Buried under the grabbing headlines of epidemics, border disputes, and weapons procurement – the daily grind of basic maritime border control and enforcement is lost. The world has a total 372,000 miles of coastline and the sea’s traffic is both diverse and voluminous. Welcome to the machine – the day-to-day of cargo screening, customs enforcement, coastal traffic monitoring, visa & entry procedures, verifying vessel registries, keeping out ne’er-do-wells, preventing North Korea from sneaking weapons through your country, etc… Monitoring these comings and goings on even an elementary level is a massive undertaking.
Different entities handle these issues in different ways, from hand-scrawled schedules and security documents to the precision of computerized megaports or just the varied law enforcement options deployed by coastal states. While we often touch on these issues in part – CIMSEC will be dedicating an entire week to the subject.
CIMSEC is putting out a call for articles on everything maritime border control related: customs enforcement, cargo checks, disease and biological material screenings, interdiction, monitoring coastal traffic, etc… – DUE 15 August to nextwar(at)cimsec.org
CDR John Callaway, U.S. Navy, is a strategic planner assigned to the Air-Sea Battle Office. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, Harvard’s Kennedy School, and the National War College. The opinions expressed here are his own.
Air-Sea Battle is described as a limited objective concept by the Department of Defense. Some critics have argued that Air-Sea Battle must be more than a limited objective concept, possibly a war plan or a strategy. Others have argued that it is less than a concept and is just a meaningless set of buzzwords. From a military planner’s perspective, Air-Sea Battle is a piece of art – operational art that describes the “broad actions the force must take to achieve the desired military end state.”
Joint doctrine uses operational art to begin the military planning process by developing an “operational approach.” An operational approach is based on an understanding of the military environment and the problem facing the commander. Air-Sea Battle describes an operational approach to address the anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) problem and is “limited” in objective to the access required to conduct concurrent or follow-on actions, not decisive defeat of an adversary. If faced with an operational A2/AD challenge, a combatant commander may build on the operational approach described by Air-Sea Battle to design a war plan suited to the specific region and situation. This is an important distinction, especially for those who believe Air-Sea Battle is focused on a specific country. No matter what specific operational plan is used, Air-Sea Battle’s operational approaches can be applied if access and freedom of action in the global commons is at risk.
Why Air-Sea Battle is Important: The A2/AD Mission. Understanding strategic goals and the military missions that support them is an important first step in developing an operational approach. The 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance assigned the ability to project power despite anti-access/area denial challenges as a distinct mission for the U.S. armed forces. Countering A2/AD challenges is separate from and in addition to the traditional, conventional mission to deter and defeat aggression because of the complexity and paradigm-breaking challenge created by A2/AD capabilities. The Defense Strategic Guidance directs the implementation of the Joint Operational Access Concept as one of the ways to address A2/AD challenges. Joint Operational Access Concept begins to describe the A2/AD environment and then refers to the Air-Sea Battle Concept to address specific aspects of A2/AD.
The Air-Sea Battle Concept in turn applies military operational art to A2/AD: an understanding of the A2/AD operational environment, the specific problems posed by A2/AD, and an operational approach that envisions how a commander can mitigate the risks of the A2/AD environment and continue to operate in the global commons. The name “Air-Sea Battle” is derived from the air and maritime domains traditionally associated with the global commons and the new assumption that U.S. forces must fight to achieve and maintain access in those domains. This simple etymology of the Air-Sea Battle Concept in Department of Defense writings clearly defines the intent of Air-Sea Battle and should not be confused with think tank and other commentator “sources.”
Envisioning the A2/AD Operating Environment. Air-Sea Battle was directed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to shake-up the institutional inertia generated by uncontested access. The A2/AD operating environment will be one where U.S. forces will not only fight to get to the fight but also fight to sustain access and the ability to maneuver in all domains. A2/AD presents a layered, multi-domain, integrated system-of-systems that gives potential adversaries a new dimension of strategic depth. While U.S. forces have always expected to be contested in theater when they maneuver within the operating range of adversary organic capabilities, the ability to merely move and sustain forces from homeports and bases to and across distant theaters will now be contested as well.
In addition to the increased technological sophistication of military capabilities on land, at sea, and in the air, the nascent development of potentially hostile space and cyberspace capabilities expands the access challenge across all five warfighting domains. Friendly forces in the air, sea, land, space and cyberspace domains are now threatened not only physically but also through the electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace. The expectation that command and control structures will be attacked through the disruption of friendly communications and decision-making architectures is probably the most-significant change from today’s warfighting paradigm. In short, our traditional understanding of the phases of conflict, the definition of battlespace, our access to and ability to maneuver within domains, and our expected operational tempo will all be challenged.
