The first batch of the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) is expected in 2018.

Rough Waters For the Canadian Navy?

The first batch of the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) is expected in 2018.

By Milos Zak

The Canadian navy’s recent rebranding back to its “royal” roots constitutes one in a series of initiatives best described as a “renaissance” for the Canadian armed forces. The navy is set to replace aging vessels and fundamentally alter Canada’s power projection on the high seas – most notably, taking a definitive step into the mineral and energy-rich – and increasingly accessible – High Arctic.

With one the longest navigable coastlines of any other nation, a changing climatic reality in the North, bold moves challenging Canada’s sovereignty from maritime neighbours, and increased interest in northern development makes the timing and scale of Ottawa’s move hardly a coincidence.

The Background

On October 19th, 2011, the Harper Government announced a 35-billion dollar plan to revamp Canada’s naval hardware as part of the “National Shipbuilding Strategy”, with around 25 billion going to Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding for twenty-one combat vessels, and an 8 billion going to Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine for eight non-combat vessels.

The losing party is Davie Shipbuilders located in Lévis, Québec, marred by bankruptcy protection well before the October 2011 announcement.

Initially, focus fell on the supposedly politics-free pledge for awarding the contracts (which turned out to be merit-based and transparent according monitors) accompanied by demands for more information from the NDP opposition critic Peter Stoffer, few could deny that the announcement was also very favourable for CEO Jim Irving and Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

2012 is the year in which each of the shipbuilders finalize their contracts with Ottawa. Without a doubt, those same businessmen and politicians which celebrated in October of 2011 are now faced with a belt-tightening reality in Ottawa which could delay the delivery of Canada’s new fleet of combat ships. This makes 2012 the year in which the greatest revisions to the deal could occur.

The Ships

Arctic offshore patrol ships, the first scheduled to be completed under the contract are seen as critical to securing Canada’s Arctic security and sovereignty. Melting sea ice and increased traffic in Canada’s arctic is a key catalyst for the move.

The ships will help enforce laws, and above all, will constitute a very real practice of territorial sovereignty challenged by other custodians of the high Arctic. Patrol craft, new coast guard vessels, and a new polar icebreaker constitute only a small part of the grand total, the replacement of aging destroyers and frigates is expected to consume the lion’s share of the money.

However, timeline projections have already been beset by a series of revisions, with the first announcements pegging the arrival of the first batch of ships first for 2015, then moved to 2016, and now expected three years after that, for 2018.

The Burn of the Not-too-Recent Past

While it may be easier to buy military hardware than actually building it, the Royal Canadian Navy has had to face disappointment and moves for trans-Atlantic litigation stemming from past procurement deals – best exemplified by the United Kingdom’s sale to Canada of four Upholder/Victoria Class diesel-electric submarines in a 1998 deal, for a supposed bargain of $750 million.

The F-35 jet deal is another example of procurement policies gone awry, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page. However, the F-35 deal was likely informed by overriding continental strategic considerations, pressure and geographic proximity to the United States. In the end, both the Harper Government and the Canadian public continue to watch closely as the issue develops, each hoping that the jets will live up to their high promises at, or at least near, to their productions, delivery, outfitting and servicing costs.

The procurement policies of the F-35 aircraft have also faced setbacks.

Financing

The procurement policies of the F-35 aircraft have also faced setbacks.

In July of 2012, Ottawa announced an initial 9.3-million dollar contract for Irving Shipbuilder to undertake the initial steps of ship design as part of a related “Canada First” defence strategy.

It should be emphasized that the 35-billion dollar figure is at best an estimate that will be subject to change and revision. The final monetary scale of the project could range from anything between 30 billion to the 35-billion dollar marked.

If the 1980s procurement for Halifax-class frigates is any indication of evolving shipbuilding deals (an original deal where twelve of eighteen frigates were built), the 35-billion dollar announcement is unlikely to remain without a downward reassessment.

