Category Archives: Current Operations

On-going Naval Ops or Maritime Current Events

A Niger Delta Militant Group Declares War on the Nigerian Navy

By Dirk Steffen

Many suspected it as the intensity of pirate attacks off the Niger Delta increased inexorably in the course of April, with 15 attacks between 1 and 21 April 2016. There is a contest going on between those termed by the authorities as “sea criminals” and the Nigerian Navy, which is tasked to suppress them.

Situation

After a period of détente following the Nigerian general elections in April 2015, the Niger Delta is once again stirring. Former militants had made their support of the new President Muhammadu Buhari (elected in April 2015) conditional on the continued payment of “amnesty stipends” and retention of inflated security contracts. Predictably, in the face of drastically reduced oil revenue, President Buhari’s only choice was to reduce those payments, make the remainder more accountable, and let the security contracts worth hundreds of millions expire. Additionally, he went after those godfathers who had systematically abused the amnesty under the previous presidency.

The issue of a court order against the figurehead ex-militant leader Tompolo (formerly the leader of the Niger Delta insurgency in the western Niger Delta) has further stoked the flames of discontent. While Tompolo remains a fugitive, new groups and former followers vie for preeminence in replacing him within his many criminal schemes and networks, using his persecution by the government as a justifying argument.

Attacks offshore the Niger Delta 1-21 April 2016. Brown icons: kidnappings, red icons: armed robberies; orange icons: failed attacks. Source: MaRisk by Risk Intelligence.
Attacks offshore the Niger Delta 1-21 April 2016. Brown icons: kidnappings, red icons: armed robberies; orange icons: failed attacks. Source: MaRisk by Risk Intelligence.

As attacks against shipping and pipelines increased in 2016, with 40 vessels attacked 74 individuals kidnapped off Nigeria alone this year as of 21 April 2016, the Nigerian Navy sprung into action. Sorties in response to attacks as well as the successful tracking and boarding of the hijacked tanker MAXIMUS (11-19 February) suggested that the Nigerian Navy was prepared to take up the challenge. Having demonstrated its effectiveness against the pirate modus operandi of hijacking product tankers in order to steal the cargo, the Nigerian Navy inadvertently redirected criminal energies to a more opportunistic and less predictable sea crime: kidnapping for ransom. This form of crime was traditionally (between 2006 and 2010) much practiced by smaller militant groups with less resources and without sponsors or patrons necessary for the more sophisticated and operationally vulnerable hijackings. Now it appears it has become a free-for-all for seaborne criminals in the Niger Delta. After a wave of inshore kidnappings in January 2016, attacks offshore the Niger Delta out to 120 nm increased throughout February and March. Virtually all of these were carried out by only speed boats without mother ship support and seem to have reached a temporary climax in April.

Challenge and Response

On 15 April 2016 the Nigerian Navy responded by launching Operation Tsare Teku (Haussa for “Protection of the Sea”) with a force consisting of NNS OKPABANA, NNS KYANWA, NNS SAGBAMA and NNS ANDONI as well as 3 other ships held in reserve. The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta had previously banned 200 hp outboard engines – the propulsion of choice for the heavy speed boats of Niger Delta-based pirates and militants, and on 19 April the Navy impounded 26 boats equipped with such engines in Warri. On 22 April the Navy re-iterated the ban of 200 hp engines.

Nigerian pirates taunting the crew of a tanker in the Agbami oil field in broad daylight in April 2016. Note the 200 hp main outboard engine and white “battle” flag traditionally used by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (2006-9).
Nigerian pirates taunting the crew of a tanker in the Agbami oil field in broad daylight in April 2016. Note the 200 hp main outboard engine and white “battle” flag traditionally used by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (2006-9). Photo: Source withheld. 

Within hours a group called the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) responded to these actions. The NDA had already claimed responsibility for the hijacking of the tanker LEON DIAS on 29-31 January and the subsequent kidnapping of 5 crew members. They also claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on pipelines including the Forcados export pipeline in February 2016. In a statement issued on 22 April they finally threw down the gauntlet:

“We are hereby calling on the Nigerian Navy to desist from such unlawful acts and recede the call for the ban on 200HP outboard engines as refusal to heed this warning of ours will spun us to declare a war on the Nigerian Naval Force. This war will aide us achieve nothing but expose the Nigerian Navy to the biggest embarrassment in the history of the force. It is also a promise from us that we shall make the waterways unsafe for any vessel or petroleum tanker if you fails to listen to our warning and still go about harassing and killing our people in the guise of escorting vessels along the Niger Delta creeks.”

