The use of cyber-tactics combined with unmanned aerial vehicles to prosecute the campaign against terrorists has increased dramatically over recent years. Technological development along those lines has sparked discussions ranging from talk of revolutions in how wars will be fought to changes in domestic law enforcement. The New York Times recently published a column titled “At War: How Cyber Warfare and Drones Have Revolutionized Warfare,” by Tim Hsia and Jared Sperli. Both are West Point graduates and combat veterans, currently serving as ROTC military science instructors. Unfortunately, geography and the facts on the ground do not bear out their observations. Read More
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Interaction with partner navies around the world is a centerpiece of “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power,” the document that guides U.S. Navy maritime operations. One of the strategic imperatives in that directive demands that the Navy “[f]oster and sustain cooperative relationships with more international partners.” That task is extraordinarily difficult because of the disparity between U.S. ships and partner vessels in size and capabilities.
The recent decision to retire seven aging Aegis cruisers eases the disparity to some extent, but also highlights an ongoing debate about the future of the naval force structure. Those seven cruisers are in addition to the five Ticonderoga-class ships scheduled for decommissioning in 2013 and the six Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates also designated to leave the fleet this year. The retirement of the frigates raises old issues. The current naval construction program will replace the “low-end” warships with littoral combat ships (LCSs). The Navy needs the high-low mix across the spectrum of tactical mission areas, but how can this best be achieved?
A new book by former deputy undersecretary of the Navy Seth Cropsey stirs this boiling pot. Read More
This article is a response to “Atlantic Naval Forces Have a Future,” written on Sept. 10, 2012 by J. Randy Forbes.
The U.S. Navy’s shift in strategic emphasis in recent years provides the impetus for a closer examination of the options for both force structure and basing. These discussions must be frank and driven by strategic realities.
Last week’s assessment by Randy Forbes’ is absolutely correct when arguing that the number of ships available for service remains the most critical issue facing the Navy. An increase of more than 50 percent in operational ship-days combined with the smallest Fleet in almost a century has led to a rash of reports of ships suffering from degraded material conditions. The maintenance facilities in U.S. ports are unparalleled and represent the best answer to reversing those troubling trends. The assertions concerning the need to maintain a credible force in our Atlantic ports are also compelling. Southern Command, West African contingencies, and European Command requirements are all best supported from East Coast traditional homeports. Those arguments, while compelling, do not overcome the limitations of geography and history.
Historically, Middle Eastern contingencies have been well-supported by ships based in Norfolk, Virginia, and Mayport, Florida. Four of the seven aircraft carriers that supported Operation Desert Storm in 1991 deployed from the East Coast. Throughout the protracted confrontation with Iraq that continued over the ensuing decade, the homeports of the deploying naval forces alternated between the U.S Atlantic and Pacific Fleet. While that seems to suggest that continuing the existing basing arrangements would adequately support the needs of Central Command, there are political developments that may affect the deployment calculus. The viability of a strategy based on existing deployment patterns could be dramatically altered should access to the Suez Canal change.