Sea Control 74: Falklands Series 5 – South Georgia Ops

seacontrol2This is the story of Christopher Nunn in his own words, the Captain in command of M Company 42 Commando, who was sent to South Georgia  as part of Operation Paraquet – the first stage of the Falklands and the opening salvo and statement of intent that would set the stage for all that was to come. It was also possibly the most risky operation of the war, as the British forces deployed were completely self-dependent with no possibility of support.

DOWNLOAD: Falklands South Georgia Ops

Remember, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher Stream Radio. Leave a comment and rate five stars!

Host: Alexander Clarke
Editing: Matthew Hipple
Music: Britain!

Members’ Roundup Part 18

Welcome back to another edition of the Roundup! After a brief hiatus we are back to share with you more of our members’ works. There are plenty of articles to share, ranging from maritime infrastructure development to thoughts on the new maritime strategy.

Back in February Miha Hribernik wrote a piece for The Diplomat regarding piracy in Southeast Asia. Although this presents a significant and worrying problem, it is manageable. Miha presents some suggestions for regional States on how to resolve this issue. You can access the article here. 

To surpass China in Sri Lanka, India needs to pursue proactive and dynamic diplomacy. Nilanthi Samaranayake explains, over at The Diplomat, that the key to reaffirming India’s presence in the region is through infrastructure investment. More specifically, the focus should be on public-private partnership and government to government investment in the maritime domain. You can access Nilanthi’s article here.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 1.53.03 pmJerry Hendrix, from the Center for a New American Security, published a report in February called ‘Avoiding Trivia: A Strategy for Sustainment and Fiscal Security’. In it, he argues that the United States has strayed from its historic and cultural approach to the world, leaving behind its traditional maritime-focused, technologically innovative, free-trade based strategy. The solution to this, according to Hendrix, is a more clear eyed strategy that seeks to avoid trivia and address the US’ current weaknesses in order to shore up its long term strategic position.

Over at War on the Rocks David Wise shares with us an article titled ‘Blowback as National Policy.’ Many of the current security threats that the Western world faces today are a result of those decisions made in years past. Before making the foray into the geostrategic game, which is more than just a big game of Risk, first have a look at David’s cogent words on what we face today.

Mira Rapp-Hooper writes on the Lawfare Institute’s blog a post examining the impact of China’s increased military spending (and the US’ relative decline in spending) on neighbouring countries. You can access her post here.

Following the trend of AMTI posts, Bryan McGrath shares his analysis on how China might view the United States’ revised Maritime Strategy. Given that Bryan was heavily involved in the development of the 2007 strategy, you will certainly find his views on the matter very insightful. You can access his piece here.

Vice Admiral Robert Thomas, commander of the US 7th Fleet, proposed the creation of joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea by ASEAN member nations – this was quickly met with mix reactions. Scott Cheney-Peters provides some solutions to challenge the arguments presented by the ‘nay-sayers’ and suggests that the presence of the “white hulls” of the U.S. Coast Guard could mitigate many of the perceived drawbacks. You can find out more by accessing his article on the AMTI’s website, here.

Harry Kazianis, on The National Interest, shares an analysis of the core reasons behind China’s ‘massive’ military buildup. He explains the historical roots of the Chinese military psyche due to subjugation at the hands of external powers. The solution to this is to employ an asymmetrical strategy  to defeat, in battle, forces that are superior to its own. You can access his article here.

Long range anti-ship missiles contribute to an essential element of China's deterrence.
Anti-Ship Missiles contribute to an essential element of China’s deterrence.

On the National Defense Magazine’s online blog, Sandra Erwin reports that the current pace of shipbuilding and funding will not be able to meet the future demands of the Navy. Given that is an annual obligation of the Navy to tell Congress how many ships it will need and how much they will cost, it should certainly raise some alarm bells for decision-makers in Washington. For more on this, you can access Sandra’s post here.

U.S. Navy Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 (PCRON 1), USS Hurricane (PC-3), USS Chinook (PC-9) and USS Typhoon (PC-5), transit in formation during a divisional tactics exercise in the Persian Gulf.
U.S. Navy Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 (PCRON 1), USS Hurricane (PC-3), USS Chinook (PC-9) and USS Typhoon (PC-5), transit in formation during a divisional tactics exercise in the Persian Gulf.

Bringing the theme of this Roundup to the naval profession, Matthew Hipple in a joint article with Dan Follet and James Davenport, remind us the important role of patrol coastal ships in securing the seas. In this edition of Proceedings, the authors suggest that patrol coastal ships are an “incredible platform for both mission execution and cultivating war fighting.” To read more about why this is the case, you can access their article here.

