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The more closely it resembles a scenario-driven war plan like the ill-fated Schlieffen plan of World War I, the Maritime Strategy stands more in danger of becoming a lightning rod for critics and little else. The United States needs a strategy broad enough to cover the political and military eventualities of the next half century, and specific enough to provide guidelines for future force acquisition.
A common criticism of the Maritime Strategy is that it is not a strategy, but rather a scenario-driven war plan—nothing more, for instance, than another Schlieffen plan. The massive Schlieffen plan, named for Graf von A. Schlieffen, was discussed and refined by the German General Staff for more than 15 years, and then implemented with disastrous results in 1914.1
When the Germans were threatened by the mobilization of the Russian armies in the East, the only military option they considered was to strike preemptively to the West.
When Kaiser Wilhelm asked Helmuth von Moh Chief of Staff of the German Army, if there was nl^piicJ possible alternative to an invasion of France, he "No.” The Kaiser answered, "Your uncle wou had a different answer,” referring to Moltke’s unc Marshal Helmuth von Moltke, his brilliant predece The Kaiser was probably right, because the elder el)- rose to power before the Schlieffen plan had bed’ graved in the minds of the officers of the German ^ f()( Staff. The Maritime Strategy has the same poten*1*
. / I HD
aKiUs,cr '* strategists come to view it as the only conceiv- ,c alternative.
's criticism of the Maritime Strategy and the histori-
Ijj ^^alogy merit some consideration. First, our "Mari-
p ^Strategy" is a systematic delineation of the proposed tu ’■ Navy response to a Soviet invasion of Western Eu- ij ' Although this may be the worst-case scenario of V(>K* ities 'n which the United States could become in- p.(| and cine for which military planners should pre- L contingency plans—NATO's success as the instru-
“'‘‘'dings / July 1988
ment of containment in Europe makes the Central Front scenario one of the least likely for the use of our naval assets. The low-level, "brush fire" type of conflicts in which our naval assets have been involved in recent years are more probable than open-ocean war with the Soviets in support of our NATO allies. Consequently, the criticism of the Maritime Strategy as too specific and limited by its narrow scenario-driven foundation appears justified.
The United States needs a new Maritime Strategy. | which reflects a general naval strategy in support of na- -
tional interests, rather than a war plan. This strategy should be broad enough to provide both a framework for any political or military eventuality and guidelines for future force acquisitions. If it is not broad enough, future military leaders, like the German General Staff in 1914, could well be unable to create a viable alternative to the war plans during a crisis which calls for alternatives.
and the Soviet Union will remain ideologically oppose ■ Marxist-Leninist doctrine states that communism and cap italism cannot coexist in perpetuity, and the capitalist sys
tern eventually will collapse. Yet American history
our sympathy for democratic aspirations and free enter
prise in all people are the very foundations upon which
Western society is built. Thus, the ideological rivalry
The International Environment: This new strategy and the national interests it supports must be derived from an assessment of the future international environment based on three broad assumptions:
► That the United States, although declining in jts overall predominance in the West, will remain the leader of the Free World
► That, glasnost notwithstanding, the Soviet Union will remain a totalitarian state with a communist economic system and a strong grip on its empire and its satellites in Eastern Europe, Cuba, and elsewhere
► That as the American and Soviet percentage of the worldwide gross national product declines further, some Third World nations will rise not only to positions of economic might, but will also acquire great power status
This assessment presupposes that, despite possible treaties limiting intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) and reducing strategic arms (START), the United States
tempered with practicality on both sides, will fuel the o
war for the foreseeable future—perhaps even beyond t next half century. ^
The U. S. response to the rivalry has been the policy a containment. The post-Vietnam realization that we shou limit drawing the line and making our stand to areas wne we have vital interests represents the application of rnea sured pragmatism to the doctrine of containment. 1 Soviet application of pragmatism should involve endt o
further conquests that can only turn into economic drain*
on their already strapped economy; they do not need an) more Cubas, Nicaraguas, or Afghanistans. This ProC^._
appears to be taking place under General Secretary
khail Gorbachev. Yet the Soviets are not likely to pasS
targets of opportunity to spread communist revolution
the long term. Thus, the cold war is likely to conU^
direct conflict between Soviet and U. S. forces.
