Category Archives: New Initiatives

New projects and initiatives at CIMSEC.

September Member Round-Up Part One

 Welcome to Part One of the September 2015 Member Round-up, covering the first two weeks of the month. CIMSEC members examined several international maritime security issues, including Russian blue water operations, European maritime security threats, the PLA-N maritime strategy in the Asia-Pacific and aspects of the U.S. military defense procurement program.

The first part of the September Round-up begins with Alex Calvo for The Jamestown Foundation, where he discuses Russia’s naval presence in Spain’s African exclave of Ceuta. Mr. Calvo describes the strategic importance of Ceuta as a launching point for Russian surface fleet operations throughout the Mediterranean Sea region. Additionally, a geopolitical assessment is provided regarding the unique relationship between Spain and Russia in a period of high tensions between Russia and NATO over Ukraine.

Continuing on European maritime security issues, Chuck Hill, for his Coast Guard Blog, discusses the development of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) in France and in the Netherlands. Mr. Hill identifies the development of OPVs in France as a response to the government attempting to increase their enforcement capabilities of EEZ territory. Regarding the Netherlands, Mr. Hill describes the specifications of future OPVs with emphasis on the deployment of ‘hull vane’ technologies to increase OPV mobility, stability and range.

Entering the Asia-Pacific region, Ankit Panda, for The Diplomat, analyzes aspects of innocent passage and the movement of U.S. warships near the newly constructed Chinese islands in the South China Sea. With tensions increasing in the region, Mr. Panda explains that continued cooperation between India and Vietnam could enhance the strategic security relationship between the two countries allowing for a more effective approach to confronting China.

In a separate article, Mr. Panda explains that Vietnam has independently begun to increase its maritime capabilities by approving Coast Guard vessels to deploy major weapon systems. This will allow the Vietnamese CG to be more active in the nation’s maritime security objectives and will significantly increase the effectiveness of EEZ enforcement. Mr. Panda also provided a description of three major Chinese missile systems that pose significant regional and global threats to military adversaries. The Df-16 SRBM, the YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missile and the DF-41 ICBM are components of China’s missile force that greatly contribute to the country’s access denial strategy and global military influence.

Harry Kazianis, for The National Interest, shares an analysis on the U.S. Navy’s plan to modernize the Aegis Combat System’s hardware and software. The technological improvements being added will provide increased effectiveness for the Aegis system to conduct its integrated air and missile defense operations. Also for The National Interest, Mr. Kazianis discusses China’s new DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile as well as the characteristics of a conflict between China and the U.S. in the South China Sea.

Bryan McGrath for The War on the Rocks, concludes the Round-up with discussing aspects of the U.S. Navy’s procurement strategy. He provides a detailed examination on the number of ships required by the U.S. Navy to meet the current security threats facing the United States as well as to sustain the requirements of the maritime objectives of the navy itself. Mr. McGrath explains that the current and projected size of the U.S. Naval fleet, 273 and 308 respectively, is too small to remain effective in multiple regions. He references the U.S. Navy’s 346-ship fleet from the Clinton-era as an appropriate number for managing the current maritime environment and providing sufficient influence in all U.S. theatres of operation.    

Members of CIMSEC were also active elsewhere so far in September:

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 me, the Director of Member Publicity, at to make sure we include them in our next round-up.

August Member Round-Up

Welcome to the August 2015 Members’ Roundup! Last month CIMSEC members have examined a range of major maritime security issues, including the new U.S. DoD Asia-Pacific maritime strategy, Iranian capabilities in the Persian Gulf, and NATO’s northern threat from Russia in the Arctic.

Beginning in the Western Pacific, Bryan Clark gave a presentation at the Hudson Institute concerning the missile threat China poses to U.S. regional allies and U.S. forward deployed forces. The discussion centered on China’s missiles and their ability to deter U.S. regional influence, primarily through limiting the operational capabilities of U.S. surface fleets in conflict. Harry Kazianis, for The National Interest, provides further details regarding the Chinese missile threat by describing the challenge U.S. sea-based interceptors, such as the Aegis based SM-3 and SM-2 Block 4, will have in engaging ballistic and conventional missiles such as China’s DF-26 or DF-21D. For further reading, Zachary Keck, also for The National Interest, identifies additional Chinese missiles posing threats to U.S. forces in the Western Pacific.