Over at War on the Rocks, CIMSECian Emil Maine (and company) provide some critique of Congressman Mac Thornberry’s ‘Defense Acquisition Reform’ initiative. Defence acquisition is a necessity, but the question is whether political momentum can be sustained long enough to overcome the usual barriers to wholesale reform. More on this topic here.

Finally we conclude this edition with a shameless plug for my own work. The first is an article featured in the March-April edition of the Australian Defence Force Journal. Titled ‘Evolution of the Battlefield’, I examine existing strategic and legal challenges to developing an effective cyber warfare policy for military planners. My second piece is a brief analysis of the Australian Department of Defence’s new First Priniciples Reviewthis will hopefully provide an insight into some of the organisational challenges faced by the ADF and Department of Defence. Perhaps some of the US readers can find some similarities and provide suggestions for the Australian context. You can access each of the above articles here and here.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to

Strategic Insights Arctic Special Issue – Call for Papers

The December 2015 special issue of Strategic Insights magazine will deal with maritime security problems associated with the Arctic. Although international attention in recent months has shifted to places such as Russia/Ukraine, Syria/Iraq, Greece, or the South China Sea, the High North retains its unique position and potential as a future site of conflict and cooperation, disruptive technology, and a major maritime trade shortcut. We are looking for thought-provoking contributions that address challenges and risks in the High North, and provide fresh perspectives for our readers. Whether it is a particularly Canadian, American, Russian, Norwegian, Danish, or any other nation-state view, a discussion of current and future operations, or perspectives on maritime security from your particular point of view, all suggestions are welcome.

It doesn't happen often that an entire ice-breaking fleet is in one picture... but when it does, it's set to be cool.
It doesn’t happen often that an entire ice-breaking fleet is in one picture… but when it does, it’s set to be cool.

Anyone with an interest in writing an article should send a short note Sebastian Bruns, member of the SI editorial board and fellow CIMSECian, at Please include a short bullet-point list of what you would like to discuss and provide 2-3 sentences on your professional background. If your article is accepted for publication, remuneration is 300.00 € (or – currently – 335.00 USD) per article and will be paid via bank transfer on the first of the month after publication of the respective issue. The deadline for your final article is 15 November 2015.

From Russia with love.
From Russia with love.

Strategic Insights draws on the focus and geographical coverage of Risk Intelligence’s MaRisk maritime security monitor, but takes a wider look at the nature of maritime risk in different threat locations around the world. Each issue goes beyond facts and figures to consider the drivers of maritime security challenges and how these challenges will evolve in the future.
The focus of Strategic Insights is on security threats and political-military developments with a maritime dimension, particularly non-traditional security issues such as piracy, maritime terrorism, insurgency, smuggling, and port security. The journal is read by players in the maritime industry, law enforcement agencies, think tanks and institutions, and inter-governmental regional security bodies. A particular emphasis is placed on articles that offer policy-relevant and operational analysis relevant to the maritime community. The style is a mix of journalism and academic, length about 2,500-3,000 words. Visit the website for more info and to download your complimentary free issue.

Sebastian Bruns is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University where he is responsible for all things maritime. He is also one of the editors for Strategic Insights magazine.

The Importance of U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council

This month the United States will begin its two-year Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental forum that primarily addresses environmental protection and sustainable development issues in the Arctic region.  The Arctic Council, which also includes Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden (also referred to as the A8), was formed as a result of the Ottawa Declaration in 1996.  As interest in the Arctic has grown over the years, so too has the status of the Arctic Council. 

With the Arctic becoming more attractive, there will be opportunities for major international players to share information and best practices for sustainable development and safe navigation through the busy shipping lanes in the region.  It is realistic to believe that all Arctic and major trading nations benefit from open access to shipping lanes in the Arctic.  However, the geopolitical significance placed on the Arctic by some actors may hinder information-sharing of all types between states active in the region.  For example, Arctic states, who all have different coast guard structures, could deny information to others in order to protect sovereign rights.  Furthermore, non-Arctic states, particularly China, may build influence in the region to pursue its own interests.  China’s economy relies heavily on shipping and plans to use the Arctic to ship around 15% of its international trade by 2020.  A precedent must be set that manages possible competing influences in the Arctic to secure peaceful usage of the region.   

Besides the permanent members of the Arctic Council, there are non-Arctic states with Observer Status who, at the moment, do not play a significant role in the Council’s decision-making, but may in the future.  Many states have an interest in the Arctic, which is likely to drive certain actors to pursue unilateral actions to enhance their Arctic objectives if there is no change to the status quo.  With top energy consumers and economic powers like China and India as Observers, along with Russia’s aggressive activity in the Arctic, as evidenced by its large-scale military exercises, the U.S. must exercise a leadership role to coordinate collaboration between all states interested in the Arctic, mitigating tensions and ensuring freedom of the seas.  

