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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Where is the military headed?

Read this. The Navy rediscovers the world of shipping:
The Navy has the expeditionary model of warfare ingrained in its culture, but it is far from perfect and is also looking at major changes in the future, said Navy Rear Adm. Peter H. Daly, commander of Carrier Strike Group 11.

More than ever, the Navy is recognizing the importance of sea power, Daly said. People tend to assume ships at sea will be unmolested by enemies, he said, but the amount Americans depend on the sea requires leaders to be more vigilant.

"The fact is, is that a huge proportion of U.S. trade -- over 90 percent -- travels by sea," he said. "(About) 2.2 billion people in this world live 100 kilometers from the shore. Fifty thousand tankers out there carry 60 percent of our oil, and if we had to live without it, we'd be having a very, very bad day."

Americans shouldn't have to worry about the maritime environment, and that's where the Navy comes in, Daly said. But the key to the Navy's success is cooperation and help from partners inside and outside the U.S., he said. "For the first time, we're seeing synergy with other nations that we've talked about having for 10 or 15 years," he said.

The international community is coming together to deal with maritime issues like piracy, illegal drugs, human smuggling, weapons of mass destruction, and environmental issues, Daly said. It's sometimes hard to match the capabilities of the U.S. Navy with other countries, but cooperation is important, so Navy leaders have been developing partnerships and trying to increase other nations' capabilities, he said.

The Navy also is shifting from doing mostly sea-based operations to other areas, Daly said. In the Central Command area of operations, 10,000 Navy personnel are on the ground, performing missions such as detainee operations, air ambulance support, provincial reconstruction teams, and intelligence operations, he said. The Navy also is expanding its ability to do expeditionary operations, such as river operations, and civil affairs, he said.

The Marine Corps will be partnering with the Navy to provide an important joint capability to all the services, said Marine Col. Timothy C. Hanifen, director of the capability development directorate at Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

Sea-basing is a naval and national capability that will give the U.S. an option to enter an area when access to air bases or ports is not available, Hanifen said. A Marine pre-positioning force will join with an amphibious force to form a sea base from which personnel and equipment can be flown to an advance base, he said. This will be an important capability to make the force even more versatile to meet the changing threats of the 21st century, he said.

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