Category Archives: Capability Analysis

Analyzing Specific Naval and Maritime Platforms

Maritime Security Cooperation and the Coast Guard

By Derek S. Reveron

Given shrinking global fleets and growing seaborne challenges, the United States has embraced security cooperation to augment its own force to improve maritime security around the world.[1] The country looks to its partners to address sub-national and transnational actors who generate maritime insecurity. As such, the U.S. builds global maritime partnerships to respond to piracy, illicit trafficking, and other illegal activities to protect important sea-lanes. And where limited capacity exists, the United States helps to build national capabilities with new countries such as East Timor, post-conflict countries such as Liberia, or long-time allies such as the Philippines.

.S. Coast Guard Ensign looks for safety hazards from aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Forward's bridge as the ship docks at the pier in Monrovia, Liberia, during an international mission in support of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) June 17, 2011.
Coast Guard Ensign looks for safety hazards from aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Forward’s bridge as the ship docks at the pier in Monrovia, Liberia, during an international mission in support of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) June 17, 2011.

This effort to build global maritime partnerships is not new. A decade ago, Vice Admiral Morgan and Rear Admiral Martogolio wrote, “policing the maritime commons will require substantially more capability than the United States or any individual nation can deliver.”[2] This thinking underlies the tri-service maritime strategy signed by the Coast Guard Commandant, Chief of Naval Operations, and Commandant of the Marine Corps. The strategy called for fostering critical relationships overseas, screening ships bound for our ports, and responding to threats approaching our coastline.[3] To be effective, the partnerships include navies, coast guards, commercial shipping companies, and port operators. This is logically based on the importance of seaborne trade, the size of the world’s oceans, and interconnectedness of the maritime transportation system.

There is renewed interest in protecting the maritime commons. The United Nations General Assembly is “concerned that marine pollution from all sources, including vessels and, in particular, land-based sources, constitutes a serious threat to human health and safety, endangers fish stocks, marine biodiversity and marine and coastal habitats and has significant costs to local and national economies.”[4] Many countries lack the resources to protect their fisheries and enforce environmental laws giving rise to security deficits on the seas. This lack of government presence further enables criminal groups to traffic drugs, people, and weapons. They thrive in the vastness of the oceans and relative lack of maritime domain awareness or response capabilities in most of the world. The result is that Mexican and Colombian drug trafficking organizations generate, remove, and launder between $18 billion and $39 billion in wholesale drug proceeds annually.[5] These groups use the profits to equip themselves with the latest equipment and employ various means such as semi-submersible vehicles, which challenge governments’ abilities to interdict.

To meet these challenges, partners generate demands for U.S. assistance. When the Caribbean was identified as America’s third border, for example, the Caribbean Community and the Dominican Republic “recognize[d] the importance of close cooperation to combat new and emerging transnational threats that endanger the very fabric of our societies.”[6] U.S.-Caribbean engagement programs are designed to enhance cooperation in the diplomatic, security, economic, environmental, health and education arenas. Through the Central American Regional Security Initiative, for example, partner countries supported 67 percent of illicit trafficking disruptions in 2012.[7]

 

A Coast Guardsman trains with foreign servicemembers.
A Coast Guardsman trains with foreign servicemembers.

For the United States, the global illicit drug trade is a significant transnational security threat that undermines democratic governments, terrorizes populations, impedes economic development, and hinders regional stability. The UN Office of Drug Control and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa warned that, “States in the Caribbean, Central America and West Africa, as well as the border regions of Mexico, are caught in the crossfire between the world’s biggest coca producers, the Andean countries, and the biggest consumers, North America and Europe.”[8] This formulation places Caribbean countries as victimized bystanders to a Yankee drug problem[9], but the State Department recognized that this view is changing and partners see drug trafficking as a shared problem in that “We all face a thinking, well-financed enemy and we must all, every legitimate nation-state and international authority, work together to thwart this network.”[10]

Indeed, there is a shared insecurity enabling cooperation on shared challenges like transnational organized crime. But this has not been easy. Drug traffickers successfully exploit weak security institutions and take advantage of political tension created by U.S. drug policy and declining presence. The challenge for the United States, however, is to build renewed relationships without overwhelming these countries with its military and law enforcement efforts. With its intervention history and large size, the U.S. military too easily scares its partners. The U.S. Marine Corps, for example, is larger than almost every country’s military in the Western Hemisphere and Africa. Further, a slowing defense budget is reducing military deployments in the Western Hemisphere where the Coast Guard already supplies the bulk of ships and aircraft to disrupt drugs bound for the United States.[11]

Royal Malaysian Navy sailors stand security watch during a boarding exercise aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mellon as part of Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism 2010. SEACAT is a weeklong at-sea exercise designed to highlight the value of information sharing and multinational coordination.
Royal Malaysian Navy sailors stand security watch during a boarding exercise aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mellon as part of Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism 2010. SEACAT is a weeklong at-sea exercise designed to highlight the value of information sharing and multinational coordination.

Maritime security cooperation can offset U.S. absence and empower its partners. Under international law, countries have basic obligations under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. These laws form the basis of partnerships as countries seek to prevent security incidents on ships and in ports through the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.[12] And trust can be reaffirmed through programs like the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Container Security Initiative to reduce illicit trafficking. While countries ratify these agreements, they often lack the maritime capability and capacity to patrol their waterways, ports, and territorial waters.

