Category Archives: New Initiatives

Our Final Kickstarter / Fundraising Update

Four months ago, we concluded our inaugural fundraising campaign.  The results too us aback; not only had we exceeded our initial fundraising goal by over 300%, but the support and enthusiasm from our members and the public reaffirmed our resolve in our mission.  On behalf the of the CIMSEC leadership team, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation for your support.

Since the conclusion of this fundraising campaign, we at CIMSEC have pressed on to expand our programming while maintaining our traditional content.  Last month, we published our first compendium on private security contractors at sea and have many more to release in the coming months.  Additionally, we leveraged our newly acquired resources to host the first annual CIMSEC Forum for Authors and Readers—an opportunity to expand the conversation regarding your favorite NextWar articles – and to further encourage maritime security education by sponsoring an essay scholarship contest exclusively for high school students.  Only three months into 2015, we think you’ll be excited to see what the rest of the year holds.

By now, all of our original Kickstarter backers should have received all of their respective rewards, with the most recent being the recipients of the official CIMSEC Drinking Implement (if not, the pint glass is in the mail!).  These were hand engraved with lasers (lasers!) by our very own President.  Additionally, we will be launching a new page on this site listing these generous original backers with their respective titles.  For backers who have not received all of their rewards or who have an issue with the spelling of their name (or would prefer to be anonymous), do not hesitate to contact us at treasurer[at]cimsec.org.

Again, the CIMSEC leadership team would like to reiterate our thanks for your support.  We look forward to what lies ahead and tackling this adventure alongside our members and readers.

Sincerely,
The CIMSEC Leadership Team

Members’ Roundup Part 17

Welcome back to another edition of the Members’ Roundup, where we share with the rest of the CIMSEC readership the great work that our members have produced elsewhere. From the geopolitical situation in the Indian Ocean region to military science-fiction, there will definitely be an article for every interest.

Automation has long colonised jobs that were once performed through manual labour; changes to military operations will be no less profound. In an article for a joint War on the rocks – Center for a New American Security on military robotics and autonomous weapons, Paul Scharre reminds us that beneath all of the technological developments is the human element driving the military application. Nations and militaries that are able to better understand the policy, strategic and operational challenges will be better placed to succeed on the battlefield. You can access his article here.

Over at Real Clear Defense, Emil Maine presents a stark assessment of the state of the  United States’ munition stockpile. According to Maine: ‘unless policy makers act to raise discretionary caps on defense in the upcoming fiscal year, the severity of weapon shortfalls will only intensify.’ Given that the preference by coalition partners is to avoid committing boots on the ground, there will be a future need for a consistent supply of munitions in order to sustain the current rate of operations.

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Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 crews prepare for another mission against ISIS.

This week we have two contributions from Vijay Sakhuja. The first is an article for the National Maritime Foundation, based in India, and it analyses the bilateral relationship between India and the Seychelles.  President James Michel’s Blue Economy project presents many opportunities for cooperation, but how this will be implemented is the challenge. The second article features in the Nikkei Asian Review; Vijay discusses the nature of Chinese infrastructure development in the Indian Ocean region and the ‘maritime silk road.’ In spite of growing tensions, many Asian countries continue to invite Chinese investment, leading to a win-win situation.

CIMSEC’s very own Scott Cheney-Peters features in this week’s edition of the Roundup with his short story “Red Light Challenge” published on the Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare website. The story is about a start-up team’s journey, with undertones of a hacker counterculture amongst the members, as they begin designing a flight-capable exoskeleton for the military. Throughout the piece, however, we see the human side during the project development; each character has their own traits and reasons for participating in the challenge. You can read Scott’s story here, as well as a follow-up interview about it here.

