America's military faces reductions in force and spending that could have a ripple effect. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world's sea services: Some see U.S. global naval engagement diminishing and the world's power structure realigning itself over the coming decade. In what ways would this affect your navy?
First of all, let me analyze the issue against the backdrop of two key policy documents: the new NATO Strategic Concept and the European Union Treaty of Lisbon. As an outcome of the policy development and evolution of those documents, both NATO and the EU are determined to place greater stress on the importance of global security in the maritime domain.
That importance lies in the fact that oceans must be considered as a global common, something of capital significance for the economic development of a world that is characterized by interdependency. The free, safe, and lawful use of the sea and the exploitation of marine resources are recognized as critical factors for industrialized societies and must be preserved.
As for the navies, their main tasks in the coming decade should be deterrence and defense, crisis management, cooperative security, and maritime security. A naval presence in unstable scenarios always carries a deterrent effect. Therefore, a reduction in scale or even more—a complete naval absence—will inevitably result in instability, the revival of latent conflicts, or the arising of new ones.
Furthermore, the important contributions to stability and the development of relationships that come as a result of international cooperative security efforts, such as the Africa Partnership Station, would fade away or disappear.
It can be assumed that the main effect of decreasing the global commitment of the U.S. Navy would be the awakening or worsening of regional crises that could affect international security, and more specifically, maritime security. Predicting more precisely the negative consequences of such crises might be risky, all the more so because they are likely to unfold even as emerging countries are growing into major players on the world scene—even with a worldwide U.S. naval presence.
If stability is to be maintained, the gap that would be left by the U.S. Navy in the world naval domain must be filled by other allied or friendly navies and, obviously, the Spanish Navy should be one of them, as part of NATO and the EU.
That objective could be hampered by the different countries’ perceptions on security and the potential or existing divergence between the global and national interests of each, but, nevertheless, those are small problems that can be overcome with mutual respect, by joining hands and working together for a higher purpose: to enhance global maritime security.