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, host of the 8th Arctic Council meeting, opens the closing session attended by Secretary of State John Kerry at the City Hall in Kiruna, Sweden on May 15, 2013.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, host of the 8th Arctic Council meeting, opens the closing session attended by Secretary of State John Kerry at the City Hall in Kiruna, Sweden on May 15, 2013.

Most Americans are probably not aware of what the Arctic Council is and that the U.S. will be its Chair starting later this month.  This U.S. Chairmanship is sure to differ from its predecessor Canada’s, as the U.S. seems adamant about having a strong focus on climate change while also building upon Canada’s theme of economic development in the Arctic.  Because issues in the Arctic affect a number of nations, the United States has a grand opportunity to use its Arctic strategy to help guide multilateral cooperation to promote regional governance and stability.   

Due to the geopolitical factors associated with the Arctic, it is important to remind the American public of the potential opportunities for the U.S. to further its goals in the High North.  With competing interests in the Arctic, the U.S. should seek out opportunities to strengthen its cooperation with the other Arctic nations.  Russia has been the most active in the Arctic by margin.  Relations between Russia and the other A8 have been strained since Russia annexed Crimea, but the U.S. should prevent a “Crimea flu” from taking place, while also not allowing Russia to encroach upon its Arctic neighbors’ sovereign territory.  Whether it be technological partnerships to advance oil and natural gas exploration or multilateral efforts within the Arctic Council to develop a comprehensive framework aimed at Arctic security, the U.S. should make it a goal to work with Arctic and non-Arctic states to further unity and stability in the region.   

U.S. Approach to the Arctic Region

As demonstrated by the Obama administration’s Implementation Plan for The National Strategy for the Arctic Region, the United States will look to address certain themes during its Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.  Those themes include: Arctic Ocean safety, security and stewardship; improving economic and living conditions; and addressing the impacts of climate change.  These issues will become increasingly more important as the diminishing polar ice cap will make the Arctic broadly accessible and vastly enhance the region’s appeal.  Experts at the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict that based on current trends the Arctic will be ice-free in the summertime before 2050.  The melting of Arctic ice will result in new complex issues concerning the exploitation of natural resources, freedom of navigation, and territorial sovereignty. 

NOAA Ship Fairweather in the Alaskan Arctic.
NOAA Ship Fairweather in the Alaskan Arctic.

Preventing tensions in these focus areas is in the interest of the Council, as all seek stability in the Arctic.  The challenge though is for all Arctic nations to understand that inter-council tensions will threaten their interests.  As stated in a report by the Director of National Intelligence last year, “Some states see the Arctic as a strategic security issue that has the potential to give other countries an advantage in positioning in their military forces.”  Militarizing the Arctic may seem advantageous to individual states in the region, but doing so weakens Arctic governance and threatens the interests of global commerce.  Thus, it is important to persuade all Arctic states, particularly Russia, that military activity in the High North is likely to deteriorate the Arctic’s future economic viability.

In addition to the themes laid out in America’s Implementation Plan for the Arctic, there are certain goals the U.S. is looking to achieve over the next two years.  As stated by Julie Gourley, a Senior Arctic Official at the State Department, during a conference in Washington, DC this past summer, U.S. overarching goals while Chair of the Council are to introduce new projects and initiatives into the Council; raise public awareness of the Arctic and why it is important to U.S. interests; and strengthen the Council as an intergovernmental body.  The U.S. will focus on cooperation among the A8 on implementing renewable energy projects in the region, especially solar, wave, and wind, while also developing information and communication technologies to foster partnerships.  Increasing public awareness of the Arctic could garner more support for U.S. activity in the Arctic and help expand economic development.  The U.S. Government is planning to allow Shell to restart its drilling for oil in the Arctic, while also continuing to work on its Draft Proposed Program that would allow three lease sales in Alaska (Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, and Cook Inlet areas).  The administration’s program, according to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, would make available nearly 80 % of Alaska’s undiscovered technically recoverable resources. 

Based upon the Obama administration’s literature, it seems that the U.S. is placing more emphasis on environmental stewardship than economic development when it comes to its Arctic strategy.  Preserving Arctic ecosystems and limiting the negative impact of energy exploration on the environment are factors that must be considered; however, not finding the right balance may cause the U.S. to fall further behind in acting as a strong voice in international Arctic policy.

Natural Resources in the Arctic

According to a U.S. Geological Survey 2008 report, the Arctic comprises 22% of the world’s remaining undiscovered, technically recoverable petroleum resources.  These resources include 13% of undiscovered oil, 30% of undiscovered natural gas, and 20% of undiscovered natural gas liquids to the Arctic.  It is projected that the Alaskan Arctic region holds the largest undiscovered Arctic oil deposits, approximately 30 billion barrels. 

