Category Archives: New Initiatives

New projects and initiatives at CIMSEC.

MFP 2: Investing for the Maritime Future

What should your Navy/Coast Guard invest in more that it is not investing enough in today?

This is the second in our series of posts from our Maritime Futures Project.  Note: The opinions and views expressed in these posts are those of the authors alone and are presented in their personal capacity.  They do not necessarily represent the views of their parent institution U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, any other agency, or any other foreign government.

LT Alan Tweedie, USNR:

Maintenance.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Creating maintainable and upgradeable ships with long service lives is the key.

YN2(SW) Michael George, USN:

Some believe the most important investment is money for maintenance and maintenance skills.
Some believe the most important investment is money for maintenance and maintenance skills.

The Navy should invest in greater preventative maintenance efforts aboard ships as well as for shore commands.  By always granting repair contracts to “the lowest bidder” we get what we pay for.  This is something military members often hear about, and it definitely seems to ring true from my experience.

From touring some Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) ships and seeing the upkeep and quality in maintenance, their ships appear to be more “ready to go” than our own, despite U.S. ships having generally superior weapons and technology.

LT Drew Hamblen, USN:

Network security, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), over-the-horizon (OTH) communications, and data-storage capacity – my squadron’s share drive for 250+ personnel holds less than my 20GB smart phone.

LCDR Joe Baggett, USN:

Improved and expanded theater ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) capabilities.  Adversaries are unlikely to attempt conventional force-on-force conflict.  The days of Carl von Clausewitz’s “Total War” and theory of capital ships fighting capital ships to decide the outcome of war seem no longer valid.  To the extent that maritime forces can be openly challenged, plans to do so will almost certainly rely on asymmetric attack and surprise, achieved through stealth, deception, or ambiguity.  Therefore, to be effective:

– Our ISR capabilities must include innovative ways to penetrate the designs of adversaries, and discern their capabilities and vulnerabilities while supporting the full range of military operations.
– We significantly increase our commitment to advance maritime domain awareness (MDA) and expanded ISR capabilities and capacities.
– Maritime forces must be committed and have the capability to enhance information sharing, underpinning and energizing our capability to neutralize threats to our nation as far from our shores as possible.

We must remove the possibility of an adversary gaining the initiative over forward-deployed forces and ensure we provide decision makers with the information they need to deter aggression and consider escalatory measures in advance of such gambits.

Rex Buddenberg, U.S. Naval Post Graduate School:

Integrating abilities.  The single most important one here is investing only in radio-WAN (wide area network) communications systems, that is, routable networks (whether or not there is a satellite involved).  All other (i.e. stovepipe) comms technologies should only get maintenance money adequate to carry them through a reasonable life cycle.

Programmatically, we’re investing millions in new platforms (true for both the Navy and Coast Guard) but by comparison are investing little in integrating information system capabilities – and those investments we are making are in more stovepipes (e.g. MUOS, Rescue 21).

The venerable Harpoon: ready for an upgrade?
The venerable Harpoon: Ready for an upgrade?

Bryan McGrath, Director, Delex Consulting, Studies and Analysis:

I believe the U.S. Navy is insufficiently investing in building up its stock of precision-guided munitions of all types.

LT Chris Peters, USN:

Maybe we’re already working on this, but I would like to see an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) capability on Flt IIA (Arleigh Burke-class) DDGs, as well as a long-term upgrade for the Harpoon missiles.  I see the absence of ASCMs on the majority of our DDGs as a significant weakness in SuW (Surface Warfare). 

Sebastian Bruns, Fellow, Institute for Security, University of Kiel, Germany:

It appears that the German armed forces are, once more, approaching cross-roads.  With the publically desired withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, and noticeable conflict fatigue in German society, it will be crucial to learn the right lessons from this conflict.  Some aspects have already been thoroughly reviewed and analyzed, such as inter-service and inter-agency approaches to counter-insurgency, and respective lessons (to be) learned. 

In light of the dim future of Afghanistan and the real, lasting effects of the Western engagement in Central Asia, however, a neo-isolationist reflex could well hinder participation in expeditionary operations of any sort in the near future.  The German Navy and those who are supportive of its cause (be they in government, the armed forces, or general public) must continue to work to counter sea-blindness and such isolationist tendencies.  There can hardly be too little investment in generating greater understanding of the leverage of seapower.  At the same time, it is difficult to put a dollar (or, for that matter, a Euro) price tag on such a comprehensive approach.  From a procurement point of view, it will be essential to streamline bureaucratic processes to allow shipbuilding and aircraft procurement to be quicker and more reliable than in the past. 