Sea ChangeThe Indo-Pacific region is rapidly emerging as a key focus of maritime geopolitics. In June last year, the Stimson Center and the Observer Research Foundation co-hosted a three-day conference titled Sea Change: Evolving Maritime Geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Region. Two CIMSECians were invited to speak at the event; Scott Cheney Peters presented a paper on U.S. security relationships in the region and Nilanthi Samaranayake presented on the strategic importance of island states in a region of great powers. A copy of the publication can be accessed through the Stimson Center’s website.

In the latest Proceedings MagazineJohn Morton explains that the Third Offset Strategy needs more Mahanian thinking than meets the eye. Mahanian doctrine holds that a properly conceived national interest reflects the foundational sinews and national establishment of the era and must inform implicit long-term grand strategy. Today, the information age and globalised economy are what is important for long-term prosperity. You can read more of John’s article here.

Over at The National Interest there are three CIMSECians whose work I wish to draw attention to for this week’s edition of the Roundup. Zachary Keck reports that most Chinese citizens believe the PLA could seize islands in the East and South China Seas, even if the U.S. military were to intervene in the conflict. Earlier in the week, Keck cited a Heritage Foundation report that assessed America only had ‘marginal’ capacity to defend vital interests in the current threat environment. You can access that post here. Harry Kazianis continues the theme with an assessment of sequestration’s affect on America’s military readiness. Across the board, munitions levels are considerably low and it risks putting lives in danger. It is not, however, all doom and gloom. You can read more of Harry’s article to find out why. Kyle Mizokami presents his own roundup of the Top 5 most deadly anti-ship missiles of all time.

Finally, a quick and shameless spruik for my own work over at Young Australians in International Affairs. Earlier this week I wrote a blog post posing the question of what Australia’s military would look like if there was an opportunity to start with a blank canvas. Many of us in the military understand that force structure and procurement are constrained by fiscal and structural realities, but sometimes it is important to break down the fundamental requirements of national defence to truly understand what is needed to achieve the task.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Members’ Roundup Part 16

 Welcome back to another edition of the Members’ Roundup where we disseminate to you, the great work that CIMSECians have had published elsewhere. We have a variety of topics presented this week, ranging from the Eurozone financial crisis to Russia’s new aircraft carrier. Of note for this week’s edition we would like to welcome one of CIMSEC’s newest members: Milosz Reterski.
In an article for Jane’s, Milosz discusses the vulnerabilities of geonavigation systems such as GPS and GLONASS. Miniaturization and affordability of high-end electronics are putting GNSS  disruption capabilities into the hands of non-state actors—organized criminal groups and insurgents. Despite the introduction of new systems such as eLoran and atomic clocks to harden GNSS, future attacks will be mobile and deniable, and will “swarm” to create frequent degradations in systems that may then lead to permanent damage. Jane’s full content is through subscription only. Otherwise you can request for an instruction through this link.
Kuznetsov
The Russian Navy currently has only one aircraft carrier – the Admiral Kuznetsov. Launched in 1985 under the USSR, it features a ski ramp for aircraft launch. It is believed that Russia’s new carrier will utilise a catapult system.

In the news this week it was reported that Russia is looking at building a new aircraft carrier. Zachary Keck, of The National Interest,  writes this has been confirmed by the head of the Russian Navy. Currently, the Russian Navy only operates a single carrier (pictured below) that was launched in 1985 under the Soviet Union. In the past decade Russia has undertaken a massive program of military modernisation and this announcement will certainly assist in achieving this goal. You can read more on Zachary’s article here.

Over at War is Boring, Kyle Mizokami writes that North Korea may have a significantly high number of nuclear weapons – far more than was previously believed. This report is based on information provided by a former State Department official and it always difficult to accurately assess the true state of the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear arsenal. At the very minimum, the report represents a road map to what North Korea wants and, if true, has dire consequences for the strategic balance in the region. You can access Kyle’s article here.

Annapolis-based CIMSECian, David Wise, shares with us an article featured on the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies’ website. It deals primarily with the financial and debt crisis in the Eurozone. For the maritime security junkies amongst our readership, David does conclude with how  this could have an effect on the positioning of the Russian fleet. You can access his article here.