The NDA are most likely a “mouthpiece” for a yet unorganised number of armed groups in the Niger Delta, but that makes them no less of a concern. Like the Movement of the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) they may quickly turn into a rally point in case of an exaggerated military backlash. This presents the Nigerian Navy with a conundrum: while the suppression of acts of piracy falls squarely into the Navy’s remit, they have in fact inherited a legacy problem for which they are not well prepared.

Capabilities and limitations of the Nigerian Navy

The focus of Nigerian Navy operations since 2006 has been the fight against insurgents (between 2006 and 2009) and against illegal bunkering on the creeks and rivers of the Niger Delta. The Navy forms part of the inter-agency Joint Task Force who currently prosecute a riverine campaign called Pulo Shield in the Niger Delta. For reasons of prestige, both the Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA) have long downplayed or denied the threat of piracy in Nigerian waters, engaging in semantic games that re-defined piracy (legally correct, but misleading) as “armed robbery” inside territorial waters or as “community issues.” At international and regional conferences, the previous Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Ziakede Akpolobokemi (now indicted for fraud along with his associate Tompolo), routinely grandstanded about Gulf of Guinea piracy without even uttering the word “Nigeria.”

The result is a Nigerian Navy that is geared towards riverine law enforcement operations, but that lacks a credible coastal enforcement capability in spite of recent acquisitions of four Offshore Patrol Vessels in 2015 (NNS OKPABANA, NNS CENTENARY, NNS SAGBAMA, NNS PROSPERITY) and measurable increases in tactical proficiency. The Achilles heel is the lack of true Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), insufficiently networked assets and ineffective command centers. The territorial organization into Western, Central and Easten Naval Command is suitable for riverine operations, but less so for the centralized approach required for MDA and counterpiracy.

The Nigerian Navy is also heavy on shore-side organisztion, draining resources away from the fleet. Many small and medium-sized Nigerian Navy patrol boats are idle due to lack of spares, crews, and fuel. An investigation has been launched into the Navy’s past lopsided procurement practices, but in the current situation, this only adds insult to injury. From a material point of view, the Nigerian Navy’s situation has been dire for a long time. In August 2015 the new Chief of Naval Staff Vice-Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas conceded that “the Nigerian Navy [… ] is unable to fulfill its constitutional obligation of defending and protecting the country’s territorial waters because more than half its fleet is broken down.”

A more or less permanent presence at sea by the Nigerian Navy is provided only by those patrol boats providing oil field security – contracted to private companies, but manned mostly by Nigerian Navy personnel. Under a Memorandum of Understanding between these security companies and the Navy, the patrol boats should remain available for “national security” purposes and share MDA information with the Navy. Contracted escort vessels have been detached from their commercial duties in the past to intervene in ongoing pirate attacks, but the reality is this arrangement deprives the Nigerian Navy of operational reserves and flexibility – such as would be necessary for an operation like Tsare Teku.

The privately contracted patrol boat NNS WARRIOR provides riverine escort to a merchant vessel in 2016. Photo: source withheld.
The privately contracted patrol boat NNS WARRIOR provides riverine escort to a merchant vessel in 2016. Photo: source withheld.

Operation Tsare Teku

Of the four vessels now assigned to Tsare Teku only OKPABANA and SAGBAMA can provide meaningful surveillance and pursuit capabilities. KYANWA is an elderly buoy tender (ex-USCGC SEDGE, WLB-402 – laid down in 1943) with a top speed of 12 knots and ANDONI is a locally built patrol boat with only standard sensors and a top speed of 21 knots. Only OKPABANA has a helicopter flight deck, but no organic helicopter. As in the MAXIMUS case, the Nigerian Navy would rely on the two Air Force ATR-42 Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft for aerial reconnaissance. However, both aircraft are stationed in the north of Nigeria where they take part in the campaign against Boko Haram.