Maintaining freedom of action in the global commons requires overcoming the physical threats of long-range missiles, torpedoes, mines, and other threats as well as maintaining our ability to command, control, and communicate with the forces from the strategic to the tactical levels. Initial analysis led some to conclude that only through striking the land-based hosts of these threat capabilities would the U.S. be able to maintain access. The Joint Operational Access Concept acknowledges the risks associated with that approach. To provide national leadership and military commanders with an array of viable options, Air-Sea Battle promotes operational art, not prescriptive solutions and advocates the innovative use of existing technology and potential future developments as the means to maintain U.S. qualitative superiority in the global commons.
Defining the A2/AD Problem. The Air-Sea Battle Concept defines the A2/AD problem and desired end-state as “capabilities (that) challenge U.S. freedom of action by causing U.S. forces to operate with higher levels of risk and at greater distance from areas of interest. U.S. forces must maintain freedom of action by shaping the A2/AD environment to enable concurrent or follow-on operations.” In short, the A2/AD environment consists of threats to movement, threats to maneuver, and threats to command and control.
For example, capabilities in space and cyberspace as well as terrorist tactics may threaten the movement of deploying forces, logistics forces and follow-on forces from home bases to theater. These threats will challenge our understanding of the phasing of conflict. In addition, increased area denial capabilities are directly and indirectly challenging the long-range air and missile capabilities of U.S. forces, specifically to negate U.S. stand-off capability and driving a change to our understanding of battlespace and operating areas by making our current frames of reference obsolete. Finally, adversaries are preparing to contest the domains of space and cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum in order to create a degraded or denied communications environment that directly challenges U.S. reliance on ”reach back” communications and theater level command and control. This will greatly impact our ability to dictate the tempo of battle. The effect of these A2/AD capabilities is summarized in the Concept: “(t)he range and scale of possible effects from these capabilities presents a military problem that threatens the U.S. and allied expeditionary warfare model of power projection and maneuver.”
An Operational Approach to A2/AD. An operational approach is a “commander’s description of the broad actions the force must take to achieve the desired military end state.” It is a “visualization of how the operation should transform current conditions into the desired conditions at end state.” The Joint force uses operational approaches to provide the foundation for planning guidance, to provide a model for execution and assessment and to enable a better understanding of the operational environment and of the problem. Air-Sea Battle provides an operational approach to A2/AD.
Air-Sea Battle’s operational approach to the A2/AD challenge in the global commons is a networked, integrated force capable of attack-in-depth to disrupt, destroy and defeat adversary forces (NIA/D3). As defined above, the A2/AD problem at its core is about sophisticated threats to movement, maneuver and command and control. Readers of the Concept document will find the broad framework of Air-Sea Battle as it addresses A2/AD threats. The individual parts of Air-Sea Battle are briefly summarized as follows, but the reader is cautioned to view them not as individual lines of effort but as strands woven together when a commander is designing a plan:
Networked. “Networked” describes not only the communications pathways but also the authorities and relationships needed to enable commanders faced with threats to their decision-making process. Cross-domain operations are conducted by integrating capabilities from multiple interdependent warfighting domains to support, shape, or achieve objectives in other domains. The Joint Operational Access Concept advocates for cross-domain synergy, which goes beyond the merely additive, de-conflicted capabilities of today where commander’s must “reach back” for space, cyber and long-range fires. Cross-domain operations will go a step further to exploit asymmetric advantages in specific domains to create positive and potentially cascading effects in other domains, as commanded at the operational level.
Integrated. “Integrated” reflects three emerging trends that will challenge the current U.S. understanding of the opening phase of war with A2/AD adversaries. First, an adversary can initiate military activities with little or no indications or warning. Second, forward deployed friendly forces will likely be in the A2/AD environment at the commencement of hostilities and, third, adversaries will likely attack U.S. and allied territory supporting operations against adversary forces. In other words, the U.S. will no longer have the luxury to build up combat power in an area, perform detailed rehearsals and integration activities, and then conduct operations as desired. To overcome this, forces must train against A2/AD capabilities together, as an integrated Joint and combined force, for cross-domain operations prior to deploying to theater. This pre-deployment Joint and combined training is called pre-integration.
Attack-in-depth. “Attack-in-depth” includes offensive and defensive fires and includes both kinetic and non-kinetic means to attack an adversary’s critical vulnerabilities without requiring systematic destruction of the enemy’s defenses. This is a significant departure from today’s rollback methodology that relies on uncontested communications and the ability to establish air superiority, or dominance in any other domain. The attack-in-depth methodology seeks to create and exploit corridors and windows of control that are temporal in nature and limited in geography. At the tactical level, Air-Sea Battle’s attack-in-depth methodology provides a unique lens to consider the A2/AD threat. Air-Sea Battle analyzes adversary effects chains, or an adversary’s process of finding, fixing, tracking, targeting, engaging and assessing an attack on U.S. forces. The insight from this analysis contributes to the operational approach of Air-Sea Battle.