On The National Interest’s website, Robert Farley provides a 5-step guide to building a world-class navy. Requirements of a blue-water have come a long way from the days of establishing coal stations on the far side of the world, but much of the logic remains the same. The basic requirements, according to Farley, are: undersea warfare, logistics, air assets, strike capability, and experience.

Over at Signal Magazine, James Stavridis of the Fletcher Law School, shares some thoughts on the Navy’s newest ‘innovation’ department. Under the official title of ‘Task Force Innovation’, Stavridis raises some poignant questions about who should fill the billets. Should it be personnel already screened for promotion? He also suggests that whoever is involved should fight to be heard by the Secretary. You can access the article here.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Members’ Roundup Part 15

Welcome back to another edition of the Members’ Roundup. This week we have a variety of topics covered by CIMSECians around the globe. From developments in anti-ship missiles to land reclamation in the South China Sea, here is a roundup of the must-read articles for the weekend.

Darshana Baruah returns this week with another post over at The Diplomat. As Darshana describes, ‘small islands dotting the Indian Ocean are emerging at the center stage of great power politics unfolding in the Indian Ocean Region.’ As China looks to expand its presence beyond the South China Sea, here is a list of islands that can support China support its aims. You can access the article here.

When Air-Sea Battle was publicly introduced into the nomenclature of strategic thinking there was a flurry of criticism, both from a diplomatic perspective as well as commentary on the effectiveness of the concept as a whole. With ASB’s redesignation as JAM-GC (Joint Concept for Access & Maneuvre in the Global Commons) Himanil Raina explains how the Army can contribute. You can access the article through the Centre for Land Warfare Studies.

China continues land reclamation in Johnson South Reef in the South China Sea, otherwise known as the Mabini Reef by the Philippines and Chigua Reef by China.
China continues land reclamation in Johnson South Reef in the South China Sea, otherwise known as the Mabini Reef by the Philippines and Chigua Reef by China.

Mira Rapp-Hooper, Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, continues to inform with an analysis of ‘before and after’ imagery of several reefs in the South China Sea. All of the land reclamation involved has not gone without notice and is publicly acknowledged by the Chinese. Confidence building measures (CBM) have been agreed to by the Chinese and the United States, aimed at reducing accidents and the risk of escalation. The goal of these measures, however, are wider reaching and are non-binding. As Mira explains, the best sign these CBMs are working may be if we don’t hear much about them at all. You can access her article here.

A Norwegian Coast Guard vessel patrols the Arctic.
A Norwegian Coast Guard vessel patrols the Arctic.

James Stavridis, retired Admiral and Dean of the Fletcher Law School, recently returned from a voyage through the Drake Passage (between South America and Antarctica) and penned his thoughts about the state of the southern landmass. Antarctica continues with broad international consensus on its future and there is no conflict over the area. So what can be learned from this place and how can it be applied to the Arctic, where tensions are rising over claims and resources. You can access the article here at Foreign Policy.

Over at The National Interest Harry Kazianis begins a new series looking into the security competition that has been developing between the United States and China. With all the recent media attention on ISIS and the situation in Ukraine it is easy to miss the signs of the competition brewing between two of the world’s largest powers.

Lockheed Martin is currently working on a sub-launched variant of the LRASM
Lockheed Martin is currently working on a sub-launched variant of the LRASM

Over at The National Interest, Zachary Keck reports that the US Navy is seeking a submarine-launched stealth anti-ship missile. It is believed that the missile is based on Lockheed’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). You can read more about this development here.

Finally, a quick plug for my own work for this week’s edition. Earlier this week the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott released his National Security Statement. It certainly sets the tone for the current Government’s security agenda but it raises more questions, than answers, in the Australian Security debate. You can access my post here on the YAIIA Insights blog.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Members’ Roundup Part 14

Welcome back to another edition of the Members’ Roundup where we disseminate the works that CIMSEC members have published elsewhere. This week there is a variety of topics covered by our members and will make interesting reading for the weekend.