Three more vessels are slated to join the operation: NNS CENTENARY, NNS BURUTU and NNS ZARIA. Of those three only the recently acquired CENTENARY has a helicopter flight deck and an above average command and communications suite. BURUTU and ZARIA are both Singapore-built fast patrol craft that are suitable for EEZ patrolling and would be a valuable addition as fast responders – provided they join the effort.

Effectively, thus, the current offshore surveillance and deterrence element of Tsare Teku relies almost entirely on NNS OKPABANA, a former US Coast Guard HAMILTON-class cutter (ex-USCGC GALLATIN, WHEC-721) that has been in near constant use responding to incidents since January and taking part in the AFRICOM exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS/SAHARAN EXPRESS 2016 as one of the mainstays of the Nigerian Navy. The 48-year old vessel is now increasingly struggling with mechanical problems.

The Nigerian Navy offshore patrol vessel NNS OKPABANA during Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS 2015. Photo: German Navy/Steve Back.
The Nigerian Navy offshore patrol vessel NNS OKPABANA during Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS 2015. Photo: German Navy/Steve Back.

Wisely, the Nigerian Navy has therefore geographically limited the objective of Tsare Teku to what Ibas identified as the two major “hot spots” of pirate activity: the sea area off Brass (located on the southwestern tip of the Niger Delta in Bayelsa state) and off Bonny (the entrance to the sea ports of Onne and Port Harcourt in Rivers state on the south coast of the Niger Delta). While the Bonny area will be relatively easy to secure due to the converging traffic and proximity of pirate attacks to the Bonny River Fairway Buoy, pirate attacks off Bayelsa have been more dispersed and out to 120 nautical miles from the coast – often at night. This will present a challenge and attacks on Chevron’s Agbami oil field on 7 and 10 April show that the criminals have little respect for a weak naval presence. On 7 April, two tankers waiting to load at the terminal were attacked. NNS OKPABANA responded and was in the field on 7/8 April. However, just 2 days later, pirates attacked another tanker in the same location. Ultimately, it fell to the field security vessel to provide a timely response.

Outlook

Attacks have abated since 21 April, but the cyclical, or surge-like, nature of attacks is typical for Niger Delta offshore violence. A number of hostages have been released over the past few days and more will be freed in the near future. All other things remaining equal, once the funds generated from the ransoms have been distributed and loyalties assured, a resumption of attacks should be expected.

In the short term all the Nigerian Navy will be able to provide is a sticking plaster. Just like in Somalia, the problem will not be resolved at sea. However, unlike Somalia, Nigeria actually has the sovereign power (and increasing political will, it seems) to address both the symptoms and the causes on shore. The control of inshore waterways and community engagement will form a part of the ongoing operation Tsare Teku. However, its success will also depend on the Nigerian Navy getting its own house in order. Ibas pointed out in 2015 “that most of the operations designed to eradicate the oil bunkering syndicates operating in the country’s waters were still achieving limited success because some navy officers and other security personnel were involved in the illegal activities.”

From an operational point of view, the best course of action for the Nigerian Navy in the short term (apart from a joint effort ashore) would be to fold the contracted field security and patrol vessels into a comprehensive scheme for merchant vessel protection, rather than allowing a large number of these vessels to be absorbed into one-on-one escort/security missions or “waiting for business.” This would not necessarily clash with commercial interests of oil companies operating convoys to and from their offshore installations. The idea here could be to coordinate and promulgate convoy schedules and open them for general shipping (much like the “national” convoys in the Gulf of Aden became open to ships flying all flags), thus maximizing the efficiency of existing operational naval vessels. Corridors could be extended in some cases or linked using other Nigerian Navy vessels or by sharing contracted patrol boats. This would have the added benefit of enabling the contracted patrol boats to pursue and apprehend attackers under the Nigerian Navy’s Rules of Engagement rather than having to remain purely defensive in accordance with the more restrictive Standard Operating Procedures of private security companies, which only allow a defensive posture.