Disrupt C4ISR. “Disrupting” adversary effects chains focuses on impacting an adversary’s decision-making ability, referred to as Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR). Ideally, friendly efforts to disrupt an adversary’s decision-making will preclude attacks on friendly forces. For example, commanders faced with threats to planned “movement” into theater should consider disruptive offensive operations to combat the adversary’s ability to track and locate forces in transit using all five domains.
Destroy and Defeat. The “Destroy and Defeat” operational tasks focus the commander on adversary A2/AD platforms and weapons systems that threaten forces in theater as they maneuver. Destroying or neutralizing adversary weapons systems enhances friendly survivability and provides freedom of action. In terms of access, destroying adversary platforms regains access and defeating employed weapons sustains it.
The Air-Sea Battle Concept document, and not the blogosphere, should be read in detail for a deeper understanding of how the operational art of Air-Sea Battle addresses the A2/AD problem. As stated in the unclassified version of the concept, for those with appropriate clearances and need to know, there a growing body of work that explores subordinate tactical concepts and mission essential tasks that will be required for Air-Sea Battle to evolve from operational art, to operational design, to concepts of operations and operational plans.
Historical Analogy: War Plan Orange. Air-Sea Battle is not a strategy or a war plan; however, there is a particularly appropriate analogy to Air-Sea Battle in the development of War Plan Orange during the interwar years. There are striking similarities in the institutional changes driven by the changing operational environment as well as the specific time-distance-resistance military problem confronted by planners in the Pacific then and in the global commons today.
First, the era of uncontested power projection for U.S. forces may well be over – Air-Sea Battle assumes U.S. forces will have to fight to get to the fight – an assumption also made by the planners of War Plan Orange. Similar to the historical evolution of War Plan Orange, Air-Sea Battle’s development is driving institutional changes to better understand the challenges of potential future fights. Edward Miller’s book, War Plan Orange, explores what he called “the American way of planning” in detail and perhaps future historians will compare the “color” planning efforts of the pre-World War II era and the overall effort to explore the anti-access and area denial challenge through the Air-Sea Battle Concept, the Joint Operational Access Concept, and others. War Plan Orange’s many iterations included the Through Ticket and the Royal Road, evolutions in the plans that accounted for better understanding and new insights between the Services. Air-Sea Battle represents a similar evolution in 21st century warfare.
Second, the defining military problem faced by Army and Navy planners working on War Plan Orange in the decades preceding World War II was largely one of geography, where access to the high seas and international airspace was defined by the air and maritime distance between bases and the Pacific islands. The same geographic considerations bound Air-Sea Battle in the global commons, but with the added complexity of access to non-sovereign cyberspace, space, and the electromagnetic spectrum. Air-Sea Battle is in the vanguard of a likely long-term effort to address a similar problem of time, distance and resistance associated with A2/AD.
In conclusion, Air-Sea Battle describes an operational approach that, for military planners, helps make sense of the A2/AD operating environment, defines the military problem of A2/AD, and describes the characteristics needed in the future force and the broad actions U.S. and allied forces must take to achieve access in the global commons. For every complaint about Air-Sea Battle generated inside the Beltway, there are numerous requests for support from the Fleets and Forces in how to approach the growing challenge of advanced A2/AD capabilities. Further, the operational approach of Air-Sea Battle promotes mutual understanding and unity of effort not just forward in the Fleets and Forces but among the Services in their Title 10 force development roles. Air-Sea Battle’s operational framework is being used to find the solutions necessary for the U.S. military to continue to operate forward and project power wherever an A2/AD challenge emerges.
 Air-Sea Battle: Service Collaboration to Address Anti-Access & Area Denial Challenges, May 2013, p.4
 Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, January 2012, pp.4-5
 The “Air-Sea Battle” name is attributed to various sources, including former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, Andrew Marshall, Andrew Krepinevich’s “AirSea Battle” or to Admiral James Stavridis’ 1992 war college paper. While it does not take much imagination to jump from AirLand Battle to Air-Sea Battle, perhaps the credit really belongs with the Atari Corporation which launched a video game called Air-Sea Battle in 1977.
 Air-Sea Battle, p.1
 See reports authored by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments on this topic. These reports preceded and are often confused with the actual Department of Defense Air-Sea Battle Concept.