Continuing the theme of professional debate about the naval profession, CIMSECian Will Beasely adds some observations from history. From the golden age of professions developing to the think tanks and forums of today, Beasely extracts the issues faced by the ‘Young Turks’ of each generation. Whilst the character of the challenges may be different the fundamental logic remains the same. This article, featured on The Bridge, is certainly an interesting reflection from a civilian navalist on the topic. You can access Will’s article here.

Patrick Truffer returns this week with an article assessing whether NATO’s eastward expansion broke a promise made to the Soviet Union at the time of German reunification. Contemporary Russian analysts have echoed this sentiment and President Vladimir Putin has made similar claims in recent speeches. You can read his article at Offiziere.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Singapore mutiny, an event that would be a catalyst for other developments for Asian politics, Singaporean thinking on security, the role of Japan in Asia and nationalist sentiment in Asia. Over at The Diplomat Joseph Hammond explains how this event, costing the lives of 47 British soldiers and civilians to suppress, continues to influence Asia today. You can access his article here.

Earlier this month National Security Advisor Susan Rice unveiled the Obama administration’s National Security Strategy. CIMSECian and Bavevich Fellow at CNAS, Jacob Stokes, provide some initial thoughts on the document. You can access his article here at The National Interest.

Dr Ashton Carter was sworn in as the 25th Secretary of Defense several days ago. CNAS has compiled a report titled ‘Ideas to Action: Suggestions for the 25th Secretary of Defense’ to help the new SECDEF and his team navigate the challenges faced by the Pentagon. Contributors for the report include CIMSECians Jerry Hendrix and Jacob Stokes. You can access the report here.

As many States around the globe continue to modernise their fleets and invest billions in military equipment, Harry Kazianis, asks whether submarines will become obsolete. With advancements in undersea detection technology and the cost of sound-minimisation methods ever increasing, naval planners may have to return to the drawing board and rethink how to plan for undersea warfare. You can access his post here, at The National Interest.

Recent debate of future naval warfare has been dominated by discussion on the role of aircraft carriers (as well as their vulnerabilities). Over at The Diplomat, Himanil Raina, reminds us why it is important to remember the utility of surface warfare combatants.

Dean of the Fletcher School, James Stavridis, returns in this week’s roundup with his assessment of ‘the most dangerous country in the world.’ In Signal, Stavridis explains why the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea is the most dangerous country in the world at the moment. You can access the article here.

Dave Majumdar returns this week with two articles, both featured online at The Daily Beast. The first discusses a scandal involving a former U.S. Air Force intelligence chief. The second article continues the nuclear debate; the Pentagon continues its campaign of modernizing its nuclear arsenal despite President Obama’s goal of reducing U.S. reliance on its nuclear arsenal for security. That was a goal made during the early days of his presidency and unless his views on the matter have changed then ‘someone forgot to tell his Pentagon about it,’ to use Dave’s word. You can access that article here.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Stumbling on Peace: The exposition of strategic misstep

This article is part of a series hosted by The Strategy Bridge and CIMSEC, entitled #Shakespeare and Strategy. See all of the entries at the Asides blog of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Thanks to the Young Professionals Consortium for setting up the series.

Siward confronts GruachDavid Greig’s Dunsinane, while set in the centuries-ago land of Scotland, offers a modern perspective on the nature of war, peace, language, and politics. The events of the production explore the interplay between Siward, commander of English forces in Scotland, Malcolm, the English-installed King of Scotland, and Gruach, formerly both Lady Macbeth and queen of Scotland. Through several rounds and layers of intrigue, Gruach sows enough discord and mayhem to keep English forces at bay. Malcolm, for his part, does his best to engage with Siward in an attempt to illustrate that the use of overwhelming force is not always tenable. After a betrayal late in the first act, the second act functions as an extended denouement, with less action and less emotion. Indeed, the conclusion of the play, with a wandering Siward numbly stumbling out of the scene, parallels the endings to French and U.S. operations in Vietnam, Russian and ISAF campaigns in Afghanistan, UN experiences in Somalia, and the US adventure in Iraq.1