British Columbia’s Seaspan Marine Corporation will construct vessels totalling 8-billion for eight non-combat vessels. On the other hand, Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding was awarded about 25-billion of the total for twenty-one combat vessels; considering the history of shipbuilding financing and the post-2008 budget deficit reality, it is likely that of the two, it will be Irving Shipbuilders which will feel revisions most sharply.

Addressing Sector-Specific Boom-Bust Cycles and Investing in Skilled Jobs

Shipbuilding in Canada has experienced a classic boom and bust cycle since time immemorial. With the last national shipbuilding enterprise dating back to the 1990s, the 2012 announcement has been touted as an attempt to address swings in coastal economies and their respective labour markets. The Minister of Public Works and Government Services estimated that the deal should produce around 15,000 new jobs nation-wide over a period of twenty to thirty years. More importantly, the jobs will be of the high-skill variety, which more often than not, comes with a lot more than a living wage.

However, the supposed predictability of monetary inflows into the Maritime and coastal British Columbian communities is likely to turn out to be an illusion. Assuming that no external developments in the foreign affairs sphere spurs on a sudden expansion of the Royal Canadian Navy, thus sustaining the 35-billion mark if not resulting in new deals, the 35-billion deal will remain at the mercy of exogenous shocks in the world economy, the nation’s fiscal reality, and Ottawa’s political will.

It is in 2012, when the dividends of the October 2011 announcement have been cashed in, both for the Conservative Party and the affected politicians, the incentive to renege, renegotiate, and adjust – especially under conditions of uncertainty and weak growth – become increasingly greater. Although this dynamic does not guarantee downward adjustments, it does point out that robust, long-term national strategies are inevitably beset by an ever-changing fiscal and economic reality, to say nothing of developments in foreign affairs.

Milosz Zak is an MA ERES candidate at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, with a BaH in Political Science from the University of Guelph and the Jagiellonian University in Krakόw, Poland. He works closely with the Toronto Chapter of the Canada Eurasia Russian Business Association, the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce of Toronto, and the G8/G20 Research Group, writing on financial and economic issues facing the G20, European Union member states, the Russian Federation and the countries of the CIS.

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and the news agencies and do not necessarily represent those of the Atlantic Council of Canada. This article is published for information purposes only.

This article appeared in its original form and was cross-posted by permission from The Atlantic Council of Canada.

Swarms at Sea and Out-swarming the Swarms?

The Swarming Synchronized Speedboats of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy Revue

This week Foreign Policy posted a new article by Navy Postgraduate School professor John Arquilla, in which he discusses the how “swarm” tactics employed by the Russians caused the failure of Napoleon’s 1812 invasion.

Arquilla is a prolific author who regularly writes about swarms and “net-centric” operations.  In the above piece he cites successful maritime employment of swarm tactics such as German submarine “wolf-packs” in the Second World War and the Sri Lankan Navy’s fight against maritime elements of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or “Tamil Tigers”) earlier this decade.

It is unclear how Arquilla’s example of the Russian defeat of Napoleon is applicable to a broad range of operations at sea, however.  When swarms are discussed in terms of maritime operations, it is generally in the context of an asymmetric fight within a constrained body of water, such as Iranian plans to use swarms of small boats or the Chinese Type 22 Houbei fast attack craft.  Napoleon’s Grand Armee was vulnerable to Russian swarm attacks on the march back from Moscow because of its extended supply lines.  In contrast, one of the primary advantages of sea power is that it provides the space for strategic maneuver and the ability to avoid such exposure to swarms.  Swarms and Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) weapons and tactics could still threaten naval forces within specific areas in which the ability to maneuver is restricted, or are within the range of weapons on land, but they do not take away one of the main advantages of sea power, the ability for a state to choose where to best deploy its forces.