Felix Seidler,, Germany:

If there were money to invest, Germany would be well advised to increase its expeditionary naval capabilities.  Besides the proposed Joint Support Ship, a multinational LHD (Mistral-class) or medium-size aircraft carrier run by Germany and allied countries would be a great step forward in capabilities.  

CDR Chuck Hill, USCG (Ret.):

The U.S. Coast Guard needs to cut its manpower requirement because that is where most of the money is spent.  It needs to look for opportunities to replace manpower with technology.

CDR Chris Rawley, USNR:

Some think investments now in sea-based ISR could pay dividends for a future fleet.
Some think investments now in sea-based ISR could pay dividends for a future fleet.

First, the U.S. Navy should acquire at least 50 small, affordable ships.  The Navy needs multi-purpose ships that can be built in large numbers to conduct the day-to-day operations that are running larger combatants, amphibious ships, and their crews ragged.  These ships need self-defense weapons, high endurance, flight decks, surplus berthing for embarking detachments of various types, as much bandwidth as possible, and not much else.  They may be sized like a frigate or corvette, but don’t have to look like one.  Unfortunately, LCS does not appear to fit the bill as its costs (including the still-unfinished mission packages) will not allow for large purchases during the fiscal shoal waters that DoD budgets are approaching.  The argument is routinely made that small combatants cannot be built cheaply any more, yet our allies continue to crank out small, capable ships at relatively affordable price points.

Second, the Navy needs more sea-based ISR and unmanned strike.  We can’t kill targets that we can’t rapidly find and classify.  Basing remotely piloted aircraft ashore is dicey and getting more difficult every day.  We can mitigate this by getting long-dwell ISR to sea as quickly as possible.  The key is to do it affordably.

Bret Perry, Student, Georgetown University:

When compared to the rest of the fleet, the U.S. Navy’s minesweepers lack the amount of attention they deserve.   This is not surprising as historically America’s Baltic allies in NATO took the lead on this role.  However, these allies’ willingness to promptly deploy these assets to assist the U.S. in countering security threats in the Persian Gulf and Asia is questionable.  Thus, the U.S. should attempt to develop a more capable, advanced minesweeping fleet of its own to fill this potential gap. 

LT Jake Bebber, USN:

Cryptology is broken in the U.S. Navy.  One of the biggest factors is the lack of quality training our cryptologic technicians receive prior to arriving in the fleet.  Today, young cryptologists receive the proverbial “fire hose” stream of out-of-date Power Points and CBT (computer based training).  Often, they are given instruction on equipment that is no longer used.  If they are provided training on up-to-date equipment, it is in a sterile, laboratory setting.  The “basics” of cryptologic reporting, maintenance of equipment, and analysis suffer as cutbacks to training budgets lead to reduced training time and preparation.  The Navy needs to invest in cryptologic training to start rebuilding our maritime cryptologic capabilities.


Results of informal poll in CIMSEC’s Internal Discussion Facebook Group

In What Should Your Coast Guard/Navy Invest More that it is not investing enough in today?

Frigate/Corvette-sized multi-purpose ships: 10  77%
Sea-based ISR: 4  31%
Submarine assets: 3   27%
Augmenting manpower with tech: 2  18%
Surface vessel anti-ship cruise missiles: 2 18%
Minesweeping: 1 8%
Maintenance: 1 8%
Expeditionary naval capabilities: 1 8%
Unmanned strike: 1 8%
Long-range anti-ship naval aaviation: 1 8%
precision guided munitions: 0
Communication-systems integration: 0
Replacing manpower with technology: 0

Total # of voters: 13

Most Popular CIMSEC Stories of 2012

Constitution goes out to sea in Boston Harbor, August, 2012

2012 was a great year for us here at CIMSEC. As a new organization it was technically both our best and worst year. But not all posts and articles are created equally. So here are our top pieces of 2012 as determined by you, our readers, based on the number of times the articles were accessed:


10. Who Defeated the Somali Pirates?

– LCDR Mark Munson, Sep 2

As the title suggests, the article explores the various factors that led to the precipitous fall in piracy off the Horn of Africa.  Humorously, the article was pirated and reprinted without attribution by an online Somali newspaper, The Somaliland Sun.