Given its history, law enforcement capabilities, and place in the federal government, the U.S. Coast Guard is well-positioned to build partnerships and promote maritime security. Under Title 14 of the U.S. Code, the Coast Guard has jurisdiction both in territorial waters and on the high seas. As the service responsible for protecting U.S. ports and its lead responsibility for maritime drug interdiction, the Coast Guard has the expertise and experience to work with maritime partners around the world. While the Coast Guard has no independent funding authority to conduct security cooperation, it can draw program support from the Foreign Assistance Act and Section 1206 of Title 10, which provides funding for international education, training and equipment.

Congress intended international military education and training (IMET) to accomplish three principal goals. First, foster increased understanding between the United States and foreign countries in order to enhance international peace and security. Next, enable participating countries to become more self-reliant by improving their ability to utilize defense resources obtained through foreign military financing (FMF). Finally, increase the awareness of internationally recognized human rights issues.[13]

The Coast Guard provides international education at its Academy and technical training through its various schools. New London counts 114 international cadet graduates since 1971, while schools and mobile training teams train thousands of students annually from more than 80 countries.[14] In support of U.S. embassies around the world, the Coast Guard conducts boarding officer training, engages with maritime police, and trains search and rescue personnel so countries can meet their international legal obligations. International coast guard officers also attend DOD-funded schools such as the US Naval War College, where it can count among its alumni the current heads of coast guards in Bangladesh, Belize, Cape Verde, Jamaica, and Seychelles.

Augmenting military training and education is the FMF program that supplies grants and loans to finance American weapons and military equipment purchases. Working with allies and partners, the United States seeks to develop regional capabilities to protect trade, natural resources, and economic development. This includes establishing maritime domain awareness through the automated identification system, an array of coastal radar systems, and improved command and control. Most countries lack significant maritime capacity to protect their territorial waters let alone their Exclusive Economic Zones. Nigeria, for example, which is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, counts about 7,000 maritime enforcement personnel with several offshore patrol vessels to include former US Coast Guard cutters Gallatin and Chase. More broadly, the Coast Guard supported delivery of over 300 vessels and trained the crews of 56 countries.[15] Through FMF, excess defense articles programs, and other authorities, the United States transfers weapons to increase maritime capacity.

Security cooperation also includes maritime security sector reform, which is an area of increasing importance. Sustained maritime security sector reform includes governance, civil and criminal authority, defense, safety, response and recovery, and economy.[16] It focuses on improving civil-military relations, promoting collaboration among regional partners, and fostering cooperation within partners’ governments. The United States has learned that contemporary security challenges often require whole-of-government solutions and regional cooperation. Consequently, it seeks to foster this same approach around the world. Programs support legislative reform (e.g. seizing assets from drug traffickers), enhancing cooperation between police and defense forces (e.g. building bridges among bureaucratic rivals), and managing the legacy of past human rights abuses (e.g. integrating human rights training in programs).

To be sure, the United States has a long history of global presence and supporting almost every country in the world. Fiscal austerity is likely to restrict this presence, yet security cooperation can offset U.S. assets through U.S. partners. As my colleague Ivan Luke has written, “strategists and practitioners will need to be smart about how they approach peacetime missions.”[17] With growing international trade and security deficits, the Coast Guard’s unique civil-military blend makes it an ideal service to conduct maritime security cooperation.

Derek Reveron is a professor of national security affairs and the EMC Informationist Chair at the U.S. Naval War College and author of Exporting Security: International Engagement, Security Cooperation, and the Changing Face of the U.S. Military. These views are his own.

[1] Derek S. Reveron, Exporting Security: International Engagement, Security Cooperation, and the Changing Face of the U.S. Military, (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2010).

[2] Vice-Admiral John Morgan, Jr. and Captain Charles Martoglio, “The 1,000-Ship Navy: Global Maritime Network,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 131, (November 2005), p. 18.

[3] Cooperative Strategy for Twenty-First Century Seapower, October 2007.

[4] February 28, 2008.

[5] Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Drug Threat Summary, (Washington, DC: ONDCP, 2009) http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/pubs31/31379/index.htm

[6] “U.S./CARICOM/Dominican Republic Statement on Third Border Initiative,” January 14,2004. http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2004/January/20040114144116nesnom0.569256.html#ixzz0AZrjgdVl

[7] U.S. Southern Command, “Posture Statement of General John F. Kelly, United States Marine Corps Commander, United States Southern Command before the 113th Congress Senate Armed Services Committee,” March 19, 2013.

[8] Quoted in UN Office of Drugs and Crime, Annual Report 2009, (New York: United Nations, 2009),  11. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/data-and-analysis/WDR.html

[9] Horace A. Bartilow and Kihong Eom, “Busting Drugs While Paying with Crime,” Foreign Policy Analysis, Vol. 5, Iss 2, (April 2009), pp. 93-116.

[10] Department of State, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, (Washington, DC: Department of State, 2008). http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2008/vol1/html/100772.htm

[11] U.S. Southern Command, “Posture Statement of General John F. Kelly, United States Marine Corps Commander, United States Southern Command before the 113th Congress House Armed Services Committee,” February 26, 2014.

