CSIS introduction of “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready” (CS21R)–a First Hand Report

One of our readers, David Van Dyk, a student at Liberty University, was able to attend the CSIS introduction event for the updated Strategy, and has provided a report of his impressions.

With standing room only and camera crews capturing their footage, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Commandant of the Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford and Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft took the stage during the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) event entitled “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.”

John Hamre, CEO of CSIS since January 2000, introduced the military leadership on stage, remarking that the Navy and Marine Corps have “loved each other like brothers; Cain and Abel.”

While rivalries between the Sea Services were realized years back, a new cooperative strategy looking forward is not only smart but paramount to our nation’s defense and ability to project power on the high seas and around the coastline.

The meeting’s purpose was to establish and introduce a document signed by all three Sea Service chiefs. “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready” (CS21R) was penned because of the changing environment, changing threats and changing resources. While all three changes are major actors on the national stage of security and safety, it requires a unity of effort from not only the United States Sea Services, but of those around the world, working in unison to tackle problems ranging from military aggression to disaster relief.

Changing Environment

In a rapidly changing world, the sea services need to align their focus and adapt to the environment. This requires major changes, one of which is the Arctic. According to CS21R, the Arctic is becoming a major player in maritime trade.

“Rising ocean temperatures present new challenges and opportunities, most notably in the Arctic and Antarctic, where receding ice leads to greater maritime activity,” CS21R states. “In the coming decades, the Arctic Ocean will be increasingly accessible and more broadly used by those seeking access to the region’s abundant resources and trade routes.”

With research vessels and ice breakers blazing their own trails through the region, responsible practices must not only be encouraged but enforced. The Arctic Council, made up of eight partner nations, will be chaired by the United States from 2015 to 2017, allowing American leaders to map out a strategic and engaged plan for the changing northern environment. The Coast Guard, according to the document, will also be entering a design phase for a new icebreaker capable of handling the harsh conditions of the Arctic Ocean.

“Some of our biggest concerns in the Arctic (are that) someone’s going to fall in it or oil spills in it and it affects the way of life in the Arctic domain,” Admiral Zukunft said. “We have an Arctic Strategy in place that aligns with a national strategy for the Arctic region.”

Witnessing firsthand the increasing activity in the Polar Regions, the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star rescued 26 crewmembers aboard an Australian fishing vessel, Antarctic Chieftain, that was trapped in freezing temperatures Feb. 18. Since the Polar Star had just finished “Operation Deep Freeze” to replenish McMurdo Station, according to a Reuters report, they were able to sail 800 miles and cut through 150 miles of ice to reach the vessel and save all lives aboard by towing it to open waters.

Another changing environment mentioned in the document is the increasing amount of trade occurring on the oceans, meaning more traffic for important commercial waterways.

“Skyrocketing demand for energy and resources, as evidenced by a projected 56 percent increase of global energy consumption by 2040, underscores the criticality of the free flow of commerce through strategic maritime crossroads, including the Straits of Hormuz and Malacca, as well as the Panama and Suez Canals,” the document reads. “Closer to home, dramatic changes in energy production and transportation, as well as the completion of the Panama Canal expansion project, will fundamentally alter shipping patterns within the United States and globally.”

The Panama Canal expansion project is nearing a conclusion with 85 percent completed, and it is expected to be fully operational early next year, according to the Christian Science Monitor. With post Panamax vessels taking on 14,000 containers, the new enlargement will bring seaborne giants of commerce to East Coast ports, bringing additional security challenges to Navy and Coast Guard assets.

While CS21R does not mention it, Nicaraguan lawmakers have been dealing with a Chinese billionaire named Wang Jing, Chairman and CEO of the Hong Kong Nicaragua Development (HKND) group, in building their own canal to handle, they claim, even larger ships. While details of the plan remain under intense scrutiny, the competition building in this changing region will only grow larger as maritime trade increases.

“Oceans are the lifeblood of the interconnected global community, where seaborne trade is expected to double over the next 15 years,” CS21R states. “Ninety percent of trade by volume travels across the oceans.”

Changing Threats

While operating in a changing environment, the Sea Services recognize the changing threats taking place in and around these areas. These threats, whether from state or non-state actors, will need to be dealt with both effectively and efficiently.

According to Zukunft, transnational organized crime is worth $750 billion annually. These networks utilize their illicit activities to help fund terrorist activities as well as their own nefarious enterprises.

“Transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) remain a threat to stability in Africa and the Western Hemisphere, especially in Central America and the southern approaches of the U.S. homeland,” CS21R states. “Their networks facilitate human trafficking and interrelated flows of weapons, narcotics and money, all of which could be exploited by terrorists to attack our homeland, allies and overseas interests.”

Transnational criminal organizations are operating not only along the coastlines and drug transit zones of the western hemisphere but also throughout Africa, where terrorist and piracy networks often share intelligence and money to fund illicit activities along the western African coast.

“Construction Battalions (Seabees), Explosive Ordnance Disposal units, Navy SEALs and other Naval Special Operations Forces, as well as Coast Guardsmen and Marines, will continue working alongside partner security forces to combat terrorism, illicit trafficking, and illegal exploitation of natural resources through initiatives such as the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership and the Africa Partnership Station,” CS21R states. “West African nations rely heavily on maritime forces to combat illicit trafficking, which have links to terrorist enterprises.”

Another theatre of operations where there is a changing threat is the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, where China’s actions are being hotly contested by Indo-Asian allies, including Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Singapore.

“Consistent with developing strong partnerships and relationships, Filipinos have been strong partners for many years,” General Dunford said. “We had a little bit of a dip in the relationship, but that’s a compelling reason for us to cooperate more closely than we have over the past few years.”

According to Reuters, China’s actions have led Japan to recently sign a security agreement with Vietnam and the Philippines, forming an alliance that will counter China’s growing presence throughout the South and East China Sea. This agreement includes the first ever joint naval exercises between Japan and the Philippines, as well as intelligence sharing between the geopolitical adversaries of China.

“With strategic attention shifting to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, we will increase the number of ships, aircraft and Marine Corps forces postured there,” CS21R states. “By 2020, approximately 60 percent of Navy ships and aircraft will be based in the (Indo-Asian-Pacific) region. The Navy will maintain a Carrier Strike Group, Carrier Airwing and Amphibious Ready Group in Japan, add an attack submarine to those already in Guam and implement cost-effective approaches such as increasing to four the number of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) forward-stationed in Singapore.”

The Coast Guard’s strong ties with several other coast guards in the volatile region will aid in diplomatic discussions and information sharing.

“…The Coast Guard will work with regional partners and navies using joint and combined patrols, ship-rider exchanges and multinational exercises to build proficient maritime governance forces, enhance cooperation in maritime safety and security and reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” CS21R states. “These multinational efforts are furthered through the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative and participation in the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum.”

Changing Resources

With budgets under scrutiny and the almighty dollar being hard-pressed, the Sea Services need to fight battles effectively and efficiently by realizing the changing resources available for widespread use.

“In this time of fiscal austerity, our force is sized to support defeating one regional adversary in a large, multi-phased campaign, while denying the objectives of, or imposing unacceptable costs on, another aggressor in a different region,” CS21R states. “This force-sizing construct also ensures our capability and capacity to support global presence requirements.”

In a question and answer period during the CSIS event, Megan Eckstein, a staff writer with USNI News, asked the three admirals how they would handle their services concerning the possible constraints of the FY16 budget, which received acknowledged chuckles from the largely Capitol Hill audience.

“We have to replace the current Ohio-class submarine,” Admiral Greenert said. “We don’t have the money associated to do that without ruining the shipbuilding account which permeates all that this strategy is about for the future. That is my number one conundrum right now.”

Dunford offered a different view into the budget issue, speaking of his recent meeting with Marine Corps leaders reviewing the service’s capabilities in unifying combatant commanders.

“This is really not just FY16 … this is about capability development over the next three to five, frankly seven to eight years,” Dunford said. “It’s not so much about buying more radios. It’s about us coming together and identifying the capability that we need to have and making sure that’s properly resourced.”

According to Zukunft, the Coast Guard needs to not only provide a defensive measure along the coast and in the ports, but also be able to stop dangerous and illegal shipments from even entering the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“If you have a shipment destined for the United States, you want a goal line defense inside the sea buoy, or do you want the ability to exert US sovereignty into the territorial seas of where that ship departed?” Zukunft said. “I’d much rather have the latter, but we’re not going to have that as a nation if we don’t make this investment to build affordable ships, but…also the ability to exert our sovereignty well beyond the sea buoy.”

In the revised document, the Sea Services realized the challenges a tighter budget would have on their day to day operations and the need to cooperate on a deeper and more streamlined level.

“A smaller force, driven by additional budget cuts or sequestration, would require us to make hard choices,” CS21R states. “Specifically, in the event of a return to sequestration levels of funding, the Navy’s ability to maintain appropriate forward presence would be placed at risk.”

