A new U.S. defense strategy unveiled in January calls for a resized, refocused military. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world’s sea services: In an era of austere defense budgets and rapidly increasing technologies, what are the strategic objectives for your naval force over the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
Captain Rajko Mihajla Bulatovic
The global economic crisis has had a large and negative impact on national budgets, especially regarding allocation of funds for military spending. Defense budgeting, as one of the most important links in the process of shaping future naval forces and capabilities, has crucial influence on development or acquisition of modern technologies that are an inseparable part of naval platforms and systems.
Small navies, such as the Navy of the Armed Forces of Montenegro, should base the strategic objectives and development of their naval forces on the principles of unity and the balance between the purpose of forces and available budgetary funds. Most often, even in better economic conditions, small navies operate in conditions of restrictive resources, whether financial or human. Having clear and properly determined purpose and tasks make a navy more efficient and effective. It is important that navies understand their purpose, for that steers doctrine, development of operational concepts, planning, and implementation of training. It also motivates personnel, improves interagency cooperation, and facilitates international military cooperation. Most important, it guides development policy—and procurement of technologies or naval platforms—through the use of available funds.
Our navy recognizes that most ships in our fleet, especially former missile frigates (Kotor class), missile gunboats (Koncar class), and some larger auxiliary ships, all equipped with systems and technology from the late 1980s, are unsustainable systems even now, not to mention in the context of the navy’s future purpose and tasks.
The costs of maintenance, operation, training, and manning for those ships cannot be absorbed into projected navy budgeting, detracting in the final analysis from the navy’s ability to ensure maritime safety and protect Montenegrin interests at sea. For that reason, one of the navy’s most important strategic objectives for the future is platform modernization or the procurement of new platforms and systems through conversion.
This year has begun very ambitiously. The promising open-sea tug boat Orada and the training ship Jadran are to be docked and overhauled. We also have begun implementation of an entirely new system of sea surveillance through the installation and linking of modern radars into one master system monitored and controlled from a joint operations center. In the second and the next stage of development, the plan is to purchase new ships that will, in terms of their features and technology, be multifunctional and multimodular platforms capable of patrolling, search-and-rescue at sea, boarding, transport, and combating marine pollution.