[12] ISPS is an amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention (1974/1988).

[13] Committee on International Relations and Committee on Foreign Relations, Legislation on Foreign Relations through 2002, (Washington, DC: Congress, 2003), chapter 5.

[14] U.S. Coast Guard, International Training Handbook, Edition 14, p. 12.

[15] U.S. Coast Guard, International Training Handbook, Edition 14, p. 12.

[16] Maritime Security Sector Reform Guide, December 2010.

[17] Ivan Luke, “Naval Operations in Peacetime: Not Just ‘Warfare Lite,’” Naval War College Review, Spring 2013, p. 24.

Coast Guard Budget Battles Revisited

Post by Chuck Hill

Why does the Coast Guard seem to be losing the budget battle within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)? While funding for the Department has grown, the Coast Guard budget has in fact declined in real terms. I suspect it has a lot to do with perceptions of a miss-match between DHS missions and Coast Guard missions.

Congress attempted to address this perceived mismatch in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 by requiring an annual report of resources allocated to DHS missions and non-DHS missions, to ensure non-DHS missions are not ignored. I will refer to this “Annual Review of  the  United States Coast  Guard’s  Mission  Performance” (pdf) as the Performance Report.

It is an interesting report, but it does have significant weaknesses, largely stemming from the use of undifferentiated and undefined “resource hours” as a measure of effort. I reviewed a report back in 2010 and offered my criticisms, which have not changed herehere, and here.

Unfortunately, I think this report may be part of the problem, in that it defines several Coast Guard missions as “non-DHS,” and it gives the impression, erroneously I believe, that roughly half of the Coast Guard’s budget goes for things outside the DHS charter.

Of the eleven Coast Guard missions, six were regarded as Non-Homeland Security missions: SAR, AtoN, Living Marine Resources, Marine Environmental Protection, Marine Safety, and Ice Operations.

The five Homeland Security missions are Ports, waterways, and coastal security, Drug Interdiction, Undocumented Migrant Interdiction, Defense Readiness, and Other Law Enforcement (primarily Foreign Fisheries Enforcement).

But these distinctions are fallacious.

The Department views its own missions as:

  1. Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security
  2. Securing and managing our borders
  3. Enforcing and administering our Immigration laws
  4. Safeguarding and securing cyberspace
  5. Ensuring resilience to Disaster

NON-DHS MISSIONS: All these missions, at least in some respects, support DHS missions.

SAR: A robust SAR organization is clearly a necessary foundation for “Ensuring resilience to Disaster.” What were Katrina and Sandy but huge SAR cases? SAR command posts and communications are the skeletal structure upon which Disaster Response is based. After all, every SAR case is really a response to a disaster of some dimension. If the 3,000 plus people the CG saves every year had died in a single incident, it would have been a disaster on the order of 9/11.

AtoN: Most of the population lives near the coast or inland waterways. Most depend heavily on marine transportation and in many cases fishing. When there is a disaster, restoring safe navigation is a high priority both for bringing in assistance and for recovery.

Marine Environmental Protection (MEP):  The Deepwater Horizon was a disaster. MEP regulation attempts head off disasters and mitigate its effects, that is “ensuring resilience to disaster” plus offshore and port-side energy infrastructure are potential terrorists targets.

Marine Safety: Marine Safety is designed to prevent marine disasters. A sunken cruise ship could be a disaster on the order of 9/11. Marine Safety standards tends to mitigate the effects of a terrorist attack on marine targets

Living Marine Resources: Destruction of valuable marine resources can actually be as disaster for the economy of some communities.

Ice Operations: Domestic icebreakers can prevent flooding. We recently had a case where a community in Alaska would have been left without fuel, if an icebreaker had not opened a path for delivery.

THE UNLISTED COAST GUARD MISSION:

Safeguarding and securing cyberspace: It is not one of the Coast Guard’s eleven statutory missions, but this is in fact one of the Commandant’s key priorities. Still it is not addressed in the Coast Guard’s annual Performance Report.

THE NON-DHS DHS MISSIONS: Two missions listed as DHS missions in fact are of little interest to the department, and performance goals (which are themselves perhaps inadequate) in these two areas are not being met.

Defense Readiness: Apparently the Coast Guard is doing more for Defense Readiness now than it was before 9/11, but really little has been done in terms of adapting resources for wartime roles. Additionally, a potentially major Coast Guard contribution to defense readiness, the major cutters, are being replaced at such a slow rate, the fleet continues to age, making it less reliable.

Other Law Enforcement (primarily foreign fisheries): DHS probably has little interest in this. This mission also suffers from the aging of the cutter fleet, and additionally the very large US EEZ in the Western Pacific has been largely ignored.

Problems in DHS: I do think the Departments placement of priority on counter-terrorism over more general disaster response is misplaced,  and this is another source of problems.

CONCLUSION:

I will quote my closing paragraph from my 2010 post,

When it comes time to decide the Coast Guard budget, I would suggest Congress take a different approach. Consider return on investment. If you like the return you are getting from the Coast Guard now, invest more.  Don’t say, “Agency ‘X’ isn’t working, we need to put more money into that.” “The Coast Guard, is doing a good job with their current budget so we don’t need to give them any more.” I don’t quote scripture very often. I’m not religious, but there is some wisdom there. Check out the story of the “good and faithful servant” Matthew 25:14-30.

