Category Archives: New Initiatives

Members’ Roundup Part 11

Welcome back to another edition of the Member Roundup. For those readers who have recently joined CIMSEC, or have just started reading the NextWar blog, this series seeks to promote the works that CIMSECians have published or been involved in on other sites. These include blog posts, journal articles, interviews and podcasts.

The roundup usually consists of articles and blog posts. This edition will be the first to feature a podcast with CIMSECians as panel members. Scott Cheney-Peters and Mira Rapp-Hooper (CSIS) were joined by Bryan McGrath of the Hudson Institute’s Centre for American Seapower, as well as RADM Mike Devitt (retd.) from CNA. The discussion ranged from maritime boundary and territorial disputes to the balance of seapower in Asia. You can stream and/or download the podcast here.

The Center for a New American Security’s Bavevich Fellow, Jacob Stokes, co-authored a policy brief titled ‘Slow Thaw: Testing Possibilities for Cooperation with Iran After a Nuclear Deal.’ The policy brief explores sources of disagreement and continued obstacles to cooperation, despite progress being made in the nuclear area. An analysis of possible areas of cooperation is presented, particularly within maritime security and the stability of Afghanistan. Finally, the paper provides a set of recommendations on how to maintain a positive relationship moving forward. You can access it via CNAS.

A flight of Aggressor F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons fly in formation. The jets are assigned to the 64th and 65th Aggressor squadrons at Nellis Air Force Base.
A flight of Aggressor F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons fly in formation. The jets are assigned to the 64th and 65th Aggressor squadrons at Nellis Air Force Base.

Over at The Daily Beast, freelance Defense reporter (and CIMSECian) Dave Majumdar reports that the U.S. Air Force are considering hiring military contractors in order to train their fighter pilots. There are some mixed opinions within the military in pursuing this type of training support. Certainly, those who have a background or interest in training and simulation will find this an interesting read.

Additionally, in a roundup of his own Dave assesses the top 4 weapons in the U.S. arsenal that should be retired. These include the Classic or “legacy” F-18 Hornets (A, B, C & D), as well as the M16 and M4 family of rifles. For a dissenting opinion on the M4 family of rifles, you might find this post over at War is Boring an interesting counter to Dave’s argument.

Finally, Zachary Keck from The National Interest returns with four posts for this week’s roundup. The first is his analysis of the top  5 U.S. Weapons of War Iran should fear. The second is a report that Russia’s Nuclear forces conduct surprise drill. Alliances are not perfect; here is Keck’s analysis of the 5 Most Precarious U.S. Allies of all time. Finally, the truth is revealed on how China purchased the Liaoning, its first aircraft carrier.

An officer maintains lookout on China's aircraft carrier, Liaoning, during initial sea trials.
An officer maintains lookout on China’s aircraft carrier, Liaoning, during initial sea trials.

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


Experimenting With Multinational Mothership Ops

The following was reported by the German navy blog Marine Forum:

“8 January, PIRACY– Anti-Piracy Forces: Sweden is preparing for another mission (M-04) in support of EU operation “Atalanta”, this time working jointly with the Netherlands navy … COMBAT BOAT 90 fast interceptor craft, helicopters and 70 personnel to embark on Netherlands Navy dock landing ship JOHAN DE WITT.”

As you may recall, I have advocated using WPCs supported by a mother ship to supplement the larger cutters for distant drug interdiction operations.

The U.S. Coast Guard has has done cooperative counter drug operations with the Dutch Navy in the past. Early last year, the Netherlands OPV Zeeland embarked both a CG LEDET and a CG helo det.

Perhaps we could run a test using the Johan de Witt or her sister ship Rotterdam to try out the mothership concept. Their crew size is similar to that of the National Security Cutters (less than that of the Hamilton class), but they have berthing for hundreds more. They have aviation facilities for up to six helicopters. They can handle boats from both davits and a well deck. They have excellent Command and Control facilities.