 Joint Operational Access Concept, Department of Defense, 17 Jan 2012, p.24 (footnote) and p.38
 Air-Sea Battle, p.3
 Air-Sea Battle, p.2
 Joint Pub 5-0, p.III-5
 Joint Pub 5-0, p.III-5-III-6
 Joint Pub 5-0, p.III-13
 Air-Sea Battle, p.4
 Air-Sea Battle, p.5
 Air-Sea Battle, p.2
 Air-Sea Battle, pp.7-8
 Miller, Edward S., War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan 1897-1945, (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD: 1991.) As an interesting aside, and potentially a strategic message about the willingness of the United States to work with those formerly considered competitors and adversaries, planners from more than one country targeted by a “color plan” are included in the Air-Sea Battle implementation effort.
CIMSEC is having a Non-Navies Week from 29 July to 2 August as a first step in a longer series on specific non-navies. Delve into this list of non-navy navies with us.
Mainstream policy discussions of navies and maritime law enforcement often consider the denizens of the high seas to be a pliant polity – passive actors being defended, disrupted, or directed by the might of global or local security networks. However, national fleets and their individual warships are not the only ones with the agency to effect global politics and security.
Some topics we have covered at length - pirates and the Private Military Contractors that have risen up in opposition – but we have only scratched the surface.
Commercial enterpirses pursue the possibility of massive drone-ships, bringing new possibilities and vulnerabilities as our virtual network and our trade network grow closer together. Remember those pirates?
Fishing fleets have their own interests and controls - their operations and movement impacting global politics from the Gibraltar to the South China Sea. Sometimes inadvertant, sometimes purposeful, their movements can motivate states or global institutions – from territorial disuptes, to security, to environmental concerns.
Ever-better organized and equipped activists are taking to the high-seas, battling whalers or even states. From the Sea Shepards to the “amphibious landings” of Japanese and Chinese activists in the Senkakus, civilians are taking the politics to sea. Somalian piracy actually started as activism, fisherman-come-vigilantes.
Terrorists are an unfortunate reality on the high seas, from the category of at-sea terrorist attacks to the use of amphibious operations as vectors for attack from Israel to Mumbai. Some groups, such as the Tamil Tiger’s “Sea Tigers”, even went so far as be considered a possible real-world naval force.
Around the raucus political conflicts flows the silent schemes of smugglers, black marketeers, and human traffickers. From drug runners to sanction busters, admirals are not the only ones trying to mask their position. Criminal enterprises conduct their own air-sea battle, even operating submarines to smuggle goods.
The almost clinicically precise maps of the sea lines of communication would lead one to think that the oceans are a tame and organized place. Hardly. The sea is as alive with merchants, combatants, and all number of active players creating their own order and chaos.
ARTICLES ARE DUE 24 JULY TO NEXTWAR@CIMSEC.ORG OR IN OUR WORDPRESS QUEUE. LATE ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED, BUT DON’T PUSH YOUR LUCK. THIS IS FIRST-COME, FIRST/MOST AWESOME SERVED.
We are joined by RADM Rowden: OPNAV N96 (CNO’s Director for Surface Warfare), future Commander, Surface Forces, and author of the CIMSEC Article Surface Warfare: Taking the Offensive. We discuss his concepts for Sea Control, the development of LCS, perspectives on DDG 1000, and his plans as incoming Commander, Surface Forces.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PRINTED ON MAY 3, 2013 AND IS BEING RE-PRINTED FOR “CHALLENGES OF INTELLIGENCE COLLECTION WEEK.”
For many, the game Mastermind is their first adolescent introduction to cryptology. A code-breaker is given limited turns to discover the encrypted signal of the code-maker. By choosing to put AFRICOM bandwidth over state-controlled Chinese satellites in 2012, the U.S. Defense Department decided to extend their PRC opponents exponentially more “rounds” to win the game. The U.S> has won a tactical convenience at the cost of strategic peril.
Defense Department representatives claim the use of the satellites was secure due to the encrypted nature of the transmissions. However, as in Mastermind, more exposure reveals more information, with which the code-maker can be beaten. With an unrestricted treasure-trove of data, the cyber-battle proven Dirty Data Dozen of Chinese cyber-warfarewill have plenty of material to compare and contrast until base patterns are found and exploited. This vulnerability is especially worrisome in an area of responsibility rife with corruption issues and general penetration by state-associated Chinese assets. That access to the satellite transmissions might be doubly useful because of the potential access to the pre-transmitted data, further easing decryption efforts. This undermines force-wide communications, providing information that will end up not only in the hands of the Chinese, but the actors with whom their intelligence services cooperate. The U.S. stands not only to lose one game of Mastermind, but most of the tourney.