Searching, sweeping, and deterrence patrols are likely to produce minimal results given the fleeting nature of the threat, the size of sea area, and the complexity of the Niger Delta coastline. Instead, the most valuable assets – like OKPABANA, CENTENARY, and the Sea Eagle fast patrol craft should be held in readiness as fast response assets. The low number and limited response radius of the vessels (for as long as the OPVs do not routinely operate helicopters on their missions) would probably not make it efficient to use them “on station” in the transit corridors in the way this was done in the Gulf of Aden. Continuous sea time would also aggravate the already precarious maintenance issues of some vessels.

In summary: the Nigerian Navy will be on the defensive in the short term for whatever comes at it from the creeks of the Niger Delta. This is not as ignominious as it sounds since command of the sea (however limited in geographic scope) is by definition a defensive strategic objective. Initially however, the Nigerian Navy will also contend with serious constraints ranging from a lack of awareness of what plays out in Nigerian waters outside the coverage of coastal radar stations and the Automated Identification System (AIS), as well as insufficient assets (or readiness of those assets) to effectively police the offshore littoral. The Nigerian Navy, even if it wishes to engage the merchant marine – as recently suggested by Vice-Admiral Ibas, will not initially benefit from the support of the merchant marine. Past experiences of naval officers’ connivance with criminals, corruption, extortion, and bullying at the hands of the Nigerian Navy have undermined industry’s trust in the Nigerian Navy. It will take time and fence-mending to reassure the international shipping community so that they will provide the indispensable data the Nigerian Navy would need in order to maintain MDA and effectively co-ordinate shipping in a piracy-threat area. Until then, operations like Tsare Teku will be largely symbolic. It may make life a little more complicated for the pirates, but not unduly so in the foreseeable future.

Dirk Steffen is a Commander (senior grade) in the German Naval Reserve with 12 years of active service between 1988 and 2000. He took part in the African Partnership Station exercises OBANGAME EXPRESS 2014, 2015 and 2016 at sea and ashore for the boarding-team training and as a Liaison Naval Officer on the exercise staff. He is normally Director Maritime Security at Risk Intelligence (Denmark) when not on loan to the German Navy. He has been covering the Gulf of Guinea as a consultant and analyst since 2004. The opinions expressed in this article are his alone, and do not represent those of any German military or governmental institutions.

Featured Image: NNS KYANWA alongside NNS THUNDER at Apapa Naval base (Lagos) in 2014. Photo: Dirk Steffen

Shifting to Shore Power?

By J. Overton

The concept that a nation’s means to compel its will originates “from the sea” is a fallacy.

For history’s greatest maritime powers, greatest navies, and greatest naval actions, the sea is at best a temporary operating environment. Sea power has always been created, tended, and entirely dependent on land. This is true even for the world’s largest and most globally-active modern Navy. The U.S. Fleet, its Sailors, civilian workers, and Navy family members spend most of their time ashore, in the United States. But this fact is conspicuously absent from both the 2015 version of the maritime strategy, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready” (CS21R) and its 2007 predecessor. In these and other recent strategic documents, the Navy’s largest, oldest, most expensive, most resilient, and most complex operational platforms, shore installations in the United States, suffer almost total neglect. [1][*]

To understand the role of America’s Navy in this young century, however, requires understanding the role of Navy shore infrastructure in America. To that end, the following offers a reality check on CS21R, an examination of how the naval resources concentrated in Navy bases gives them a power all their own, and an exploration of the capabilities these bases really contribute.

Design, Organize and Employ the Sea Services

“This maritime strategy describes how we will design, organize, and employ the Sea Services in support of our national, defense, and homeland security strategies. It also sets maritime priorities in an era of constrained resources, while emphasizing warfighting capabilities and forward naval presence to advance national interests today and guide preparations for tomorrow’s challenges.”CS21R[2]

Defining the meaning of “strategy” is difficult, defining a strategy itself even more so. Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, as reliable a source as we have, tells us that strategy is “A prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives.” [3] CS21R is indeed a set of ideas for employing instruments of national power to achieve objectives, with the employment ideas mostly involving warfighting capabilities and forward naval presence. Many of the instruments mentioned, such as the 300-plus ship fleet, various technological advances, and even some partnerships mentioned, are not currently in existence. They are on wish lists which may never be realized.  Of those which do exist, most are not now employed primarily either for warfighting or in providing forward presence.