 

This article can be found in its original form on Chuck Hill’s CG blog.  Chuck retired from the Coast Guard after 22 years service. Assignments included four ships, Rescue Coordination Center New Orleans, CG HQ, Fleet Training Group San Diego, Naval War College, and Maritime Defense Zone Pacific/Pacific Area Ops/Readiness/Plans. Along the way he became the first Coast Guard officer to complete the Tactical Action Officer (TAO) course and also completed the Naval Control of Shipping course. He has had a life-long interest in naval ships and history.

China’s Anti-Piracy Flotillas: By the Numbers

On April 3, the 20th anti-piracy flotilla of the People’s Liberation Army Navy got underway for operations off the Horn of Africa.  Since the arrival off Somalia of the first Chinese anti-piracy flotilla in January 2009, approximately three flotillas have successively served annually in that region.  Simple data compiled from open sources on the deployments of these flotillas is provided in the slides below.  Although these only represent anti-piracy flotillas, combined with other studies, they represent a broader pattern of global presence and increased capabilities of the PLA/N.  The following recent articles and studies are offered to provide readers with greater recognition of the issue:

Slide2

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Slide5Slide4

 

Claude Berube teaches at the United States Naval Academy. @cgberube

Japan’s Izumo Helicopter Carrier Commissioned

Post by Chris Biggers

This past week, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) commissioned the lead vessel of its new class of helicopter carrier at a ceremony at the Yokusuka naval base less than 10 miles south of Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city.

The Izumo (DDH-183) is the island nation’s largest vessel superseding the Hyūga class, Japan’s first helicopter carrier post World War II. To get a clear sense of size, satellite imagery from March 2014 shows both vessels at the IHI Marine United shipyard. At the time, the 248 meter-long Izumo was still in the fitting out process while the 197 meter-long Hyūga (DDH-181) was located in a nearby dry-dock undergoing routine maintenance.

At 24,000 tons, the fully loaded Izumo is noticeably larger than its 19,000 ton predecessor and more capable.[1] Manned by approximately 470 sailors, the vessel can support up to 14 helicopters — broken up into seven Mitsubishi-built SH-60k ASW helicopters and seven Agusta Westland MCM-101 mine countermeasure helicopters.

According to Jane’s, the carrier is equipped with an OQQ-22 bow-mounted sonar for submarine detection, two Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile SeaRAM launchers and two Phalanx close-in weapon systems for air defense.

“This [vessel] heightens our ability to deal with Chinese submarines that have become more difficult to detect,” an JMSDF officer told the Asahi Shimbum in late March.[2] Downplaying grander ambitions, JMSDF officials have often focused media attention on the ship’s role in undertaking border surveillance and humanitarian assistance missions.

Izumo

Beyond the ship’s standard load, the vessel can also support the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and some have even suggested the vertical landing Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter. Although the latter has caused much controversy, putting F-35s on the Izumo seems unlikely given that the advanced fighter was acquired by Japan’s Air Force and not its sea services (to say nothing of the additional retrofit costs that would require of the vessel).

But that hasn’t stopped Chinese assertions and general concerns throughout East Asia of Japanese intent. “The Izumo proves that Japan has the technical capabilities and demand to develop aircraft carriers. It’s also possible that Japan may explore the possibility during the Izumo’s service,” Li Jie, a Beijing-based military commentator, told the Chinese Global Times newspaper. Beyond China, South Korea has also voiced concern.

While no one’s exactly sure how Japan will use the new carrier, its potential for power projection is undeniable. As geopolitical tensions increase, especially with disputed island territories and areas like the South China Sea, it’s not surprising to see Japan push to bolster her navy. With the election of officials like Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, defense spending has gone up and bans on arms exports have been lifted—suggesting Japan is preparing to reinterpret her role on the world stage. What this will ultimately mean for the service is still too early to say.[3]

In the meantime, the USD 1.2 billion Izumo will join JMSDF’s Escort Flotilla 1, based at the Yokosuka naval base, also home of the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet.[4] The vessel was initially laid down on 27 January 2012 and launched on 06 August 2013. It will later be joined in 2017 by the second vessel in the series, the DDH-184, currently under construction at IHI Marine United Shipyard.

This post can be found in its original form at offiziere.ch 

Notes
[1] Both measurements refer to the vessels at full load.
[2] In 2013, Japan said it detected Chinese submarines navigating near territorial waters of Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures.
[3] Japan has in recent years participated in amphibious warfare training utilizing the Hyuga class helicopter carrier in concert the US. For Example Dawn Blitz 2013.
[4] Japan has 4 Escort Flotillas with a mix of 7-8 warships each. Bases are located at Yokosuka, Kure,Sasebo, Maizuru, and Moinato. SSKs are organized into 2 Flotillas with bases at Kure and Yokosuka. Remaining Units assigned to 5 regional districts.

A Retired Coastie’s Perspective on the Revised Strategy

AN OVERVIEW:

IHMAS Success refuels USCGC Waesche RIMPAC2014n considering this strategy, it is clearly not a strategy for war; it is a strategy for maintaining the peace, the sometimes violent peace that has become the new norm. As such, it assumes the Coast Guard will continue exercising its normal peacetime priorities. Still I feel it should provide a guide for transition to a wartime footing. Unless it is in the classified annex, that guidance is missing, in that it does not define Coast Guard wartime roles or suggest how the Coast Guard might be shaped to be more useful in wartime.

