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Manning the Distant Rampart: Maritime Strategy in an Age of Global Competition

Maritime Strategy for Great Power Competition Topic Week

By Harry Halem

Introduction – Maritime and Grand Strategy

During the third presidential debate of the 2012 election season, then-President Obama famously characterized the foreign policy of his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, as decades out of date. When Romney identified Russia as the primary geopolitical foe of the U.S., Obama responded with “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Six years later, candidate Romney’s prediction seems prescient, not antiquated. Russia and Iran now operate alongside one another in Syria, China continues to expand its maritime footprint in the South and East China Seas, and all the while North Korea’s nuclear arsenal holds America’s attention. Concurrently, the EU still struggles to respond to migrant flows from the Near East and North Africa, terrorist organizations persist despite ISIS’ destruction, and the world’s major powers struggle to counter transnational issues like piracy, international crime, and climate change.

Great power competition has clearly returned. But nontraditional issues have retained their relevance, with great powers using them as strategic facilitators in their quest to gain marginal advantages. In this international environment, the sea has retained its unbroken importance. The overwhelming majority of humankind’s physical trade is still transported on maritime highways, while the geography of contemporary global flashpoints, and the ambitions of great powers and nonstate actors, makes the sea central to international competition.

America’s sea services, therefore, require a new maritime strategy. One can understand maritime strategy as the relationship between naval and maritime power and a nation’s ultimate security objectives. This, in turn, stems from a grand strategy, a nation’s understanding of how to produce security from threat perception, safeguard its interests, and defend its honor. Crafting a new American maritime strategy thus requires a revitalized grand strategic paradigm, which entails a review of the nation’s enduring interests, and the specific threats it faces. From this broader paradigm, one can establish the relationship between a nation’s security and its maritime security, and outline a specific naval force structure.

The American Republic’s strategic objective remains preventing a hostile actor or coalition from dominating the Eurasian landmass. This requires fighting conflicts as far away from the American homeland as possible by establishing control of strategically vital regions in Eurasia. One can identify the illiberal entente of Russia, China, and Iran as the greatest adversaries of the U.S. The ultimate goal of this entente, and particularly of China, is to accumulate strategic nuances that can be used to crack America’s alliance structure or stage a coup de main against American forces.

One can identify three objectives for the sea services from this set of circumstances. First, American naval power must ensure access to specific narrow seas and maritime chokepoints. Second, the U.S. Navy (USN) and Marine Corps (USMC) must be able to deny America’s enemies their initial objectives in a broader conflict, with the goal of deterring or preventing a coup de main. Third, the sea services must field sufficient forward presence to preclude a fait accompli in various regions. One can identify a varied force structure to achieve these goals: a multi-Carrier Strike Group surface force optimized for sea control, a specific fleet of small surface combatants for use in the pre-conflict “grey zone,” a forward-deployed submarine force, and a USMC large enough to defend isolated outposts and mount large-scale counteroffensives.  Absent such changes in force structure, America’s adversaries will be able to take advantage of critical capability gaps.

Grand Strategy – Manning the Distant Rampart

Politics, like any human interaction, is not strictly scientific. However, one can identify enduring interests for different international actors. For example, any power that wishes to dominate Europe must contest control of the Mediterranean. This was true of Rome, the Venetian Republic, the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires, Britain, the French Republic, and Imperial and Soviet Russia. Similarly, specific regional actors have enduring interests. One can identify an intelligible French territorial interest from the mid-15th century onward which, whether Valois, Bourbon, Bonapartist, or Republican, had an overwhelming interest in ensuring Central Europe’s political weakness, and dominating it if possible. Only two world wars and a sustained confrontation between superpowers mitigated this strategic objective.

Similarly, different “problems” exist in international politics. Geostrategists are familiar with Alfred Thayer Mahan’s “Problem of Asia” – the threat of Russia’s expansionist impulse and geographic position, or the potential power of a unified China, would pose to international stability. The “German Problem” is similarly enduring: a united Germany, absent clear military restraint, naturally jeopardizes European security because of the population and resources it can muster.

The American Republic faces what one could term the “Eurasian problem.” American safety and prosperity is directly tied to the Eurasian balance of power. Eurasia contains the majority of the world’s population and resources. Hence, the domination of Eurasia by a hostile power or coalition would ultimately pose a direct threat to American survival – such an actor or coalition would always retain the ability to deny America access to markets, or launch an offensive against the Western hemisphere. However, unlike similarly insular maritime powers like Japan and Britain, the United States lacks easy access to Eurasia by virtue of its distant geographic position. Even launching small-scale raids on the European coastline would require a notable exertion of American power if not for the positional advantages gained through alliances.

Waiting until conflicts reach the Western hemisphere jeopardizes American interests. It is unlikely that a hostile Eurasian power could actually conquer the territorial United States. However, a Eurasian power could come to dominate Latin America over time while attacking strategic points in the Caribbean and along the U.S. coastline, slowly eroding the position of the U.S., and forcing it to acquiesce to an unfavorable and likely illiberal international order. Nuclear weapons compound the issue. Mutually Assured Destruction would provide much less comfort against an anti-ballistic missile network and tactical nuclear arsenals distributed throughout the Western Pacific and Latin America.

Two strategic precepts flow from the Eurasian problem that the American Republic confronts. First, the U.S. must ensure a favorable Eurasian balance of power. Second, the best way to preserve this balance of power is by fighting wars and influencing events away from the Western Hemisphere. By maintaining overseas bases, partnering with regional powers, and fielding a powerful Navy, the U.S. can man what Professor Harold Rood termed in his 1967 prize-winning essay for Proceedings the “Distant Rampart.”

Just as France’s leaders have followed a consistent logic in their foreign policies despite changes in regime and ideology, so have the American Republic’s statesmen done the same. The American Revolution can be understood in part as an attempt to prevent the colonies’ interests from being overshadowed by those of Europe’s great powers during post-conflict settlements. The Monroe Doctrine began forward defense: preventing foreign meddling in the Western hemisphere precludes a campaign against America’s homeland. The belated American entry into both World Wars demonstrates strategy’s eventual triumph over ideology – American leaders could not accept German, either Imperial or Nazi, domination of Europe.

