Countering global terrorism and providing humanitarian relief for natural disasters is a tall order. It will take many ships and no single nation can do it all. The authors call for the nations of the world to build a global maritime network.
The changing nature of the international security environment was made abundantly clear to Americans on 11 September 2001. Despite what some in the international community might think, the events of that day have done more to make the United States a global security partner than any event in recent history. As a result, the United States is fostering a global approach to international security, one that includes focusing on transnational challenges to free nations everywhere. While the United States' role in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) may be the most visible symbol of its commitment to global security, the transnational threat is much broader than just terrorism—and many aspects of that threat are interrelated, feed on the same root causes, and are universally detrimental to the interaction between nations necessary for prosperity and peace. As the U.S. Navy refocuses its capabilities to include countering the transnational threat by incorporating the global war on terror, stability operations (like humanitarian relief operations in the wake of the December 2004 earthquake off Indonesia and September 2005's international response to Hurricane Katrina), and homeland defense into its existing capability to conduct major naval operations in cases of regional or even global conflict, it will take a fleet in excess of 1,000 ships to address all the new challenges, more complex contingencies, and broader range of maritime missions.
Realities of the Emerging Security Environment
Today, more than ever, the security of an individual nation is tied to global security. The process of globalization has inextricably linked nations together in a de facto security arrangement that has resulted in increased interdependence and reliance on international cooperation as a prerequisite for national prosperity. Promoting and maintaining the security of the global maritime commons is a key element because freedom of the seas is critical to any nation's long-term economic well-being. The impact of the commons on trade, international commerce, and the movement of people is significant, making security on the high seas, and in the world's littorals, harbors, and ports a cornerstone of prosperity. Likewise, the exploitation of the maritime commons by nations, groups, or individuals who seek to disrupt, destroy or otherwise degrade security in the maritime domain must be considered a global challenge. Policing and protecting the maritime commons against a wide spectrum of threats is a high priority for all nations interested in the economic prosperity and security that comes from a safe and free maritime domain.
Trends in the Emerging Security Environment
The trend is for more—not less—international cooperation in economic and security issues. Globalization continues apace and with it political, military, and economic influence ebbs and flows, creating a constantly changing security landscape that requires careful consideration. The response to this dynamic security landscape will increasingly rely on regional nations to organize and coordinate activities in their areas in order to create an environment that, along with global stability, leads to their own region's prosperity and security. In many ways, the "Think Globally, Act Locally" slogan, popular with the environmental movement, applies equally well to developing a stable security environment that enables global, regional, and national prosperity.
Predicting the future security environment is a difficult, some would say impossible, task. That notwithstanding, many nations are already finding themselves challenged by a series of common threats, among them: piracy, smuggling, drug trading, illegal immigration, banditry, human smuggling and slavery, environmental attack, trade disruption, weapons proliferation including weapons of mass destruction, political and religious extremism, and terrorism. While these threats do not typically share causal factors with larger regional or global conflicts, cumulatively they can result in an outcome that generates serious political or economic effect by significantly increasing lawlessness in the maritime domain—thereby impacting peace and prosperity in a globally interconnected economy. Identifying which of these elements pose the greatest threat to a particular nation varies from country to country, but it is safe to say that all nations are dealing with some or all of these issues now or will face them in the future.
These threats to security in the maritime domain are becoming increasingly important because the level of security there either directly or indirectly impacts an increasingly larger number of people around the globe. Currently, 2.2 billion people live within 100 kilometers of a coastline; the maritime domain is home to 50,000 large ships that carry about 80% of the world's trade; and each year about 1.9 billion tons of petroleum is shipped by maritime transportation—approximately 60% of all the petroleum produced. Shipping industries around the world are taking advantage of the booming economy in China—shipping tonnage can barely keep pace with demand as Chinese exports grew 37% in 2004. In addition, a record 10.5 million people embarked on cruise ships in 2004, an increase of about 10% over 2003. Cruise industry analysts predict more than 11 million cruise passengers for 2005.
Running contrary to the security and safety valued by increasing numbers of people who rely on and use the maritime domain are many of the transnational threats mentioned above, including:
- Pirates, who operate like urban gangs, threatening and killing people while eroding confidence in political systems that are supposed to protect their citizens.
- Organized crime, which seeks to use the maritime domain as a transportation safe haven and highway for criminals and their illicit goods.