A second drill rig engaged in Beaufort Sea exploration.
A second drill rig engaged in Beaufort Sea exploration.

Not only can the U.S. benefit from Arctic oil and natural gas, there are also mineral resources that may be an even more important economic driver.  Examples of such resources include zinc, lead, gold, coal, iron ore, nickel, and palladium.  As noted in a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, without the appropriate infrastructure and funding, these natural resources cannot be appropriately explored and extracted.  

In order for the U.S. and the other A8 states to take advantage of the economic value of the High North, it will require an Arctic that is stable for passage by vessels and safe exploration of resources.  As the next Chair of the Arctic Council, the U.S. should develop a cooperative effort among the A8 to focus on Arctic security to assure stability and maritime safety in the region.

Preserving Stability in the Arctic  

Given the number of territorial disputes and the vast amounts of natural resources in the region, there is the possibility that tensions could rise among the Arctic states. Commerce through the Arctic will only increase while the Arctic melts, thus, it is imperative to prevent conflict that may disrupt maritime trade and security.  To preserve peace and security in the region, the U.S. can act as a guardian in strengthening regional cooperation through confidence and security building measures with the other Arctic nations.  

Presently, military conflict in the Arctic does not look realistic.  However, Russia, who has been the most active in the High North, has placed a strong emphasis on the Arctic in its military doctrine.  Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said in February, “A broad spectrum of potential challenges and threats to our national security is now being formed in the Arctic.  Therefore, one of the defense ministry’s priorities is to develop military infrastructure in this zone.”  Russian military buildup could be destabilizing, which is why the U.S. should implement intergovernmental mechanisms to reduce future tensions.

 Pacific fleet vessels' sortie for combat training

The U.S. could introduce confidence and security building measures that would allow the A8 to cooperate on maintaining stability in the Arctic.  For instance, the U.S. could lead an effort to establish an annual forum that brings the heads of state of the A8 countries to discuss Arctic security issues.  Government officials from the Arctic Council members have met on several occasions to discuss security issues in the Arctic, such as: the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable, Coast Guard Forum, and Northern Chiefs of Defense Meeting.  However, having the U.S. President call upon the other A8 leaders to meet would demonstrate America’s commitment to upholding security in the Arctic. 

Other mechanisms to preserve peace in the Arctic could include bi or multilateral cooperation on Arctic technology or infrastructure for energy exploration in the region, and possibly an annual Arctic security exercise between the A8 to strengthen maritime safety procedures.  For the former to occur, the U.S. administration will need to show more willingness to pursue such projects.  To start, it would be beneficial for the United States to invest in the production of new icebreakers to support security exercises.  A Foreign Affairs article lays out several reasons as to how new icebreakers can enhance U.S. security in the Arctic and foster international cooperation.  Additionally, progress in renewable energy in the Arctic is beneficial to all and could be a leading example in the potential of this technology.  With all Arctic states seeing the importance of unconventional energy sources, collaboration in this sector through government-initiated development programs could assist in strengthening Arctic security.   

There are multiple opportunities for the U.S. to take a leading role in strengthening Arctic security for decades to come.  The U.S. can lead efforts to efficiently manage governance in this new common space by having the A8 establish a Working Group or framework that outlines shared responsibilities of security in the Arctic, to collaborate with the A8 to develop infrastructure needed to support transportation through the Arctic (such as a networked maritime domain awareness fusion centers encircling Arctic or other communication systems), and to create capabilities required to oversee and police the Arctic waters.  All of these efforts can accommodate the needs of all Arctic nations; however, the U.S., as well as the other A8 members, will need to significantly fund such efforts, which seems difficult with today’s budget constraints.

A Historic Opportunity Awaits the U.S.

Chairing the Arctic Council provides the U.S. with the chance to more effectively implement collaboration among the Arctic nations.  Of course, not everything the U.S. wants will be achieved, as the Council requires consensus by all eight states to move forward with any activity.  Instead, the U.S. should look for opportunities to advance the interests of all Arctic states for policy to turn into action during the U.S. Chairmanship. 

Accomplishing all of its geopolitical goals in the Arctic will be difficult.  The United States has trouble funding its own projects in the Arctic, whether it be the exploration of natural resources or building an icebreaking fleet.  Even the Council as a whole has issues with funding, which has impeded certain initiatives.  The next two years will be of high importance for the U.S. in terms of establishing itself as a key Arctic state.  Therefore, all levels of the U.S. Government should work together with their Arctic partners to take advantage of this historic opportunity.