“The ships have a complete Class II hospital, including an operating theater and intensive care facilities. A surgical team can be stationed on board.” 

That could make them welcome in a lot of ports.

L 801 Johan de Witt Uploaded by Oxyman
L 801 Johan de Witt Uploaded by Oxyman

Would the Dutch be interested? The Dutch Navy has already demonstrated its commitment to counter-drug trafficking. They have used these ships several times for counter-piracy. Counter-drug operations are not that much different, and piracy seems to be in decline. When it was being finished, there were reports that the Dutch wanted to sell the Johan de Witt. Operating off Latin America might be seen as an opportunity to demonstrate both this class and the Netherlands’ ship building expertise in an international market.

What might the experimental effort include? In addition to the mothership, perhaps three MH-65s, add a mix of Webber class WPCs, WPBs, Response Boat Mediums (RB-M), and Navy Riverine Command Boats (the U.S. Navy version of the Combatboat 90).

In addition to its counter-drug objectives, the deployment might be seen as a partnership station effort, training as well as working with the locals, and if there should be a natural disaster while they are in the area, it would be a ready-made Coast Guard response.


This post can be found in its original form on Chuck Hill’s Coast Guard Blog

Members’ Roundup Part 10

Welcome back to another edition of the Members’ Roundup. There is an array of contributors featured in this week’s post. Topics range from exoskeletons in the Navy to assessing China’s nuclear arsenal. To kick off proceedings Natalie Sambhi, an analyst for the Australian Strategic Policy Insitute, has her own roundup of sorts called ‘ASPI suggests’ and provides a quick review of recent foreign policy and military developments.

With 2015 just beginning it is prudent that plans set in motion several years prior are reviewed and readjusted. The Center for Strategic & International Studies recently published a report on how the Administration and Congress can work together to sustain engagement with Asia. CIMSECian, Mira Rapp-Hooper, co-authors a chapter explaining how to adequately resource the Defense aspect the ‘pivot’.

Of concern is the People’s Republic of China’s growing military power, of which its nuclear arsenal is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Kyle Mizokami writes whilst the nuclear force is modernising it is still relatively modest compared to other nuclear powerhouses, such as Russia and the United States. Kyle explores the history of Chinese nuclear pursuits and analyses some of the weapons in the nuclear arsenal in a post for The National Interest.

BNS Sao Paulo, the flagship of the Brazilian Navy
BNS Sao Paulo, the flagship of the Brazilian Navy

Over at Offiziere Canada-based CIMSECian, Paul Pryce, analyses recent developments of the Brazilian Navy. He argues that the label of a ‘green water’ navy was accurate in decades past but modernisation plans, however, suggest that it is well on its way to earning the ‘blue water’ title. You can access his article here.

Manpower issues will continue to be of concern for all military planners and leadership at all levels remains important during times of transition. Over at War on the rocksJimmy Drennan provides some thoughts on how to best provide leadership for personnel during ‘super deployments’ – deployments that are 9 months or longer.

Bringing the focus back to our Coast Guard colleagues, Chuck Hill continues to inform us of developments within the constabulary side  of the maritime domain. With recent debate of the LCS’ development, Chuck asks whether the Coast Guard should rethink how it designates its vessels. For the unmanned systems advocates out there, Chuck tells us that the US Customs and Border Protection Agency’s unmanned air systems program has failed to live up to expectations. You can access that post here and further discussion on the topic here.

Lockheed Martin created the FORTIS exoskeleton, which can boost worker productivity up to 27 times.
Lockheed Martin created the FORTIS exoskeleton, which can boost worker productivity up to 27 times.

Defence industry has been developing high-tech robotic suits to enhance the capability of the average soldier. There are, however, unrealised potential for ‘exosuits’ or ‘exoskeletons’  exists within HADR and shipborne operations. The Center for a New American Security has recently published a report titled ‘Between Iron Man and Aqua Man’ and was co-authored by our very own Scott Cheney-Peters. This report will certainly open one’s eyes to other applications for the emerging technology beyond its use in combat. You can also see further discussion on the topic in Scott’s post at War on the rocks.