Lieutenant Commander Mark Munson is a Naval Intelligence Officer and currently serves on the OPNAV staff. He has previously served at Naval Special Warfare Group FOUR, the Office of Naval Intelligence and onboard USS ESSEX (LHD 2). The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official viewpoints or policies of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

The NSM Coastal Defense System

Poland’s Heightened Defense Priorities

           The NSM Coastal Defense System

As national defense gains more attention in Poland, the Navy should benefit after years of neglect.  Specifically, the renewed focus raises hopes that all of the projects laid out in Poland’s recently published modernization plan will receive political support.  During only the last 2 months Poland has declared its intent to participate in NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance project and announced it would join the European Space Agency, mindful that:

Poland’s presence in the ESA will simplify cooperation within international projects that have already started, e.g. the satellite defense agreement with Italy and participation in Multinational Space-based Imaging System for Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Observation (MUSIS).

The latest news (in Polish) says delivery of the first 12 Naval Strike Missiles (NSM), for the coastal defense battery called NDR (Nadbrzezny Dywizjon Rakietowy), is expected to take place at the end of the month.  Further deliveries will continue until 2015, based on the contract valued at 924M PLN ($280M). 

In the background is a series of political meetings.  On November 12th, the Foreign Ministers and Ministers of Defence from Poland and Sweden held talks about military cooperation and regional security.  As an official MoD newsletter says, it was an “historic first”.  The meeting also highlighted the dual role of navies in war and peacetime, as the Polish Navy plays a role in international cooperation focused on maritime security that is equally a matter of defence and foreign affairs.  In another series of bilateral meetings with the German Minister of Defence, the importance of the Navy was directly raised. 

During the meeting the Ministers talked about bilateral military cooperation and international affairs.  Modernization of the Armed Forces, including modernisation of the Navy, was among the topics as well. 

 

“Besides air defence and missile defence, modernising the Polish Navy is very important for us.  We carefully observe Germany and its solutions for modernisation of mine-hunters,” Minister Siemoniak said.

Another source (also in Polish) gives a handful of details about the fruits of these engagements, and mentions that specific directives have been issued for the Chiefs of Polish and German Navies, including joint patrolling in the Baltic.  Cooperation with Germany on the industrial level is also highly probable as the Polish Navy prefers austenitic steel for construction of its new mine-hunters and such technology is offered by Luerssen only.

However, intentions remains just intentions without correct financing.  The good news is that project of the 2013 military spending is 6.74% higher compared to 2012, and 12% higher in the case of equipment modernization.  After joining NATO, the Polish navy significantly increased its participation in multinational exercises.  Operational tempo grew, but this was not seen as important tool of diplomacy.  Only recent shift in government interest promise that old and worn out navy platforms will be replaced and properly recognized for the diplomatic role they play.

 

Przemek Krajewski alias Viribus Unitis is a blogger In Poland.  His area of interest is broad context of purpose and structure of Navy and promoting discussions on these subjects In his country

Preventing Catastrophic Risk

Highlighting Catastrophic Threats

Catastrophic Threats

Earlier this month the Federation of American Scientists held its annual Symposium on Catastrophic Threats and Awards Ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  The date – November 9th – was chosen to coincide with the November U.S. presidential election and provide a forum for policy recommendations to a newly elected administration.  The symposium provided a wonderful venue for the discussion of the most-pressing threats facing the U.S.  Panelists called for steps to prevent catastrophic events, and increase response planning and preparation to those possible dangers.  These recommendations were published in a booklet, available electronically.

 

Because science plays such a critical role in underlying U.S. policies, from disaster preparation to farm subsidies, leaders must be armed with a science-based knowledge of the risks and opportunities policy choices present.  To this end, the symposium featured moderated discussions of four-to-five distinguished experts, grouped into related threat-areas: Nuclear Weapons; Biological, Chemical, Conventional, and Cyber Threats; and Energy and Infrastructure.

