13 March 2015

Highlights from New U.S. Maritime Strategy: “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready”

The U.S. Sea Services’ freshly issued document has the makings of a serious strategy. It provides vital specificity that its predecessor eight years ago lacked, yet does so in a positive way. This is an excellent model for the larger Asia-Pacific Strategy (or perhaps an “Indo-Asia-Pacific Strategy”), that the Nation continues to lack, yet truly needs. As I have testified and emphasized repeatedly, U.S. interests would be better advanced, allies and security partners better assured, and potential adversarial behavior better deterred if the Obama Administration issued such a strategy. This would also serve as a vital cornerstone of the Asia-Pacific Rebalance, a centerpiece of President Obama’s legacy. So my message to the White House is, please consider the Sea Services’ positive example and give us that vital leadership!

Meanwhile, excerpted below are the lines that stood out to me in my first reading of the strategy. But read it yourself to see what is most relevant from your perspective! The thirty-seven pages flow quickly.

A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready (Washington, DC: March 2015).

[Positive and Negative Aspects of Chinese Military Maritime Development and Actions:]

pp. 3-4

“China’s naval expansion into the Indian and Pacific Oceans presents both opportunities and challenges. For example, China supports counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, conducts humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions enabled by its hospital ship, and participates in large-scale, multinational naval exercises. As a signatory of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), China demonstrates its ability to embrace international norms, institutions, and standards of behavior commensurate with rising power status. However, China’s naval expansion also presents challenges when it employs force or intimidation against other sovereign nations to assert territorial claims. This behavior, along with a lack of transparency in its military intentions, contributes to

tension and instability, potentially leading to miscalculation or even escalation. The U.S. Sea Services, through our continued forward presence and constructive interaction with Chinese maritime forces, reduce the potential for misunderstanding, discourage aggression, and preserve our commitment to peace and stability in the region.”

[Regionally-Focused Sections, with Indo-Asia-Pacific First:]

p. 11


With strategic attention shifting to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, we will increase the number of ships, aircraft, and Marine Corps forces postured there. By 2020, approximately 60 percent of Navy ships and aircraft will be based in the 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 to provide an enduring regional presence. The Navy will also provide its most advanced warfighting platforms to the region, including multi-mission ballistic missile defense–capable ships; submarines; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. The Zumwalt-class destroyer—our most technologically sophisticated surface combatant—will deploy to the area, as will the F-35C Lightning II and the MQ-4C Triton high-endurance, unmanned aerial vehicle.” …

[Countermeasures against ASBMs and Cruise Missiles]

p. 21

“we may more effectively defeat anti-ship ballistic and cruise missile threats by making use of superior battlespace awareness to employ cyber and EMW capabilities in an integrated fires approach that defeats the threat before it has even been launched.”

[Fleet Numbers Required to Support Execution of Strategy:]

 p. 27

“the Navy and Marine Corps must maintain a fleet of more than 300 ships, including 11 aircraft carriers, 14 ballistic missile submarines (replaced by 12 Ohio Replacement Program SSBN(X)), and 33 amphibious ships, while the Coast Guard must maintain a fleet of 91 National Security, Offshore Patrol, and Fast Response Cutters.”