The unfortunate side effect of the American Republic’s ascendancy in the post-WWII era was the relative diminishment of allied European military power and global political networks born from colonial interests. Rather than simply supporting allies in key regions, during the Cold War the U.S. was forced to man the Distant Rampart itself, maintaining a permanent and prominent military presence in Europe and Asia, and committing to large-scale interventions in Korea and Vietnam.

Although the Soviet Empire collapsed in 1991, the Eurasian problem still persists.  Advances in Artificial Intelligence are poised to revolutionize global economics and finance, but unless one can solve fundamental resource questions, maritime trade will remain central to the global economy, making hostile control of Eurasia an economic threat. Moreover, Eurasia’s resources comparative to the Americas ensure the persistence of the Eurasian problem.

Manning the Distant Rampart, then, must remain the core of American grand strategy. As such, maritime power is the most fundamental component of America’s national power because maritime power is what ultimately assures American access across the large oceans that separate it from the Eurasian landmass. Dominating Eurasia requires dominion over the large oceans that surround it and the narrow maritime chokepoints that connect key geographic regions. With such dominion, a would-be authoritarian hegemon can bully smaller states into submission by threatening to deny them access to regional trade, eroding their sovereignty through naval patrols in their territorial waters, and staging amphibious assaults upon their territory. Eurasia’s narrow seas also include maritime chokepoints that constrain nearly all seaborne movement – controlling even one of these chokepoints gives the dominating power the ability to manipulate the global economy, and deny other powers secure lines of communication while facilitating the transfer of forces between theaters. Maritime strategy, therefore, is a significant part of American grand strategy, as Eurasia’s proximate maritime features and chokepoints have always been central areas of contestation in great power competition.

Threats – the Illiberal Entente and its Wildcards

Delineating specific roles for the sea services requires a review of the specific challengers the American Republic faces, along with the “wildcards” that said challengers can employ or benefit from, particularly terrorism and non-state actors.

Nearly 111 years ago, Britain, France, and Russia cemented the mutual political and strategic understanding that is termed the Triple Entente. While each partner was an erstwhile rival or enemy of the other two, all three shared an interest in containing Imperial German power. One can see a similar arrangement developing between three aspiring hegemons today – China, Russia, and Iran. Each has either openly facilitated or tacitly acquiesced to the aims of the other two, in the belief that destabilizing American power elsewhere will enable its own regional objectives.

China poses the most obvious threat. It has the world’s largest population (1.4 billion) and either its largest ($21-23 trillion PPP) or second-largest ($11-12 trillion nominal) GDP. Scaling for personnel costs and adjusting the purchasing power of U.S. and Chinese budgets, China may spend roughly the same and possibly more than the U.S. on weapons systems, military operations, and training exercises.

China’s contemporary military is the culmination of four decades of development and reform. The PLA is the largest active military in the world. Its Navy is one of six that operates both a fixed-wing aircraft carrier and a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. Its Air Force operates the world’s third largest combat aircraft fleet, and is one of three to field strategic bombers. Moreover, its Navy is scheduled to possibly outstrip America’s in size by 2020.

China’s internal system rests upon contradictory premises. Selective liberalization and capitalization are in tension with socio-political uniformity. Since Deng Xiaoping’s victory over the Gang of Four, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has restrained itself from overt, society-wide ideological engineering. Rather than pursuing a socialist utopia, the PRC’s social contract requires the continual increase of living standards, particularly for the urban middle class, in return for acquiescence to the regime’s social control. Such a social contract is not fully legitimate – a fact that helps explain the CCP’s fixation on Taiwan, an economically vibrant democracy that demonstrates an alternative developmental path.

One can link this fixation on legitimacy with the CCP’s ideational aims. Chinese rhetoric about its “century of humiliation” must be taken seriously in understanding China’s perspective. As the preeminent Western power, the lynchpin of the contemporary international economic order, and with its network of Pacific bases and a blue-water Navy, America is China’s obvious rival. Many elements of China’s economy are dependent on seaborne commerce, such as how China’s economy requires natural resources for production and its population needs more energy than China’s domestic deposits provide.

Hence, China has embarked upon a campaign of hedging against U.S. offensive action and global economic shock, the two events that can disrupt Chinese growth. In maritime terms, this is best expressed in its South China Sea (SCS) and East China Sea (ECS) aggression. The majority of China’s imports pass through these waters, making hostile control of them in war a mortal threat to Chinese ambitions and stability. Additionally, control of the SCS and ECS allows China to isolate Taiwan and cut off energy flows to Japan, breaking up the U.S. regional alliance structure. On land, China is attempting to acquire resources at the point of extraction, especially in Africa and Central Asia. Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative seems grandiose and ill-fated until one identifies it as a component of Chinese hedging. Rather than attempting to compete with American maritime advantages overland, China could be attempting to create a windpipe to relieve itself during a major crisis. Concurrently, China has expanded its maritime trade fleet, an asset that ensures energy and other imports during the next international economic contraction.  Finally, Beijing’s hedge includes the ultimate goal of transforming China’s economy, to ensure the rising living standards its urban middle class demands. Chinese encroachments into Latin American markets facilitate this objective, while also offering it access into the geopolitical backyard of the U.S.

While China operates largely independently in the Pacific, Russia and Iran have intertwined objectives in the Near East and Europe, making it reasonable to address both powers simultaneously.

Putin’s Russia lacks the USSR’s military capabilities, but the laws of geopolitics still apply. While Russia’s military weakness relative to China has diminished its role in Asia’s balance of power, the Russian problem remains relevant for Europe and the Near East. Russia’s overarching strategic objective, whether Imperial, Soviet, or Putinist, has been securing itself from European invasion. European nations have been united twice under an anti-Russian coalition – in both instances, Russia survived an invasion attempt, but only after immense loss of life and expenditure of resources. Controlling Eastern Europe gives Russia a buffer against potential aggression, while establishing itself as Europe’s preeminent power offers long-term security. This combines with Russia’s ideological impulses, which Imperial and Soviet Russia both shared. Russia’s self-image demands respect, whether as the Roman Empire’s successor, leader of international Marxism, or simply Europe’s foremost state.

Considering Russia’s diminished power position, obtaining Eastern Europe as a buffer and expelling America from the European continent requires creative strategy. Rather than physically removing the U.S., Russia is attempting to “crack” NATO by attacking its members’ domestic institutions, likely as a prelude to crisis generation. The Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea are central to this goal – control of both allows Russia to dominate the Balkans and pressure Europe’s “soft underbelly.”