The Coast Guard is, potentially, a significant Naval force. It currently has more personnel than the British Royal Navy. Effectively, the Coast Guard is the low end of the American Naval Forces’ High/Low mix, bringing with it significant numbers of patrol vessels and aircraft. At little marginal cost, it could be made into an effective naval reserve that would serve the nation well in an intense conventional conflict.

If you look at the title, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready,” the words cooperative, forward, and engaged are particularly relevant in describing the thrust of the strategy.

It expects US naval forces to cooperate and engage with allied and friendly forces both to improve relations and strengthen and encourage those friendly forces. The Coast Guard has a major role in this, in bringing expertise in a board range of governance functions that friendly navies and coast guards can relate to.

The Navy also expects to have a substantial part of its force “forward.” Not only forward but also geographically widely distributed. This violation of the Mahanian maxim to keep your battle force concentrated has been the norm for decades, but it has been a reflection of the preponderance of the US Navy that may be eroding. It is a calculated risk that, the benefits of working with and assuring allies and being on scene to deal with brush fires, outweighs the potential risk isolated, forward deployed Carrier Strike and/or Amphibious Ready Groups might be overwhelmed in a first strike by a concentration of hostile forces.

The strategy talks about surge forces, but frankly the potential is far more limited than it was when the Navy was larger. For the Coast Guard this “forward” strategy, combined with the apparently ever increasing concentration of US Navy forces in only a few homeports, including foreign ports, has important implications. There are long stretches of the US coast that may be hundreds of miles from the nearest US Navy surface combatant.

If a suspicious vessel is approaching the US, that must be boarded to determine its nature and intent, the boarding is most likely to be done by a Coast Guard cutter, and not by a National Security Cutter, but most likely by something much smaller. The cutter is also unlikely to have any heavily armed backup.

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE STRATEGY?

The strategy recognizes and explicitly states an intention to exploit, “…the Coast Guard’s unique legal authorities…(to)…combat the illegal drug trade, human trafficking, and the unlawful exploitation of natural resources…”

In several places there is recognition of the Coast Guard’s potential for capacity building with navies and coast guards of friendly nations.

There is also an apparent commitment to an improved and shared Maritime Domain Awareness.

The apparent intent to increase the availability of modular systems provides a means of quickly adapting Coast Guard assets to wartime roles, but thus far I have seen no official interest in exploiting this possibility.

The Middle East Section seems to suggest that the six Coast Guard patrol boats and their augmented crews, currently stationed in Bahrain, will remain there and, given their age, they may require replacement as the new Webber Class WPC, Fast Response Cutters, come on line. In fact these Webber class patrol craft could be very effective in combatting piracy off Somalia.

These patrol craft essentially fill the same role and face the same threats as the Navy’s Cyclone class patrol craft. Will they receive any of the weapons upgrades that the Navy’s Cyclone class PCs have been given?

WPC Kathleen_Moore

A Webber Class WPC, Fast Response Cutter

Looking at the section on the Western Hemisphere, there is a commitment to, “…employ amphibious ships and other platforms, including Littoral Combat Ships, Joint High Speed Vessels, Afloat Forward Staging Bases, hospital ships, other Military Sealift Command ships, and Coast Guard platforms, to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions. We will also employ maritime patrol aircraft such as the P-8A Poseidon and unmanned aerial vehicles. Other ships and aircraft will provide periodic presence for recurring military-to-military engagements, theater security cooperation exercises, and other missions.” But there is no specific commitment to employ Navy vessels for drug enforcement. Was this omission intentional?

512px-Antarctica_CIA_svg
Competing claims in the Antarctic

Looking at section on the Arctic and Antarctic,  There is no specific commitment by the Navy, although the DOD does have an Arctic strategy that includes better hydrography and Maritime Domain Awareness. It looks like the Navy is content for the Coast Guard to be the face of US naval presence in the Arctic. There is reference to the use of the Nation Security Cutters (NSC) in the Arctic, but surprisingly no mention of the planned 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) even though the OPCs will be ice-strengthened, while the eight planned NSCs are not.

IMG_4135

A model of Eastern’s proposal for the Offshore Patrol Cutter. Eastern is one of three shipyards still in contention to  build the 25 ships planned.

In the Deterrence section, the strategy states, “The Coast Guard maintains a continuous presence in our ports, internal waterways, along our coasts, and offshore, providing an additional layer of defense against maritime threats.” But there is no definition of what threats the Coast Guard is expected to respond to and no definition of the capabilities the Coast Guard is expected to provide to deal with these threats.

A Major Omission:

USCGC_Owasco_(WHEC-39)_conducting_UNREP_Market_Time
Cutter Owasco (WHEC-39) unreps while engaged in Operation Market Time off the coast of Vietnam.

In the Sea Control section there is no mention of a Coast Guard role in Sea Control. There should be. Sea Control frequently involves Visit, Boarding, Search and potentially Seizure of non-military vessels, e.g. merchant and fishing vessels. The Coast Guard is ideally suited for this role and has conducted this type of operation in war zones in the past, notably the Market Time Operation during the Vietnam War. In fact, the common Coast Guard missions of drug and alien migrant interdiction are forms of sea control that potentially protect the US from non-state actors. The strategy does address these particular elements of Sea Control in the Maritime Security section.