CIMSEC’s founder, Scott Cheney-Peters, along with members BJ Armstrong and Bryan McGrath, contributed to CSIS’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) with commentary on the new DoD Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy. The review offers an evaluation of the pace at which U.S. military capacity in the region is being strengthened relative to China. Also provided was an analysis of the strategic importance of distinguishing conflict and coercion in the region. BJ Armstrong further analyzed the new DoD strategy in his article for War on the Rocks, where he also provided a historical context for U.S. naval operations in the Asia-Pacific.

Scott also joined Harry and The Diplomat‘s Shannon Tiezzi for a panel discussion on the latest South China Sea developments hosted by the Project for the Study of the 21st Century. You can watch their chat here.

Continuing on China and Asia-Pacific regional security issues, James Goldrick for The Interpreter, discusses the challenges the Taiwanese Navy faces regarding China and a high-level threat environment. Mr. Goldrick identifies key features of Taiwan’s future acquisition program for the Navy – emphasizing submarine hulls and major systems, guided missile destroyers, fast attack missile-carrying catamarans and mine warfare technologies.

A refreshing perspective offered by Vijay Sakhuja in the Nikkei Asian Review considers joint Search and Rescue (SAR) operations as a platform for increased inter-governmental relations in the South China Sea. With regional pressures reaching critical levels, he contends joint SAR operations would reduce tensions by creating a safer maritime environment while also promoting regional dialogue and cooperation.

Leaving the Asia-Pacific, another Zachary Keck National Interest article considers the U.S. Navy’s strategy to combat Iran’s asymmetric naval doctrine. Mr. Keck highlights capability improvements being implemented to date to overcome the challenges faced at joint war game exercise Millennium Challenge 02 (MC02), including deployment of Longbow Hellfire Missiles aboard Littoral Combat Ships. Also from The National Interest, Robert Farley delivers an overview of Iranian weapons and tactics that provide Iran with aspects of strategic influence in the gulf region, including C-802 cruise missiles and irregular warfare strategies.

To conclude the August roundup, ADM. James Stavridis, for Foreign Policy, provides insight on current NATO defense capabilities while emphasizing the increase in Russian military operations in the Arctic. ADM. Stavridis describes Russia’s aggressive territorial claims near the Lomonosov Ridge, increased air patrols and the establishing of Arctic Brigades, as well as NATO’s capability to respond to an increasing Northern threat.  ­­

Members of CIMSEC were also active elsewhere during August:

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

‘Indo-Asia Pacific’ Explained: An Assessment of US Maritime Strategy 2015

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In March 2015, the United States published a new maritime strategy document titled ‘A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower’ (Strategy-2015). It supersedes the one of the same title published eight years ago in October 2007 (Strategy-2007). It is the first maritime strategy to be released after the US announced its ‘Rebalance to Asia’ in 2011, and comes amidst seminal developments with far-reaching geopolitical and security ramifications. This view-point attempts to analyze Strategy-2015, including in comparison to Strategy-2007.

Jointness and Political Interface

Strategy-07 was the first-ever combined strategy of the three US Sea Services (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard). Strategy-2015 maintains this feature, with is appropriate since the maritime environment is essentially ‘joint’’, and therefore, any strategy relating to the maritime realm cannot be a single-service articulation. Besides, due to fiscal uncertainties the US is facing today, an inter-service synergy is necessary to avoid duplication of resources and optimise investments for capability development.

Notably, unlike the 2007 document, the new strategy contains a ‘Preface’ by the Secretary of the Navy, which indicates an enhanced political interface with the Sea Services, possibly in terms of both oversight and support of the higher national leadership.


The new strategy contains an explicit focus on the region that it calls the “Indo-Asia-Pacific.” While US officials have been increasingly using this phrase, the 2015 Strategy document is the first official articulation. The inference is two-fold:

• First, it denotes the realisation of the ‘inadequacy’ of ‘Asia-Pacific’ to address the emerging geopolitical, economic and security dynamics of the rising Asia.