Russia’s objectives in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea mesh with Iran’s regional ambitions. One should not underestimate the religious animus that drives the Iranian regime. The Islamic Republic’s political structure, despite its electoral obfuscation, heavily centralizes control in the clerical class and the IRGC. Locked in religious competition with Israel and sectarian competition with Saudi Arabia, the Iranian regime’s “governance of the jurist” engenders an aggressive, anti-Western foreign policy. Additionally, the Iranian people still remember the Anglo-American engineered deposition of Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953, adding distrust to Iranian avarice. Even more apparent than Iran’s ideological goals are its actions. Tehran has manufactured a corridor from Iran’s borders to the Eastern Mediterranean through proxies in Iraq and Syria. Despite its nuclear arsenal, Israel’s population precludes an actual offensive campaign against Iran, while Saudi Arabia, despite Mohammed Bin Salman’s reforms, remains corrupt and internally weak. If Israel or Saudi Arabia could subjugate Iran, one of the two would have done so already, rather than allowing the Islamic Republic to continue increasing its power. The Iran-Iraq War demonstrated the true strength of Iran’s society. Israel and Saudi Arabia, therefore, seek a reasonable accommodation, while Iran desires domination.

To facilitate their mutual aims, Tehran and Moscow have entered into an increasingly public partnership. Russia’s increased presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and support of the Assad regime occurs in tandem with Iran’s increasing control over Iraq, and its support for Hezbollah. Russia lacks a territorial interest in the Near East, while Iran’s primary rivals are land-based. Hence, the two powers cooperate to achieve their joint goals, with Russian weapons finding their way to Iranian proxies, and Iranian special forces working alongside Russian troops. Recent news of a Russo-Israeli agreement on Iran’s withdrawal from southern Syria does not change this relationship. Russia requires Iran’s partnership, absent increased Turkish stability or a literal revolution in Saudi Arabia, while Iran can still support Hezbollah, even if its forces are not stationed on Israel’s northern border.

Not only do the actions of each of the illiberal entente’s members support others’ positions – all three partners use strategic wildcards to expand their power.

Iran’s relationship with Russia has already been explicated. Less obvious is its relationship with China. Aside from the military relationship between Tehran and Beijing, Iran can influence the Strait of Hormuz, an important strategic chokepoint for China especially. This past April, India and China imported nearly half of Iran’s oil production. Oil travelling to China from Iran by water must pass through the Strait of Hormuz, off Iran’s coastline, and the Strait of Malacca, on the SCS’ southern rim. Even if China gains control of the SCS, the U.S. Navy could exert distant pressure in the Indian Ocean, denying China-bound ships the opportunity to even reach the Strait of Malacca and where directly blockading the Strait of Malacca would be economically catastrophic.

China and Iran are developing the mutual tools and positions to respond to such a move. Iranian long-range missiles like the Shahab-3, with its 2000-kilometer range, can reach a longitudinal line running from the Horn of Africa to the Indian coast. If the road-mobile weapon is based in Houthi-controlled Yemeni territory, one could envision an even greater area of coverage.  Concurrently, China now holds two ports in the Indian Ocean: Gwadar, on the Pakistani coast, and Colombo, in Sri Lanka. Neither location is militarized today, but both could become focal points for Chinese power projection in the Indian Ocean in the future.  Even absent the hardening that would make these ports tenable in a major conflict, China can still use them to escort China-bound shipping in a “grey zone” scenario as described above. China lacks regular  Mediterranean presence, but Iranian and Russian acquiescence to China’s Eastern Mediterranean economic expansion indicates similarly overlapping interests. One could envision the Greek port of Piraeus becoming a shared location for the illiberal entente’s members

China, Russia, and Iran also benefit from strategic wildcards that can disrupt the status quo, and provide cover for expansion. ISIS posed an undeniable security threat to Iran and Russia. But it is also clear that, without Iraqi state weakness, Iran’s project to create a chain of proxy or allied states spanning the Near East would be much further from completion. Russia would have lacked cover to expand its reach into the Eastern Mediterranean and threaten Europe’s underbelly without the rebel and jihadist threat against the Assad regime. Similarly, the PLA Navy would not be able to deploy as easily to the Indian Ocean without the cover of antipiracy operations. China’s current antipiracy Indian Ocean presence consists of two frigates and 700 Special Operations Forces and other soldiers. But if China’s presence in Africa, anchored in Djibouti, expands, this could turn into a larger, more permanent force. One should note that a Sino-Iranian response to American interdiction of China-bound shipping in the Indian Ocean would likely involve the forces engaged in antipiracy operations off the Horn of Africa.

None of these adversaries have the immediate goal of war with the United States. However, all three powers have the potential to execute faits accomplis – quick, decisive actions that cannot be responded to absent general escalation. Russia maintains overwhelming relative superiority in the Baltics and Ukraine. Putin could one day elect to quickly connect St. Petersburg to Kaliningrad, or drive further west in Ukraine. China outnumbers and outclasses the Philippines and Vietnam in the SCS. If Chinese violations of Vietnamese or Philippine fishing waters, or a repeat of the Hai Yang Shi You 981 standoff, prompt a strong militarized response, the PLAN and PLAAF would enjoy steep superiority over their regional counterparts. Vietnam would fare better in a full-scale confrontation, but China could still obtain the more limited objective of neutralizing the Vietnamese Navy by drawing it out into a lopsided engagement. In each of these situations, the U.S. will be faced with the choice between escalation, and the potential of general war between nuclear-armed powers, or acquiescence to adversarial expansion and intimidation, and the erosion of its strategic position.

Moreover, an ultimate goal of China, may be to stage a coup de main against American forces in the Pacific. China’s long-range missiles would isolate America’s Pacific bases from one another and American forces from their allied counterparts, while long-range strike aircraft and amphibious units would overwhelm remaining outposts, and leave China with a free hand to neutralize Taiwan. Bursting through a cordon of the First and Second Island Chains, PLAN submarines could attempt to tie down U.S. follow-on forces by attacking naval bases at Pearl Harbor, Kitsap, and San Diego. Even more unconventionally, a great power adversary could smuggle weapons of mass destruction into major American cities using clandestine naval power, as ML Cavanaugh suggests in his provocative Modern War Institute piece, and hold the U.S. population hostage through threat of an unpreventable nuclear strike. Accumulating nuanced advantages through repeated faits accomplis can facilitate ultimate objectives.