When it comes to counting assets that might be used to exercise sea control, the Navy has roughly 110 cruisers, destroyers, frigates, LCS, and patrol craft and most of these, particularly the 85+ cruisers and destroyers, will almost certainly have higher priority missions. The Coast Guard includes over 100 patrol boats and about 40 larger patrol vessels that routinely exercise sea control on a daily basis.

121203-G-XX000-001_CPO Terrell Horne

EVALUATION:

From a Coast Guard perspective, this strategy has largely canonized the status quo and the existing recapitalization program of record. It recognizes the Coast Guard’s unique authorities and its ability to contribute to capacity building. It seems to promise greater integration of a multiservice Maritime Domain Awareness.

On the other hand it does nothing to define Coast Guard wartime missions or how the Coast Guard might transition to a wartime footing. The force structure section does nothing to inform the design of Coast Guard equipment so that it might be more useful in wartime. It also does nothing to help that Coast Guard patrol boat I talked about at the beginning that is about to attempt to stop and board a potential hostile vessel that may be about to make an unconventional attack on a US port.

This is only the second iteration of the three service cooperative strategy. It is a marked improvement in specificity over the previous document. Hopefully there will be a process of continual improvement in succeeding editions.

This post appeared in its original form at Chuck Hill’s CG Blog. Chuck retired from the Coast Guard after 22 years service. Assignments included four ships, Rescue Coordination Center New Orleans, CG HQ, Fleet Training Group San Diego, Naval War College, and Maritime Defense Zone Pacific/Pacific Area Ops/Readiness/Plans. Along the way he became the first Coast Guard officer to complete the Tactical Action Officer (TAO) course and also completed the Naval Control of Shipping course. He has had a life-long interest in naval ships and history.

Raid Breaker: Robert Work’s Soft Kill on Hard Costs

Winston Churchill noted that, “it is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war” – so too once the war-war has started, “it is better to buzz-buzz, then to bang-bang.” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work’s desire for new electronic-warfare (EW) solutions AKA Raid Breaker, aimed at large missile salvos in particular, is necessary not only for the arena of physical war, but the internal war of budgets and force planning that enable such critical fights.

For the following argument I assume the effectiveness of soft-kill (EW) over hard-kill options. I also assume that ultimately shooting down a guided missile is more expensive than confusing it; as Secretary Work states,for relatively small investments, you get an extremely high potential payoff.

However, beyond the immediate cost/effectiveness argument, we are forced to spend more in other areas due to the increasing amount of space/weight/weapon systems we dedicate to missile defense on our surface ships. That dedication to defense pushes out offensive capabilities, which we must then buy in other areas. Some might argue that the “need” for the F-35 and its stealth capabilities were, in part, driven by destroyers whose long-range weapons weapons were almost wholly turned over to defense – requiring a carrier for offensive punch. That technological bias towards the defensive has become so extreme that it has required VADM Rowden’s new “Distributed Lethality” effort – a course change back into a realm that should be a natural instinct for the surface force: distributed operations and killing enemy ships.

Of course, the pricetag and weight of kinetic systems has also prevented the fleet from finding more cost-effective ways to increase the ship count – requiring DDG’s or, in the case of the original LCS plan, expanding smaller ships to take on additional responsibilities. With significant investments in defensive systems not requiring a vast VLS magazine, we could build smaller ships with bigger relative punches at a lesser cost. We could more aggressively pursue the Zumwaltian dream of the High-Low Mix: more ships for more effect for less money – every CNO and SECNAV’s dream.

Raid Breaker is a case of finding, and exploiting, competitive advantage. We have been using our best offensive capabilities – the kinetic weapons – for defense. We have let the best defensive options languish, and in so doing pushed expensive requirements into other areas where we must find our offensive edge. A firm dedication to electronic warfare for “soft-kill” options gives us our ships, and our procurement flexibility, back.

In the end, the excitement over Raid Breaker should not primarily involve its awesome war fighting impact if successful – but all the other ideas it will all the Navy to pursue. What makes Raid Breaker so beautiful is that the raid it breaks, in the long-term, is the one on our bottom line.

Matthew Hipple is a Naval Officer and Director of Online Content at CIMSEC. He also produces our Sea Control podcast, hosting the US edition.  

Airpower-R-US: The Old, New Way of Doing Business?

“Kurdish Forces, Backed by Coalition Airstrikes, Move Toward Mosul” announced a recent headline from the front in the war against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.  As I read this headline the slogan that popped into my mind was Toys-R-US, or more to the point, Airpower-R-US; and in a more joint context, Fires-R-US. The US stands for United States. The metaphor here involves going to the store (the US) and getting what one needs to handle one’s military and political problems. The toys, of course, are the array of capabilities that the US Department of Defense can provide, courtesy of the National Security Council and with the blessing of the President; especially combat aircraft and the best trained crews for them in the world.

