets see what we have:
- A helo doing SSC, going by an Amphib and others doing helo things and a few small pics of Amphibs doing Amphib things.
- Suez Canal transit (2).
- Marines and Corpsmen doing their job in town.
- 3 CV/CVN (one allied) in close formation with 5 assorted escorts, a Burke and a Tico in formation.
- A boarding party member.
- A USCG Cutter, helo, and icebreaker along with a few smaller pictures of USCG doing USGC stuff.
- CVN in formation with a hospital ship.
- An Amphib in formation with a USCG ship and an experimental catamaran.
- SEALS in daytime wading ashore.
- CAG photo fly by.
- Various humanitarian assistance photos.
- A C-130.
- CVN being escorted by a surfaced sub.

BTW, what is it with the perfect underway weather and calm seas? I want that deployment. While some of these pictures are action shots, the balance are just PIO standard issue shots. Is that the best we could do? Why are there more USCG than USMC when last time I measured, of the three the USMC is doing most of the "work" now days. Shouldn't the balance be action shots of everyday performance of the mission in support of the war?

Now, on a lighter note - you know this had to be done - I see one positive thing about the pictures; it looks like the Diversity Bullies didn't get their cut on the pics. I only notice such things, because I am trained and ordered to. Unlike most official Navy publications, adds or staged pictures that can get silly sometimes, we don't have the reality-disconnect we sometimes see in the Potempkin Diversity Villages we put out there with the oh-so-PC mix of sexes, skin tone, and hair styles. This time all we see are Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen that we see everyday. So, that is a nice change.

Secondly, the Introduction is just plain bad. Unfocused, indirect, and difficult to get your arms around. A bit intellectually insulting.

The third part is the best of the bunch, but boy does it take time to get to. It is the third part that people should read. The Maritime Strategic Concept through and including "Improve Integration and Interoperability" subsection are the heart, brain, and vision of this flawed document. Sure, it misses a few items, but on balance I can live with that. This section is the money maker.

The fourth section, that I define from "Enhance Awareness" and one gets weak and moves towards flaccid lameness. It gets bogged down in unclear language, historical ignorance and quasi New Ageism that simply is not worthy of the Navy, the Maritime Strategy, and the intellectual rigor one would expect. Like the "sales flier" and the Introduction - this last section just buries the good stuff in between.

So, lets start in - from the top,
Never before have the maritime forces of the United States—the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard—come together to create a unified maritime strategy.
Ungh. Better refill your coffee. If this is the start, this is going to be a very long post. Mrs. Salamander will not be pleased.

Something I learned in 8th Grade, it is never good to start out on a self-congratulatory note. Just poor sport.

The next three posts do tell us the three directions we are going.
This strategy stresses an approach that integrates seapower with other elements of national power, as well as those of our friends and allies. It describes how seapower will be applied around the world to protect our way of life, as we join with other like-minded nations to protect and sustain the global, inter-connected system through which we prosper. Our commitment to protecting the homeland and winning our Nation’s wars is matched by a corresponding commitment to preventing war.
Ok. We can get that. Then we move to being a bit too fancy.
Our citizens were involved in development of this strategy through a series of public forums known as the “Conversations with the Country.” Three themes dominated these discussions: our people want us to remain strong; they want us to protect them and our homeland, and they want us to work with partners around the world to prevent war. These themes, coupled with rigorous academic research, analysis and debate, led to a comprehensive strategy designed to meet the expectations and needs of the American people.
I have never liked focus grouped concepts when it comes to Strategy. It turns off the professionals; almost as much as FITREP English.
A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower binds our services more closely together than they have ever been before to advance the prosperity and security of our Nation. The demands of an uncertain world and the enduring interests of the American people require nothing less.
Excessive hyperbole. I would suggest WWII and in many cases Vietnam vets (heck, those in the NAG, Kuwait etc as well) might disagree. That being said, the idea is strong and correct. The binge of hyperbole is unfortunate. Take away the "..then they have every been before.." and we might have something.

Speaking of historical perspective,
The security, prosperity, and vital interests of the United States are increasingly coupled to those of other nations. Our Nation’s interests are best served by fostering a peaceful global system comprised of interdependent networks of trade, finance, information, law, people and governance.