 

The session devoted to nuclear threats reiterated the group’s long-held goals of stockpile reduction and eventual total disarmament.  Senior FAS Fellow Charles Blair emphasized that the U.S. must start differentiating violent non-state actors in terms of their ability to pose a bona fide radiological or nuclear (R/N) threat, rather than treating all threats as possessing equal capabilities.  Proper identification of the threat will allow targeted policies and avoid wasteful expenditures of time and resources on groups that do not pose significant R/N threats.  Another FAS Fellow, Dr. Robert Norris, proposed that a fundamental alteration of Cold-War era nuclear doctrine is a pre-requisite for arms reduction, with a minimal deterrence mission the only necessary use for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

 

Lengthy discussions of biological-, chemical-, and conventional-weapons threats highlighted the need for increased accountability and controls, which are scarcer outside the United States.  Perhaps the most significant threat in the chemical and biological weapons fields stems from the fact that there is a growing dearth of technical experts in the former Soviet Union to handle existing stockpiles of agents. Without the incentives of prestige and financial rewards available during the years of the thriving Soviet weapons programs, even fewer personnel with the requisite training will be available to handle and safeguard stockpiles in the future. 

Those barrels full of chemicals looks safe to me!

 

The energy and infrastructure panel spoke in favor of nuclear energy with reminders that natural gas does not eliminate greenhouse gas production.  They also reminded attendees that the U.S. will likely import oil from Canada long after it frees itself of overseas imports.  Dr. Steven Koonin, of NYU, called for increased funding for alternative energy research and a reorganization of the Department of Energy to enable better understanding of markets and business policies.  Notably absent from the discussion was an in-depth assessment of the impact that the Fukushima Daiichi incident will generally have on nuclear power endeavors in the future, and in Japan specifically.

 

One subject that stood out for immediate attention is developing a framework for rules and definitions in cyber security and warfare.  The United States is ill-prepared to respond to a major denial of service attack aimed at critical infrastructure, especially in the cyber realm.  Dr. Kennette Benedict, from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, explained that the field lacks clarity on responsibilities and acceptable scope for security.  Increasingly sophisticated attacks on private and public networks demand a robust effort to ensure reliability and freedom from interference.  While the private sector has tremendous incentives to shore up defenses against intrusion and would benefit from federal support in defending network architecture, transparency and trust are in short supply at this time.

 

As an illustration, were a major electrical grid or other critical infrastructure component attacked, resulting in losses of life and industrial output, how would the United States respond?  Would this be defined an act of terror an act of war?  Would the response be treated like a natural disaster?  No clearly defined roles have been established for preventing and/or prosecuting major acts of cybercrime.  No public forum exists to discuss the norms associated with cyber warfare, define acceptable measures that may be taken against individual or state-sponsored actors, or set limits to intrusion that occurs under the guise of security.

We can’t be hacked if we unplug it from the grid, right?

 

Not only will clarifying these issues benefit the private sector, but transparency will also pay major dividends in foreign policy negotiations.  As with any new weapon, uncertainty will lead to mistrust and fear, which often precipitate wasteful arms races.  U.S. leaders must come to the table with candor in order to develop policies that promote security with minimal interference for all.  A massive blackout or disruption of services would be devastating for everyone; CIMSEC could be the group that suggests a way forward.

 

More information about the event can be found at the Federation of American Scientists’ website: www.fas.org

 

LT Drew Hamblen is a naval aviator in the U.S. Navy and graduate of Georgetown University. The opinions and views expressed in this post are his alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense or the U.S. Navy. 

Neuro-Navy and Future War Impact

Neuro-Navy:  Potential advances in cognitive functions, combat career screening, and treating combat-stress injuries.

 

In my current capacity as a military student, one of my requirements is to complete a master’s thesis focused on future warfare.  This year I have decided to write on the implications of  future neuroscience developments and the impact on naval warfare, (up to ~15 years out).  Below is my thesis proposal, which I submit to your view in the hopes of starting a conversation.  I look forward to your comments and further discourse.  

 

Proposed Research Question: How will advances in neuroscience improve naval capabilities?

Proposed Thesis:  Future advances in neuroscience research and development will improve naval capabilities in both the cognitive executive functions of decision makers and enhanced situational awareness through a melding of neurotechnology with biological sensory.

Discussion:  Many discussions on the fog and friction of war relate to the common denominator of the human mind.  Despite advances in unmanned and autonomous technology, the basis of all military strategy and campaigns is the ultimate execution by military personnel, reliant on cogent decision-making. 