Manning the Distant Rampart – Maritime Strategy and Force Structure

The clearly maritime nature of contemporary great power competition, along with the specifics of the illiberal entente’s objectives and capabilities, necessitates a specific maritime strategy. The USN should be tasked with three major missions: maintaining control of certain strategic chokepoints, the prevention of a coup de main by manning specific Distant Ramparts, and the prevention of faits accomplis.

First, the sea services must control specific international chokepoints which correspond to the narrow seas previously discussed. Most important to this strategy is control of the Strait of Hormuz, Strait of Malacca, and the Eastern Mediterranean Basin. Control of these three chokepoints enables a far blockade/interdiction strategy critical to victory in a long-term conflict. Control of the Eastern Mediterranean hems in Russia from the South, facilitates operations against Iranian expansion in the Near East, and shortens transit time between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Control of the Strait of Hormuz and Western Indian Ocean enables a far blockade or interdiction operation against China, and provides critical screening for forces moving between the Far East and Europe. Finally, control of the Strait of Malacca and the Indonesian Throughflow, while not a foolproof method to prevent Chinese submarine leakage into the Indian Ocean, would at least make it more difficult for PLA Navy surface combatants to operate in this maritime space. Moreover, were China to militarize Colombo and Gwadar, and create a major facility in Djibouti, American and Allied forces would likely be able to prevent their relief and neutralize their combat efficacy.

Second, the USN and USMC must maintain overwhelming force superiority at critical sections of the Distant Rampart. In particular, the Ryukyu Islands, Indochinese coastline, and Persian Gulf must be unimpeachably secure. Crushing smaller adversaries like the Philippines and, depending on the conflict, Vietnam, could be executed before the arrival of American follow-on forces. A Taiwanese fait accompli is also possible, particularly if China struck after eliminating Vietnam or the Philippines. However, if China were not to secure a quick victory, it would need to isolate Taiwan from external supply lines and possible vectors of foreign intervention. This involves cutting through the Ryukyu Islands and Luzon in a pincer movement. Similarly, a quick descent upon the Strait of Malacca could require neutralizing Vietnam as an adversary – forces operating from Da Nang and Hai Phong would directly threaten the Southern Seas Fleet’s bases on Hainan Island and in Zhanjing. Ensuring American strength at each of these points would make the risk of these decisive actions much greater. If China cannot neutralize Taiwan with an overwhelming first strike, and if reinforcing CSGs and submarines operate behind a nest of island-based missile defenses, China will need to actually fight for the First Island Chain, rather than gaining it as a launchpad for further operations. If a Chinese move against Malacca requires eliminating an American-aligned Vietnam that can stall an offensive, the possibility of a quick, decisive strike spiraling into a broader war increases. And if America holds force superiority at key strategic points, this broader war looks increasingly less attractive for China. A similar concept applies in the Persian Gulf. A quick Iranian strike against Saudi Arabia or an attempt to control the Strait of Hormuz would be much less attractive if American forces in the Persian Gulf could intercept incoming Iranian missiles, sink the inevitable swarm of fast attack craft and missile boats, and eliminate the Iranian naval command at Bandar Abbas. Maintaining superiority at critical points on the Distant Rampart ensures that America’s adversaries will need to seriously consider the implications of full-scale and long-term war, rather than being tempted to strike quickly and decisively.

Third, the sea services, and the Navy in particular, must guard against smaller-scale faits accomplis from America’s adversaries by maintaining long-term and sufficient presence and combat power in the narrow seas, namely the SCS, ECS, Baltic, and Eastern Mediterranean.  The specific force structure in the first three differs from that in the last. The SCS, ECS, and Baltic are potential “hot zones,” in which China or Russia could stage a quick strike against an American ally or U.S. forces.  For long-term combat power, submarines are more important in these areas than surface combatants – although small surface combatants used as a tripwire, and to engage in grey zone operations, are relevant. By contrast, Russia’s aim of cracking NATO involves applying coercive naval and maritime pressure to Southern Europe and, potentially, Israel. Particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean, land-based airpower can prove decisive in preserving sea control, as Britain’s experience during the Second World War demonstrated.  Thus, the USN’s Eastern Mediterranean role must be to outmuscle Russian warships, serving as a visible marker of American interest in, and commitment to, a favorable regional balance of power.

A specific force structure and distribution descends from this strategy. The two major chokepoints that the U.S. must control – the Strait of Hormuz and Strait of Malacca – require frequent carrier coverage, or at a minimum, a large, visible surface presence. In addition, the USN must provide a capable battle force ready to deploy to Asiatic waters, which likely includes two on-station CSGs at any time. Presuming contemporary operational tempo during peacetime, this necessitates an expansion of the U.S. carrier fleet to 15 ships from its present 11. Despite their age, the Navy could consider bringing the USS Enterprise and John F Kennedy out of retirement, at least until the mid-2020s, when CVN-80 will be commissioned. With four surface combatants and one submarine per CSG, the Navy will need to dedicate 20 surface combatants and five SSNs exclusively to maintaining these permanent formations. That is absent the surface action groups necessary to operate a far blockade. The Future Surface Combatant’s development offers a significant opportunity in this regard: developing a family of warships intended to operate as a cohesive, networked whole in blockade operations would benefit America’s long-term strategy.

Preventing faits accomplis requires a similarly significant force restructuring. The basis of this deterrence force should be the four Ohio-class submarines the USN has modified to carry cruise missiles, operating alongside Surface Action Groups (this makes eight more deployed DDG-51s, DDG-1000s, or CG-47s). Such formations will be particularly important in the Baltics, SCS, and ECS, environments in which America’s adversaries could contest access in crisis situations. The SSGNs will be able to avoid enemy detection, and inflict substantial punishment on advancing forces and their supporting infrastructure with their 154 cruise missiles. However, the U.S. must consider revising longstanding biases, and forward-deploying small surface combatants optimized for lethality, rather than emphasizing survivability and defensive armament. Conventionally-powered attack submarines may also be a part of such a force, either directly in the U.S. fleet, or operated by American allies with weaker military capabilities.