Changing environments, threats and resources will force the Sea Services to adapt and recognize the fluctuations across world geopolitics. Unifying efforts with allies and partners will enhance Americas own Sea Services, offering opportunities for deeper associations with countries from Latin America to the South China Sea. Whatever the environment and threat may be, America’s Navy, Marines and Coast Guard will remain ready, willing and able to handle the coming century.

“A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready” Kickoff, 13 March

There is an upcoming event some of you might be interested in. It is the introduction of the new Navy/USCG/USMC strategy, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready”, slated for roll-out on March 13. Speakers include the Commandant, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

It will likely fill up quickly, so sign up soon if you want to go.

When: 3/13/2015 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Where: 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20036
Registration: http://my.csis.org/csis/CSIS1700/CSISEventRegistration.aspx?eventcode=2015_065
Cost: Free

Anyone want to be my on-scene reporter?

Document Alert, Western Hemisphere Stategy

Coast Guard Compass has reported the release of the “Coast Guard Western Hemisphere Strategy.” I have only made a very cursory scan. At this point I will only note that one thing I frequently see in strategies (including this one) is an apparent presumption that a “multi-layer” strategy is always better, when actually a comprehensive, well executed single layer may be better than a porous multi-layered approach which dilutes our effort. The illegal importers of drugs prove on an almost daily basis that our current multi-layered efforts are far less than 100% effective. By extension we cannot expect them to be effective in intercepting potentially more disastrous security threats.

DOD Arctic Strategy

Nov. 22 the DOD released its Arctic strategy. The news release is here. but I have quoted it in full below:

“Department of Defense Announces Arctic Strategy

“Today the Department of Defense released its Arctic Strategy during a speech by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada. The strategy document may be viewed at http://www.defense.gov/pubs/2013_Arctic_Strategy.pdf.

“Secretary Hagel’s speech can be read here.”

The strategy itself is actually pretty short, only 16 glossy pages. The readers digest version breaks down to, the DOD will work with allies and partners both internationally and domestically to assure the Arctic remains,

“…a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges.”

The Coast Guard released its own, much more detailed strategy earlier, reported here.

Worth noting, DOD Strategy’s definition of the Arctic, like that of the National and Coast Guard strategies, extends well south of the Arctic Circle:

“The DoD strategy uses a broad definition of the Arctic, codified in 15 U.S.C. 4111, that includes all U.S. and foreign territory north of the Arctic Circle and all U.S. territory north and west of the boundary formed by the Porcupine, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers; all contiguous seas, including the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi Seas, and the Aleutian islands chain.”

This might be of particular interest to the Coast Guard:

“Department will work through the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to maintain air tracking capabilities in the Arctic. As the maritime domain becomes increasingly accessible, the Department will seek to improve its maritime detection and tracking in coordination with DHS and other departments and agencies as well as through public/private partnerships. The Department of the Navy, in its role as DoD Executive Agent for Maritime Domain Awareness, will lead DoD coordination on maritime detection and tracking. Where possible, DoD will also collaborate with international partners to employ, acquire, share, or develop the means required to improve sensing, data collection and fusion, analysis, and information-sharing to enhance domain awareness appropriately in the Arctic. Monitoring regional activity and analyzing emerging trends are key to informing future investments in Arctic capabilities and ensuring they keep pace with increasing human activity in the region over time.”

There is a footnote on page ten of the document (page 12 of the pdf) that might provide a justification for DOD funding of icebreakers for the Coast Guard:

“11As expressed by Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), Commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), and Commander, USNORTHCOM, in a May 2008 memorandum, the United States needs assured access to support U.S. national interests in the Arctic. Although this imperative could be met by regular U.S. Government ships in open water up to the marginal ice zone, only ice-capable ships provide assured sovereign presence throughout the region and throughout the year. Assured access in areas of pack ice could also be met by other means, including submarines and aircraft.”

MARAD Seeks Input for Maritime Policy Formation

The Federal Register has recently published a request for agenda topics leading to development of a national maritime strategy.

“The Maritime Administration (MARAD) invites the public and other Marine Transportation System stakeholders to participate in a discussion intended to develop a robust national maritime strategy. The purpose of this public meeting is to gather ideas for improving the Nation’s cargo opportunities and sealift capacity while ensuring future sustainability. Speaker and topic proposals for the public meeting’s agenda are requested and may be submitted to the docket referenced above. The meeting agenda will be published in the docket and on the MARAD Web site at a later date, after consideration of responses received in the docket.”