Continuing in the same vein as his ‘Feast of Salami and Cabbage’ article in late 2014, Scott Cheney-Peters, provides clarification to the legal jargon used within maritime disputes. For those without a background in the maritime realm or an understanding of international law this article will provide a layman’s guide to those terms being used by those in the field. This post is the first instalment in a partnership with The National Interest and you can access it here.

Finally, it would not be a CIMSEC roundup without the ‘Pacific Realist’ featuring in the post. Zachary Keck returns with four contributions this week. The first is reporting that the DPRK wants to acquire Russian fighter aircraft. The second post is Keck’s roundup of the top 5 weapons in the US arsenal that Russia should fear. The third reports that there is good evidence to suggest that the DPRK will continue to test nuclear weapons. In the final contribution, Keck summarises the various insights offered during a panel discussion on national security in the changing media landscape. You can access that article here.

One of the 'Top 5': Ohio-class submarine USS Michigan (SSBN 727) prepares to dry dock, 2002.
One of the ‘Top 5′: Ohio-class submarine USS Michigan (SSBN 727) prepares to dry dock, 2002.

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


Re-Post: Surface Warfare: Taking the Offensive

Guest article by VADM Thomas S. Rowden, USN from June, 2014. Re-Posted during the SNA National Symposium this week.

I am indebted to the leadership of CIMSEC for providing a platform for me and senior members of my team at OPNAV N96 to lay out for readers key parts of our vision for the future direction of Surface Warfare. Captain Jim Kilby started it off with “Surface Warfare: Lynchpin of Naval Integrated Air/Missile Defense”, and Captain Charlie Williams followed up with “Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) – The Heart of Surface Warfare” and “Increasing Lethality in Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)”.   Both of these officers were recently selected for flag rank, and the Surface Force could not be more fortunate. Their years of fleet experience in these mission areas uniquely qualify them to lead our force in the future. Together with our continuing mastery of land attack and maritime security operations, the three operational thrusts they describe a Surface Force that is moving from a primarily defensive posture to one on the offense. This is an exciting development, and I want to spend a few paragraphs reinforcing their messages.

The single most important warfighting advantage that the U.S. Navy brings to the joint force is the ability to project significant amounts of combat power from the sea, thousands of miles from our own shores on relatively short notice and with few geo-political restraints. No one else can do this, and for the better part of two decades, our ability to do so was unchallenged. Without this challenge, our mastery of the fundamentals of sea control—searching for and killing submarines, over the horizon engagement of enemy fleets, and long range air and missile defense—diminished, even as the world figured out that the best way to neutralize this power projection advantage was to deny us the very seas in which we operate.

Surface Warfare must “go on the offensive” in order to enable future power projection operations. I call this “offensive sea control” and it takes into consideration that in future conflict, we may have to fight to get forward, fight through our own lines, and then fight to stay forward. Pieces of ocean will come to be seen as strategic, like islands and ports, and we will offensively “seize” these maritime operating areas to enable further offensive operations. Put another way, no one viewed the amphibious landings in the Pacific in WWII as “defensive”; there was broad understanding that their seizure was offensive and tied to further offensive objectives. It is now so with the manner in which we will exercise sea control.

What does this mean to fleet Sailors? It means that we have to hit the books, dust off old TACMEMOS and begin to think deeply again what it means to own the inner screen against submarines, to hunt down and destroy adversary surface vessels over the horizon, and to tightly control the outer air battle. We need to study the threats and devise new tactics designed to counter them. We need to master the technology that is coming to the fleet—Navy Integrated Fire Control (Counter Air), or NIFC-CA; the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR); the SQQ-89 A(V)15 ASW Combat System; the LCS ASW Mission Module; the introduction of the Griffin missile in the PC class; new classes of Standard Missiles; Rail Gun; Directed Energy. We will need to use these systems and then do what Sailors always do—figure out ways to employ them that the designers never considered.

