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?
Admiral E. Murat Bilgel
The complex nature of the security environment continuously expands the mission of navies, requiring interagency cooperation in humanitarian operations, maritime law enforcement, diplomacy, and aligning priorities with regional and alliance partners to assure global maritime security while retaining a strong deterrent fleet to protect national interests.
Our response to increased missions for existing and future forces under austere defense budgets will be twofold: 1) Take steps to decrease maintenance and operational costs. 2) Invest in cost-effective new designs to make the best use of technology.
Turkey’s navy employs dynamic maintenance and repair concepts as well as readiness-monitoring and inventory-control systems. The indigenous shipbuilding and design capacity in domestic naval and private shipyards, research centers, and the defense industry further contribute to cost-effective solutions.
Our force planners use strategic-decision support utilities in modernization programs, focusing on sophisticated, modular designs that move toward economy of operation through fewer crew and lower fuel costs.
The objective is to maintain and develop a credible naval force despite budget constraints—a versatile, well-trained, and well-equipped force that can be rapidly deployed (and sustained) at strategic distances. Likewise, the force must be fully interoperable with military (and nonmilitary) counterparts while protecting sea lanes of communication and being prepared to support joint and combined land activities from the sea.
Complementing those objectives, the navy will continue to be keen on implementing burden-sharing mechanisms, following up its policy of contributing to global endeavors through regional cooperation, interoperability, and mutual trust.
On the basis of such a strategy and future force goals—and taking into account the need to operate not only in the littorals but also on the high seas—the strategic objectives of the Turkish Navy are as follows:
• For the near term—Watching closely the developments in cyber and information technologies, improving maritime-security operations and situational-awareness capabilities through construction of corvettes and patrol boats, while upgrading C4ISR and combat systems.
• Within a decade—Enhancing sea denial, forward presence, and limited power projection capacity with a focus on conducting operations other than war via building a reconfigurable landing platform with airlift ability, a combat-support ship, multifunctional frigates with unmanned/manned rotary wing aircraft, and air independent propulsion submarines.
• In 20 years—Advancing power projection, limited-strike ability, and survivability through acquisition of another multipurpose landing platform with organic STOVL aircraft, air defense frigates and unmanned underwater vehicles.
In line with those objectives, we will continue to sustain operational effectiveness and deterrent posture through innovation, maintaining the strategy-and-technology interface, exploiting indigenous capacity, prioritizing projects, and continuous manpower education and training.