Most importantly, preventing a coup de main requires a radical overhaul of the USN’s and USMC’s present operational outlook. While the far blockade is invaluable to winning a major great power war, it is unlikely to deter one. Short, decisive actions that transform the regional balance of forces are unlikely to be deterred by long-term punishment strategies, of which the far blockade is an example. The case of Germany in 1914 is illustrative. British strategy was premised on maintaining the far blockade against Germany, and in conjunction slowly grinding down Germany’s military positions on the European continent. The strategy worked, but only after 1.1 million British and Imperial lives were lost. If Britain had attempted to deny Germany its immediate objectives in 1914, and threatened to deploy 30 or more divisions in support of France at the outbreak of hostilities, the already anxious Moltke the Younger may have objected to the Schlieffen Plan in its totality.

Similarly, denying China its objectives in the Pacific requires ensuring that Taiwan remains defended and supplied despite an overwhelming initial Chinese offensive. Neutralizing Taiwan is essential for China’s long-term war objectives in a protracted and wide-scale conflict. If the island remains functionally independent, it could act as a strategic salient for hostile forces, and a staging point for attacks against Chinese shipping and naval units. The two-CSG battle force proposed previously would help protect Taiwan from China’s initial offensive. However, the USMC must also fortify the islands that provide access to Taiwan, namely the Ryukyus and the north of the Philippine archipelago. This not only entails an expansion of the USMC, but also a modification of its role. Marines fortifying these islands must field their own long-range anti-ship and anti-air missiles, while the Marine air units deployed would be focused upon air defense and sea control, rather than ground attack.

The exact size of such a fleet and Marine Corps would fluctuate depending upon specific operational choices. However, one can expect the USN would break 350 ships, while the USMC would expand to 190,000-200,000 men.

Conclusion

Such a force expansion would be costly, but is miniscule compared to the price of fighting a major war unprepared. Manning the Distant Rampart is an expensive process, even with allies to shoulder the load. But abandoning it, as empires from Rome onward have learned, is even more dangerous. By refocusing U.S. maritime strategy on forward defense and offensive action, one can hope for, if not the realization of American security goals, then at least the right general approach to the Republic’s challenges.

Harry Halem is an undergraduate at the University of St Andrews studying International Relations and Philosophy. He welcomes your comments at hh66@st-andrews.ac.uk

Featured Image: EAST CHINA SEA (March 11, 2018) An F-35B launches off the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) as part of a routine patrol in the Indo-Pacific region. Pilots with the “Green Knights” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), assigned under the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, are scheduled to conduct a series of qualification flights on Wasp over a multi-day period. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Levingston Lewis/Released)

The Discrepancy Between U.S. Administration Rhetoric and Navy Strategy

Maritime Strategy for Great Power Competition Topic Week

By Philip Chr. Ulrich

The challenge facing the United States is building a 21st century navy, operating in 19th century-styled great power competition, and upholding a 20th century world order while urrently led by an administration which seems to challenge the foundation of that very order.

When we look at the current emerging world order, the last comparable historical period was pre-World War II, and perhaps more accurately pre-World War I. This takes the form of a world order of competing great powers, now on a global, not Eurocentric, scale. Great nations are working out the balances of power and arguing about and testing international rules. Same as it was in the 19th and early 20th century, maritime strategy and capabilities will play a central role in the emerging multipolar world order.

In another way, the 19th century is a useful frame of reference. The way that the Trump administration, and particularly the president, has talked about military force in some ways resembles the thinking of 19th century great powers. So how does the strategic thinking of the U.S. Department of the Navy compare to the thinking of the current administration?

A New World Order – Like the Old One

Currently, we are seeing a new world order being structured, following two decades of American hegemony since the end of the Cold War. Leading regional powers are demanding more prominent roles and influence in world affairs, to match national self-perception, economic performance, and military capabilities. States like China, India, Russia (and an organization like the European Union also has the potential to act as a great power) are becoming regional powers in their own right, and particularly China and Russia are challenging the United States.

In many respects, the situation that we are witnessing is very similar to the world order which dominated the 19th century and early years of the 20th century. Currently the United States is first among equals, same as Great Britain was the dominant maritime power as well as the economic force in the 19th century. This was until the United States and Germany caught up and eventually overtook the British Empire economically. In the maritime domain British dominance ended in 1922 with the Washington Naval Treaty, when Great Britain formally accepted naval parity with the United States. Today the dominant military and economic power is the United States with states like China and India increasing their capabilities in those areas, while Russia does not present an economic competitor, but presents a military challenger both in Europe, the Middle East, and Arctic.

Same as it was in the 19th century, the maritime domain is essential to the world order today. Commercially 90  percent of world trade is transported by sea, and militarily there is a growing development of navies – especially in the Indo-Pacific region. China is building a blue-water navy to project power on a more global scale and protect commercial interests and its sea lines of communication (SLOC). India is entering the same process in relation to its “Look East Policy,” and Russia shares similar ambitions.

At the regional and tactical level, however, modern advances in military capability influence this 19th century-like competition – challenges that the United States is compelled to counter in order to maintain its dominant global role. This goes both for its role as a politically leading state and militarily, but also in order to secure open Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs).

This challenge is the increasing access to Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities across a greater number of actors. These A2/AD capabilities increase the risk both to U.S. military capabilities in case of conflict as well as to the free movement of commercial shipping traffic even before direct military operations commence. This challenge confronts the United States in the Indo-Pacific (most prominently seen countered with continued Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea), but also in other areas of the world. NATO faces A2/AD challenges from Russia in both the Baltic region, and also in the Black Sea and Arctic regions. Challenges also exist in the Middle East in ensuring the safe transportation of goods across the world’s oceans given Iran’s own A2/AD capabilities.

The increased presence of A2/AD capabilities is an essential part of the military dimension of competition that we are witnessing today, as they are part of the efforts of both China, Russia, and Iran to manifest themselves as regional hegemons that can dominate and control access to their respective regions. Such a situation would threaten the unrivaled (until now) maritime dominance of the United States.

The Trump Administration’s Rhetoric and View of Military Power in Strategy

Since the inauguration of President Trump, his administration has emphasized the centrality of “Peace Through Strength” in its foreign policy and the need for expansion of U.S. “hard power” capabilities. Maritime capabilities are part of these hard power capabilities, as then-candidate Donald Trump promised an expansion of the U.S. Navy to 350 ships from its current 283 ships at a campaign rally in Philadelphia in September 2016. The concept of “Peace Through Strength” was later made a central tenet of the administration’s first National Security Strategy. This was already the case with the first budget proposal submitted by the administration, which was presented by Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as “a hard power budget” focusing on increasing U.S. defense budgets.

