Wednesday, March 26, 2008

U.S. Navy in the 21st Century

Prior to World War II, the United States Navy was the arm of sovereign power that represented the United States outside the continent. The Army was a defensive organization charged with protecting the 48 states and territories.

Today as the Army is found sourced out across the globe in commitments ranging from security to low intensity war, the Navy is having to assume the old role of projecting "Soft Power" in the finest tradition of Alfred Thayer Mahan. One blog that I try and read daily is perhaps the best non government source for naval affairs I have found. Information Dissemination written by Galrahn brings you all you ever want to know about the latest in what is happening at sea.

His recent posts have been watching the developing story that he labels and . The Navy has dispatched two Military Sealift Command ships:

USNS 2nd LT John P. Bobo and USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat to the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, in the Gulf of Guinea March 20, to participate in a sea-basing and humanitarian aid distribution exercise in conjunction with U.S. Marines and Africa Partnership Station ships USS Fort McHenry and HSV-2 Swift.

Galrahn thinks:

The promise of this capability in the future could change the way the Navy provides humanitarian assistance in the future, and also potentially change the way amphibious assault is conducted in the future.

The role of the Navy is returning to one that navies preformed a century ago, when they patrolled the sea lanes against pirates, provided humanitarian assistance and were the uniformed ambassadors making port calls on every continent.

Adding to this observation is an article on Study Calls for 'Soft Power' Tactics. The article quotes a study by the Rand Corp where they observe:

"America's goal must be to defuse such a war, not to wage and win it," the Rand study asserts. "Trying to crush insurgency by military brute force in the Muslim world risks validating the jihadists' claim, increasing their appeal, and replacing their losses."

Force "is but one instrument of counterinsurgency ... It ought to be subordinate to a political strategy of offering the people a government deserving of their support," the report adds.

Chet Richards, retired Air Force officer and expert on John Boyd's OODA loop strategy writes.

"Our defense establishment has suffered some 4,000 fatal casualties, forced the Army into offering enlistment bonuses of $40,000 to raw recruits, begun a program of buying armored jeeps that cost a million dollars each, and run up a generational spending obligation" likely to top $2 trillion."

"We did all this not while engaging some worthy foe armed with tanks, missiles and aircraft similar to ours, nor while contending with massed armies of skilled troops on fields of battle. No, we incurred these costs while trying to suppress resistance to our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, resistance by lightly armed civilians and poorly equipped militias."

Sadly, these two paragraphs are similar in tone to what some British leaders were observing about America in 1780.

The good news in the article is the US Navy, Marines and Coast Guard seem to have a strategy.

The Navy, lacking a front-line role in land wars against groups such as al-Qaida, is implementing a new global strategy that recasts it as an arm of diplomacy and a vehicle for humanitarian aid.
More than a year in the making, the strategy argues that the sea service is uniquely positioned to respond to insurgencies. Their ships, Navy leaders argue, can serve as offshore bases from which troops and civilian workers can move inland to quell violence and provide aid without becoming provocative occupiers.
"We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars," the chiefs of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard declared in a statement accompanying release of the strategy.

All the above paragraph is along the lines of the strategic vision that Tom Barnett has been lecturing and writing about for almost a decade. He should be proud to see the chickens coming home to roost.

I hold out hope that our military seems to get it and is making the changes. Our State Department and other government agencies are so riddled with ingrained and inbred relationships that they refuse to change. Even the Pentagon, away from the front has made decisions that will leave you disgusted. Supplier Under Scrutiny on Aging Arms for Afghans. The novel Catch-22, was fiction, but this story reads like it should be.

We should all be proud of the efforts of our service people. I hold a special place in my heart for the Navy. My dad joined the day after Pearl Harbor and served in the Pacific till the war ended. A Thanksgiving Tribute to my Dad and Tribute continued: It is good to see the traditions and the original mission of our Navy is being revived.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I heard about this new show in PBS called "Carrier" and it looks realy good! Camera crews follow navy members during their six-month deployment aboard the USS Nimitz. You can check it out at and see the first 6 minutes of the first episode on PBS's YouTube Channel...