“The Fleet we Have, Want, and Need – with Jerry Hendrix,” Midrats

Sunday there will be a streaming live interview that some of you might find interesting. It is on a podcast called Midrats. There is an opportunity to contribute to the discussion both by phone and using an online discussion tool. It would not hurt to have a little Coast Guard representation there as well to clarify how he sees the role of the Coast Guard in the National Fleet. If you miss it on Sunday, it is archived on line or you can pick it up on itunes. You can also find the connection through the USNI blog or through the Eaglespeak blog.

Below is a quote in full of the program description. I don’t think they will mind my passing it along.

Please join us at 5pm EST on 9 Nov 14 for for Midrats Episode 253: “The Fleet we Have, Want, and Need – with Jerry Hendrix”

What is the proper fleet structure for the USN as we design our Navy that will serve its nation in mid-Century?

Join us for a broad ranging discussion on this topic and more with returning guest, Henry J. Hendrix, Jr, CAPT USN (Ret.), PhD.

Fresh off his recent retirement from active duty, Jerry is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

A Naval Flight Officer by training, his staff assignments include tours with the Chief of Naval Operation’s Executive Panel (N00K), the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (Force Development) and the OSD Office of Net Assessment.

His final position in uniform was the Director of Naval History.

Hendrix also served as the Navy Fellow to the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. He has a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from Purdue University, Masters Degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School (National Security Affairs) and Harvard University (History) and received his doctorate from King’s College, London (War Studies).

He has twice been named the Samuel Eliot Morison Scholar by the Navy Historical Center in Washington, DC, and was also the Center’s 2005 Rear Admiral John D. Hays Fellow. He also held the Marine Corps’ General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. Fellowship. He authored the book Theodore Roosevelt’s Naval Diplomacy and received a number of awards, including the United States Naval Institute’s Author of the Year and the Navy League’s Alfred T. Mahan Award for Literary Achievement.Listen in here (or use that link to pick the show up later) or visit us on iTunes.

Rewriting the Strategy

Information dissemination has been doing a series on the Naval Strategy that emerged during the 1980s and recently he has contrasted it to “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (pdf), commonly referred to as CG21, noting the specificity of the earlier document strategy, compared with the relatively nebulous wording of the current strategy. The timing is relevant because reportedly CS21 is being rewritten.

This is an extract of what the current strategy says about homeland defense (from CS21 p. 15):

“Homeland defense is the most obvious example of the requirement for greater integration. It is not sufficient to speak of homeland defense in terms of splitting the responsibilities and authorities between the Navy and the Coast Guard along some undefined geographic boundary. Rather, the Sea Services must—and will—work as one wherever they operate in order to defend the United States. Consistent with the National Fleet Policy, Coast Guard forces must be able to operate as part of a joint task force thousands of miles from our shores, and naval forces must be able to respond to operational tasking close to home when necessary to secure our Nation and support civil authorities. Integration and interoperability are key to success in these activities, particularly where diverse forces of varying capability and mission must work together seamlessly in support of defense, security, and humanitarian operations.”

Similar generalizations are found in the Naval Operations Concepts, 2010 and the description of the Global Maritime Operational Threat Response Coordination Center. which is collocated with the Coast Guard’s National Command Center.

Unfortunately, if everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.

I think the Coast Guard could benefit from more specificity in the nation’s maritime strategy beginning with a simple declarative statement that while the Navy is primarily responsible for protecting the nation from overt maritime threats, the Coast Guard is primarily responsible for interdiction of covert surface maritime threats in waters surrounding US territory, including territorial sea, contiguous zone, and the exclusive economic zone.

Some might consider this a radical change, but in fact it is just acknowledging the current reality. The Naval Sea Frontiers are no more. The flotillas of minor combatants that once teamed around every port no longer exist. The US Navy no longer makes regular patrols of US waters. Generally, the only times Navy units are in US waters are for training and transit. Otherwise they are either forward deployed or in a very small number of US ports, usually in a condition that would require substantial notice to get them underway.

I believe a quote from Robert Rubel in the comments section of the post reflects the Navy’s position,

“After 2001 the US found itself confronted with a trans-national terrorist network whose tentacles reached across the AoR boundaries. The nightmare scenario was terrorists sneaking WMD into the US. The Navy came to realize it could not by itself assure the country that it could interdict such smuggling; the seas were simply to large. The associated nightmare scenario for the Navy was that it would be chained to the North American littoral to conduct patrols.”

The US Navy does not, and does not want, to patrol the US coast. There is nothing wrong with the concept of meeting threats as far from the US as possible, and nothing in the statement would preclude cooperation between the Coast Guard and the Navy or other agencies, but acknowledgement of the Coast Guard’s role would clarify equipment requirements and eliminate the still natural assumption on the part of many of those individuals that effect the Coast Guard’s budget (including the leadership of Dept. of Homeland Security) that, “The Navy will take care of that.”