It was only last month that the CNO, ADM Greenert, said that the cyber-EM environment is “so critical to our national interests, that we must treat it on par with our traditional domains of land, sea, air, and space…” The EM-cyber spectrum may be invisible, but they have the same space constraints as those traditional domains. During the Cold War, if the berths at Bremerton were full, the U.S. Navy would never have requested berthing space in Vladivostok; if the U.S. Army found itself under-equipped, they would never request use of radio towers in East Germany to communicate with West German patrols. Resources are limited and must be rationed; put simply by Raymond Pritchett, “If this wasn’t the point to tell someone ‘no’ when they ‘needed’ bandwidth, what point is?” Refusing to prioritize the strategic long-term viability of U.S. communications security over temporary tactical comfort is the laxity alluded to by the CNO when he highlighted the need for a new attitude. We can start with the lessons learned from a 1970′s board game.
Matt Hipple is a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy. 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, although he wishes they did.
In the military sense, intelligence means something approximating a combination of knowledge and understanding of others – whether they are friends or foe. In the modern risk averse world the temptation has been to rely upon more and more distant observation methodologies; using satellites especially to monitor communications, movement and equipment – prima facie the what, the where and the why of information available.
The trouble is that knowing that an order has been given does not give the why – it does not give the thought process, or even more than a glimmer of the thought process, that has gone into the decisions made leading to that moment. Without such understanding of the decision, judgements are not actually judgements or even estimates, they are guestimates – they are hopes that the enemy repeats the same thought process, the same conclusions, and same actions without having any idea why. This is all ‘Human Intelligence’, and unfortunately not something that can be acquired with a satellite or the snippets of conversation normally accessible in terms of other nations’ (or really any actors on the world stage) command personnel.
Although there is a lack of human intelligence, it is not due to any real failure of intelligence services – they would never have the resources to be able (for want of a better phrase) ‘stalk’ all the people necessary. So as the intelligence services can’t be expected to do a job so big, the question is why does the lack of it matter? What effect can the lack of it have on operations?
The impact is simple: with increasing costs, budgets being cut, and the consequently shrinking force structures (as well as the roll on effect in presence and response), the armed services are being expected to do more with less. The potential risks of making the wrong decision are multiplied as any losses equate to a larger proportion of total forces. Furthermore, loss does not need to be destruction, but could mean being in the wrong part of the world – as again a man, a tank, a plane, a ship, whatever is considered can only be in one place at any one time. Yes, ships can be moved easily as they are self-contained and self-propelled; aircraft can be moved (if there is logistics/suitable air base/support personnel) – the same goes for men and tanks. The moves are not instantaneous; though it seems that each generation of leaders has to relearn this for themselves.
Many ministers (some of whom had themselves served in WWII or other conflicts[i]) were shocked when they discovered the time it would take to deploy forces from the UK to take part in the 1982 Falklands War; ultimately, it took 47 days from the first ships of the Task Force departing from the UK on April 5th to the San Carlos landing commencing in the Falklands on May 21st[ii]. More recently, HMS Illustrious, which was conducting counter piracy operations in the Indian Ocean at the time, was ordered to provide support for the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan aid mission November 14th; however, after picking up over 500tons of supplies at Singapore, it did not arrive until the 25th of November[iii]. Apart from being a salutary example of the fact that navies do not have peacetime/war time difference in operational tempo, it again shows the realities of time. This makes the requirement for gaining as full an intelligence picture as possible—including both the knowledge and the understanding thereof—a premium; the better the intelligence picture, the lower the likelihood of a country being caught by an unanticipated surprise. This is not to say a nation will not be caught by surprise, but that it will be more prepared for that surprise when it comes. Thus, how can a nation’s understanding be increased to allow for this if the intelligence services cannot be turned into ‘stalkers anonymous’?
This solution largely depends upon the service and their national requirements; for navies, it becomes about presence, the concomitant diplomacy of port visits, and the training/interaction opportunities that occur. These roles build relationships between practitioners; yet if people do the same the job and fulfill the same role (even when using different equipment, and representing different nations), then they are usually half way to understanding the other anyway. Whilst it does work both ways—giving understanding to the other nation/actor as well as gaining it for their own—it still provides a better overall position and a level of understanding than that which no interactions provides. But as a proposed measure for improvement, how can it be implemented?
For the navies of nations which are local or even regional powers, this naturally represents less of a challenge (and less of a strain on limited resources), since the operations can, for the most part, be supported from home ports, and could utilise shorter range vessels such as patrol boats[i]. However, for the navies of nations with national interests of a range that require a broader interaction—a global approach—it becomes more difficult. The emphasis such navies often experience, on building first rate, top of the line vessels for all roles, means their ships are often too expensive for them to build in the numbers that would be required for a proper presence[v].