- Human smugglers, who deal in modern day slavery and spread incredible misery and suffering to those being smuggled or traded and to their families.
- Drug dealers who cripple and kill too many of the world's children before they have an opportunity to grow up.
It is specifically against these multi-faceted transnational threats, faced by most nations, that the powers of the international community's maritime organizations can be harnessed in order to effectively and efficiently confront these challenges.
Imperatives of the Emerging Security Environment
Taken together, several imperatives for maritime security can be discerned. First, it is clear that maritime security increasingly is an international problem that requires an international solution. Second, no single nation has the sovereignty, capacity, or control over the assets, resources, or venues from which transnational threats endanger global security. It requires close cooperation between like-minded nations to eliminate the root causes and persistent enablers of these transnational threats. Third, that level of cooperation can also pay dividends in other circumstances, as the tsunami relief efforts in the Indian Ocean area demonstrated, the success of which was driven in large part by the unity of purpose and the diverse multi-national capabilities of all of the participants. This kind of international cooperation is the prototype for organizing the international community to address the maritime security challenges faced today and in the future security environment.
Building the 1,000-ship Navy
Policing the maritime commons will require substantially more capability than the United States or any individual nation can deliver. It will take a combination of national, international, and private-industry cooperation to provide the platforms, people, and protocols necessary to secure the seas against the transnational threat. In effect, the 1,000-ship Navy is about the voluntary development of a network that vastly increases the number of sensors available to monitor security in the maritime domain while increasing the number of responders capable of ensuring maritime security. Such a network is already emerging. It has been self-synchronizing and self-organizing, driven by the concerns and principles outlined above. Examples of emerging security networks include Black Sea Harmony in Eastern Europe, Caspian Guard in the Caspian Sea, and the counter-piracy initiative in the Strait of Malacca. The challenge is for individual nations to come together by determining where their national interests intersect and to determine what contribution they can make to this already-emerging network to meet those common interests. Plugging into a regional or global maritime network will not be a one-size-fits-all proposition. Capabilities that cover the spectrum from blue-water operations to maritime law enforcement will play important roles in delivering the kind of maritime security that is helpful to the global community, and that means virtually every nation can contribute in some way to security in the maritime domain.
Without question, the first and predominant contributors to the 1,000-ship Navy are navies of the international community. Taken as a whole, only these navies are capable of operating across the globe's entire maritime domain, from local ports and territorial waters to the high seas. While individual navies have vastly different capabilities, it is their synergy when voluntarily coordinating maritime activities that yields a network in which regional and local results are determined by regional and local interests. Designing a global network of maritime nations in which navies voluntarily participate in activities that match their national interests is, arguably, the most important element in developing a maritime security regime that efficiently and effectively addresses the transnational challenges of the future security environment.
But the 1,000-ship Navy must incorporate more than willing navies. It also has to include the shipping industry, on an international scale. The shipping industry could provide sensors in a global version of the familiar neighborhood watch program in which members of a neighborhood voluntarily look out for the neighborhood's security, notifying authorities if something unusual is noted. Such a program applied to the maritime domain would take advantage of the large number of ships and people spread across the globe—and do so with people who have the knowledge to know when something is wrong. This approach would vastly increase the number of eyes actively patrolling the maritime domain and would greatly complement the intelligence and information gathering activities of nations and navies around the world.
The U.S. shipping industry may also be able to add to the 1,000-ship Navy by developing economically viable, high-speed intra-U.S. sealift that could be called into national service in an emergency. A similar construct—the civil reserve air fleet—already exists with the U.S. Air Force; it allows militarization of civilian airlift assets in time of national emergency. Taking that approach to the maritime domain could build on America's already significant logistics capability, increasing its capability to support voluntarily coalitions responding to crises or emergencies around the globe. Such a partnership between private industry and the U.S. Navy may also be valuable to the nation's shipbuilders as it could contribute to the shipbuilding industrial base in the United States.
Some within the U.S. government also see the value of producing large numbers of patrol craft, and providing those at, near, or below cost to navies around the world in order to increase the number of ships voluntarily participating in establishing security on the maritime domain—especially in remote areas of the globe. Such a program could significantly increase the capability of smaller navies around the world, improve interoperability across a network dedicated to maritime security, and have strategic impact on maritime security, as another gap in the maritime domain would be closed to those who would exploit the sea for illegal or dangerous purposes. Like the high-speed sealift discussion above, these patrol boats could also add significantly to the U.S. shipbuilding industry's industrial base.