Nuanced allegiances come to the fore in the first act when Siward and Malcolm discuss their own perceived strengths. Siward wishes for Malcolm to act forcefully and seriously, rather than be thought of as a drunken playboy. Malcolm’s subsequent lecture on the desirability of being perceived as weak while operating from a position of strength mirrors current discussions on the rise of Chinese power in the Pacific, echoing Sun Tzu’s exhortation to “appear weak when you are strong.”

The arbiter of the legitimate exercise of violence in Scotland owes more effort than simply appreciating Gaelic songs and lilts.

That Malcolm channels Sun Tzu is not an accident — throughout the play, Malcolm uses a longer, strategic vision of conflict, whereas Siward focuses on the operational level. Siward initially senses that, having “ended” the fighting through the regime change at the end of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, peace is nigh for Scotland and its clans. Throughout the play, Siward’s lack of vision and misunderstanding of the country that he now occupies enables Gruach and the Scottish clan leaders to undermine the English vision for peace. Gruach’s admonition at the end of the play — “you’ve been in Scotland a year, and you still don’t know the language!” — drives home the point that Siward, as the arbiter of the legitimate exercise of violence in Scotland, owes more effort than simply appreciating Gaelic songs and lilts.

Siward’s lieutenant, the tactical supervisor, has no appreciation for Scotland beyond its resources and his survival. He realizes through collaboration with his ostensible foes along with exploitation of war trophies that he has no investment in Scotland, and indeed survives through tactical fits of inaction. His inaction comes back to haunt him at the end of the first act, when, after witnessing a brutally treacherous and suicidal act, he helplessly cries out “we have got to get the fuck out of here,” an exclamation that could be heard on any of a dozen fields of quagmire.2


The slower, more deliberate second act has a scene with the line

“We win because if we don’t win – we lose – and if we lose – then what?”

Here again the play foreshadows discourse about assumptions of a zero-sum world of power. In instances such as China’s increasing influence in the Pacific and the adventures of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, there exists a tendency to leave alternatives to military-centric actions on the table. This unexamined default course of action leads to a path dependency wherein strategic leaders are stuck; they cannot simply withdraw, nor can they simply win. Strategic leaders in those situations, as Malcolm remarks about the English in Scotland, are committed to an extended dance of saving face. In this case — as well with Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, et al — peace operations entail vastly increased losses of materiel, personnel, and treasure.

Greig acknowledges the creeping existential dread that has accompanied interventions since Korea.

Put another way, assumptions of power as a zero-sum game are increasingly outmoded.3 Dunsinane anticipates requirements for transitioning towards alternative concepts of power and peace. Interestingly, through Siward’s downward spiral, Greig acknowledges the creeping existential dread that has accompanied interventions since Korea. In doing so, he makes the case that hard, coercive methods may only have existed as an effective means of exerting power and making peace for a narrow slice of the early 20th century.

Dunsinane’s last and most vivid impression — that of the formerly upright and powerful Siward stumbling around a frozen loch, trying to “find a new country” — conjures images of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent in the mid 20th century, with former powers retreating from far-flung lands and their subsequent search for a new identity. At the same time, Siward’s search for “a new country” calls to mind Hamlet’s “undiscovered country” of a life after death. Judging from Grieg’s narrative, newly post-colonial countries may indeed have to undergo a rebirth if their Siwards are to find peace.


LT Vic Allen serves at the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command and serves as CIMSEC’s Director of Social Media. He can be followed at Medium here. All posts contain the authors’ opinions alone and do not represent any of the military services or the Department of Defense.