This military expansion has Teddy Roosevelt-like undertones, as military might is continually emphasized by especially President Trump in his diplomatic dealings with countries like North Korea or Iran. The U.S. military is once again an obvious “big stick” – same as it was for Theodore Roosevelt in the early 20th century. To President Roosevelt an expansion of the U.S. Navy was central to let the United States take its place among the great powers of that era, and this was the signal that he wished to send, when the “Great White Fleet” was sent around the world: The United States now had a great power fleet able to project power across the globe. The Navy was central to making the United States an international actor, who for example could mediate in the Russo-Japanese War, and become an influential power on the world stage, alongside great powers like Great Britain and France. For President Trump the ability to project power across the globe is also central to his understanding of the United States as a great power – one that other nations best not cross.

An example of his way of discussing military force was in the summer of 2017 when the President announced that the United States had sent “an armada” towards the Korean Peninsula in order to deter North Korea from further nuclear tests. This was an old fashioned “gunboat diplomacy” statement, from a time when great powers used their navies to project power and deter smaller actors (and peer competitors) from further provocations. This same kind of “gunboat diplomacy” could be seen in the two instances, when missiles were fired against the Assad-regime following the use of chemical weapons against civilians. Here U.S. vessels (along with allied vessels) were sent to the region to conduct the strikes. Another example of the president’s more classical understanding of military power in diplomatic relations is the issue of a military parade in Washington D.C. This follows the classical understanding of displaying military forces to remind other actors of one’s great power status.

The foundation of the Trump administration’s foreign policy is the concept of “America First.” This has so far meant a distancing from central pillars of the liberal world order that previous U.S. administrations had built and supported since the end of World War Two. For the first time in decades, a U.S. administration has strongly spoken out against free trade agreements, multilateral organizations, and questioned U.S. alliances in Europe and Asia. The reasoning is based on a perception of U.S. interests being thwarted in multilateral organizations, where the superiority of the United States cannot be as readily utilized to dictate outcomes more favorable to itself.

In the understanding of the Trump administration, the superiority of the United States is still so great that it can challenge allies and partners to change behavior or deal with an American withdrawal from partnerships. U.S. allies are welcome to cooperate with the United States, but it requires a greater acceptance of U.S. interests. Similarities to the 19th century can thus also be found in this less multilaterally-focused foreign policy – which instead is based on an understanding of the superiority of U.S. hard power and the associated dependence of allies.

So just as the current world has similarities to the world order of the 19th century, so too does the way that the U.S. president talks about military power – and deploys it.

U.S. Maritime Strategy

If we look at U.S. maritime strategy and statements by Navy department officials the clear trend is that the department is preparing and modernizing for a multi-polar world order and, in line with the National Security Strategy, for great power competition with actors like China and Russia.

Already in the 2007 strategy document “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower” it was established that the United States and its partners would be competing for influence on a global scale. The solution for this was, according to the 2007 strategy, to focus on securing the American-led international system by cooperating closely with both state and non-state actors: “No one nation has the resources required to provide safety and security throughout the entire maritime domain. Increasingly, governments, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and the private sector will form partnerships of common interests to counter these emerging threats.”

This systemic and multilateral approach can also be seen in the 2015 follow-up to “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower”: “Forward naval presence is essential to strengthening alliances and partnerships, providing the secure environment necessary for an open economic system based on the free flow of goods, protecting U.S. natural resources, promoting stability, deterring conflict, and responding to aggression.” The focus of maritime strategy has for more than a decade been on the systemic foundation of American power and on how to cooperate with allies and partners to fulfill this role.

However, the plan for the Navy department also includes expanding its number of ships – both in line with department policy and the president’s promises during the 2016 campaign. The purpose of this enlarged fleet was in April 2018 defined by the Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, at a public hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee as: “the building of a more lethal, resilient, and agile force to deter and defeat aggression by peer competitors and other adversaries in all domains and across the conflict spectrum.” To fulfill the strategic needs of the United States, it is judged that the U.S. Navy will need 355 vessels. The process to reach that number will take decades according to the Navy department’s own 30-Year Shipbuilding Plan. According to this, the aim of 355 ships may not be reached until the 2050s. The strategy and plans of the Navy department are for a focus on securing the liberal world order that has underpinned U.S. hegemony for, while acknowledging that the U.S. does not have the necessary capabilities to do this alone, and therefore needs to cooperate with allies and partners – while further capabilities are being built in a multi-decade process.

A Discrepancy between Administration Rhetoric and Long-Term Navy Strategy

There is no doubt that the international order is changing in these years. The hegemonic status of the United States that arose following the collapse of the Soviet Union is being challenged. There are more similarities to the 19th century great power competitions, than to the Cold War era of bipolar competition. For this reason, more traditional aspects of great power competition is reemerging such as the focus on balance of power and the building of capabilities to offset challengers. Given the extent of global trade travelling on the world’s oceans, the maritime domain of course plays a central role in this strategic environment.

With the election of Donald Trump, the United States has gotten a president with a more realist view of great power relations, emphasizing hard power in his diplomacy with regional actors like Iran or North Korea. The hard power diplomacy is based on talking more openly about U.S. capabilities, as well as displaying military forces in a classical “gun boat diplomacy” fashion. This has been a clear method for President Trump since the campaign.

However, this also results in a discrepancy between the rhetoric of the administration, and the strategy of the Navy department. Here, the strategy is based on a long-term build-up of forces supplemented by plentiful cooperation with allies and partners – also through multilateral organizations and upholding international norms and rules of the liberal world order. The process to reach this strategy took more than a decade following the fall of the Soviet Union, only now to be met by an administration challenging the very order that this strategy sees as the very foundation of U.S. global power.

Another discrepancy is the current administration’s understanding of the current capabilities of the U.S. military. The administration handles its hard power diplomacy as though the build-up that is underway was in fact complete. But by pursuing key changes in policy toward North Korea and Iran, and adding volatility that increases the risk of military conflict, the administration is exposing the military to overstretch because currently the Navy conclusion is that it does not have the capabilities to fulfill even its current commitments let alone a major contingency. North Korea and Iran are also regional actors and not the great power competitors that are the alleged focus of the newly issued National Defense and National Security strategy documents, and thus sap attention and resources away from identified priorities.