With all the handwringing about the future of warfare and the 21st century “threat”  being bandied about in security policy circles, perhaps the new norm should be identified as the US’s propensity for “loaning out” its air power and fires capabilities. These tend to be assigned to causes US leaders perceive as “righteous” or at least worthwhile enough (to US interests) to apply the military component of national power. The Kurds for example might provide the ground troops and we provide the air/fire power to help them achieve their goals (and maybe even air defense and ballistic missile defense).  Or perhaps to simply prevent US enemies (like ISIS) from achieving their goals, or rather, more of their goals.

This approach to the use of military power seems to be something we previewed for everyone as early as World War II, and then practiced more deliberately in places like Vietnam, Iraq (1990- present), Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria (whose conflict now overlaps with Iraq). In order to provide value, a brief review of the history of the evolution of Airpower-R-US is in order. As a reminder, the pattern we are discussing is a tendency to eschew the commitment of ground forces in favor of commitment of air power (including things like sea-launched land attack cruise missiles and Predator drones with hardkill payloads).

World War II: The Pattern in Preview

The US first previewed a pattern of providing high tech additives, primarily air power, in its strategic planning and initial execution of operations in World War II.

Its leaders, especially President Franklin Roosevelt and the air power lobby, initiated this practice during World War II, providing first the equipment (Lend-Lease) and then the manned air forces to sustain the major ground fights, primarily in the Soviet Union but also as a strategy for the Pacific in China.  Claire Chennault, for example, was sent to Nationalist China to help build, train, and employ its (American-built) air force against the Japanese in 1937. As for Europe, the air power advocates produced the overall air plan designed to achieve victory shortly after the war in Europe began in 1939 and over the course of 1940 and early 1941. It was designated AWPD-1.   Here is a summary that leaves no doubt about what it intended to do:

The primary target systems were selected on the basis of an air offensive embracing the entire strategic air force, after it had reached full strength and lasting for six months. Moreover, the offensive was planned to be completed before the invasion, if an invasion should prove necessary. Target schedule for the beginning of the main air offensive was taken as one year and nine months after the outbreak of war. One year was for the production, training, and organization of the force. Nine months were reserved for deployment overseas, build up, and initial combat experience of the force. By that time, we anticipated there should be a total bomber force of nearly 4,000 bombers in place. [emphases original]

However, both of these we-provide-the air-(and navy) and you-provide-the-troops strategies did not completely pan out.   It may have in Europe had the US accepted the probable loss of Western Europe to the Soviets. In any case, large numbers of US ground troops ended up being committed in combat.  This was a preview of an emerging pattern.

This pattern, it might be assumed, had proven itself somewhat less than efficacious, at least in terms of avoiding the commitment of US ground forces, although what was committed was the result of a gamble, that air power would work and the US only needed 90 divisions at most to win the war.  In fact it came dangerously close to running out of ground power by the end of the war.  The World War II pattern in many ways repeated itself just five short years later in Korea, when deterrence with atomic weapons delivered by air power came up short and there was precious little conventional air power on hand to help not only the South Koreans but even US ground forces until the crisis at Pusan had passed.

Vietnam and Beyond

At this point the pattern seemed to take a holiday.  That holiday was known as Vietnam; or more correctly the years of primarily advisory support to the government of South Vietnam (1959-1965).   However, with the failure of the advisory effort by Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MAC-V), the pattern re-emerged as President Lyndon Johnson intervened with ground forces, initially as security forces for US and South Vietnamese air bases at places like Bien Hoa and Da Nang. However, ground forces soon got sucked into the fighting and the war assumed a two track character:  General William Westmoreland and the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) fought the ground war while five separate air forces (four of them US) fought the air war.  The crowning jewel of the air war was Operation ROLLING THUNDER, an air campaign intended to actually win the war by sending “signals” to the North Vietnamese leaders in Hanoi to cease and desist with their aggressions in the south.  It failed miserably and was cancelled by Johnson during the chaotic year of 1968.  In contrast, the ground war achieved a stalemate as a result of the defeat of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong during the Tet Offensive.

                              B-52 bombers at Andersen AFB, Guam

Failure and stalemate in Vietnam in 1968 led to the first realization of what today’s pattern, on display in places like Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, might look like.  Johnson’s successor as commander in chief, Richard Nixon, decided to “Vietnamize” the war.   Critical to this approach was the withdrawal of ground combat forces (as in Iraq and Afghanistan, today).   However, Nixon gave the South Vietnamese leaders assurances that their military would be supported by US air power and in 1972 this was successfully tested as the ARVN bore the brunt of the so-called Easter Offensive by the NVA in its attempt to conquer the south in one fell swoop.  Massive application of US air power in the two LINEBACKER air campaigns, along with some hard fighting by the ARVN, saved the day, albeit only temporarily. The Pattern (it now deserves formal noun status), had worked.  US air power and indigenous ground forces had staved off disaster, against one of the best armies in the world.  Until they didn’t—after two years (50 years ago this year) and Nixon was no longer President.   The US refused to use Airpower-R-US in 1975 to help its “abandoned” client in Saigon and the NVA achieved its long sought goal of unifying Vietnam under communist rule.

