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?
I don’t see a major realignment of power over the coming decade. While we may see some reduction in the extent of the U.S. Navy’s global footprint alongside the continued development of maritime capability in emerging countries, U.S. influence will remain an enduring feature of world politics and military relationships for very many years to come. However, I do expect over time to see a different emphasis the geographical focus and prioritization of U.S. tasking, shifts that will affect the Royal Navy, too.
U.S. engagement in the Pacific is becoming an increasing priority, as we can see, but the indications are that the Indian Ocean region is emerging as a new center of economic activity that will require close attention, given the continued presence of pockets of instability, piracy and terrorism around its periphery. I believe that the United States will remain fully engaged in the region for the foreseeable future, and its naval engagement will remain central to that.
What does this mean for us in the Royal Navy? The Royal Navy has always enjoyed a notably close relationship with the U.S. Navy, something I expect will continue. In terms of tasking, enduring U.K. interests in the Persian Gulf and the Indian and Atlantic oceans will continue to demand our presence in those regions, but I do see an increasing focus on building capacity and stability where it is needed, in conjunction with the United States, our other allies, and partners.
More generally, the strategic imperative to ensure continued interoperability with the United States (and others) will become more pressing as we develop wider partnerships to address the range of security challenges we may face. The U.S. Navy’s emphasis on technologically advanced platforms able to conduct the widest possible range of operations makes good operational sense to me, and in that regard I view our development of the Type 45 destroyer as a key element, just as I see the Astute-class SSN and the future Type 26 global combat ship making an important contribution.
As the U.S. Navy continues to develop the high end of its broad spectrum capability, I think it essential that the Royal Navy maintains its ability to “plug and play” alongside U.S. forces. This interoperability, whether within a task group construct or as key contributors to U.S.-led multinational maritime security operations, underpins our shared strategic utility.
In short, I see little change in the way we in the Royal Navy interact with the U.S. Navy; we are close allies with shared beliefs and interests and we will wish to remain closely aligned.