We prosper because of this system of exchange among nations, yet recognize it is vulnerable to a range of disruptions that can produce cascading and harmful effects far from their sources. Major power war, regional conflict, terrorism, lawlessness and natural disasters—all have the potential to threaten U.S. national security and world prosperity.

The oceans connect the nations of the world, even those countries that are landlocked. Because the maritime domain—the world’s oceans, seas, bays, estuaries, islands, coastal areas, littorals, and the airspace above them—supports 90% of the world’s trade, it carries the lifeblood of a global system that links every country on earth. Covering three-quarters of the planet, the oceans make neighbors of people around the world. They enable us to help friends in need and to confront and defeat aggression far from our shores.

Today, the United States and its partners find themselves competing for global influence in an era in which they are unlikely to be fully at war or fully at peace. Our challenge is to apply seapower in a manner that protects U.S. vital interests even as it promotes greater collective security, stability, and trust. While defending our homeland and defeating adversaries in war remain the indisputable ends of seapower, it must be applied more broadly if it is to serve the national interest.
Couldn't that have been written in 1807 as well. Nice and all, but still - it could use specificity and updating.
We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars.
"Believe" belongs with "hope" "think" and "guess;" in Church or in your girlfriends ear late at night - not in a Strategic document.

When it comes to giving directions though, the next bit is actually fairly good.
There is a tension, however, between the requirements for continued peacetime engagement and maintaining proficiency in the critical skills necessary to fighting and winning in combat. Maritime forces must contribute to winning wars decisively while enhancing our ability to prevent war, win the long struggle against terrorist networks, positively influence events, and ease the impact of disasters.
Perhaps I am getting a bit too excited.
Additionally, maritime forces will be employed to build confidence and trust among nations through collective security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests in an open, multi-polar world. To do so will require an unprecedented level of integration among our maritime forces and enhanced cooperation with the other instruments of national power, as well as the capabilities of our international partners. Seapower will be a unifying force for building a better tomorrow.
More hyperbole. I am sorry, this smacks of more FITREP English and rah-rahism that, frankly, dilutes the seriousness of any work. And it isn't unprecedented if you know your history.

BTW, the italics at the end are in the original. This is a cotton-candy marketing phrase. It means nothing, adds nothing, directs nothing, and is not actionable. It detracts from what should be a serious work.

"Challenges of a New Era" starts good enough - an improvement from the previous, but is just a general scene setter. You see the "feral cities" concept come up, but nothing really interesting comes up until the final paragraph of that section.
These conditions combine to create an uncertain future and cause us to think anew about how we view seapower. No one nation has the resources required to provide safety and security throughout the entire maritime domain. Increasingly, governments, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and the private sector will form partnerships of common interest to counter these emerging threats.
Hmmm. So, governments will form partnerships with NGO/IO/private sector. Agree. However, how exactly are they in the Maritime Domain? What are you going to partner with them on related to our national interest in the Maritime Domain?

The next sections, what I call Part 3 is where the meat is. You should read it all again. It has to have a different author than the beginning and end. Totally different outlook and tone.
This strategy reaffirms the use of seapower to influence actions and activities at sea and ashore. The expeditionary character and versatility of maritime forces provide the U.S. the asymmetric advantage of enlarging or contracting its military footprint in areas where access is denied or limited. Permanent or prolonged basing of our military forces overseas often has unintended economic, social or political repercussions. The sea is a vast maneuver space, where the presence of maritime forces can be adjusted as conditions dictate to enable flexible approaches to escalation, de-escalation and deterrence of conflicts.

The speed, flexibility, agility and scalability of maritime forces provide joint or combined force commanders a range of options for responding to crises. Additionally, integrated maritime operations, either within formal alliance structures (such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or more informal arrangements (such as the Global Maritime Partnership initiative), send powerful messages to would-be aggressors that we will act with others to ensure collective security and prosperity.
Boom! This is where we should have started. This is the right tone. This is the right language. This is the rinse/repeat part.
United States seapower will be globally postured to secure our homeland and citizens from direct attack and to advance our interests around the world. As our security and prosperity are inextricably linked with those of others, U.S. maritime forces will be deployed to protect and sustain the peaceful global system comprised of interdependent networks of trade, finance, information, law, people and governance.
Clear words. Action words.
We will employ the global reach, persistent presence, and operational flexibility inherent in U.S. seapower to accomplish six key tasks, or strategic imperatives.
Here we go. Something to go on the white-board. 6-6-3. We have Six Tasks, Six Capabilities, and Three Priorities.