This description of a bipolar world with two °PP°" nd camps often has been the case since the split in the g_u
alliance after World War II. Both the United States and t
Soviet Union, however, have endured notable examp^^ foreign policy failures based on this limited political ^
of superpower rivalries. The U. S. involvement in j nam is the best example of an American failure ca
gely by viewing a local political situation in terms of uPeipower rivalry. The Sino-Soviet split is the best ex- P>e of the exportation of communist revolution not ulti- 1 ately benefiting the Soviets. Nevertheless, neither side is *ev to alter its policy significantly, despite the fact it has r°ven to be sometimes flawed and despite the fact new
powers are likely to arise. Realizing this, policymakers,
strategists, and force
.ltlers must answer three key questions as they pursue (.e,r separate but related tasks in reassessing the Maritime Segy: ‘
^ //hat does the future hold?
^ ’’hat is the best Navy we can build?
’ hat is the best strategy we can devise for that Navy in ne future?
Policy: For policymakers, the first question is central. e answer lies in the assumption that some Third World
Jons' ________________________ ^______ _
J Numerous examples exist of the economic side of this ^ Honienon. All of Western Europe and Japan rose from ashes and rubble of World War II to become great •he p°m'c powers. The combined gross national product of |, European Economic Community nations now exceeds ^ of the United States. In April 1987, the Japanese stock Hj became the largest stock market in the world. Al- 0|Jah neither Japan nor West Germany fits the definition
,'°n can achieve in less than half a century. Starting
will rise to economic might and great power sta-
- -■'-ill 1V1 jupuil 11V/1 ' f V Jl VJCl I 1 ltltl J 1UJ 11 1V^ uvilliniuii
Third World nation, their economic rebirth after the l'atjSlVe c*estructi°n °f total war is an example of what any
g j n°thing in the modern capitalist economic system, J growth is possible.
tjQ0rca, Taiwan, and Singapore are “Third World” na- ^ lbat have experienced great growth. There are no Uar examples of nations from among the Socialist/ tCo,T|unist states. In fact, most of them appear to be in dnornic doldrums. In the late 1970s, the Soviet Union ty °nstrated a propensity for adventurism throughout the t|,e T Led by Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviets acted under ^H^sumption that the correlation of forces were histori- U ^ jn their favor—a fundamental axiom of Marxist/ I Jfst doctrine.
!iCe "r°ughout the Cold War, circumstances and events '"cd to favor Marxist revolutionaries in most Third Pq- . countries, yet the current world situation seems to 5-j,,;ln another direction. The example of a South Korea, a JaPan’ or a West Germany serves as a forceful to Marxist revolutionary rhetoric. The unprece- fiveoutbreak of democracy in Latin America in the last ip ^ars and the recent shift away from failed socialism ^rtl VCral African nations, such as Tanzania, are at least \y y attributable to a changed perception in the Third
or, l of the two systems.3 Marxism is no longer the wave 'he f, J
r on the world stage in the next half century, they
r the f ” .o —
appe 'uture. Consequently, if some new great powers do
M|| ^ w . .
all c°rne from the capitalist sector and are more likely to ^against the Soviet Union than against the United
aj Sec°nd variable is the unforeseeable. A third nation leving great power status through economic growth is
conceivable. But history is not purely economic; shifts in power can be based on other factors. The Middle East is the best example of this today. Islamic Fundamentalism represents a wild card on the world stage. No one can predict this movement’s role in the future. The inability of U. S. intelligence to foresee the fall of the Shah of Iran was viewed as a disastrous intelligence failure. But it was understandable because the Islamic Revolution represented such a departure from the expected course of events that it was unforeseeable. The fact that Islam is the religion of 800 million people stretching from the Atlantic coast of Africa to the western Pacific reflects this movement’s potential. Yet the unification of these people through the Islamic Revolution is still unforeseeable at this time. The point is not that the Ayotollah Khomeini is going to unite the Moslem world, but rather that change is the only variable that policymakers can count on when considering the world stage over a long period of time.
One likely change is that the bipolar world, which has existed since World War II and is the exception rather than the rule in history, is likely to give way, whether through economic change or the unforeseeable, to a multipolar world with additional new powers on the stage. This assessment provides a clear framework for determining national interests, a necessary prerequisite for developing a true maritime strategy.
In this environment, U. S. policy should pursue the following broad objectives, which represent both the expansion of American ideology, including democracy and free enterprise, and a practical method of furthering our security and position in the changing world:
► The United States should follow policies that will encourage the furtherance of liberty and economic growth in the world. These two goals go hand in hand. Entrepreneurial spirit, an important ingredient in a developing nation, is not much different than the traditional 18th century liberalism which was the seed of the American Revolution. By encouraging free trade and the growth that comes with it, we also encourage freedom.
► The policy of containment is an important part of this policy of freedom and growth. East Germany and North Korea are good examples of nations whose economic potential has remained unfulfilled because of the imposition of communist rule, and the further expansion of communism will hinder the growth which is an integral part of the future that U. S. policy should be designed to attain.
