Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Mullen has challenged U.S. maritime forces to devise a strategy for and of our time, while nearly simultaneously challenging the world's navies, coast guards, and maritime industries to move to a higher level of collaboration for the benefit of all.
While these two efforts are related. they are fundamentally different.
The Maritime Strategy
The effort to define a new maritime strategy began with the CNO's speech to the June 2006 Current Strategy Forum in Newport, Rhode Island. Admiral Mullen speculated-notwithstanding the excellent vision statement, Sea Power 21, and periodic Quadrennial Defense Reviews-that the complex nature of the current security environment is probably the main reason that no major strategic review has been undertaken recently. The complexity of the job, however, is no excuse, he said.
The Navy. Marine Corps, and Coast Guard are working together to create a strategy under the overarching guidance of the National Strategy for Maritime Security and the National Military Strategy. A new strategy will help define the role of maritime forces in protecting the nation, while highlighting the role of sea power in the advancement of U.S. interests.
Put another way, the new as-yet-unnamed maritime strategy will be a document in which U.S. national interests are front and center. Many of those interests will coincide with the interests of other nations, and we are working closely with friends and allies to gain their perspective. The vast experience of many of our international partners will help shape the emerging document.
The new maritime strategy must address the balance required for naval forces to carry out their enduring missions-chief among them fighting and winning wars alongside the other services-while stating strategic imperatives for new ways of employing naval forces around the world. The commanders in the Fleet and field are moving out in new and exciting directions every day with respect to peacetime employment. We must ensure that the maritime services are organizing, training, and equipping so that Fleet efforts can he sustained.
One of the most important ideas to be explored will he how forward presence is evolving to represent an entirely new set of desired effects, and how U.S. maritime forces might collaborate with like-minded forces of other nations in new and mutually agreeable and beneficial arrangements. The 1,000-Ship Navy is one organizational concept aiming at these strategic imperatives.
The 1,000-Ship Navy
The 1,000-Ship Navy (more formally known as the Global Maritime Partnership Initiative in recognition that not all participating nations have established navies) represents a new way of thinking about international naval and maritime cooperation and collaboration on maritime security. Never intending to imply establishment of a powerful international combat fleet, the 1,000-Ship Navy more appropriately fosters a free-form collaborative environment in which all components of the maritime domain come together to share information for the benefit of all. Enlightened self-interest, low barriers to entry (especially technical), and respect for national sovereignty all underpin this notion. The 1,000-Ship Navy will have no leader, no task group commander. Using commonly agreeable standards of information-sharing, nations would participate or not participate as their interests dictate.
Although the exact technical standards for participation have yet to be set, it is clear that the CNO is not interested in creating a high-end data link that would create a barrier for participation. In addition, while Admiral Mullen has advanced this concept, it should not be thought of as an American-led or -dominated operation, any more than one would consider the Internet in that light. If the 1,000-Ship Navy is to have any real impact, it will be because those who participate see it as in their interest to do so.
The new maritime strategy will likely serve to increase the benefits of the 1,000-Ship Navy to a strategic imperative, and the 1,000-Ship Navy will serve the new maritime strategy as a tangible illustration of how critical it is to establish international relationships. While related, the strategy and the 1,000-Ship Navy are not the same. Both however, reflect the CNO's oft-stuted maxim that no one nation can do it all alone.
Commander McGrath leads the Strategic Actions Group on the N3N5 Staff in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.