Six Tasks:
1. Limit regional conflict with forward deployed, decisive maritime power.
2. Deter major power war. (NB: they are talking about China here, though unsaid).
3. Win our Nation's wars.
4. Contribute to homeland defense in depth.
5. Foster and sustain cooperative relationships with more international partners.
6. Prevent or contain local disruptions before they impact the global system.

We can do those things. There are some good pull quotes here as well.
Critical to this notion is the maintenance of a powerful fleet—ships, aircraft, Marine forces, and shore-based fleet activities—capable of selectively controlling the seas, projecting power ashore, and protecting friendly forces and civilian populations from attack.
This should have been on page 1 not page 7.
...cooperation in enforcing the rule of law in the maritime domain. ... the Global Maritime Partnerships initiative seeks a cooperative approach to maritime security, promoting the rule of law by countering piracy, terrorism, weapons proliferation, drug trafficking, and other illicit activities. ... transnational threats—terrorists and extremists; proliferators of weapons of mass destruction; pirates; traffickers in persons, drugs, and conventional weapons; and other criminals—will be constrained.
Hey, they're talking about pirates! Eagle1 should be nodding in approval.

The Maritime Strategic Concept section is what we need to be talking about, but it is a shame you have to wade through so much garbage to get to it. Sure there are a few things missing, but if it didn't have to compete with the cotton-candy there would be room to "revise and extend." BZ to the leader who made this section work.

The next section, "Implementing the Strategy" starts strong as we go through our Six Capabilities,
1. Forward Presence.
2. Deterrence.
3. Sea Control.
4. Power Projection.
5. Maritime Security.
6. Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response.
Forward presence also allows us to combat terrorism as far from our shores as possible. Where and when applicable, forward deployed maritime forces will isolate, capture, or destroy terrorists, their infrastructure, resources and sanctuaries, preferably in conjunction with coalition partners.
The Aegis mafia finally gets their shot.
Maritime ballistic missile defense will enhance deterrence by providing an umbrella of protection to forward-deployed forces and friends and allies, while contributing to the larger architecture planned for defense of the United States.
But that is OK, they are correct.

You are given a warning that things are going to go south soon with this little jewel right in the middle of the good stuff.
As a declaratory strategy, this document challenges the sea services to evolve an expanded range of integrated capabilities to achieve enduring national strategic objectives.
Worthless. A warfighter did not write this. Unclear, cotton-candy, candy-ass verbiage. This belongs in the first six pages with the rest of the sales catalog fluff.

Luckily, we are soon saved by a critical reminder - critical reminder because we keep forgetting it.
We will maintain a robust strategic sealift capability to rapidly concentrate and sustain forces, and to enable joint and/or combined campaigns. This capability relies on the maintenance of a strong U.S. commercial maritime transportation industry and its critical intermodal assets.
So critical.

Speaking of relearning things. A blast for the past is mentioned as we move towards our Three Priorities.
1. Improve Integration and Interoperability.
2. Enhance Awareness.
3. Prepare our People.

In the First Priority, it mentions,
Marines will continue to be employed as air-ground task forces operating from amphibious ships to conduct a variety of missions, such as power projection, but they will also be employed as detachments aboard a wider variety of ships and cutters for maritime security missions.
Does that mean we are getting our MARDETs back that they took away in the 90s?

Then we have a new acronym to learn,
To be effective, there must be a significantly increased commitment to advance maritime domain awareness (MDA)
Ungh. That is another warning. Things are starting to fall apart from here.