• Second, while the phrase ‘Indo-Pacific’ has become more prevalent in Asia since 2007, the US preference to use “Indo-Asia-Pacific” indicates that it wishes to be part of Asia’s ‘rise’ and derive the attendant gains.

Ends, Ways and Means

The term ‘strategy’ is defined as an articulation of ‘ways’ and ‘means’ to achieve the ‘ends’. In this context, Strategy-07 was merely a ‘primer’ to strategy. It referred to ‘ends’ in very broad terms, without going into specifics of security challenges. It avoided naming countries, either as adversaries, or allies and partners. While it mentioned maritime threats like piracy, it did not contextualize these with specific areas. It was also frugal in expounding on the ‘ways’ and ‘means.’

In comparison, Strategy-15 is a detailed articulation. It echoes the spirit of the US ‘Rebalance’ policy in terms of China’s naval ascendency as both an opportunity and a challenge. It seeks to temper Beijing’s revisionist stance and dissuade its politico-military assertiveness through multifaceted engagement. It is also more forthright in defining the “military challenges”, such as the “Russian military modernization (and) aggression” and the (Chinese) “anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities that challenge our global maritime access….” Furthermore, it is more explicit on the ‘geography’ of piracy, the effects of religious radicalism and the fundamentalist groups. In terms of the ‘ways’ and ‘means’ too, Strategy-2015 reveals as much as a document in the public domain possibly can. It provides much detail on the US plans to allocate forces for the ‘Rebalance.’

Strategic and Operational Access

Since the middle of 20th century when the US rose to superpower status with the ability to influence events worldwide, unimpeded strategic access to the global commons and freedom of operational manoeuvre have been the cornerstones of its military strategy.

While Strategy-2007 did acknowledge the operational salience of dominating the realms of space, cyber and the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum – as integral to sea control, for instance – it conceived strategic access largely in the geospatial context: sea, land and air. Strategy-2015 goes beyond this to seek access and freedom of action in any domain—the sea, air, land, space, and cyberspace, as well as in the EM spectrum. In all likelihood, this is a declaration meant to counter China’s declaratory policy of A2/AD in the western Pacific, including the asymmetric challenges in the space, cyber and EM domains that Chinese military forces may impose upon their US counterparts.

Forward Presence and Partnership

Strategy-2007 had laid much emphasis on forward presence of the US Sea Services as essential for a major power like the US that seeks inter alia to shape developments in its areas of interest, be better prepared to respond to adverse contingencies, deter and dissuade potential adversaries, reassure allies and friends.

While maintaining the emphasis on forward presence, Strategy-2015 also explains how the US intends to achieve this more effectively, both operationally and fiscally. It adds that the forward naval presence would enable a quick and seamless access to the US joint military forces, if and when the occasion demands.

Given that resource limitations envisaged by the US Sea Services, ‘forward naval presence’ is closely enmeshed with the need to develop partnerships with local maritime forces. The Thousand Ship Navy (TSN) concept propounded by the US Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Mike Mullen in 2005 was rephrased as the ‘Global Maritime Partnership’ (GMP) initiative in Strategy-2007. As a set of informal arrangements, the GMP was also intended to “send powerful messages to would-be aggressors that we will act with others to ensure collective security….”

Strategy-2015 furthers the appeal for the partnership, now rephrased as a “global network of navies.” The document effectively communicates to the potential partners the rationale for such “plug and play” cooperation with the US forces sans “commitment.”

Force Design and Employment

Strategy-2015 describes “a force that balances warfighting readiness with our Nation’s current and future fiscal challenges.” This statement seems to be the mainstay of the force design and employment strategy of US Sea Services.

Strategy-2007 had laid down the intent to “tailor” maritime forces “to meet the unique and evolving requirements particular to each geographic region.” Strategy-2015, possibly driven by fiscal prudence, seems to have adopted a less ‘ambitious’ approach. It aims only to “align (existing) capability, capacity, and platforms to regional mission demands…by ensuring that our most modern and technologically advanced forces are located where their combat power is needed most.” It also seeks to enhance the effectiveness of naval forces by employing “new warfighting concepts… and…. innovation.” The innovations stipulated by the document include increasing forward-basing of forces “to reduce costly rotations…” and developing modular platforms like Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) to enable swapping mission modules in lieu of costly ship rotations.