This presents a problem for those navies and in a way it requires both a greater acceptance of the role of services in ‘peacetime’[vi] from leadership (supported by navies finding a way to highlight this more, perhaps by being less reticent about what they do, perhaps by borrowing some of the showmanship exhibited by other government organisations to demonstrate why they matter); it also needs those navies to look at building ships for which in warfighting terms would be described as ‘Task Group vessels’. Ships which could never be a picket, either for anti-submarine or air defence, but which can provide extra security for auxiliaries, aircraft carriers and amphibious ships. Ships which will have small crews, but good range and very good wining & dining facilities. Ships which will probably carry a small helicopter, some drones, boats and marines[vii] in order to maximise their presence wherever they are. They would not need to be big, but they would need to be flexible. Most of all they would need to be cheap, not cost effective, cheap; they must cost not a lot to build (so everything should come off the shelf) and not a lot to run.
For example the solution for the RN is quite easy to see:
Hull/design- a slightly enlarged River class vessel, with a hangar,
Sensors – a suitable radar,
Naval Gunfire Support (for helping out with amphibious or littoral operations) – A medium calibre deck gun,
Defensive weapons – a Close in Weapon System such as Phalanx plus a small number of Sea Ceptor (the RN’s name for its new Point Defence Surface to Air Missile System, which is part of the tri-service Common Anti-Air Modular Missile) to help it with defending itself if caught by surprise, but most importantly defending the ships as described above
Offensive weapons – perhaps some Stanflex modules[viii] (or other equivalent of the shelf modular system) could be acquired from Denmark to support torpedoes, towed sonar array and anti-ship missiles; if not decisions have to be made about what is necessary, rather than trying to fit it all, perhaps the route of the Type 12 Leander class would be best where each batch was focused on a different mission for the task group[ix], so some could carry torpedoes (or maybe as a class would rely upon their helicopters entirely for that), some anti-ship missiles and some perhaps land attack weapons (or a system could be chosen which was capable of both missions on an equal or nearly equal basis).
Going into such detail makes this example sound bigger than it reality is[x], but this goes to demonstrate how capable and how complex even a cheaper ship would have to be fulfill its role as a presence/task group ship; the fact is though that if everything was bought ‘off-the-shelf’ rather than developed fresh, then the costs would drop dramatically. This would happen because it’s the research which costs the money (especially as unit numbers have fallen at the same time as complexity increased, accelerating cost-per-unit growth), not the hardware. Such ships though would not be an easy sell, as their role would not be to replace anything, but to support it[xi]; therefore the case would need to be made well as, whilst not much (in the context of what services they would provide), new money would have to be found.
For navies that succeeded in making the case, in securing some more of their national budgets and then acquiring them then these vessels would be of huge benefit. In Peacetime they would be the vital global presence[xii], they would provide a much needed supplement to the first rate ships of the escort force (as well as the modern Capital Ships, the Aircraft Carriers and Amphibious Ships) as representatives of their nations and its national interests around the world. They would act in peacetime, as escorts always have, as their nations diplomats of the sea, police of the maritime highways, eyes and ears of the homeland in distant quarters[xiii]; whilst in war time they would again take a supporting role that would free up the more capable ships for pickets, providing the inner layers of defence to help protect those vessels upon which their nations primary capability projection rests.
As an intelligence paper, this paper should conclude with a focus on exactly that: intelligence matters because, when properly conducted, it will make leaders’ decisions easier and safer. The best way to increase understanding is to improve the level of interaction so as to allow those expected to make the decisions to learn it first-hand. For navies, this means cranking up the presence abroad, which will necessitate increasing the ‘presence’ at home to secure the funding necessary – something which will be even more crucial for those navies which serve nations with extensive global interests, as they will need to acquire the resources to build these vessels in the numbers necessary without compromising on crucial existing projects; a very tricky task in the modern world.
Dr. Alexander Clarke is our friend from the Phoenix Think Tank and host of the East-Atlantic edition of Sea Control. He recently received the rest of the paperwork necessary to put a well-deserved “Dr” at the beginning of his name.
[iv] The other factor to be increased alongside visits will be the quantity of reports; i.e. all Officers, NCOs and even some ratings should provide write ups of their experience that could be provided to the intelligence/command communities – they may have nothing useful, but it’s the overall picture that the information helps to create which will be of service; the more details gathered the greater the understanding that should be gained.