There was something like the Pattern in the US support of the Afghan Mujahedeen in their fight against the Soviets during the last decade of the Cold War, but instead of US pilots, the hardware was of the smaller variety, most especially surface-to-air missiles, an Anti-Airpower-R-US variant.   Similarly, the small Gulf States accessed a sea power version of US power in the late 1980s with the reflagging of Kuwaiti ships in response to Iranian mining threats.  In that case the US provided all of the maritime firepower during Operations . But these operations reflect something of the Pattern.  One might advance the idea that it was also a partial component behind Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, especially the seven week air campaign that preceded the ground offensive.  During the planning for that component of the operations, the air force chief of staff was relieved for suggesting that air power might do it alone, without the commitment of substantial US and coalition ground forces to actual combat beyond their coercive value as a threat.  As it turned out the US had to make good on that threat to use ground forces after all to retake Kuwait.

However, the Pattern, now in its mature form, emerged after the end of the Cold War.   The author experienced it directly while flying missions for the Navy during operations DENY FLIGHT and DELIBERATE FORCE, wherein NATO conducted overlapping air campaigns to stabilize the situation in Bosnia from 1994 to 1995.  NATO air power finally conducted limited bombing attacks, measurably aided by an offensive of Bosnian-Croat ground forces that led to the signing of the Dayton Accords in the Fall of 1995 by all parties (including the Bosnia Serb factions).  This same dynamic occurred again four years later with Operation ALLIED FORCE, the air campaign against Serbia and in support of the Kosovar Albanians.  It has been characterized as “winning ugly,” but for those folks interested in limited war, Airpower-R-US provided more evidence to support the efficacy of this approach, no matter how messy.  The commander of US forces in Europe, General Wesley Clark, even cached the experience into a book proclaiming that this was the face of modern war.

As with all things, after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the US entered something of an interregnum, or interval, in which the Pattern was not the primary choice.  Both the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, although relying heavily on air power, employed substantial ground forces. Of the two, the initial phases of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan most closely approximate the Pattern when US air power, special forces, and indigenous forces took the fight to Al Qaeda and the Taliban in 2001.  However, by Operation Anaconda in March of 2002, substantial US ground forces were back in the game and the utility of the Pattern presumably inadequate to achieving further national interests in that desolate place.

The sobering experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014 led to a full-fledged return of the Pattern.   Its first widespread use has already occurred with the proliferation of armed drones, sometimes with the permission of governments, and, in the case of Pakistan, sometimes not .  The point at which use of the Pattern can definitely be characterized as the norm came with the so-called “Arab Spring,” most especially in the oddly named Operation ODYSSEY DAWN, although the bulk of NATO air power employed to help the Libyan insurgents against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi was US. Questions of its ultimate efficacy aside, it did get the job done of pairing up US/NATO air power (and sea power) in support of indigenous “boots on the ground” to accomplish regime change.  Whether this result was for better or worse is a different matter and beyond the scope of this discussion.

Which brings us back to today’s headlines and the current air campaign in Iraq and Syria—Operation .  The Pattern here supports a variety of different entities and their ground forces including: the government of Iraq, various rebel groups fighting ISIS, the aforementioned Kurds, and whether we like to admit it or not, Bashar Al Assad.   We might even throw in the enemy of our enemy, Iran.   The Obama administration’s embrace of this approach, similar to that of the earlier Clinton administration, has potentially far reaching implications in what it tells us about the evolving American Way of War.  Are these really “new” norms, or are they now established norms?  And based on this review of pertinent recent history, how new are they, really?

Today: Old-New Ways of War

In sum, The US has established a pattern of providing high tech capabilities, primarily air power, to the ground forces of others (nations as well as non-states like the Kurds and the Kosovo Liberation Army), as a means to achieve its national interests and objectives.  This US approach places air power alongside venerable mercenary icons such as the Swiss Landsknecht and the Italian Condottierri of the 15th and 16th Centuries.  Is Airpower-R US an updated version the infamous army of General Albrecht von Wallenstein that hired itself out to various bidders during the 30 Years War? Has it become a sort of paradigm mercenary force available for hire as a means to maintain and defend US (and sometimes Western) interests?  Instead of receiving money as payment, though, the US forgoes commitment of ground troops and gets stability in return (or maintains the stability of the existing system).

Is this approach worth preserving, or even improving?  Whatever the road ahead, it is here and it is in active use today in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.   It might be in use in the near future in Ukraine and it is incumbent on US policymakers to think a bit more intensely about what they design the military instrument of national power to do, and not do, for the future.   In a time of relatively low risk, it makes some sense.  But does it need to be so expensive, and can we get the same bang for the buck for a lot less?  These are the questions we should be asking ourselves about Airpower-R-US, and certainly a few other related issues, as we await the next crisis in which we might employ it.

About the author:

Dr. John T. Kuehn is the General William Stofft Chair for Historical Research at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College CGSC).  He retired from the U.S. Navy 2004 at the rank of commander after 23 years of service as a naval flight officer flying both land-based and carrier-based aircraft.  He has taught a variety of subjects, including military history, at CGSC since 2000.  He authored Agents of Innovation (2008), A Military History of Japan:  From the Age of the Samurai to the 21st Century (2014), and co-authored Eyewitness Pacific Theater (2008) with D.M. Giangreco as well as numerous articles and editorials and was awarded a Moncado Prize from the Society for Military History in 2011.  His latest book, due out from Praeger just in time for the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo is Napoleonic Warfare: The Operational Art of the Great Campaigns.

The views are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.