121220-N-ZN152-178NORFOLK (Dec. 20, 2012) The aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are in port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., the worldÕs largest naval station. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott/Released)
The aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott/Released).

Another definition of strategy, perhaps more cynical if equally applicable, is “what you’re doing right now, intended or not.” [4] A snapshot “Status of the Navy,” taken in March  2016, shows that of the U.S. Navy’s 272 deployable battle force ships, about 49%  are deployed either underway or overseas. Of the 326,046 active duty Sailors, it can be assumed that a similar percentage is deployed or underway. This leaves less than half of the U.S. Navy’s deployable battle force ships in port, about the same number of her Sailors, and almost all of the 107,115 reservists, 195, 258 civilian employees, and hundreds of thousands of Navy dependents berthed and working ashore in the United States [5]

Strategic proclamations aside, shore installations are where, at any given moment in the year 2016 and the many years preceding it, one finds the majority of the U.S. Navy’s deployable platforms, people, and money.

Where it Matters, When it Matters

“The Navy’s current budget submission will provide for more than 300 ships and a forward presence of about 120 ships by 2020, up from an average of 97 in 2014, to be “where it matters, when it matters.” CS21R[6]

Although some Navy bases are inland, most are necessarily in the littoral, that narrow near-shore area where what happens on land influences the sea and what happens at sea influences the land. When applied to strategic thinking about foreign lands, the littoral realm is often considered a place inundated with both opportunities and threats. This is true when planning for combat or humanitarian operations in developing nations, but true for the continental United States as well. Our coastal areas tend to be the most populated, have the most desirable and expensive real estate, be the most environmentally sensitive, and be the most vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters.[7] They are also, of course, where the majority of Navy installations must exist. Those bases, many consisting of more than one geographic installation separated physically but under a single Commanding Officer, are mostly clustered into a few fleet concentration areas: [8] Significant naval presence in these regions pre-dates World War II, the aircraft carrier, submarine, diesel-power, and in some places, even the formation of the United States as a nation.

Bremerton naval base 2
An overhead view of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton,Washington.

For more than a decade Navy has stated its need for total fleet number somewhere in excess of 300 ships. Deployable force ships now stand at about 280, and haven’t been over 300 since 2003. [9] The extra 20 or 30 ships wished for may or may not arrive to fit themselves into CS21R. While there is much debate and handwringing over the optimal size and mission-set of the U.S. fleet and its overseas bases, ships can be built relatively quickly and cheaply compared to acquisition and maintenance of the real estate from which they’ll be based, and the long-term viability of bases not on U.S. soil is never assured.

Stateside shore installations are where it matters, when it matters: here, and now. And they’ve developed their own type of power to sustain them, without major course changes, for the foreseeable future.

Self-Sustaining Naval Forces

Our self-sustaining naval forces, operating in the global commons, ensure the   protection of the homeland far from our shores, while providing the President with decision space and options to deny an adversary’s objectives, preserve freedom of action, and assure access for follow-on forces.” CS21R [10]

There is no robust discussion or controversy about the need for the current fleet concentration areas, or even for most individual Navy bases in the United States.  Navy leadership implicitly recognizes the strategic value of their finite real-estate and unlike the Army and Air Force, is not currently calling for consolidation or closing of their shore infrastructure. [11] The decisions that usually matter about bases are those of policy makers, particularly Congress. Political leadership, generally of both parties and certainly going down from Capitol Hill to mayors and county commissioners of Navy base-dependent communities, has shown little desire to close bases, even if they do espouse curtailing some of the base’s more onerous operations. The smaller overall number of bases now in operation since previous rounds of Base Realignment and Closure, and their concentration into fewer Regions, means that most installations are a major source, if not the major source, of economic life for their immediate locale.