Whether the Trump administration’s foreign policy results in a more withdrawn U.S. role in global affairs, it is inevitable that the maritime domain will still be central to U.S. interests. Commercial interests and security concerns will demand a strong American naval presence – whether it is to support an offshore balancing strategy, continued active presence, or a more isolationist strategy. All three will require unified strategic clarity both from the administration and the Pentagon – a clarity that does not seem to exist.

Philip Chr. Ulrich has an M.A. in American Studies from the University of Southern Denmark. He is foreign policy editor at the Danish news media Kongressen.com and has contributed to and written several books on U.S. politics and history. Most recently he has written a biography about General David Petraeus, that was published at the University Press of Southern Denmark. Previously, he has worked as head of section at the Royal Danish Defence College, where he published several briefs on U.S. defense and foreign policy.

Featured Image: President Donald Trump tours the pre-commissioned U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford in Newport News, Virginia, on March 2. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

What do the New National Security and Defense Strategies Mean for Maritime Security?

Maritime Strategy for Great Power Competition Week

By Jack McKechnie

The recently released U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) and National Defense Strategy (NDS) have major implications for maritime security. In December 2017, the Trump Administration released its first National Security Strategy and a month afterward, the Department of Defense released its nested National Defense Strategy. Per U.S. military doctrine, the NSS provides a broad strategic context for employing military capabilities in concert with other instruments of national power and addresses tasks that are necessary to provide enduring security for the American people and shape the global environment.1 The NDS outlines the Department of Defense’s approach to implementing the President’s NSS. Both signify a significant change of focus while also confirming the traditional American approach to security. During the implementation of these strategies, the maritime environment plays a prominent role in addressing security concerns for the foreseeable future.  

Great Power Strategic  Competition, not Terrorism

A few years ago, there was considerable ambiguity identifying the greatest security threat facing the United States. ISIS had emerged as a serious force in the middle east, and U.S. and allied forces faced setbacks in Afghanistan. The threat of violent extremist organizations, especially radical Islamic ones, appeared to most significantly affect future security interests of the United States. In 2015, a Gallop poll indicated that 84 percent of Americans considered both ISIS and international terrorism to be critical threats to vital U.S. interests, while only 49 percent considered the military power of Russia and only 40 percent considered the economic power of China to be critical threats.2 The maritime environment plays a relatively minor role in addressing the terrorist threat, and it appeared that the main focus of effort would be on terrorists rather than conventional, state actors.

Following a dramatic period witnessing the collapse of ISIS along with increasingly aggressive actions by China and Russia, the National Security Strategy (NSS) mentions the challenge of China and Russia first in its description of the present competitive world, and warns of the return of great power competition. Likewise, the National Defense Strategy declares upfront that “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.” There is a renewed emphasis to deter or defeat major powers which will greatly increase attention for maritime security.

Long-term strategic competition from China and Russia is profoundly more threatening to maritime security compared to the threat of non-state terrorists. The ability of either or both major powers to impede sea lines of communication in the event of an armed conflict is an alarming concern. One of the missions of the U.S. Navy – to maintain freedom of the seas – would be critically challenged in a great power conflict. According to Alfred Thayer Mahan, the primary purpose of a Navy is to secure command of the seas so that another navy is unable to disrupt that nation’s sea commerce. Mahan argues that a navy should secure command of the seas by destroying the enemy navy.3 Mahan’s theories continue to influence U.S. Navy policy today, as apparent in the U.S. Navy’s Design for Maritime Superiority and Future Navy documents. Analytical studies, war games, and conferences will increasingly feature potential conflict in the maritime environment by addressing the potential of one navy to destroy another in a contest to secure or sever sea lines of communication.  

Military Primacy

The NSS calls for the military to remain pre-eminent and to retain over-match, the combination of capabilities in sufficient scale to prevent enemy success. This continues a longstanding tradition of U.S. foreign policy as recently summarized by Dr. Thomas Mahnken in his contribution to the journal by the Asian Bureau of National Research.4 Mahnken states that in practice, U.S. grand strategy and national military strategy have been remarkably consistent over the past 70 years, with a military strategy of power projection underpinning a grand strategy of global primacy. The NSS and NDS continue this strategy, notwithstanding the recommendations of some academic scholars to abandon this approach.

Dr. Barry Posen is one such scholar who has argued against prioritization of military power, instead advocating a grand strategy of Restraint which would pursue a cautious balance-of-power strategy and use military power sparingly.5 Initially encouraged by Donald Trump’s remarks on the campaign trail indicating that as president, he might withdraw from alliances and play a less prominent (and expensive) role in the world order, Posen was surprised and disappointed that Trump’s grand strategy turned into a continuation of what he considered an overly expensive, hegemonic security policy, although with more illiberal characteristics.6

Posen overstates the characterization of the Trump administration’s policies, which fundamentally still adhere to liberal international principles, especially compared to other, truly illiberal regimes. He underestimated the durability of the U.S. foreign policy establishment and its effectiveness in convincing a new President to adopt an approach quite different from what was discussed during the campaign. The NSS and NDS firmly refute the suitability of Restraint in addressing contemporary security dilemmas. Despite the problems of military primacy and maintaining overmatch, these policies have been decided to be better than the alternatives with respect to reorienting toward great power competition. It is important to make this distinction and to understand how significant the rejection of Posen’s concepts is, for this will be the path of U.S. strategy for the foreseeable future.

The National Defense Strategy asserts that war between great powers is possible and increasingly likely unless the United States can maintain a favorable balance of power. Rivalry among maritime forces will be a crucial element in this balance of power as the United States strives to maintain military primacy. The rate of procurement and modernization among global naval forces, especially between the United States and China, will be scrutinized. Military future force planning goals such as a 355-ship navy are actively discussed – a number that would have seemed preposterous only a few years ago. Furthermore, should China and Russia surprise the United States by building more ships and submarines than anticipated during force structure planning, that number will change. In fact, another Force Structure Assessment may be accomplished soon, guided by the NDS.7    

Alliances and Forward Military Presence

From the rhetoric during campaign season some expected the Trump Administration to significantly change the U.S. security approach which favored a commitment to a system of alliances and maintenance of a forward military posture. Scholars such Dr. John T. Kuehn considered an active military and forward posture to result in indecisive and expensive military operations. Kuehn advocated for a “command of the commons approach” which uses naval and air forces to secure the North American continent from threats while avoiding expensive “boots on the ground” forward military presence.8 Instead, the Trump Administration has been convinced that U.S. security concerns continue to be best addressed by a powerful military, positioned and engaged forward with allied partners.