► Our policy should never deviate from a position of strong national defense. Our security is the primary vital national interest and it should be a result of our policies.
The United States currently has a worldwide system of alliances designed to achieve these broad goals. The current Maritime Strategy is a response to a potential threat to the most important of these alliances, but there are other naval strategies that the United States should pursue.
Force Planning: The primary contribution the U. S. Navy can make in the pursuit of these policy goals is in the maintenance of the right of free passage on the high seas for all nations. Foreign trade is a vital component in the economic growth of any developing nation. Any threat to
e<lln8s / July 19SS
the freedom of the seas constitutes a threat to the desired world order of the next half century. The Soviet Union is one such threat. It is capable of interrupting free trade throughout the world. The Navy we build must be capable of countering the threat posed by the Soviets, who are currently involved in an unprecedented shipbuilding campaign. Building a Navy capable of meeting this threat is a legitimate planning goal. Our current fleet is well prepared for this threat, which, however, the Maritime Strategy emphasizes at the expense of all others.
The interdiction of trade at sea can occur below the threshold of armed conflict (blockades and quarantines, threats, or terrorism, for instance). Remaining below this threshold is in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as of the United States. The current Maritime Strategy is an example of strategy which would drive a policy decision, rather than the other way around, since parts of it actually would escalate a conflict. Thus, a U. S. fleet capable of deterring Soviet adventurism on the high seas is more important than one which can fit into a hypothetical scenario for support of a Central Front war. Such a fleet would support the multiple goals of economic growth, freedom, containment, and defense by deterring the low-level acts of aggression most likely to occur.
Attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf and acts of terrorism at sea are examples of low-level acts short of general war that oppose our policy of free trade on the high seas. Specifically, our fleet must be capable of more flexible and versatile operations than the current U. S. Navy, including convoy operations, minesweeping, and improved antisubmarine warfare and underwater surveillance. Our current fleet’s NATO orientation can be viewed as a liability when one considers the paucity of our minesweeping assets available for use in the Persian Gulf. For years we have anticipated that our allies would execute the majority of the minesweeping duties in a Central Front war. Consequently, our own minesweeping assets are now in short supply. And in this instance, it is not the Soviet threat, but a previously unforeseen threat that requires a response. Our fleet for the next 50 years should be versatile enough to meet these threats.
A secondary goal for force planners is to provide the nation’s first line of defense. Defending an insular nation, our Navy must be capable of defeating an enemy before it reaches our shores. Today, the long range of offensive weaponry carried at sea dictates that this first line of defense be set well out in the oceans. In our zeal to take the battle to the Soviets as the current Maritime Strategy proposes, however, we may ignore the necessity of building a Navy capable of defending our own shores. The current Maritime Strategy is based on the idea that much of the Soviet fleet will remain in bastions near their shores when hostilities begin. This requires our adversary’s cooperation. The Soviets might not cooperate; they could sortie from their bastions before the war starts. Our Navy would then face a much different challenge, and our nation would face a much more serious threat. In pursuit of the policy goal of national security, we must build a Navy capable of sea control operations over larger ocean areas than ever conceived of before. Our current force receives
high marks in this area, but there is room for improvemen^ The low-level conflict can be expected in a world whe the United States and Soviet Union are in opposition an where new great powers, whether friendly or not, arise- Meeting this threat calls for increased versatility of 0 ^ surface forces and their aviation assets and for impr°v
whi^ but the
and expanded amphibious forces. These conflicts, represent a threat to the overall correlation of forces which are not likely to lead to direct hostilities between superpowers, can be met by a gradation of respons from presence (e.g., Beirut), to convoy operations
Persian Gulf), to quarantines or blockades, to actual intc^ diction (Grenada). Diversification and expansion ot surface and amphibious forces will help us accomp these missions.
Strategy: A quick and imaginative look at the map the world shows numerous potential trouble spots *->etV|0%v,
now and 2038. The Middle East is the area where
level conflicts seem most likely to drag the superp0 ^ into direct confrontation, whether between the Israel's Arabs, Shiites and Sunni, Indians and Pakistanis, °rjf other combination. Other potential trouble spots are N ico and Central America. This possible power vac threatens the United States just as unrest and instability the Middle East threaten the Soviet Union. South A and the Philippines are two more nations with straf?rj. locations and fragile regimes. It is doubtful the South ^ can government will remain intact another 50 years-
the Aquino government maintains only a tenuous hold
power. The conflict in Southeast Asia could reignite time. Antarctica, an entire continent with no govel body, could become a hot spot (while remaining a. jS one) when current treaties expire. Although Antarctic thought to have little in the way of natural resource^ does possess approximately 80% of the world s r water, which suggests that it might be of value some 1 in the 21st century. This value is unforeseen today- ^
The Maritime Strategy of the 1980s does not covejer. possibility of a major land war on the Sino-Soviet bot One maritime strategy cannot address all of the P°sSl jnS. ties mentioned, and this is where the hard part Criticizing the strategy of the 1980s is easy. Even °e ^ oping a reasonable forecast of the future based on ce . assumptions is possible. But development of the news egy to see us through to 2038 is more difficult.
