Power Protection and Budget Control

In its continued search for relevance, the Navy is defining its future with those of its sister sea services. The Naval Operational Concept is a part of a layered Maritime Cooperative Strategy. A needlessly insecure Navy is latching onto the DoD Always Faithful (and Always Employed) and the DHS Always Prepared (and Equally Employed). Partnering? Iraq-envy? The Navy may be working to ensure its financial future.

As recently reported by the Navy Times and Defense News, the Naval Operational Concept combines the seapower strategies of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard into one maritime strategic view. It seems more like a mishmash of tasks sans a coherent vision, though we have not reviewed the draft. Forward presence, maritime security, sea control, power projection and deterrence, to name a few, fall under the timeless (and proven) mantra of power projection and sea control in some form. Codified in the document are humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, with which the Navy has been involved since providing assistance in Italy in 1908 after a deadly earthquake. As the Great White Fleet projected its legendary power, aiding disaster victims was a natural fit even at a time when the young-and-still-untested nation was feeling its way around the dance floor. Power projection is power projection.

The Boys in Blue also say they are looking to a stronger presence in the Mediterranean (one they enjoyed not long ago). Aside from its proximity to the Middle East, the Med is a major gateway to Africa. Since AFRICOM continues to sit in Stuttgart, Germany, why not float in a presence? It’s worked for the past century-plus. (But we don’t think the Ruskie naval base in Libya will be extending the U.S. fleet any invitations.)

According to Defense News, “The draft NOC asks what systems and capabilities might be added to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), including Marine capabilities.” Great question — back when the vessel was in its earliest development stages. (Mishmash!) Now after years in development and production, it has been the overload of capabilities on LCS and DDG 1000 (the USS Zumwalt, though we like to call her “Flipper”) that have caused costs to skyrocket nearly derailing the programs and pushing a 313-ship fleet farther out of reach.

The LCS entry and the outline of the number of “cruisers, destroyers, frigates, Coast Guard cutters, patrol boats, and icebreakers” the Navy will need, seem to target the Budgeteers. It also seems like this document is destined for the Hill. While the draft does not ask “Who’s your daddy?” the (unholy) Father of 313, Virginia Sen. Jim “Women Can’t Fight” Webb might have his work cut out for him as he and fellow lawmakers determine future budgets of not just the Navy, but the Marine Corps and Coast Guard, now that all three are linked.

Mishmash for cash!

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