This economic power keeps Navy installations in the U.S. relatively safe from existential political threats. They have developed what journalist Walter Russell Mead refers to as “Sticky Power… [a power] based neither on military compulsion nor on simple coincidence of wills. Consider the carnivorous sundew plant, which attracts its prey with a kind of soft power, a pleasing scent that lures insects toward its sap. But once the victim has touched the sap, it is stuck; it can’t get away. That is sticky power…”[12]Mead was referring to the relationships between countries, such as that between China and the United States, but his theory is applicable for most major Navy bases and their local civilian communities. The two cannot extricate themselves from one another without mutually assured damage. Politicians, business leaders, education officials, and all manner of non-profits physically close to Navy bases are supporters of their local base, even if they disagree with overall U.S. military policy, or have an ignorance or contempt of traditional naval hard-power missions.

San Diego Naval base
San Diego Naval Base, as seen from a commercial airliner. Source: Wikipedia.

The effect of CONUS Naval installations’  power, rooted more in economics than grand strategy or traditional notions of Mahan or Corbett, leaves America a dispersed and networked range of Navy bases fairly secure from foreign attack, fairly secure from political infringement, and fairly secure from credible, capable local opposition. [13].

That Unique Capability: Presence

“Looking at how we support our people, build the right platforms, power them to achieve efficient global capability, and develop critical partnerships will be central to its successful execution and to providing that unique capability: presence.”CS21R [14]

To paraphrase a dead Prussian General, the first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that must be made is to establish what a Navy base actually does, neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature. The disparate missions these bases perform go well beyond simply supporting the Navy’s families and deploying Fleets and fighters. They are not, in the parlance of our most recent strategies and Sailing Directions, fighting wars or operating forward. But they are engaged, and they are ready.

Perhaps the best analogy for the collective power and capability they provide America would be that of a “Fleet in Being,” a concept historically applied to a naval force which, though not deployed or concentrated for battle, provided a deterrence function or caused some reaction on the part of an opposing force.[15] A “Fleet in Being” has a strategic value because, even if seemingly uninvolved in the most pressing contemporary operation, it has great potential.

Likewise, U.S. Navy bases are on American soil. They are dispersed around America, and nearly all share each of the following attributes: on Federal property; located in or near major commercial ports; located in areas prone to natural disasters; and having ample and diverse infrastructure, equipment, and personnel under Federal control.

Pearl Harbor naval base 4
A satellite view of Pearl Harbor. Photo Source: NASA.

This simple but rare combination of characteristics gives the Navy base great flexibility and potential. In recent years they have done essentially whatever need they were able to do, when they were asked. Navy bases in the United States have been used as relief, staging, and command centers during floods, fires, and terrorist attacks. They’ve hosted educational and entertainment venues and events for their local communities. They’ve provided environmental restoration and mitigation functions to local and national organizations. They’ve been used as test cases for experimental energy initiatives. They were even on tap to house unaccompanied migrant children from Central America. [16] Navy bases are the best and only option for decision makers to use in so many situations that have no resemblance to traditional naval missions. Their presence, individually and when used in concert with multiple installations, makes them a unique element of U.S. power.

Building the Future Force

“In building the future force, we will make institutional changes and take prudent risk as we balance investment in readiness, capability, and capacity.” CS21R [17]

None of this is to argue for or against a shift to shore power, be that defined as more bases, more funding for bases, or fewer deployable platforms. Nor is it to argue that such a shift is now underway. Rather, it’s a reminder of what could be described as the Navy’s real strategy, if your strategy is what you’re doing right now: Despite repeated emphasis on forward presence and warfighting, in 2016, the U.S. Navy spends the majority of its time and resources at shore installations in the United States. [18] These shore installations also have their own inherent strategy for self-sustainment, and provide an uncodified but vital national capability. They are the most enduring and most visible instruments of American sea power. Barring the most Stranglovian conflict scenario or a radical adjustment in the current course of budgets and funding, they will outlast the service life of today’s ships, sailors, and maritime strategies. The Navy’s future force has already been here for long time, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

 J. Overton is a civilian writer/editor for the U.S. Navy, and has been an adjunct professor for the Naval War College and Marine Corps Command and Staff College. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government.

[*] CS21R encompasses the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, but this essay focuses mainly on just the U.S. Navy. The other sea services have differing installation realities and requirements.