The field of neuroscience has seen drastic growth in the last decade.  Exceeding its biological origins the field has exploded, infusing research with psychics, psychology, medicine, and computer science - to name a few.  Through studies of the nervous system at numerous levels (functional, cellular, sensory), future neural research is gaining interest beyond traditional scientific communities and the implications for military development should be explored.

The continued research into genetic and environmental aspects of neural systems and decision-making explore the processes of the human nervous system and interaction with cognitive executive function.  Through future neuroscience development, naval forces may be able to apply new technology and biological understanding to effectively screen young military leaders to categorize individual cognitive strengths and weaknesses.  The ability to place these leaders in appropriate career positions may improve naval warfare communities that continually operate in high-risk environments.  Furthermore, the ability to track cognitive weaknesses provides the opportunity for the naval training organization to produce brain fitness programs to improve these areas.

With the future development of cognitive screening, naval forces could develop programs (such as DARPA’s Enabling Stress Resistance program) to mitigate stress through behavioral and pharmacological interventions.  The increase in this screening, combined with advances in neuropharmacology, will allow naval forces to complement battlefield simulators with individual-oriented stimulants, to increase the stressors on combat decision-makers while in a safe environment and approach a real-time fog of war. 

Neurotechnology may also provide enhanced human intelligence analysis, through the development of brain-signal processing linked to visual intelligence as it occurs.  This capability may increase the speed and accuracy of image analysis and improve operational assessments.           

 

Preserving the most expensive naval weapon

In addition to cognitive development, the field of neuroscience may provide enhanced manpower recovery options to deployed expeditionary forces.  Advances in clinical and evolutionary neuroscience are improving current naval medical corps’ ability to identify, diagnose, and treat PTSD.  Continued research could produce an expeditionary force capable of preparing forces not only upcoming combat stressors, but follow-on operations that require increased time on station.   The ability to prevent PTSD and keep military personnel on the battlefield will provide an advantage in future protracted conflicts.  Future developments in prosthetic limbs, linked with effective neural links, will advance an operational force commander’s ability to limit his reserve force, assuming his naval ships have the capacity to treat injured personnel afloat.

Lastly, the possibility of employing non-kinetic neuro-weapons, developed in the field of cellular neuroscience, to make the enemy to believe that operations have occurred (pseudo-feint) may provide naval forces an advantage when planning major operations.  The enemy’s belief that the war is lost may be enough for the friendly forces to declare victory – or further tactical/operational goals in the interim.  The capacity to develop and employ such a weapon is worthy of further research and discussion.  

 

A.J. “Squared-Away” is a husband, father, and U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer.  He has deployed on patrol boats, destroyers, and aircraft carriers to the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and aboard Iraqi oil terminals.  He is currently a student at an advanced military warfighting school.  The opinions and views expressed in this post are his alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense or the U.S. Navy.

An Israeli Sa'ar 4.5-class missile boat - a likely player in Israeli naval options

Israeli Naval Options For Gaza

An Israeli Sa’ar 4.5-class missile boat – a likely player in Israeli naval options

As fighting continues Friday between Israel and Hamas, the region braces for an expanded Israel Defense Force (IDF) incursion into the Gaza Strip – a possibility indicated by the government approval of a mobilization of up of 30,000 reservists.  Such a move would consist mostly of air and ground forces, but the Israeli Navy would also have a role to play. 

The bulk of the Israeli Navy consists of these missile boats and patrol craft, plus a handful of more-capable corvettes and subs.  Missile boats have already shelled (and perhaps struck with missiles) Hamas security positions along the coast, and the Navy continues to enforce its blockade of the Strip.  As Dr. Robert Farley and Galrahn, a pair of prominent naval bloggers (see our @CIMSEC twitter stream conversation), say naval options during this and expanded Israeli operations will mostly be confined to further shore bombardment and interdiction, along with ISR and effective surgicial strikes ashore.  Martin Skold, another CIMSEC member, notes that the normal missile load-out of Israel’s naval platforms limits the frequency of such strikes, especially when options such as the F-16 are readily available.  On the flip side, Israeli naval vessels may tempt Hamas as targets - especially as with the case of the Hezbollah attack on the INS Hanit in 2006 if they let their guard down.  It will be interesting to see if Hamas has the capability to attempt a similar strike.