Going on the offensive is a mind-set, a way of thinking about naval warfare. It means thinking a good bit more about how to destroy that than how to defend this. Don’t get me wrong—we will still need to be able to defend high value units, amphibious forces, convoys, and logistics—but we will increasingly defend them by reaching out and destroying threats before those threats are able to target what we are defending.

We are moving to a concept of dispersed lethality in the Surface Force, one that presents an adversary with a considerably more complex operational problem. It will not be sufficient to simply try to neutralize our power projection forces. While these will be vigorously defended, other elements of the surface force will act as hunter/killer groups taking the fight to the enemy through the networked power of surface forces exercising high levels of Operational Security (OPSEC) and wielding both lethal over-the-horizon weapons to destroy adversary capabilities and sophisticated electronic warfare suites to confound adversary targeting. Especially in the Pacific, vast expanses of ocean will separate the carrier air wing from dispersed surface operations, so the paradigm of the past few decades that suggested the carrier would provide strike assets to supplement the Surface Force is no longer valid. We will leverage air wing capability, but we will not be dependent upon it.

Working in tandem with shore-based maritime patrol aircraft and our organic helicopters, we will seek out and destroy adversary submarines before they threaten high value units or fielded forces. Bringing together the networked power of surface IAMD forces and the mighty E-2D, we will dominate the outer air battle, eliminating threats to the force at range. The Surface Force will seize strategic “maritime terrain” to enable synchronized follow-on operations.

Those who may ask how the current fiscal environment impacts this vision, my answer is that it does so substantially. We will be forced to favor capability over capacity. We will favor forward deployed readiness over surge readiness. We will continue to invest in forward-looking capabilities through a strong science and technology/research and development budget, while ensuring we accelerate those promising technologies closest to fielding and most effective in advancing our offensive agenda.

We will posture more of the force forward, and more of it in the Pacific. While the total size of the fleet will likely decline if current conditions continue, more of it will be where it needs to be, it will be more effectively networked over a larger more dispersed area, and it will be equipped with the weapons and sensors necessary to enable this offensive shift.

I am bullish on Surface Warfare, and you ought to be too. I look forward to continuing this dialogue on the Renaissance in Surface Warfare, and I am proud to be part of the greatest Surface Force in the greatest Navy the world has ever known!


Vice Admiral Thomas S. Rowden’s current assignment is Commander, Naval Surface Forces. A native of Washington, D.C., and a 1982 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, VADM Rowden has served in a diverse range of sea and shore assignments.

Members’ Roundup Part 9

Welcome back to another edition of the Roundup. Topics covered by CIMSECians across the globe range from defining cyber attacks to an increase in the number of suicide attacks in 2014 compared to previous years. I am sure that these articles will provide interesting reading for the weekend.

USN and USAF aircraft use different Link-16 messages. Navy and Air Force pilots work around the limitations of the Link-16 datalink by developing tactics to overcome those issues.
USN and USAF aircraft use different Link-16 messages. Navy and Air Force pilots work around the limitations of the Link-16 datalink by developing tactics to overcome those issues.

Defense reporter, Dave Majumdar, returns for this edition of the Roundup with two articles. The first article reports that the tactical data link currently in use by NATO forces (Link 16) is causing concern for those in the aviation arm of the US military. There are integration issues between the different services and across various platforms which hinders communication. Technically-minded readers will find this article particularly interesting. Dave’s second article is a roundup of his own; he analyses, what he considers to be, the Marine Corps’ top 5 weapons in its arsenal. You can access both articles at The National Interest here and here.

Dean of the Fletcher School, James Stavridis, brings the focus to wider geopolitical and strategic issues. The first piece is an article featured in Signal Online and discusses the definition of a cyber attack. For those who are interested in the cyber debate, a quick peruse of the Admiral’s article should provide a different way of viewing the problem.

Naval Station Guantanamo could be used for basing and training vessels focused on civil-improvement projects and education.
Naval Station Guantanamo could be used for basing and training vessels focused on civil-improvement projects and education.

