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Thursday, January 31, 2013

 

"Pivot to the Pacific: What are the Practical and Global Implications?"

 

On Scene Report Day Three  -  January 31, 2013

The Chinese navy regularly bullies its neighbors, intrudes on the maritime rights of other nations and continually threatens anyone with which it disagrees, a U.S. Navy intelligence officer told an audience at the WEST 2013 convention in San Diego on Thursday.

Capt. Jim Fannell is deputy chief of staff for intelligence and operations at the U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters in Hawaii. He was part of a panel tasked with addressing the topic, Chinese Navy: Operational Challenge or Potential Partner, and he spent his 10-minute introductory comments giving a sober assessment on the rising power - an assessment he predicted at the beginning of his remarks may keep him from being invited to a similar event in the future.

He claimed that China has destabilized the East Asia maritime environment and is “seizing the maritime rights of its neighbors.” He pointed to last year’s Scarborough Shoals affair with the Philippines as an example.

“China is negotiating for control of other nations’ resources off their coasts,” Fannell said. “What’s mine is mine, and we’ll negotiate what’s yours.”

Fannell began his talk by noting that he is part of a team of officers who spend up to an hour every morning engaged in intelligence briefings reviewing developments in the Asia/Pacific region, probing over data regarding every country in the area. “Every day, it’s about China,” Fannell said. “It’s about a China who is at the center of virtually every activity and dispute in the maritime domain in the East Asia region. The People’s Liberation Army Navy, the PLA Navy, is now regularly operating in the Pacific and Indian oceans and maintains a robust, constant presence.”

He said the Chinese navy’s expansion into the so-called “blue waters” is “largely about countering the U.S. Pacific Fleet.”

It is a presence that Fannell said leaves much to be desired. “Make no mistake,” he said, the Chinese navy “is focused on war at sea and about sinking an opposing fleet.”

Also alarming is the country’s intimidation and “harassments” of others in making what Fannell said are unsubstantiated territorial claims near the coast of neighboring nations. He called the Chinese coast guard a “full-time harassment organization.”

“Unlike U.S. Coast Guard cutters, China’s surveillance cutters have no other mission but to harass other nations into submitting to China’s expansive claims.”

“I’ve watched this on a daily basis for a decade,” he said. “They are taking control of maritime areas that have never been administered or controlled in the last 5,000 years by any regime called China.”

Dr. Jacqueline Deal, a China expert who is president and chief executive officer of Long Term Strategy Group in Cambridge, Mass., noted how analysts have seen China’s goals expanding over the years. At one time, the growth of the Navy was seen as a response to the dispute over Taiwan. Others concluded the buildup was a natural byproduct of a nation with a growing economy.

But what is going on now is “a much more ambitious great-power agenda,” Deal said.

She pointed to a 2004 speech by President Hu Jintao who at the time was general secretary of the Communist Party of China. Jintao said the Chinese Navy’s mission had grown to include overseeing China’s oversees interests, interests that have led it to send ships to the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy.

So how good of a fighting force is the Chinese Navy? “I think that’s the $64-million question,” Deal said.

Said Fannell: “We need China to act like a great nation and a responsible stakeholder. But that’s not the China I have watched everyday for the past decade.”

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The final day of WEST 2013 began with a morning “Team Cyber Fireside Chat” that included Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command, and Robert J. Carey, chief information officer for the Department of Defense. Both emphasized the need to condense the countless networks and operating systems into a joint information environment and joint security architecture.

The redundancy that now exists is not providing any value, Carey said. “It’s providing complication and expense.”

Further, “Our networks are not as defendable as they need to be because of there are so many different enclaves out there, so many different tools that are being used.”

So how did we get here?

“We are the product of 25 or 30 years of everybody being assigned a problem and everybody going out and fixing it,” Carey said. That has led to thousands of networks and enclaves.”

“Why, we have data bases where we don’t know where they are.”

He said Cyber Command is looking for “more consistent architecture…to enable access for the war fighter wherever they may be, to enable better defendability and then to make it more economical to operate.”

Bottom line: single security architecture and a joint information environment would “enable us to better to defend attacks far better than we can today,” Carey said.

Fixing the current system has strategic implications, Davis said. One questioner asked what would happen if the power grids suddenly went down in New York, Minneapolis, Tampa and elsewhere, and forensics showed we were under attack.

“That’s exactly the issue we’re trying to get at right now,” Davis said. Teams have been assembled “to basically stop that from happening…and if it does happen, to have a mitigation strategy as well.”

 

WEST 2013 concluded with a rare luncheon discussion involving the leaders of all three sea-based services: Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps; Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of Naval operations; and Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr., commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Amos noted that with the war over in Iraq, the war winding down in Afghanistan and the Department of Defense rebalancing its efforts with a focus in Asia and the Pacific, changes are in store for the Marine Corps. Namely, getting back to its amphibious roots.

With so many Marines being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 11 years, “we have fewer Marines that have been deployed on Naval vessels than at probably any time in our history.”

But the Commandant noted that it’s not like the Marines haven’t been involved at sea. He pointed out that expeditionary units have been working in the Asia/Pacific region during both wars.

“We haven’t lost that skill set,” he said. He called what is happening with the Navy and Marines today “a renewed effort on the part of both our services to get us back to that teamwork. Again we never left it, but now its time to go back to what I call that bread and butter, or blocking and tackling skill sets.”

All three military leaders also answered a recurring question about how the continuing resolution and sequestration would affect their forces. Papp said that as the head of an agency with a discretionary budget in excess of $8 billion that is attached to the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard has not nearly been as affected as the Navy or Marines.

Greenert, echoing comments made by other commanders earlier during the convention, said a continuing resolution will cost the Navy about $4.5 billion this year, with sequestration adding an additional $4 billion or more. He said that could result in ships going without timely maintenance or ships not being deployed as planned. Amos said the 7- to- 8-percent cut in his budget means an inability to reset the equipment coming back from war.

“There is a growing lack of appreciation for what it takes to reset the equipment coming back from this war,” Amos said. “A lack of appreciation just for the sheer magnitude of the cost.”

He put the cost at $3.2 billion.

“That’s the future readiness of the Marine Corps, and I’m very concerned about it.”

Connect with us for WEST updates!

Twitter hashtag: #West13 
YouTube: West 2013 Playlist
Blog: blog.usni.org and afcea.org/blog
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LinkedIn:  Naval Institute Group 
Event Photos: Flickr West 2013


 
 

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