9. “Was it Over When the Drones Bombed Pearl Harbor?”

– LT Scott Cheney-Peters, July 12

This piece envisions a hypothetical future-war scenario, based on current tech trends and capabilities, using naval drones and cyber attack to achieve tactical surprise against the dastardly nation of Orangelandia. We got a re-tweet from Pete W. Singer, author of Wired for War, which I am now making my way through.


8. Modernizing the Polish Navy

– “Viribus Unitis,” Sep 1

Written by our esteemed colleague and contributor in Poland, Przemek Krajewski, this post covered the historic role and future of Poland’s Navy, and received a good deal of attention from industry analysts and those curious about the state and pace of Polish naval modernization.


7. SECNAV Reintroduces Grog to the Navy

– “Maynard, Cushing, & Ellis,” Oct 5

One of the many top-10 articles from our popular International Maritime Satire Week (4 come from that week). When the choice is between hard-hitting analysis and satire, the people have clearly spoken. Good thing we don’t rely on ad revenues!


6. Conning the Constitution

– LT Chris Peters, Sep 3

LT Chris Peters had the honor of taking the conn when the USS Constitution went underway under sail in Boston Harbor this summer for only the second time in 131 years. Here he describes an experience aboard Old Ironsides he’ll never forget.


5. Pentagon Announces Sequestration Scenario for the Navy

– LT Scott Cheney-Peters, Oct 10

There will be no Sequestration, at least for another two months, but if it does come to cuts, here’s how the Navy will pay the bills…in the world of satire.


4. Breaking the Bottleneck: Maritime Terrorism and “Economic Chokepoints” (Part 1)

– Andrew Walker, June 30

From our partners at the Atlantic Council of Canada comes an examination of the vulnerability of economic chokepoints to maritime terrorism. Sadly not part of International Maritime Satire Week.


3. CNO Introduces Equal Opportunity Red Teams

– LTJG Matt Hipple, Oct 5

This article ponders a world in which Sailors are not only told what not to do, but in which ‘speed traps’ are laid to catch the unwary. Pure satire, right?


2. An Influence Squadron in the Making?

– LT Kurt Albaugh, May 22

Kurt’s post explores alternate configurations of platforms for naval squadrons – using amphibs and small craft to their best effect.


1. 9th Season of “Deadliest Catch” to Film in South China Sea

– Bret Perry, Oct 3

Far and away the most popular article of the past year was the fictional preview of the upcoming season of “Deadliest Catch.”  Bonus: Check out the comments section to see what one of the producers of the show, Todd Stanley, thought of the piece.

Maritime Futures Project


DDG 1000 - Putting the pieces together. What other components will make up navies of the future?
DDG 1000 – Putting the pieces together. What other components will make up navies of the future?

As a small note, will be posting to the NextWar blog only sporadically over the holiday season to give everyone some time to clean off their running rust and run off shore power for awhile. In early January we’ll resume our normal flow with something we’re calling the Maritime Futures Project.

We’ll be making predictions about the future challenges, opportunities, and technologies for maritime professionals – as well as things we’d like to see come to pass. If you’d like a great preview of what we hope to have in store, check out friend-of-the-blog, Prof. James Holmes’ post at The Naval Diplomat. The post is a reply a question about advice on the maritime investments a smaller nation should pursue. If you’d like to participate in this project, feel free to email us at

In the meantime, from all of us here at CIMSEC, happy holidays!

NWDC Innovation Blog

Navy Warfare Development Command just started a new innovation-centric blog as part of a series of actions spurred by the Junior Innovation Symposium they held earlier this year. As they say in one of their initial posts:

We know you’re out there. Smart, passionate, experienced Sailors and Officers who care about the Navy and moving it forward. We know you have ideas about how to improve our Navy’s warfighting capabilities. And we want to give you a forum where you can share, debate and propose ideas that challenge conventional thinking about how we solve any number of challenges facing our Service.

There’s already an established community of informal bloggers on naval and maritime matters, but NWDC’s blog is a gateway to get your ideas heard in official channels. Also, keep a sharp lookout for more innovation events hosted by NWDC in the future!

Alright, back to Sea-Based Nations!

LT Kurt Albaugh, USN is President of the Center for International Maritime Security, a Surface Warfare Officer and Instructor in the U.S. Naval Academy’s English Department. The opinions and views expressed in this post are his alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense or the U.S. Navy.