By Brody Blankenship
The Navy is the foundation of America’s expeditionary capability, therefore it will continue to be an integral component of military force in any conflict. However, this amazing force has been mismanaged and deflated beyond optimal limits, leaving the incoming administration much to fix and a disproportionately small budget. But while it is important to focus on the ships, aircraft, sensors, etc., the sailors, Marines, and civilians who support them are the key components for maritime success. Focus on personnel effectiveness and efficiency, making sure the best and brightest are put in positions of responsibility where meaningful decisions can be made. Innovation of necessary tools will follow only after this issue is properly managed.
Also, review naval history; not only that of the United States, but navies throughout the world. There is much today that has been around for ages, yet new titles and buzzwords seduce leaders to reinvent the wheel. Understand the basics of the Navy and its purpose as a part of the armed forces, and look to integrate warfare domains and services as much as possible, bringing the full power of American military might to bear on all who seek to challenge the national interest. Use the Navy as a true political tool in every capacity, and draw from its deep roster of talented and diverse people and capabilities. Understand our adversaries and potential adversaries, and analyze their activity in the maritime domain, looking to counter any strategy that may threaten the United States. Maritime laws will continue to be challenged, and the Navy must be the leader of ensuring the freedom of the seas, as they are essential to the national and global economies. Be clear when passing rules of engagement to the Navy’s leaders, ensuring that the enemies of the United States fear the destructive retribution of the U.S. Navy much more than its commanders fear the politics. This means the administration must be willing to accept full responsibility for operational actions and consequences, many of which will be unintended and unforeseen.
Finally, accept risks and welcome change. Oust careerists who fail to see the bigger picture, and reward those who are willing to lay it on the line in pursuit of national gains. Aggressive military leaders are most effective, as history has proven. Civilians often forget that these leaders do not need to be politically correct to be effective; that’s not in the job description.
Brody Blankenship is a Senior Research Specialist at CNA Corporation and a veteran of Naval Special Warfare. He is currently a Master’s candidate at The George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs, where he studies the Middle East and International Security issues. The views expressed here are his own.
Featured Image: PACIFIC OCEAN (April 23, 2011) Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Bowen Derik, assigned to the Wild Cards of Helicopter Sea Combat squadron (HSC) 23, watches the amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7) as it pulls out of Tonga after completing the first mission of Pacific Partnership 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Grandin/Released)