I simply do not like this paragraph at all.
Adversaries are unlikely to attempt conventional force-on-force conflict and, to the extent that maritime forces could be openly challenged, their plans will almost certainly rely on asymmetric attack and surprise, achieved through stealth, deception, or ambiguity. Our ISR capabilities must include innovative ways to penetrate the designs of adversaries, and discern their capabilities and vulnerabilities while supporting the full range of military operations. We must remove the possibility of an adversary gaining the initiative over forward-deployed forces and ensure we provide decision makers with the information they need to deter aggression and consider escalatory measures in advance of such gambits.
In this line of work when you say, "Adversaries are unlikely..." you are just inviting them to do just that. From Hopkins raid in 1776, to Pearl Harbor in 1941, to the Twin Towers in 2001 - history shows us that only a fool would say that.

This had to be put in by an Intel Weenie. We can never "remove" as said, and Iraq should have reminded us all, again, that ISR can not "penetrate the designs of adversaries." Alchemy is not chemistry.

It just keeps going down hill.
We are creating a dispersed force under decentralized authority in a world of rapid information exchange. Maritime forces will normally operate in a less concentrated manner than they do today,
My Aunt Fannie! Speak clearly, we have a smaller Fleet covering the same ocean. More like "uncreate" than "creating." Anyway, LT Arleigh Burke 70+ years ago was much more dispersed and decentralized in his operations. You can hardly get underway without a Commodore and RADM, with their helpful Staffs, all in your business to the point you are waiting for someone to call about your Corpsman's condom inventory. Technology is growing the 3,000NM screw driver, not shrinking it.
...junior leaders will be entrusted with a higher level of responsibility and authority for carrying out important aspects of strategically important missions
Ashore in Iraq and AFG, sure. But at sea? No. We have so few chances for LT Command now it is just sad. Give us more LT and LCDR Commands, and then we will have something.
Significantly, this strategy requires new ways of thinking—about both empowering individual commanders and understanding the net effects of dispersed operations. Such operations require a broadly shared responsibility among: the on-scene commander responsible for ensuring actions are in accordance with the commander’s intent; the higher commander responsible for providing intent and guidance to subordinates; the parent service of dispersed forces responsible for ensuring that units are trained, equipped, and culturally prepared for the missions they will undertake; and, finally, the regional commanders responsible for determining appropriate force levels and readiness postures.
This is not new. This is old stuff. If I walked over to Sun Tsu, Ghengis Khan, Napoleon, or Clausewitz, and said that, they would ask me where the he11 I had been and if I suffered a head injury. Then the Great Khan would have me executed for dishonoring his Army with such a statement. Operational Planning 101.

Finally, we get to the Conclusion.
The strategy focuses on opportunities—not threats; on optimism—not fear; and on confidence—not doubt.
Who is the writer trying to convince, the reader or himself? This is just a horrible Oprahesque sentence. i am at a loss for words on how silly that sounds in the context of this work. Dr. Phil might approve, but I don't. It isn't needed, and in fact it reads as if it is compensatory. Just part of a weak conclusion - it moves on.
The diverse elements of the greater maritime community must be inspired and supported as they invest to secure peace and prosperity across the maritime domain.
What? "Diverse elements?" "Greater maritime community?" Egads!

What a lost opportunity this was. There is a great core to this document, but it is lost in a sandwich of FOD. Perhaps if we ignore it, it will go away. Maybe just cut -n-past the chewy center. Yep, that is it. A lot of good people put a lot of effort into this, and we should recognize that. I am left with the feeling though that there were too many cooks in the broth. I will thank them though, New Age philosophical musings aside, for not cluttering up the language for the most part. Not the usual Bu11sh1t Bingo words. That is nice.

Let's finish off with a few side observations. Just off the top of my head, what are some of the bold faced USN/USMC mission do you not read? Nothing about Riverine. ASCM isn't anywhere - going or coming. Protecting a HVU is nowhere. You know me, I have a thing for words, so I picked a few to look for, just to see what play they got. The quasi-Fascist sounding "Homeland" got 12. "Climate Change" got 2. "Terror(ist)(s)" at 8. The very fuzzy "non-state actors/antagonists, trans-national actors/threats" managed a healthy 6. "Globalization" managed 2. China, mines, Iran, all got zero (though some clear hints are there). On the positive side, "transformation" got zip-zero-nada as well.

So Shipmates - that is my quick skim. I know I missed a few nuggets; over to you.
UPDATE: Don't forget to check out the very good work being done over at SteeljawScribe and InformationDissenmination.

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