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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Navy's QDR Preps

Thanks to the Navy League for letting us peek under the tent into the machinations of the Navy in getting ready for the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).
Meanwhile, the Navy has drafted a new strategy of its own: “Navy’s 3/1 Strategy: The Maritime Contribution to the Joint Force in a Changed Strategic Landscape.” This narrative captures ideas that senior service officials have expressed since January when Adm. Vern Clark, chief of naval operations, declared the Navy was not well suited to deal with challenges of the future.

The Navy is working to figure out what changes are in order for its blue-water fleet, which is designed to fight a conventional enemy on the high seas. Until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Navy prepared for two major theater wars with the expectation that all other missions — from humanitarian relief to peace-keeping to counterterrorism — could be accomplished with the organizations, equipment and skills at hand.

Prepared by the Navy’s Information, Plans and Strategy staff at the Pentagon, the draft strategy acknowledges that the likelihood of major war on the high seas has significantly diminished. While maintaining the ability to conduct a major combat operation the Navy must be prepared to deal with a wider array of maritime security operations, including stability operations, the global war on terrorism (GWOT) and homeland defense.

The draft strategy anticipates a “limited number” of new requirements will take shape to fulfill these missions, and that some existing capabilities will need modification to keep them relevant in the new strategic landscape, “while other capabilities will need to be expanded in scale to meet the challenges of the post-9/11 security environment.”

To enhance its ability to contribute to the GWOT category, the Navy will enhance its theater security cooperation. “The maritime dimension of the GWOT — the ability of terrorists to exploit the seas — requires the U.S. Navy to operate in a manner analogous to that of the British Navy in the 18th century during its campaign against piracy,” the strategy states. The idea is to improve the proficiency of navies around the world at policing their own regional waters, freeing the U.S. Navy to work elsewhere.

Clark has issued guidance designed to increase the ability of other nations’ navies to conduct enhanced maritime interdiction operations, counterterrorism and piracy patrols, perform maritime law enforcement and collect intelligence on what ships are active on the seas.

To improve its effectiveness in the war on terror, the service is enhancing its maritime domain awareness, an understanding of anything on or below the seas around the world that could affect the security, safety, economy or environment of the United States. The purpose is to generate actionable intelligence.

The Navy is also examining its role in stability operations. Following the turmoil that erupted in Iraq following the quick military defeat of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, the Pentagon is examining ways to improve its ability to restore order in the aftermath of major combat activity.

The Navy’s draft strategy, however, notes that the sea service is well acquainted with stability operations given its recent contributions in the Balkans, East Timor and Haiti. From the sea, the Navy has contributed to stability operations by enforcing embargoes, sanctions and quarantines; conducting antipiracy operations; drug interdiction; oil and gas field patrols; and maritime counterterrorism missions; as well as supporting counterinsurgency operations...The Navy, accordingly, is planning to adjust its near-term investment strategy to better handle future missions in the global war on terrorism, a move that service officials hope will anticipate recommendations from the QDR. The service is boosting spending on technologies and programs that will improve its ability to conduct network-centric operations and fund the first of a new fleet of expeditionary logistics ships that can be used as floating bases to launch thousands of ground troops and their equipment ashore.

“That’s exactly where we’re looking to fund,” said Vice Adm. Joseph Sestak, deputy chief of naval operations for warfare requirements and programs.

The question of whether those investments are on target will be answered this summer as the QDR sets forth a new game plan for the entire U.S. military.

(hat tip: NOSI)

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