The second article is featured in the Huffington Post as part of the ’90 Miles: Rethinking the future of US-Cuba relations’ blog series. Stavridis puts forward suggestions of how Naval Station Guantanamo can be transformed into an international base with a view to assisting the region whilst aiding to thaw US-Cuba relations.

Finally, Zachary Keck returns this week with a post regarding a forthcoming report by an Israeli think tank (Institute for National Security Studies). The report found that the number of suicide bombings in the world increased by 94%. You can access the post here at The National Interest. 

As always we are always watching out for articles, blog posts and reviews that have been published by our members. We always welcome your support in collating our members’ work and you can assist by emailing

Members’ Roundup Part 8

Welcome back to another edition of the Member Round-Up and the first for 2015. It has been two weeks since I last posted and CIMSECians have been busy across various blogs, journals and websites discussing all manner of topics. Whether it is a review of upcoming technology or discussion of hacking, there is an array of articles available to be enjoyed by all.


With 2014 marking some positive steps to normalizing US-Cuban relations, the trade embargo still persists. Maryland-based CIMSECian, David Wise, writes that there are two key reasons why opportunities to speed up its removal were missed. Firstly, due to the influence of interest groups who benefit from the embargo and secondly, that an opportunity was lost in 1998 when the Pope’s visit to Cuba was overshadowed by the Lewinsky scandal. You can access his post on the London School of Economics and Political Science blog here.

As always, The National Interest’s Zachary Keck returns this edition with three articles, the third one will feature in a later section of this post. The first, assesses China and India’s pursuit to deploy multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRV) on their ballistic missiles. The second article comes in the wake of the Sony hacking scandal and aims to clarify some reports by media outlets suggesting that the DPRK threatened to blow up the White House.

Although the Canadian government unveiled its National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) to the public in October 2011, the exact capabilities of Canada’s future maritime forces have been largely a mystery. Over at the NATO Council of Canada, Paul Pryce gives some indications of possible contenders to build the ships. The long-term issue, however, is whether the first of the class will be ready by 2018.

Chinese sailors take a picture together in front of guided missile destroyer Haikou (171)
Chinese sailors take a picture together in front of guided missile destroyer Haikou (171)

Military diplomacy has been graining traction in the IR and strategy debate recently. Over at Offiziere, Patrick Truffer writes that greater transparency in US-China military relationship may be one-sided. ‘whether greater transparency of the US armed forces towards the Chinese armed forces is really profitable for the US must be critically examined,’ writes Truffer.

Moving into the new year a common feature preceding the changing of calendars is, of course, the ubiquitous ‘new year resolutions.’ This rationale can be applied in the professional realm; debating reform within any organisation is an enduring aspect of being a professional. Before becoming a naysayer and condemning any reform into the ‘too hard’ basket, consider reading BJ Armstrong’s article on innovation within the US military and its pursuit in amphibious warfare. The article can be accessed here at War on the Rocks.


In the wake of the tragic AirAsia Flight 8501 accident many families, commentators and the general public have been raising questions such as: ‘how could we lose an aircraft when Apple can find my iPhone?’ Emotions run high during times of crisis and it is important during these times that information is delivered in a timely and accurate manner. On the MIT Technology Review, CIMSECian Dave Majumdar, explains the issues behind aircraft tracking.

Continuing with the aviation trend, Dave reports that Russia is developing a new strategic bomber called the PAK-DA as part of its post-Soviet military modernization plan. The article can be accessed here at The National Interest.

MQ-8C Fire Scout
MQ-8C Fire Scout

For the hardware fanatics a round-up of unmanned naval systems can be found over at Naval Drones and Zachary Keck is reporting that Iran has recently tested its first ‘kamikaze drone.’