Asymmetric Naval Warfare: Next Stage in the South Atlantic Conflict?

By Alex Calvo

More than 30 years after the Falklands War, the South Atlantic remains a focus of tension, given Argentina’s refusal to acknowledge the right to self-determination and rule out the use of force. In conventional terms, generally speaking the balance of forces has moved in favour of the UK, despite the current carrier gap (while two Queen Elizabeth II class carriers are being built) and deterioration of amphibious capabilities. British defence planners seem to rely first and foremost on the air and anti-aircraft assets permanently deployed at Mount Pleasant plus the few but powerful Royal Navy units in the region. Together, they seem to be able to deal with Argentina’s current order of battle in the event of an attempted invasion or blockade. For some, this is the end of the story, unless Buenos Aires rearms, starting with modern aircraft, which China and Russia may have offered according to different unconfirmed reports. However, there is no reason why any actor in a given conflict should stick to a particular strategy or mode of warfare. As the saying goes, “the enemy has a vote”, and given British conventional superiority (despite the lack of embarked aviation and deterioration in amphibious capabilities) Buenos Aires may choose to upgrade her strength in this field … or change tack and go asymmetric. Actually, that would not really be a novelty, since in the 1960s and 1970s a number of incidents took place featuring civilians and special operations. In 1966, a nationalist group hijacked a Dakota airplane over Patagonia and landed in Stanley Airport, and 10 years later Argentine forces set up a clandestine weather station on South Thule (South Sandwich Islands), which British authorities detected but kept quiet about to avoid an escalation. An echo of such actions was seen in 2011, when two Argentine civilians attempted to reach the Islands on a kayak.

Furthermore, events in the South China Sea over the last few years are a clear reminder of the many ways in which force can be used in disputed maritime domains. Thus, anybody following the South Atlantic must keep in mind the full spectrum of warfare, from non-conventional to sub-conventional, with all possibilities in between, and their myriad combinations. Defence planners will need to incorporate such assessments in their decisions on training, equipment, doctrine, and Rules of Engagement (ROEs). Otherwise, one may run the risk of preparing to fight yesterday’s war, as historians have more than once accused generals and admirals of doing.

Last year, in the spring and summer, clashes between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea / East Sea featured oil rigs protected by a large number of vessels, ranging from coast guard and other state ships to trawlers, while some observers also stressed the presence of naval and air assets. These clashes did not involve exchanges of fire, instead non-lethal kinetic means ranging from water cannons to ramming were used. This was in line with previous clashes between China and Japan and China and the Philippines, yet what was different was the numbers involved, and the deployment of specially-equipped ships. Some reports mentioned more than 100 vessels of different kinds, for example a 24 June 2014 Vietnamese report mentioned “44 coast guard ships, 15 cargo ships, 19 tugboats, 35 fishing vessels and five battleships” guarding a rig. Concerning special equipment, Chinese trawlers with “reinforced prows” featuring a “large metal object” appeared to be much better at pushing and damaging other vessels.

The question is then, could Argentine choose asymmetric non-lethal force over conventional rearmament? A number of scenarios come to mind, from the occupation of a minor island by activists, special forces, or a combination of  both, to the operation of trawlers escorted by non-naval state vessels. Things may get more complex with the involvement of third parties. Could Argentina grant a Chinese company a licence to explore for oil in the Falklands’ EEZ? Or to fish there? Could Buenos Aires then deploy non-naval state vessels (coastguard units or simply law enforcement personnel on board civilian vessels) to protect Chinese trawlers or even a rig?  To make things more complex, Taiwanese trawlers operate in the region, under license by the Falklands Government.

If this happened, British authorities may be faced with some of the dilemmas familiar to governments in the South China Sea. In theory asymmetric tactics may be dealt with by drawing a line in the sand, threatening to respond with conventional force. In practice, however, such a “tripwire” policy can be very difficult to implement given the natural reluctance to risk an escalation and appear as an aggressor before international public opinion if, for example, the life of civilian activists or fishermen was endangered.

Responding to asymmetric tactics may require a different kind of training, ROEs, and equipment than those designed with conventional operations in mind. An advanced anti-aircraft missile may be very useful in dealing with an inbound bomber, less so when confronting a civilian airplane full of activists. A nuclear submarine is a great asset when facing a surface combatant, not so much when what you see in your periscope is a trawler. To add to these challenges, defending forces must still be ready to engage in conventional operations. Furthermore, there is no reason why the other side cannot combine conventional and asymmetric tactics. By analogy with the USMC “Three Blocks” doctrine perhaps we may need to talk about a “Three Islands” doctrine.