[vi] With Counter-Piracy, Counter-Narcotics, Counter-Human Trafficking, Counter-Terrorism, Freedom of the Seas, Fishery Protection, Search & Rescue, Humanitarian Aid, Allied Training, Maritime Security (including national and allied standing patrols), Constant At Sea Strategic Deterrence and of course various Diplomatic duties (naming just the major mission clusters) for ‘peacetime’ read even more for navies to do, but more than li
[viii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StanFlex (06/07/2014) – on the face of it a system with a lot to offer that has been around a long time, if it had been developed and used by a larger navy then more than likely more nations would be using it.
On the night of 23 October 2013, a group of embarked Nigerian policemen on board the tanker HISTRIA CORAL opened fire on a small boat that was approaching a tanker close by on Lagos roads, believing the vessel was under attack by robbers. The small boat, it turned out, was a launch filled with Nigerian Navy personnel, who were about to inspect the ROSE MARY. The episode ended with a stand-off between the Nigerian Navy and the policemen, who eventually locked themselves into the HISTRIA CORAL’s citadel for several days before they were arrested along with the agent who brokered their services.
This vignette is symptomatic for the state of maritime security in Nigerian waters. Fundamentally, the problem is that, while legislation and capability exist, the patchy enforcement of the applicable laws encourages ship operators, agents, mid-ranking military personnel and private security providers to search for “alternatives” which tend to emphasise practicality over legality. In this they are ably assisted by local “facilitators”.
Responsibilities in Nigerian Maritime Security
The division of responsibilities between the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Police (NMP, a branch of the Nigerian Police Force, NPF) is relatively clear: the NMP has jurisdiction “on the Territorial Inland Waters, (measured from the inward limits of the coastal waterways from the fairway buoy), Ports, and Harbours.” It may extend beyond those limits in hot pursuit or when assisting other agencies.
The Nigerian Navy’s responsibility extends beyond that to include the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), within the bounds of the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which Nigeria has ratified in 1986. The Navy can also act inshore and to landward based on inter-agency agreements, such as when being a part of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta.
However, the lead agency for maritime security, as regards the provisions of the ISPS Code, is actually the Nigerian Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA). Technically charged with providing port security (in collaboration with Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA) and flag administration, this agency has expanded in recent years to assume a quasi-coast guard role. Some of this is being delivered, controversially, through a private supplier – Global West Vessel Service Ltd, an entity controlled by the former Delta-state militant leader and now billionaire Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo). NIMASA has also proposed a draft bill on piracy and other unlawful acts at sea in 2012, although that still has to be accepted by Nigeria’s legislators.
Outsourcing Maritime security or Public Private Partnerships?
NIMASA is not alone though when it comes to contracting private companies in order to render what would appear to be asset protection services, but also for maritime surveillance and law enforcement activities. The Nigerian Navy has a tradition of utilising private suppliers to maintain and manage its vessels such as Intels Logistics, who manage the Bonny River convoy or the likes of Ocean Marine Security (OMS) or Protection Plus, who have been supplying escorts vessel services to the Oil & Gas industry for years. Typically, the procedure involves the private companies supplying vessels to the Navy’s specifications. The vessels receive Nigerian Navy pennant numbers and are manned with Nigerian Navy personnel. This has the benefit of providing an effective asset and management outside the Navy’s largely dysfunctional logistical and administrative infrastructure. At the same time, the Navy gains paid-for operational experience. The operational management, although in the hands of the Navy, also places the onus of maintaining situational awareness and response capability on the private partners. As I have described elsewhere, the Nigerian Navy’s organisation in spite of all efforts continues to fail in its ability to generate and disseminate maritime domain awareness information that would enable it to systematically prevent and respond maritime security incidents.
Arguably, the utilisation of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) is best suited to overcome the Nigerian Navy’s organisational shortcomings in the current situation. Nevertheless, like many such decentralised, commercially-tinged activities involving the Nigerian armed forces it bears the risk for abuse, mismanagement and corruption. Above all, it means that the Nigerian Navy relinquishes control and this was exactly what got the Navy in trouble in late 2012 when a merchant vessel, which had hired a Nigerian Navy team, ended up in Togo with the Nigerian soldiers still on board, resulting in some uncomfortable questions being asked of the Navy. As it turned out the Navy’s Western Naval Command had not endorsed the practice of allowing private companies to hire Nigerian Navy teams. To reinforce the point, future co-operation with private partners was based on a standard Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), in which the Nigerian Navy specified that it would provide personnel only for suitably equipped patrol boats. The creation of the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) outside Lagos in April 2013 in collaboration with OMS was a manifestation of this approach and built on the PPP model that had served the Nigerian Navy well elsewhere.