Taken together, such a voluntary network has the potential to vastly exceed 1,000 ships. It also leverages ships around the world to serve as the network's eyes and it increases participating navies' ability to respond when the network's sensors detect something worthy of investigation.
Employing the 1,000-ship Navy
The overarching goal of the 1,000-ship Navy is to increase the security of the maritime domain so that the maritime commons may be safely used by all nations. Within the overarching maritime security goal are two objectives:
- Increasing maritime domain awareness (the knowledge of anything at sea that affects a nation's security, safety, economics, or its environment)
- Posturing assets to rapidly respond to crises or emergencies that occur at sea or in the littorals
The 1,000-ship Navy facilitates achieving both objectives.
Perhaps the easiest way to think about improving maritime security with this large fleet is to think of security as an importable or exportable product—importing it into regions where it is lacking and exporting it from regions that have the capability and desire to do so. Actually, there are two related products for importing or exporting: maritime security and security assistance.
Many nations and navies around the world have the capability to export maritime security by sailing their navies beyond their territorial waters or exclusive economic zone to bolster maritime security in other parts of the world. Such navies also have the ability to export security assistance to other, sometimes distant nations. In the former, nations voluntarily bring security to critical, large, or distant parts of the maritime domain. Examples would include the internationally supported Task Force 150 operating from the Red Sea around to the Straits of Hormuz, NATO's Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean, and the previously mentioned counter-piracy agreement between Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia in the Strait of Malacca.
In addition to exporting security to increase freedom in the maritime domain, many nations can also export security to assist receiving nations in providing maritime security for their own area of responsibility. Such security cooperation could focus on counter-drug, piracy, human smuggling, and terrorism; maritime law enforcement; building maritime domain awareness; visit, board, search, and seizure procedures; and facilitating regional maritime security initiatives—as agreed between the providing and receiving nations.
Key to the willingness of some nations to export security assistance is the willingness of other nations to accept such assistance. Increasing the capability of all nations to provide security in their own littorals and territorial waters is something that is in every nation's interest. The acceptance of security assistance, however, is not always a given. Overcoming resistance based on sovereignty concerns is often a delicate issue. The influence of allies, peers, or other nearby nations can be reassuring and often tip the balance in favor of accepting what is offered.
Lastly, the United States and its Navy do not have the capability or desire to be the sole exporter of security or security assistance in the maritime domain. It is the voluntary contribution of nations and navies in areas that match their national interests that will determine the level of security in the maritime global commons. In a similar manner, nations and navies in undergoverned maritime regions need to be encouraged and reassured that accepting security assistance is in their national interests and that accepting such support does not negatively influence their national sovereignty.
As nations improve their own capacity and capability for maritime law enforcement, interdiction, and national defense, their contributions to the security of the global maritime commons will increase. When nations are united through common goals and objectives, their effectiveness as individual powers will also grow. Again, the impact of regional leadership and trusted friends can be a key factor in achieving this security, particularly when dealing with partner nations whose forces are under-equipped or under-trained. As nations play a more active role in the security of their respective waters, the international community can take a less active role and focus more on supporting and enabling other nations that may require and desire assistance in their part of the world.
The United States and the international community need the 1,000-ship Navy because highly adaptable, present, and postured naval forces illustrate a crucial point—the proactive cost of ensuring the day-to-day security in the maritime domain is drastically more affordable than the reactive costs of going to war or mounting a reactive, large-scale security operation.
The 1,000-ship Navy is not a thousand gray hulls flying the American flag, but rather a voluntarily global maritime network that ties together the collective capabilities of free nations to establish and maintain a dramatically increased level of international security in the maritime domain. The U.S. Navy is in a unique position to facilitate voluntary enlistment of nations as members in this global partnership, to include leaders in the shipping industry—but the U.S. Navy cannot do this without strong and sustained support from maritime nations and maritime interests across the globe. This global network will not only increase security in the maritime domain, it can also foster the economic and political growth and development of participating nations. In the end, partner nations can benefit individually from these security improvements, and the global community will be increasingly free of the threat of instability, as the 1,000-ship Navy maintains watch over the global maritime domain.
Vice Admiral Morgan is the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy, N3/N5. Rear Admiral Martoglio is the Director of the Navy's Strategy and Policy Division.