While it may be too early to know what direction the confrontation in the South Atlantic may take, there are reasons to expect Buenos Aires to at the very least consider going asymmetrical. These include a much shorter time frame than that required for conventional rearmament, lower costs, and the possibility to graduate the level of confrontation, in the hope of securing political concessions without crossing the threshold of armed conflict. Concerning the British response, we can already see some evidence that London may be preparing for a new stage in the long-running conflict. In particular, for an scenario where Argentine special forces seize a minor island, which may explain the recent announcement that two Chinook troop-carrying helicopters will be deployed from next year.

 Alex Calvo, a guest professor at Nagoya University (Japan), focuses on security and defence policy, international law, and military history, in the Indian-Pacific Ocean Region. He tweets at Alex__Calvo and his work, which includes “China’s Air Defense Identification Zone: Concept, Issues at Stake and Regional Impact”, Naval War College Press Working Papers, No 1, US Naval War College,  23 December 2013, available at,  can be found at

What is the Future of Navies?

By Dr. Roberto Pereyra 

In this article I will try to provide a brief summary of my views on the purpose of navies, the need for them, and where they are bound to go.

When a regular citizen thinks of the sea, he conceives its vastness, and in his mind he envisages a horizon, but what he can’t naturally perceive is what awaits beyond that; he probably cannot fathom what lies beneath the ground, on the seabed, at great depths or on the surface.

It is also likely that he’s unaware of the obligations that nation states must fulfill in multiple areas, which include to safeguarding human lives at sea.

The sea is in itself relevant, as two thirds of the planet’s surface is covered by water[1]. The Southern Hemisphere is comprised of only 19% land,  while in the Northern Hemisphere land is 39% of the earth’s surface.

The importance of the seas and oceans for mankind as a source of resources and unity is an assertion which needs not be analyzed or questioned, considering more than 60% of the world’s population lives along a coast should be proof enough.

In America, as in the rest of the world, “the necessities and burdens of the people” are transported by sea, thus leading to motorways of the sea which never collapse, don’t present roadblocks, and are not affected by human activity[2].

It is worth noting that maritime shipping is relevant worldwide (institutionally) and is increasing in earnest.  The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, Mr. Efthimios M Mitropoulos during the commemoration of the world maritime day 2005, remarked: “we live in a global society which is supported by a global economy – and that economy simply could not function if it were not for ships and the shipping industry.”[3]

As Keohane and Nye note,[4] “we live in an interdependent world of power, hence practically no nation can consider itself self-sufficient, given that, generally speaking, there is now a “mutual reliance[5]”.

Resources scarcity is progressively heightened in a world population which is estimated to grow fourfold from 1950 to 2050. Thus, we must ruminate on the location of resources if they are not located within our countries.  The wherewithal to transport them, which will most likely be by maritime means, make resource scarcity an unwavering variable.

This same analysis establishing the convenience of the sea has been conducted from a nefarious stand point by those seeking to conduct a widely spread gamut of illegal activities.

There are multiple threats hovering over the maritime realm, and if states are not paying attention, they will domestically become more vulnerable as a result of their maritime negligence.

Offshore oil discoveries are progressively becoming more important; case in point, Brazil’s Blue Amazon (the South Atlantic), not to mention the statements made by several states regarding their continental shelf.

Along the same line, and as we ponder upon the purpose of a navy, let’s take a look at what happens when faced with a game changer, namely a “black swan” type of event as described by Nassim Nicholas taleb[6] in his book by the same title. If we begin to ask ourselves about who is ready to deploy, capable of providing support to an ally lacking an airport to land in, it is generally the navy who is able to get there and respond with its prepared and trained maritime assets. We only need to recall what took place in Haiti, 2010, where the navies were the first to set foot and recover transportation infrastructure, provided first response services and established a command and control system tailored to the emergency.

The navy is able to deploy from one side of the globe to another in its pursuit to protect its interests, and can additionally do so in order to protect their fellow citizens when they fall victims to a disaster.

The ability to have a hospital ship serve as a first responder providing relief when emergencies strike, carries value that may be underestimated but not denied as a state capability when faced with their own urgencies or demands.

Moreover, we must not lose sight of the founding purpose of a navy as it provided assistance to countries of the hemisphere in their efforts to develop inhospitable areas with their relentless force opening up navigable waterways while ensuring the delivery of supplies into territories that were nearly forgotten.

Globalization has created and increased international linkages. Navies are not lagging behind this trend with international exercises which allow for an exchange of experiences and know-how, while raising teamwork skills and potentially forging an international naval force in the future.  This force is currently seen in the form of various international naval exercises under many different designations dependent upon the participating nations. These exercises conclude with a wealth of lessons learned.