In sum, Strategy-2015 is not only a quantum improvement over the preceding strategy document of 2007, but also sets a model for the other existing and emerging major powers to emulate in the interest of transparency in military concepts and capability development. Such transparency is essential among maritime-military forces that operate in the international medium, and particularly those belonging to the “Indo-Asia-Pacific” region that is becoming increasingly volatile, as recent developments indicate.

Captain Gurpreet S Khurana, PhD is the Executive Director, National Maritime Foundation (NMF), New Delhi. The views expressed are his own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Navy, the NMF or the Government of India. He can be reached at

July Member Round-Up

Welcome to the July 2015 Member Round-Up. Our members have had a very productive month discussing three major security topics; the rise of China, the Iranian Nuclear Deal, and the fight against ISIS. A few of the articles are shared here for some light reading over your Labor Day Weekend. If you are a CIMSEC Member and want your own maritime security-related work included in this or upcoming round-ups be sure to contact our Director of Member Publicity at

Henry Holst begins our round up discussing the PLA/N’s options for submarine activity in the Taiwan Strait. His article in USNI News states that the Taiwan situation remains the driving force behind the Chinese military buildup. Holst goes into depth discussing the capabilities of the Yuan Type-39A class SSK in a standoff between China and Taiwan/US forces. This article is a must read for all who are interested in the recent developments of the Chinese submarine service.

CIMSEC’s founder, Scott Cheney-Peters, meanwhile discussed the nuances of potential joint aerial patrols in the South China Sea with CSIS’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) and joined fellow CIMSECian Ankit Panda from The Diplomat for a podcast discussion of India’s evolving approach to maritime security in East Asia.   Also at AMTI, Ben Purser co-authored a piece on China’s airfield construction of Fiery Cross Reef. AMTI’s director, Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper joined others testifying before a Congressional committee on America’s security role in the South China Sea.

Zachary Keck, of The National Interest, provides the next piece. July was an especially intense month for Mr. Keck, as he wrote 25 articles in July alone. Staying in East and Southeast Asia, Mr. Keck writes that just as China has done in the South China Sea, the PRC could build artificial islands nearer to India as well. His concern is due to a constitutional amendment in Maldives that was passed in late July. This amendment allows for foreign ownership of Maldives territory.  China has rebuffed these concerns and says that they are committed to supporting “the Maldives’ efforts to maintain its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.” This piece will be of interest for those that are keeping tabs on Chinese expansionist tendencies.

Moving on from the Chinese situation and the South China Sea, Shawn VanDiver takes us to the Iranian Plateau and the Persian Gulf to discuss the Iranian nuclear deal now before Congress. He penned two articles last month describing the advantages of the deal. His first article, in Task & Purpose, describes his support for the P5+1 Talks With Iran in Geneva, Switzerlanddeal as a 12 year veteran of the United States Navy. He describes his apprehension and the sense of foreboding transiting the Strait of Hormuz at the sights of a .50 caliber machine gun. The next day his second article on the Iran deal came out in the Huffington Post. This article was slightly different as he focuses more on the stated positions of the then current crop of GOP presidential contenders and Senators. He states that the deal is a new beginning. Well worth the read if you are at all hesitating on the importance of this crucial deal.

For the last mention in our member round up, Admiral James Stavridis spent time last month discussing the role of Turkey in the current fight against ISIS. As former Supreme Commander of NATO forces, Admiral Stavridis is uniquely qualified to render judgement on the role of a critical NATO member in the region, the only one directly affected by ISIS fighters. He was interviewed on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.  In the same vein, he penned an article in Foreign Policy discussing the importance of NATO use of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey on the Mediterranean Coast.  This base is seen as critical to the effort against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

CIMSECians were busy elsewhere too:

That is all for July. Stay tuned to CIMSEC for all your maritime security needs.

“A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace.”

President Theodore Roosevelt, 2 December 1902

The views expressed above are those of the author’s.