The strategy matrix in Table 1 reveals some intere^ ^ conclusions. First, although the threats the Navy an ^ nation will face over the next 50 years are varie forces and methods required to counter them are relat* uniform. The two exceptions are the deterrent f°r^ ^ submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) an ^ improved amphibious capabilities necessary to per ■ interdiction. If strategic arms reductions become a reaef fleet ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) with •„ tubes, not fewer submarines, will be required to ma ^ (0, a deterrent safe from enemy action. The current tre , ward fewer platforms with more missiles would be •, gerous if any kind of antisubmarine warfare breaktn ^ occurred, or if the enemy made a “lucky hit.” The
Table I Matrix for a New Maritime Strategy
^('tioinil Interest Threat Strategy Force
More and better
battle groups/ SSGNs
More and better
battle groups/ SSGNs
surface forces' convoys'minesweepers
More versatile surface forces
in ne triad has been its versatility. A varied foe that exists &eat numbers is difficult to take out. If reducing the ^ ber of missiles through negotiations reduces the num- ^ °f SSBNs, the most invulnerable leg of our deterrent a be dangerously weakened. Continued emphasis on liat ■ *°US caPab>lities is the other requirement of this rer,x that stands alone. Future Grenada-style missions f^U're this capability; it is a key in containment. The riile'^y °f amphibious capabilities, however, does not ■ out their use in support of the other major national "erests.
r)||te other elements in the matrix appear more than tX)th current trend is toward fewer, high-cost units in aircraft and surface ships. This trend must be 1 'ghed against the necessity of operating in numerous bg. l0ns and over broad areas. More is not necessarily 0rr’ but it is after some high-value units have been sunk % 1Sak*e<T More nuclear-powered guided-missile attack pannes (SSGNs) can contribute to the sea control mis- I n also. One of the most important technological chal- ope^es of today is integrating the SSGN into battle group evrat'°ns. To exploit this weapon fully requires this, 51 though it may increase the SSGN’s vulnerability. h)a though the matrix reads like a Navy “wish list,” the S *ea^ers must seH this fleet to Congress and the lc *f the Navy is to remain a viable instrument of foreign policy, capable of achieving our national objectives.
The application of this matrix is more likely to lead to a viable strategy than the implementation of inflexible war plans in any situation, no matter how bizarre. This is the kind of strategy we need to see us through to 2038, not the Maritime Strategy of the 1980s. Neglecting this is a recipe for disaster, the kind of disaster that occurred in 1914. Naval leaders must never find themselves in the position of the German General Staff of 1914—being told by their political leaders:
“You should have a different answer.” 'L. C. F. Turner, “The Significance of the Schlieffen Plan,” The War Plans of the Great Powers: 1880-1914, ed. Paul M. Kennedy (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1979) p. 201.
-Gordon A. Craig, The Politics of the Prussian Army (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955) p. 294.
The Christian Science Monitor, 21 April 1987, p. 1:3.
Lieutenant Hastings is now Assistant to the Deputy for Operations at the U. S. Naval Academy. Prior to that, he was an English instructor there. Commissioned at Officer Candidate School in 1982, he was the First Division officer on the USS New Jersey (BB-62) and the damage control assistant on the USS Gary (FFG-51). Lieutenant Hastings won the Naval Institute’s 1988 Vincent Astor Memorial Leadership Essay Contest. His essay, “Sea Stories,” was published in the June issue.
An Office by Any Other Name
At China Lake Naval Air Station, the connecting hall of a large double-wing building has been converted to offices. Signs on the door of each wing leading to the hall read: “This is not—repeat not—a thoroughfare! Please use the doors at either end of the building for access to the other wing. This is an office! This is not a thoroughfare. When this door is open, the resulting wind blows papers all over the desks and madness ensues! This is not a thoroughfare! Please use the doors at the end of the hall. This is an office! Please!”
Down at the bottom of the signs is the sentence: “After disregarding these instructions, please shut the door.” Henry E. Leabo