Over at War on the Rocks we have our NextWar blog Director, Matthew Hipple, with a review of Sony’s latest movie release: The Interview. ‘No one promised Hitchcock,’ writes Hipple, and the recent hacking affair may have actually increased interest in the movie. So if you were slightly skeptical of this film before forking out a few dollars to view it at an independent cinema then perhaps a quick peruse of this review will provide some assistance for your own expectation management.


One of our newest members, CNAS’ Jacob Stokes, will have his essay ‘Strategies of Competition’ published in the next issue of Orbis (Volume 59 Issue 1). In it, Jacob reviews the following books:

  • Strategic Reassurance and Resolve, by Jim Steinberg and Mike O’Hanlon
  • The Contest of the Century, by Geoff Dyer
  •  Maximalist, by Stephen Sestanovich

Jacob’s essay can be accessed here.

Jason Camlic provides his own round-up after attending the Chicago Maritime Museum Christmas party. You can find his post and some photos taken at the venue, here.

Finally, we also have two articles by CIMSEC members featured in Strategic Insights. Scott Cheney-Peters provides an analysis of the risks in the Taiwan Strait. Louis Bergeron analyses the chokepoint in the Mozambique Channel. They have been posted here and here on the NextWar blog.

As we begin a new year I wish to thank all of the contributions to this segment in 2014. As always please continue emailing so that we can all share and promote the great work that CIMSECians are producing. As a final note, if you are not yet a member and wish to be featured then simply apply to become one! Until next time.

Nam is a Maritime Warfare Officer in the Royal Australian Navy. He holds a Bachelor of Business and is currently completing a Master of Philosophy in International Security Studies at the University of New South Wales. Nam is the current Director of Member Publicity at CIMSEC.

Member Round-Up Part 7

Good evening CIMSECians and welcome back to another edition of the Member Round-Up. Our members have had a busy few weeks posting on a variety of security topics. We have shared a few of them here with you for some light reading before the holiday season.

Patrick Truffer returns this week with an article featured on the Swiss security policy blog, Offiziere. His piece on ‘traditional’ Russian institutions, such as the Orthodox Church, as well as Russian language, culture and identity, feature heavily in President Putin’s rhetoric. This is a must-read for observers and analysts who may not be well-versed in Russian culture. Without this understanding, according to Patrick, it may make Russian foreign policy appear irrational.

INS Arihant during its launch in 2009.
INS Arihant during its launch in 2009.

Bringing the subject back to the topic of submarines,  The National Interest’s managing editor, Zachary Keck, returns with two posts for this week’s round-up. The first post reports that India began the first-of-class sea trials for INS Arihant, India’s first ever indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarine.

The second post reports that the Philippines wishes to continue along the same veins as other Asian nations and procure three of its own submarines. Whilst no official statement has been made regarding which submarine the Navy will procure, given the number of submarines proliferating in the region this new development will most likely be a prominent feature in any upcoming analysis of maritime security in the region.

BEFORE JUTLAND: The Naval War in Northern European Waters, August 1914-February 1915.  Source: USNI Press
BEFORE JUTLAND: The Naval War in Northern European Waters, August 1914-February 1915.
Source: USNI Press

James Goldrick also returns this week with two contributions. His analysis of the US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, and the recent announcement by outgoing SECDEF Chuck Hagel to continue plans to purchase the remaining 20 ships, first featured on the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s The Strategist blog here. It can also be accessed on The National Interest’s websitebefore jutland. Also, for those who are interested in all things historical (and naval) before jutlandJames Goldrick’s latest book, Before Jutland, will be available circa May 2015 through USNI Press. It provides an historical analysis of one of the key periods in naval operations during the First World War.

Over at The Daily Beast, CIMSECian Dave Majumdar, reports that several Pentagon insiders are concerned that potential adversaries, such as Russia or China, have the capability to counter any competitive advantage that the US’ latest stealth fighters may have in their long-range missiles. The article can be accessed here.

As always we continue to look for works published by CIMSEC members. If you have published, or know of another member who has published recently, please email so that we can promote your work. Keep an eye out for the next Round-Up in the new year.