Thanks to Maritime Memos for bringing this to my attention.

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.”

“The Forgotten Threat,” by Captain Jim Howe, USCG (retired)

The US Naval Institute, October 2010 issue, is their “Homeland Security” Issue.  There is not as much “Homeland Security” as you might expect. (There is a Eurofighter Typhoon on the cover.) It does includes articles on dealing with the threat of cross border violence from Drug Cartels and bio-terrorism, but clearly the article with the most Coast Guard implications is “The Forgotten Threat,By Captain Jim Howe, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired), that talks about the threat presented by terrorist attacks using vessels of less than 300 tons.

It outlines the problem and raises a lot of questions, but “it’s complicated.” Basically the thrust is that we have failed to plan. He’s probably right.

“Disappointingly, the resulting “Small Vessel Security Strategy” issued in April 2008 was little more than a skeleton, listing fundamental principles, cataloging a number of existing programs, and containing almost no detail on how potential threats would be addressed. Independent oversight bodies panned the report: DHS’s own inspector general said the agency “has not provided a comprehensive strategy for addressing small vessel threats.”1 Even more troubling, the follow-on implementation plan—arguably the most important piece of the notional strategy—languishes. As this issue went to press it had yet to emerge from the federal bureaucracy. There is, then, no road map to address terrorists’ potential use of small vessels.”

Clearly the Coast Guard is the number one stake holder–should I say bag holder.

What do we do about this is? In the spirit of “completed staff work,” draft a plan and provide it to the Department (this clearly puts the ball in their court). Clearly we have already done some of this. Otherwise we could not have come up with performance criteria.

Yes, some potential targets are impossible to protect. Some responsibility should go to other military services, state and local authorities, and to the owners of shore side facilities. We need to lay out our position. No, it won’t have force until its chewed over by all the interested parties and signed, but looks like someone needs to get it started and there is no one who has more interest in getting these questions on the table than the Coast Guard. That we need to resolve these issues in order to plan our procurement and force allocation should be obvious.

If Captain Howe is wrong and we have planned this out, I hope someone will correct the mistaken impression.

I’d like the headline to read “Coast Guard Foils Terrorist Attack” instead of …

And why weren’t there more articles with a Coast Guard flavor? Maybe we need to think and write more about our role in the department.

National Security Strategy

Another significant document has been issued, the “National Security Strategy.” This is not just a military strategy. In many respects it seems to reflect the values of “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century.” There are sections that can be used to justify international cooperation and training, but the most immediately applicable sections are on pages 18-19

“Strengthen Security and Resilience at Home
“At home, the United States is pursuing a strategy capable of meeting the full range of threats and hazards to our communities. These threats and hazards include terrorism, natural disasters, large-scale cyber attacks, and pandemics. As we do everything within our power to prevent these dangers, we also recognize that we will not be able to deter or prevent every single threat. That is why we must also enhance our resilience—the ability to adapt to changing conditions and prepare for, withstand, and rapidly recover from disruption. To keep Americans safe and secure at home, we are working to:

“Enhance Security at Home: Security at home relies on our shared efforts to prevent and deter attacks by identifying and interdicting threats, denying hostile actors the ability to operate within our borders, protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure and key resources, and securing cyberspace. That is why we are pursuing initiatives to protect and reduce vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, at our borders, ports, and airports, and to enhance overall air, maritime, transportation, and space and cyber security. Building on this foundation, we recognize that the global systems that carry people, goods, and data around the globe also facilitate the movement of dangerous people, goods, and data. Within these systems of transportation and transaction, there are key nodes—for example, points of origin and transfer, or border crossings—that represent opportunities for exploitation and interdiction. Thus, we are working with partners abroad to confront threats that often begin beyond our borders. And we are developing lines of coordination at home across Federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, nongovernmental, and private-sector partners, as well as individuals and communities.

“Effectively Manage Emergencies: We are building our capability to prepare for disasters to reduce or eliminate long-term effects to people and their property from hazards and to respond to and recover from major incidents. To improve our preparedness, we are integrating domestic all hazards planning at all levels of government and building key capabilities to respond to emergencies. We continue to collaborate with communities to ensure preparedness efforts are integrated at all levels of government with the private and nonprofit sectors. We are investing in operational capabilities and equipment, and improving the reliability and interoperability of communications systems for first responders. We are encouraging domestic regional planning and integrated preparedness programs and will encourage government at all levels to engage in long-term recovery planning. It is critical that we continually test and improve plans using exercises that are realistic in scenario and consequences.