Military leadership in the Pacific theater has argued that reducing America’s overseas military deployments and alliance commitments places the United States at a distinct disadvantage. They point out that due to considerable distances, there is significant operational risk for the military to adequately reinforce units and fulfill treaty obligations during a full-scale contingency. They emphasize that restoring a forward-based deterrent once it has been dismantled is much more difficult than estimated.9

The National Security Strategy states that the U.S. will “maintain a forward military presence capable of deterring and, if necessary, defeating any adversary.” It also declares “we will reinforce our commitment to freedom of the seas and the peaceful resolution of territorial and maritime disputes in accordance with international law.” The Trump Administration’s decision that continuing a policy that considers forward presence and close cooperation with allies as the best means to safeguard freedom of the seas  means that the U.S. Navy and its allies will seek to maintain or increase its presence in disputed areas. Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) and exercises such as the three carrier strike group maneuver in the East China Sea last Fall will continue. Furthermore, the National Defense Strategy’s declaration to be less operationally predictable may result in unforeseen increases in forward posture and operations in key regions, especially the Indo Pacific region.

Conclusion

In A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (CS21R), the sea services of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard state that the essential function of maritime security supports free and open seaborne commerce. CS21R was forward-leaning in that it addressed the increasing tension and instability caused by China’s naval expansion, lack of transparency in its military intentions, and behavior that suggests it is not on an inevitable path towards integrating fully with international norms, institutions, and standards of behavior. The NSS states the United States will encourage regional cooperation to maintain free and open seaways and identifies China as challenging American power, influence and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. CS21R remains in alignment with this, but revision is required for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to implement the NDS. The NDS requires prioritization of threats, mission, geography and investment to address long term strategic competitions with China and Russia. In addition, the NDS concepts of Dynamic Force Employment and Global Operating Model require elaboration by the services for competition in the maritime environment, and the NDS direction to restore warfighting readiness and build a more lethal force must also be addressed.

A broader task is to convince the American public why the danger of inter-state strategic competition with China and Russia is more pressing than the danger of Islamic terrorists. Furthermore, they must approve of the means of military primacy to deter or defeat this threat, for they as taxpayers ultimately fund the military – and more funding will be required should China’s military expansion accelerate. Finally, U.S. citizens must endorse the forward deployment of military and American leadership abroad as an essential way to promote stability and security abroad which reduces threats to prosperity and safety at home. This is a difficult task, for most Americans are more mindful of the death and destruction caused by Al-Qaeda and ISIS than of the consequences of a future conflict with China. They are largely unaware of malign maritime activities across the world and the operations of U.S. forces postured to counter them. The NSS and NDS are a good start to shift public perceptions; follow through is essential.          

Jack McKechnie is a Commander in the U.S. Navy and a graduate student at American University, School of International Service. The views expressed in this article are his own.

References

[1] Joint Chiefs of Staff. (2017). Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States (JP-1). II-3. Retrieved from http://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Doctrine/pubs/jp1_ch1.pdf

[2] Swift, A. & Dugan, A. (2015, February 13). ISIS, Terrorism Seen as Graver Threats Than Russia, Ukraine. Retrieved from http://news.gallup.com/poll/181553/isis-terrorism-seen-graver-threats-russia-ukraine.aspx?utm_source=Politics&utm_medium=newsfeed&utm_campaign=tiles

[3] Mahan, A. T. (1890). The influence of sea power upon history, 1660-1783. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.

[4] Mahnken, T. (2017). U.S. Strategy: Confronting Challenges Abroad and at Home. In A. J. Tellis, A. Szalwinski, and M. Wills (Eds.) Strategic Asia 2017-2018 Power, Ideas, and Military Strategy in the Asia Pacific (204-229). The National Bureau of Asian Research, Seattle, WA.

[5] Posen, B. R. (2014). Restraint, A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

[6] Posen, B. R. (2018)  The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony. Foreign Affairs. Mar/Apr 2018. 20-38.

[7] LaGrone, S. (2018 March 7). Navy Working New Fleet Size Study Following Latest Strategic Reviews. USNI News. Retrieved from https://news.usni.org/2018/03/07/navy-working-new-fleet-size-study-following-latest-strategic-reviews

[8] Kuehn, J.T. (2017 December 7). Reconsidering the American Way of Strategy. Center for International Maritime Security. Retrieved from http://cimsec.org/reconsidering-american-way-strategy/34726

[9] Harris, H. B., Brown, R.B., Swift, S.H., and Berry, R.D. (2018 March 2). The Integrated Joint Force: A Lethal Solution for Ensuring Military Preeminence. Strategy Bridge. Retrieved from https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2018/3/2/the-integrated-joint-force-a-lethal-solution-for-ensuring-military-preeminence.

Featured Image: USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and their attached strike groups transit the Western Pacific with ships from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. (US Navy Photo)

Topic Week on Maritime Strategy for Great Power Competition Kicks Off on CIMSEC

By Dmitry Filipoff

This week CIMSEC will be featuring articles submitted in response to our Call for Articles on Maritime Strategy for Great Power Competition. Below is a list of articles featuring during the topic week that will be updated as prospective authors finalize additional publications.

Countering Hybrid Threats in the Maritime Environment by Chris Kremidas-Courtney
Russia-China Naval Cooperation in an Era of Great Power Competition by David Scott
What do the New National Security and Defense Strategies Mean for Maritime Security? by Jack McKechnie
Manning the Distant Rampart: Maritime Strategy in an Age of Global Competition by Harry Halem
The Discrepancy Between U.S. Administration Rhetoric and Navy Strategy by Philip Chr. Ulrich
Togetherness At Sea: Promoting 21st Century Naval Norms of Cooperation by Commodore Olutunde Oladimeji, NN (ret.)

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

Featured Image: Photo of Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning. (PLA Photo)