             An Israeli Dabur-class patrol boat

Other scenarios tossed about for expanded fighting in the region include Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Egypt.  The latter would present the greatest naval challenges with 6 American-built frigates, 4 Romeo-class submarines, and roughly 200 other ships and craft.  But as the former showed with the Hanit, one should never count out the damage non-state actors can do to a Navy.

LT Scott Cheney-Peters is a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and the former editor of Surface Warfare magazine. He is the founding director of the Center for International Maritime Security and holds a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.
 
The opinions and views expressed in this post are his alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense or the U.S. Navy. 
 
The torpedo: an enabler of an asymmetric attack....

Symmetric Warfare – The Return to Symmetry

The torpedo: enabler of an asymmetric attack….

Asymmetry is a very popular word these days and, in my estimation, one applied too frequently to too many things.  Prof. Robert Farley makes the point that asymmetric expectations lie at the foundations of decisions about all battles.  “Combatants engage because they have different expectations about likely outcomes,” he says.  But not every search for gaining advantage in battle is asymmetric.  Using all available means and conditions to throw an opponent out of balance is a core of Liddell Hart’s indirect strategy.  So perhaps returning to symmetry and conceptually focusing on symmetric warfare would help ease understanding of complex problems related to ship roles and design.

Asymmetry is a strategy of weak against strong.  One side has no chance to match its opponent in a blow-for-blow fashion, and instead uses a type of attack for which the stronger opponent has developed ineffective defenses.  This is more of a conceptual framework than anything tied to a particular weapon, and in fact the same weapon can be both asymmetric or symmetric attacks depending on its use.  Torpedoes launched by a destroyer against a battleship constitute asymmetric warfare, but launched against another destroyer screening that battleship becomes symmetric.  PLA Navy anti-access doctrine and capabilities are asymmetric versus the U.S. Navy, but the same capabilities linked to a more Mahanian concept would be symmetric versus JMSD Forces, or overwhelming versus the Vietnamese Navy.  In the last case we would witness a reversal of roles.

Asymmetry is also a transient phenomena.  Use of torpedo boats was seen by Jeune Ecole as an asymmetric strategy aimed at Britain’s Royal Navy and its commerce, but very soon the British were able to control this threat and reinstate the symmetry by creating the destroyer.  The same torpedo, supported by excellent training, was part of an Imperial Japanese Navy asymmetric strategy in night actions against the (locally) numerically superior American counterpart.  Radar soon nullified this concept, although as Capt. Wayne Hughes noted in his Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat, it took some time for the U.S. Navy to grasp the concept of using the radar, in spite of the fact that it was already technically in service during the battle at Savo Island.

…and frozen yogurt surprises!

The advantage of conceptually coming back to symmetry as a guiding principle is seen in the way warships were built and designed in the past.  A battleship was supposed to carry offensive weapons able to destroy the battle fleet of an enemy.  At the same time, armor was to give it protection against similar (symmetric) opponents.  In the case of cruisers the story was different, mostly because of Washington Treaty limitations, but the last cruiser designs without such limits returned to the need to fight opponents of the same class.  For modern ships it would be much easier to think in terms of their primary mission, while taking as a rule ability to fight a similar class opponent.

Looking at a contemporary example, the LCS surface warfare mission package’s primary mission is to counter asymmetric threats, like swarm attack, but it lacks capabilities to counter a symmetric opponent like a missile corvette.  My analysis could be viewed as an oversimplification, but could nonetheless help frame part of what should be a rational discourse among people who have no chance get to grips with real-world CONOPS.  I like the way Master Chief Petty Officer Brett F. Ayer explains Offshore Patrol Cutter requirements.

 

Przemek Krajewski alias Viribus Unitis is a blogger In Poland.  His area of interest is broad context of purpose and structure of Navy and promoting discussions on these subjects In his country