Navies will follow mandates dictated by their civilian authorities; they will be downsized, reorganized or even abolished. Regardless of their fate, nothing will change or deny the reality of things, and what it would mean to not possess a navy, or to have one that is inefficient or inoperable, and how that translates into a lack of awareness regarding the real magnitude of the world stage in which we live, where state interests are what’s at stake and how they can always be supported from the sea.

In conclusion, I would like to highlight the fact that I perceive a clear lack of communication with society regarding naval and maritime operations, and how the need for the sea will not decrease, nor will the need to dispose of the sea as the means for carrying out illegal activities change.  The sea generally provides the ideal means to provide support during domestic and international emergencies.

Lastly, we only realize the importance someone or something holds, until they’re gone, I’m sure any reader can relate to this, so then let’s not allow for this to occur to our navies.

[1]N. del A  CURSO “INTERESES MARÍTIMOS ARGENTINOS”- Ciclo 2005. Centro de Estudios Estratégicos de la Armada

[2] N. del A. In general here, we need to make an excepcion for Piricy an Terrorism at sea

[3] MITROPOULOS Efthimios, Obtenido del Texto del discurso del Secretario General de la OMI, en el Día Marítimo Mundial 2005. Titulado “el transporte marítimo internacional vehículo del comercio mundial”.

[4]KEOHANE R & NYE J, Poder e Interdependencia, la política mundial en transición. Colección Estudios Internacionales. 1ª Edición. Editor Grupo Editor Latinoamericano. 1988, p 22. Traducido por Franco Heber Cardoso Power and Interdependence, world politics in transition.  Editor Little, Brown and Company, 1977.

[5] Ibidem

[6] Taleb se refiere a casi todos los grandes descubrimientos científicos, hechos históricos, y logros artísticos como “cisnes negro”, – sin dirección e inesperados.

Señala como ejemplo de evento de Cisne Negro los ataques del 11 de septiembre, entre otros. Taleb, The Black Swan, Second Edition, Penguin, 2010, Prologue p xxi

Dr. Roberto Pereyra is a retired rear admiral in the Argentine Navy and senior professor at the Inter American Defense College.


By Dr. Roberto Pereyra Bordón

En este breve artículo pretenderé resumir mi pensar sobre el porqué de las armadas, su necesidad y su futuro.

Cuando un ciudadano piensa en el mar, lo ve su vastedad, y en su mente aparece un horizonte, pero lo que naturalmente no percibe es lo que está más allá de éste, probablemente no piense lo que ocurre en su subsuelo, en su lecho, en sus profundidades y en su superficie.

Probablemente, también ignore las obligaciones que los estados, como tales tienen en múltiples áreas, como ser la salvaguarda de la vida humana en el mar.

El mar es en si mismo relevante, porque dos tercios de la superficie del planeta está cubierta por agua[1]. El hemisferio Sur, posee solamente un 19%  de tierra y el Hemisferio Norte, posee un 39%.

La importancia de los mares y los océanos en la vida del hombre, como fuente de recursos y de unión es una verdad en sí misma, que no merece ser analizada, ni cuestionada. Basta sólo pensar que mas del 60% de la población mundial vive sobre las costas.

En América, como en el resto del mundo las “necesidades de los pueblos, sus cargas”, se transportan por via marítima, siendo el mar el que permite la creación de grandes autopistas, que nunca colapsan, que no tienen cortes y que no se ven afectadas por la actividad humana[2].

Es conveniente resaltar que en el tema transporte marítimo existe a nivel mundial (institucional) una permanente atención, en tal sentido, el Secretario General de la Organización Marítima internacional sr. Efthimios Mitropoulos, en relación al Día Marítimo Mundial 2005, dijo: “vivimos en un mundo globalizado que se sustenta en una economía globalizada, economía que no podrá funcionar de no ser por los buques y el sistema del transporte marítimo[3]

Tal como mencionan Keohane y Nye[4]  vivimos en un mundo de poder e interdependiente, en tal sentido, prácticamente ninguna nación puede afirmar que es autosuficiente, ya que existe, en términos genéricos una “dependencia mutua[5]”.

Los recursos son cada vez mas escasos en una población mundial que crecerá cuatro veces desde 1950 al 2050, nos debemos entonces preguntar, dónde están los recursos y cómo los trasladaremos hacia nuestros paises, si es que no los tenemos, seguramente mayoritariamente será por via marítima, esto hace que ésta variable no cambie.

Éste mismo análisis, sobre la utilidad del mar,  es hecho por quienes desde una perspectiva oscura tratan de efectuar negocios ilícitos de todo tipo.

Multiples amenazas se ciernen sobre el escenario marítimo, si alguien no las toma en cuenta los estados serán cada vez mas vulnerables en su interior producto del descuidar sus mares.