1. Ramberg, B. (2009). The Precedents for Withdrawal: From Vietnam to Iraq. Foreign Affairs, 88, 2.

2. The mostly civilian audience laughed at this line, which struck me as oddly incongruent with the sad and violent end of the first act.

3. Read, J. H. (2012). Is Power Zero-sum or Variable-sum? Old Arguments and New Beginnings. Journal of Political Power, 5(1), 5-31. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1900717

Scotland, Counter-Insurgency, and Sea Control

This article is part of a series hosted by The Strategy Bridge and CIMSEC, entitled #Shakespeare and Strategy. See all of the entries at the Asides blog of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Thanks to the Young Professionals Consortium for setting up the series.

1_FYwDrMPjtw8FffAcTb8iwQWhen curtains close on Shakespeare’s 1606 The Tragedy of Macbeth, audiences are left to ponder the fate of Scotland. Contemporaries of the playwright were well aware of the Union of the Crowns a mere three years prior in 1603, uniting the rule of England and Ireland under James the VI, King of the Scots. But few could claim to know the events that followed Macbeth’s toppling by the hands of an English army half a millennium earlier. Part of the problem is that as with many popular pieces on Scottish history, such as Braveheart, a factual recounting – if one could be determined in the first place – is sacrificed to good story-telling.

Dunsinane, written by David Greig and playing in an excellent National Theatre of Scotland production at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harmon Hall in Washington, DC, through February 21st, brings a few elements of the story closer to what is known: Macbeth ruled for over 15 years and wasn’t widely considered a tyrant. The narrative largely picks up where Macbeth left off, chronicling England’s attempt to establish a friendly regime across its northern border and the subsequent insurgency and counter-insurgency campaigns. Greig uses this context to explore military, political, and moral themes (more on those later) quite familiar to those who’ve lived through or in the shadows of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But what does sea power have to do with a land war and occupation of physical territory? A monologue from a boy soldier opens the show:

“We boarded our ships at the Thames mouth.
There were two thousand of us and also
Some horses for the knights to ride and animals
For us to slaughter on the way.

_MG_0095 (2)We stood on the Essex shore a mess of shingle,
Some of us new and eager for a fight and others
Not so sure but all of us both knowing and not knowing

What lay ahead of us.

Scotland.

Scotland. Where we would install a king.

…..

Of the river Forth and we landed in a place called Fife –
Which is wild compared to Kent –
And there we camped in woods near the abbey of Inchocolm.

And waited until at last he came to us – Siward
Our commander – and he told the sergeants it was time
To prepare us to fight.

Clearly sealift and local sea control can smooth the path for an initial military assault. The sea journey described above is just shy of 400 nm, and would have taken far less time than a northward march, thereby increasing the chance the expedition maintains some element of surprise. Whether the landing force is completely unexpected or merely arrives sooner after word reaches Macbeth and his advisors at Dunsinane, seat of his power, the force would have faced less entrenched and ready resistance. Additionally, had Macbeth received early warning, the mobility afforded by the sea would still have allowed the expedition some latitude in choosing where to disembark – a perennial complication for military planners facing an amphibious landing, from the American revolutionaries accounting for the movements of the British to Nazi Germany awaiting the Americans.

Invasion by sea would also have impacted the campaigns’ logistics. The initial requirements for foodstuffs and military supplies would have been greater than on a march, which could have offered a mix of supplies provided by other vassals when available and foraging in their absence. But the fact that the force set off from Essex indicates many of the forces were raised by southern nobles, easing the burden on the expedition’s northern commander, Siward, Earl of Northumbria. A march through his lands, bordering Scotland, would also have risked engendering a hostile populace enroute that might have joined Macbeth’s cause.