Use and Abuse of the System
At least 42 security companies registered in Nigeria have signed the MoU with the Navy, although only a fraction have provided the patrol boats as stipulated in the document while the majority of companies thought that they were allowed to use embarked Navy teams. When the Navy pulled the rug from underneath what had apparently become a source of considerable income for local agents, fixers, mid-ranking naval officers and budding Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs), it left the shipping industry with only one recourse: to hire Nigerian Police who conveniently offered themselves for this task, although this too was never officially sanctioned by the Inspector General of the Police (IGP) or formalised through anything resembling a MoU. Instead, local police commissioners issued “permits” to agents, PMSCs and ship operators if they wished to embark NMP, ostensibly on behalf of the IGP.
Again, this practice went on for some time for lack of enforcement until the incident involving the HISTRIA CORAL. Under pressure from the political leadership to clean up their act as well as getting a handle on the illegal bunkering and related piracy situation the Navy reacted. This process of reasserting the Navy’s pre-eminence in maritime security (along with NIMASA) was underlined by the politically-induced re-shuffle of the Nigerian armed forces leadership in February 2014 with a clear presidential mandate to enhance the efficiency of the three services.
On 21 March 2014 the Navy arrested an NMP team aboard the tanker CRETE along with two expat advisors from the security firm Port2Port who had accompanied the ship from Lagos to Warri. Although they were held on the whimsical charge of being engaged in illegal bunkering the incident highlighted the increased awareness of the Navy of the use of rogue NMP teams and the determination to intervene when they had knowledge of the practice. The inability of an embarked NMP team to detect an attack in a timely manner and to prevent casualties on the SP BRUSSELS on 29 April 2014 off the Niger Delta also highlighted the low effectiveness of such “rent-a-cop” teams. However, a large number of shipping agents and PMSCs were now firmly wedded to the concept of using NMP and the chronically underfunded NPF also saw a good opportunity in generating some extra income also for their senior personnel who are held in lower regard (and receive a lower pay) than their Nigerian Navy counterparts.
In early June the Nigerian Navy’s Western Naval Command (as well as the two sister commands Central and East) decided to enforce the ban on the use of NMP inside Nigerian territorial waters as directed earlier by the Chief of Naval Staff. Confusingly, the general assertion of authority by the Navy which includes the EEZ (which is part of the Navy’s jurisdiction) was interpreted to imply that the Navy would also enforce this ban on NMP outside territorial waters, which would be in contravention to UNCLOS, leading organisations like the IMO and BIMCO to question the legality of that measure. So far, the Navy has limited itself to inspecting vessels in territorial waters. On 13 June 2014 the Nigerian Navy interrogated a tanker on Lagos roads who first admitted to having embarked security personnel and later denied it. A closer investigation on the 14th revealed the presence of NMP personnel on board and one expat adviser from the same PMSC as on the CRETE. The NMP team was detained and replaced with a Nigerian Navy team so as not to leave the vessel vulnerable to attack.
It is not without irony that within days of the arrests on Lagos roads agents and certain PMSCs signalled their clients in the shipping industry that they had obtained permission to use Nigerian Navy teams – allegedly signed off by a senior naval officer. It is quite plausible that this officer is not yet aware of the “reversal” of the Navy’s enforcement plan that has been enacted in his name and will experience the same surprise as the IGP of Lagos state.
The provision of maritime security services in the Gulf of Guinea is handled more closely by the West African states than has been done by those on the east coast. At the same time effective implementation is slow and frustrating for the shipping industry and the international community.
However, sabotaging the process by playing off law enforcement agencies, or their officers, against each other is unlikely to be helpful in a situation where one of the key problems are fragile states and institutions in the first place. While engaging in collusive corruption (i.e. facilitation payments) the shipping industry is technically not in breach of most anti-corruption legislation, however obtaining an unlawful or “improper” performance from a government agency – even through a third party – might well be subject to more recent anti-bribery legislation such as the UK Bribery Act of 2010 which takes the broader OECD approach to corruption. Furthermore such behaviour perpetuates a system whose unpredictability is a major source of complaint when doing business in Nigeria.
The current modus operandi employed in renting Nigerian government security forces “on the sly” often in contravention of existing but unenforced law and condoned by mid-ranking (and some senior) officers may seem like a good idea now, but in this case it betrays ignorance or casual disregard of the power politics in Nigeria. Choosing to bypass or subvert the Nigerian Navy means antagonising a comparatively influential security service (as opposed to the Nigerian Police) in the Nigerian political system, which is something that is likely to create a backlash in the mid-term as the Nigerian Navy’s organisation continues to strengthen and become more robust as it has, if from a very low level, over the past 7 to 8 years.
Dirk Steffen is the Director Maritime Security for Denmark-based Risk Intelligence. He has been covering the Gulf of Guinea as a consultant and analyst since 2004. He recently deployed to the area with the German Navy in the course of OBANGAME EXPRESS 2014.
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