[1]    “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready” available at http://www.navy.mil/local/maritime/150227-CS21R-Final.pdf. Commander, Navy Installation Command (CNIC) has issued various Shore Investment Strategies or Strategic Guidance documents which focus on “warfighter” support and saving money rather than the range of installation missions. See “CNIC Visit to NAF Atsugi Reveals Navy Shore Priorities” at http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=87620 and  “Chief of Naval Operations Shore Investment Guidance” at http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/reference/messages/Documents/NAVADMINS/NAV2015/NAV15128.txt

[2] “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready,” pg.iii

[3] “The Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms” available at http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/new_pubs/jp1_02.pdf 

[4] Ron Ratcliff, “Strategy is Execution” (Newport: Naval War College, 2005), 1.

[5] “Status of the Navy” accessed on March 25, 2016 , available at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/nav_legacy.asp?id=146

[6] “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready” and “Department of the Navy Releases Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Proposal” available at  http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=85430

[7] J. Overton “Don’t Forget Seapower’s Dry Foundation”, The Northwest Navigator, August 19, 2011, pg. 4

[8] Commander, Navy Installation’s Command web site – http://cnic.navy.mil/about.html

[9]  “US Ship Force Levels” Naval History and Heritage Command http://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/us-ship-force-levels.html

[10] “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready” pg. 2

[11] “CNO: Navy is not pushing for BRAC” available at  http://archive.militarytimes.com/article/20140324/NEWS05/303240037/CNO-Navy-not-pushing-BRAC

[12] Walter Russell Mead, “America’s Sticky Power,” available at http://foreignpolicy.com/2009/10/29/americas-sticky-power/

[13]  “The Battle Is On to Save Military Bases from Closure” available at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/04/10/Battle-Save-Military-Bases-Closure  and “CNO: Navy is not pushing for BRAC”

[14] A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready” pg. i

[15] The Merriam-Websters Dictionary has a concise definition at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fleet%20in%20being), and the following Naval War College Review article has a more in-depth and nuanced discussion “The Idea of a Fleet in Being in Historical Perspective” https://www.usnwc.edu/getattachment/b128b7e6-aa98-494e-be55-8000ba30db29/The-Idea-of-a–Fleet-in-Being–in-Historical-Persp.aspx  

[16] “Navy Supports Firefighting Efforts and Families” at  http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=32740,  “NASNI Provides Makeshift Shelter Wildfire Victims” http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=32776 and “California naval base becomes home to detained Central American children at http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/13/us/children-immigrant-crisis/

[17] “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready” pg. 26

Featured Image: Naval Station Pearl Harbor. 

CIMSEC March Recap

CIMSEC

Announcements
CIMSEC February Recap by Dmitry Filipoff
Call for Articles: Naval HA/DR Topic Week by Dmitry Filipoff
CFAR 2016: And the Winners are… by Scott Cheney-Peters
Naval HA/DR Topic Week Kicks Off on CIMSEC by Dmitry Filipoff

Naval HA/DR Topic Week
Other Than War: HA/DR and Geopolitics by Joshua Tallis
Positioning Naval HA/DR in India’s Image Making by Vidya Sagar Reddy
How Lessons from HA/DR Can Prepare Naval Forces for Combat by Greg Smith
Applying Interagency Concepts from Domestic Disaster Response to Foreign HA/DR by Robert C. Rasmussen
Aligning HA/DR Mission Parameters with US Navy Maritime Strategy by CAPT John C. Devlin (ret.) and CDR John J. Devlin
A Proactive Approach to Deploying Naval Assets in Support of HA/DR Missions by Marjorie Greene
Enabling More Effective Naval Integration into Humanitarian Responses by David Polatty
The Challenges of Coming Together in a Crisis by David Broyles
Flattops Of Mercy by LCDR Josh Heivly
The Legacy of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami On U.S. Maritime Strategy by CDR Andrea H. Cameron

Podcasts
Real Time Strategy 5: Metal Solid V: The Phantom Pain
hosted by Bret Perry
Sea Control 111: Vietnam Era Drones (QH-50) hosted by Matt Hipple
Sea Control 112: Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper hosted by Natalie Sambhi
Sea Control 113: Abraham Lincoln’s Self-Education hosted by Matt Merighi

