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?
The U.S. Navy’s global engagement should not be measured by counting its vessels, or the number of overseas bases. There is no clear evidence of a reduced U.S. global engagement.
Yet, notwithstanding any perceived change in the U.S. engagement and in the world’s power structure, in accordance with the national political directives, Italian Navy efforts focus on three main missions: First, supporting the international peacekeeping operations in accordance with U.N. resolutions. Second, contributing assets and personnel to both NATO and EU military structures to support the global community’s defense needs (including the active engagement). And last, but not least, its maritime presence in the wider Mediterranean—the whole Med basin, its westerly approaches, the Red Sea and the waters surrounding the Horn of Africa.
Italian Navy activities in this area, whose security and stability directly influence national interests, involve the presence of naval assets and, above all, a concrete confidence- and capacity-building effort for the sake of all the coastal states’ navies. Those initiatives were performed on a permanent basis well before changes in the geostrategic context occurred.
We believe that no nation can cope with the current threats alone. Terrorism, organized crime, intentional pollution, piracy, weapons of mass destruction, and smuggling are all incumbent threats within the maritime domain, not to mention the lack of ability of some coastal states to deliver proper sea governance in their area of their responsibility.
These threats are spread almost on a global dimension and their perpetrators have acquired an unmatched ability to use the most effective tactics and the most lethal means to achieve their criminal ends. Therefore, success in tackling such phenomena relies on international cooperation, thus on confidence, trust, and transparency that goes beyond the standing alliances and international organizations.
In that sense, the Italian Navy has valuable experience in the promotion and development of several important cooperative initiatives. They range from the Adriatic basin to the Western Mediterranean. It is worth mentioning the Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Center model, best known as V-RMTC. Within V-RMTC, 30 like-minded navies share their data concerning the merchant shipping in their areas of responsibility. The model has been recently adopted on a broader scale as the Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN). Systems such as V-RMTC and T-RMN improve the capacity to perform maritime surveillance and pave the way for further cooperation.
Thus, beyond the strict traditional defense role and possible modifications of the international scenario, navies are best suited to play the central role in handling maritime surveillance- and security-related tasks.