As in a later invasion of Scotland during the (2nd) English Civil War, the sealift could have been retained for resupply over open sea lines of communication (SLOCs) to limit the need of the expedition to disperse and forage after landing. It is unclear in Dunsinane whether the ships were kept at hand. But indications are that the English did not anticipate a long phase of contested nation-building to defend their installed king’s regime, and likely expected to rely on Siward’s neighboring realms as the situation changed. They may also have believed local sea control and predictable SLOCs would be challenged by other powers such Norway, which commanded more allegiance from some Scottish chiefs than the king at Dunsinane. This allegiance in turn was easier to command when, due to Scotland’s extensive coastlines, sea control could be no more than a localized or transitory thing, meaning other foreign powers could provide even overt support to prop up local proxies with little risk of interception.

Whether fleeting or near-absolute, a mastery of the waves confers both advantages and dangers. When it comes unchallenged at the start of a campaign it can breed an overconfidence that the rest of the endeavor will be as easy. Additionally, while command of the seas can be a great enabler in projecting power against an enemy state, it is of more limited use if a war transitions to a counter-insurgency phase where the nexus of success resides with the support of the people. This is not to say it’s of no use – the success of the U.S. counter-insurgency campaigns in the Philippine-American War were possible only through extensive naval activities – but unhindered SLOCs could only set the stage in cases such as Vietnam and Iraq, where what happened ashore was in many ways divorced from what happened at sea. It’s a lesson those eying an enemy (or wayward province) across the waters would do well to remember.

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In Dunsinane, sea power is a minor character, and the end of major combat operations it supported does not mark the beginning of peace. That comes with acceptance of defeat by the enemy, which as Clausewitz notes cannot always be imposed through the mere “total occupation of his territory.” And, as the German states learned in the Franco-Prussian War, the destruction of a regime’s forces can create a power vacuum filled by those even more loathe to throw in the towel. In the face of a recalcitrant foe, an occupier that increases its stay tempts provoking the people and swelling the ranks of the enemy.

While Siward and the English may have factored in the risk of rising resentment in their decision to invade by sea, they seem to overlook that of outlasting their welcome. In lines that could have been taken from The Accidental Guerilla, a book by Gen. Petraeus’s senior counter-insurgency advisor, David Kilcullen, Siward’s subordinate Egham says:

They’re not fighting us because of their Queen. They’re fighting us because we’re here. The Scots will fight anyone who’s standing in front of them. They like fighting. In fact – they’re fighting us partly because we’re stopping them from fighting each other.

Image-5 470x394Successful insurgencies and counter-insurgencies make this fighting personal. The former try to provoke an emotional (over-) response from the latter, while the later try to win the hearts and minds (or at least acquiescence) of the people through a return to a semblance of normalcy. In the forthcoming novel Ghost Fleet, by Peter Singer and August Cole, which also draws inspiration from the recent decades of counter-insurgency, a colonel chides another commander for “taking the losses from the insurgency personally…missing [the] greater responsibilities.” The death of Siward’s son at the beginning of the play makes the campaign immediately personal for him. While he and Egham both try to protect their men from harm by seeking accommodation with their former enemy, once the blood of their comrades is spilled in the insurgency phase Siward quickly goes through the seven stages of grief to punitive violence.

I don’t have as much experience with counter-insurgency as others writing in this series do, so I can’t say with certainty how I would handle the personal nature of it. Twice – in 2009 and in 2015 – I was ordered to spend a year with the war in Afghanistan, but twice those orders were cancelled – after 1 week and 4 hours respectively (I learned after the first time to wait awhile before telling my wife, just to be sure). But I’ve been lucky. Sailors by the thousands have been called from Active Duty assignments and the Reserve to serve in the counter-insurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some are still being sent to the latter to this day. This is to say nothing of the contributions of the U.S. Marine Corps. Sea control may not make much difference in the counter-insurgency campaigns of Dunsinane or Afghanistan, but at the individual level the line between sea power and land power, between sailor and soldier, has blurred.


Scott Cheney-Peters is a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and the former editor of Surface Warfare magazine. He is the founder and president of the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC), a graduate of Georgetown University and the U.S. Naval War College, and a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council.