Los descubrimientos de petróleo en el mar, cada vez son mas importantes, recordemos la Amazonia Azul de Brasil, también no debemos olvidadar las presentaciones que los estados están haciendo sobre su plataformas continentales.

Siguiendo nuestro hilo conductor, y pensando en el para qué de una marina, miremos que sucede ante un gran cataclismo, ante la aparición de un evento tipo cisne negro, tema que fue descripto por Nassim Nicholas Taleb[6] en su libro con el mismo nombre, si nos preguntamos  quienes están en capacidad de trasladarse, quienes tienen la capacidad apoyar al país hermano, que no tiene un aeropuerto a donde aterrizar, las armadas generalmente siempre pueden llegar, los medios marítimos preparados adiestrados, dan respuesta. Vasta pensar en Haití, 2010. Las marinas fueron quienes dieron el punta pie inicial y lograron el restablecimiento de las vías de comunicaciones, brindado primeros auxilios y estableciendo un sistema de comando y control adecuado a la emergencia.

Una marina que puede desplegarse de una  parte del  globo a otra para proteger sus intereses, también es capaz de hacerlo para asisitr a sus propios connacionales cuando éstos, en su propio territorio, se ven afectados por catástrofes.

La capacidad de trasportar hospitales flotantes, de ser  el primer socorro ante una emergencia son valores que podrán ser no considerados como tales, pero que no pueden negarse como una capacidad del estado ante emergencias o necesidades propias.

Por otro lado tampoco debemos olvidar el concepto fundacional que tuvieron las armadas, cuantos de los países del hemisferio han desarrollado zonas inhóspitas debido al esfuerzo abnegado de las marinas que se ocuparon en abrir rutas navegables y asegurar el abastaecimiento a territorios casi olvidados.

La globalizacion ha generado y aumentado la vinculación internacional y las marinas no se han quedado atrás, ejercicios internacionales, permiten compartir vivencias, experiencias, aumentar la capacidad de trabajar en equipo y de poder constituir a futuro una posible fuerza naval internacional, que hoy en el hemisferio de se ve plasmada en multiples ejercicios internacionales navales, con multiples nombres y denominaciones segun los paises que intervienen. Ejercicios que dejan nutridas agendas de lecciones aprendidas.

Las marinas, seguirán los mandatos que sus autoridades civiles dicten, se reducirán, se reorganizaran o podrán desaparecer, independientemente de lo que suceda, nada cambiará o podrá negar la realidad, de lo que significa no contar con una marina o contar con una marina ineficiente o inpoperante, ello implica no comprender la real magnitud del escenario mundial en que vivimos, donde lo importante son los intereses de los estados, y siempre estos podrán ser apoyados desde el mar.

Para concluir, me gustaria resaltar que percibo una clara falta de comunicación del quehacer naval y marítimo a la sociedad, que la necesidad del mar no decrecerá, como tampoco decrecerá el uso del mar como elemento utilizado para actividades ilícitas, y que el mar es el canal generalmente idóneo para el apoyo ante emergencias propias y de otros países.

Finalizando, sólo nos damos cuenta de la importancia de  alguien-algo en el momento que no podemos contar con el, cualquier lector habrá pasado por esto,  pues entonces tratemos de que estó no nos ocurra.

1]N. del A. Las referencias numéricas fueron obtenidas del CURSO “INTERESES MARÍTIMOS ARGENTINOS”- Ciclo 2005. Centro de Estudios Estratégicos de la Armada

[2] N. del A. Por lo general, aquí tendremos que hacer una excepción con la piratería y el terrorismo marítimo.

[3] MITROPOULOS Efthimios, Obtenido del Texto del discurso del Secretario General de la OMI, en el Día Marítimo Mundial 2005. Titulado “el transporte marítimo internacional vehículo del comercio mundial”.

[4]KEOHANE R & NYE J, Poder e Interdependencia, la política mundial en transición. Colección Estudios Internacionales. 1ª Edición. Editor Grupo Editor Latinoamericano. 1988, p 22. Traducido por Franco Heber Cardoso Power and Interdependence, world politics in transition.  Editor Little, Brown and Company, 1977.

[5] Ibidem

[6] Taleb se refiere a casi todos los grandes descubrimientos científicos, hechos históricos, y logros artísticos como “cisnes negro”, – sin dirección e inesperados.

Señala como ejemplo de evento de Cisne Negro los ataques del 11 de septiembre, entre otros. Taleb, The Black Swan, Second Edition, Penguin, 2010, Prologue p xxi

Dr. Roberto Pereyra is a retired rear admiral in the Argentine Navy and senior professor at the Inter American Defense College.

Fostering the Discussion on Securing the Seas. Home of the NextWar Blog