Interviews
Tom Ricks on Writing, Reading, and Military Innovation by Christopher Nelson
CIMSEC Interviews Larry Bond and Chris Carlson on Their New Novel, Wargaming, and More by Bret Perry

Member Round Up
February Members’ Roundup Part One by Sam Cohen
February Members’ Roundup Part Two by Sam Cohen
Member’s Roundup: March 2016 Part One by Sam Cohen

Events
14-18 March 2016 Events of Interest by Emil Maine
21-27 March 2016 Events of Interest by  Emil Maine
28 March- 3 April 2016 Events of Interest
by Emil Maine

Naval Affairs
The Aegis Warship: Joint Force Linchpin for IAMD and Access Control by John F. Morton
crossposted from NDU Joint Forces Quarterly
Series: 21st Century Maritime Operations under Cyber-Electromagnetic Operations by Jon Solomon
crossposted from Information Dissemination
Part One (Feb.)
Part Two (Feb.)
Part Three
Finale
Integrated Masts – The Next Generation Design for Naval Masts by Commander (Dr.) Nitin Agarwala
crossposted from Defencyclopedia
A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority” – A Coastie’s View by Chuck Hill
‘A Fiscal Pearl Harbor’ by Dr. Eric J. Labs
crossposted from U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings
Athena Project San Diego Innovation Jam Roundup by Dave Nobles
crossposted from the Athena Project

Asia-Pacific
A Comparative View of the Ancient and 21st Century Maritime Silk Roads by Mohid Iftikhar and Dr. Faizullah Abbasi
South Sea Fleet: The Emerging ‘Lynchpin’ of China’s Naval Power Projection in the Indo-Pacific by Gurpreet S. Khurana
crossposted from the National Maritime Foundation
The Nature of the PRC’s National Defense and Military Reform by Ching Chang
Singapore’s Fleet Modernization: Slow and Steady? by Paul Pryce
America’s Dilemma in Avoiding Confrontation in the East Asian Littoral by David Hervey
Transparency as Strategy: The Maritime Security Initiative and the South China Sea by Dr. Van Jackson, Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper, Paul Scharre, Harry Krejsa, and Jeff Chism
China’s Arctic Engagements: Differentiating from Reality and Apprehension by Adam MacDonald
crossposted from Conference for Defense Associations Institute

Africa
West African Navies Coming of Age? by Dirk Steffen

Middle East
Pakistan’s Navy: A Quick Look by Alex Calvo

Europe
A Call for an EU Auxiliary Navy – Under German Leadership by Dr. Sebastian Bruns

Western Hemisphere
Opinion: The Uses of the U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet by W. Alejandro Sanchez

Undersea
An Underwater Cloud by Alix Willimez

Reviews
Book Review: Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea by Alex Calvo
Red Phoenix Burning by Bret Perry
Practise To Deceive: Learning Curves of Military Deception Planners by LT Jake Bebber

Naval HA/DR Week Wrap Up

By Dmitry Filipoff

We hope our readers have gained a stronger appreciation of the importance and complexity of HA/DR missions through our topic week. Thank you again to all our contributors for producing their excellent articles, below is a list of the publications that featured during CIMSEC’s Naval Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief Topic Week. 

Other Than War: HA/DR and Geopolitics by Joshua Tallis
Positioning Naval HA/DR in India’s Image Making by Vidya Sagar Reddy
How Lessons from HA/DR Can Prepare Naval Forces for Combat by Greg Smith
Applying Interagency Concepts from Domestic Disaster Response to Foreign HA/DR by Robert C. Rasmussen
Aligning HA/DR Mission Parameters with US Navy Maritime Strategy by CAPT John C. Devlin (ret.) and CDR John J. Devlin
A Proactive Approach to Deploying Naval Assets in Support of HA/DR Missions by Marjorie Greene
Enabling More Effective Naval Integration into Humanitarian Responses by David Polatty
The Challenges of Coming Together in a Crisis by David Broyles
Flattops Of Mercy by LCDR Josh Heivly
The Legacy of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami On U.S. Maritime Strategy by CDR Andrea H. Cameron

Dmitry Filipoff is CIMSEC’s Director of Online Content. Contact the CIMSEC editorial team at Nextwar@cimsec.org.