A New Step Toward Naval CooperationSDF) has long supported initiatives for the development of naval networking.1 To that end, in 2011, the JMSDF Staff College hosted the first Western Pacific Naval Symposium Short Term Exchange Program (WPNS STEP) for naval officers.
Japan’s prosperity depends heavily on the ocean, given that 99 percent of the island nation’s import-export tonnage is transported by sea.2 In addition, Japan recognizes dynamic changes in the world’s situation because of rapid globalization and growing national interdependence. For these reasons, the government of Japan issued the “National Defense Program Guideline for FY 2011 and Beyond” that emphasized multilayered security efforts.3 As part of this, the JMSDF renewed the symposium’s Seminar for Officers of the Next Generations, which had been hosted by the staff college for the past eight years, and evolved into the short-term exchange program.4
In-Depth International Interactions
In the first exchange, the JMSDF welcomed participants from Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, France, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States, and Vietnam. Unlike the previous seminar, exchange participants were invited not only from the WPNS navies, but also from those in South Asia and the Middle East. In addition, the duration of the program was extended to two weeks from five days.
The first week included classroom lectures by staff college instructors and officials from the government of Japan. Field trips to the Ministry of Defense and JMSDF bases oriented participants to the past and present status of Japanese self-defense forces. The second week consisted of cultural tours in Tokyo, and—the highlight of the program—a seminar titled “Diverse Role of Navies.”
In an academic atmosphere, seminar participants exchanged personal views on maritime security, roles of navies, and mutual cooperation. Discussions began with an assessment of the world situation, which was characterized by the emergence of diverse threats due to globalization and interdependence. With regard to the roles of navies, in addition to the traditional warfighting actions, new missions such as humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) and counterpiracy have been drawing public attention.
There were some disagreements; for instance, some defined counterpiracy as a traditional naval role given its history. But every participant agreed on a personal level that navies need to cooperate to share the profits of the ocean as a global common and that navies should take advantage of their international nature. The seminar concluded with the call for cooperative frameworks and combined exercises for effective operations to meet future challenges. It was specifically concluded that the most likely area for such cooperation would be HA/DR.
Finding Common Ground
During the two-week program, similarities and differences of the 20 participating countries were emphasized. One point in common to all navies is the challenge of identity. Every navy is struggling to validate its existence to its public who ask, “Why do we need the navy?” Equally, there were many shared common values. One, for instance, is the international nature of navies that can be leveraged for multinational combined operations to ensure maritime-domain security. On the other hand, the participants’ divergent perspectives reflected different capabilities limited by their size and political constraints. Hence, it is important to understand the capabilities of each navy to reasonably discuss possible areas of international cooperation to address common global challenges.
Humanitarian assistance, which has a relatively low threshold for use of military capabilities, is a prime area that can pave the way for future cooperation among a greater number of navies. Although the highly successful combined JMSDF and U.S. Navy humanitarian effort of Operation Tomodachi was highlighted, that was a product of enduring efforts cultivated by both navies over a long period.5 “Common ground” can be established through day-to-day efforts, such as standard operational procedures or ongoing joint exercises. Therefore, it is significant that participants arrived at a consensus—based purely on personal views—regarding the necessity for combined multilateral HA/DR exercises as the step toward concrete future naval cooperation across the entire range of participating countries. This coincides with a new concept of noncombatant military operations introduced in RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific Exercise) 2010.6
The WPNS STEP is not just an exchange or a friendship gathering, but a program that provides naval officers of the next generation with unlimited possibilities for the world’s future navies. Through practical discussions, participants reached a fruitful consensus for addressing future global maritime issues. The collective experience over two weeks will definitely make future cooperation among various navies a reality.
In addition to the exchange program, the JMSDF has been hosting the Overseas Training Cruise Ship Rider Program for junior officers from the Western Pacific Naval Symposium navies. This contributes to establishing a strong network in the Asia-Pacific region. Such initiatives create bonds among officers of the next generation from diverse navies, carrying on the rich tradition of navy-to-navy cooperation that has existed since the age of sailing ships. In his closing remarks, president of the JMSDF Staff College Vice Admiral Masanori Yoshida said the ties of our navy family would never be broken, which fittingly concluded the first short-term exchange program.
2. Japan Maritime Report 2011, see www.mlit.go.jp/maritime/kaijireport/report_H23_11.pdf (Japanese text).
3. “National Defense Program Guidelines for FY 2011 and Beyond,” Japanese Ministry of Defense, 17 December 2010, www.mod.go.jp/e/d_act/d_policy/pdf/guidelinesFY2011.pdf.
4. LCDR Kitaguchi, JMSDF, “Western Pacific SONG cooperation,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, March 2009.
5. For Operation Tomodachi, see website of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, www.cpf.navy.mil.
6. VADM Richard Hunt and RADM Robert Girrier, USN, “RIMPAC Builds Partnerships That Last,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, October 2011.
Commander Noma is enrolled in the JMSDF Staff College command and staff course. He previously served as an exchange officer to the U.S. Naval Academy and commanding officer of a minesweeper.
The Navy’s Role in Confronting Irregular Challenges
Mark Twain famously quipped that “the report of my death has been greatly exaggerated.” The same can be said about reports of the declining importance of the Navy’s role in irregular warfare (IW). Nothing could be further from the truth. Pronouncements of the declining emphasis on irregular warfare fail to comprehend the real security challenges facing America and the Secretary of Defense’s consistent guidance to improve and institutionalize capabilities needed to meet our combatant commanders’ growing demand for IW-capable forces. Additionally, it discounts the impact naval irregular warfare capabilities have repeatedly had in addressing challenges throughout our history.
Irregular warfare is in the Navy’s DNA. From the blockade of Tripoli and raiding operations in 1804 to the storied exploits of our riverine forces and coastal-patrol operations during the Vietnam War, naval history is replete with examples of highly successful IW missions. More recently, the Navy has conducted vast numbers of counterterrorism, counterdrug, counterpiracy, and counterinsurgency missions in addition to performing large-scale humanitarian assistance in Indonesia, Haiti, Pakistan, and Japan.
Senior leadership remains committed to ensuring our military forces can operate effectively across the entire range of combat, including irregular warfare. The January 2012 defense strategic guidance Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense reiterates counterterrorism and IW as a primary mission of the U.S. armed forces, listing it first among other missions. This guidance also singles out stability and presence operations, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, and counterinsurgency; all of which are part of the irregular challenges landscape articulated in “The U.S. Navy’s Vision for Confronting Irregular Challenges” of 2010. Seven confronting irregular challenges mission areas listed here are needed to respond to irregular challenges in the maritime environment.
In his March 2012 testimony before Congress on the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2013 posture, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert emphasized similar themes and clearly articulated the service’s intention to invest in both capabilities and platforms that bolster forward presence and enhance the development of partnerships for confronting irregular challenges. From these references alone it is clear the Navy has an increasingly important role to play in IW’s expanding realm. So why is there a continuing lack of understanding about irregular warfare?
A Fog of Words
Both in and outside the Navy, debate concerning IW and the Navy’s role is often uninformed and confused by a proliferation of unofficial terminology. In spite of the approved definition highlighted previously, “Hybrid, non-traditional, asymmetric, low intensity” and a cacophony of other terms result in many discussions about its nature becoming little more than café or bar banter.1
Sadly, the Navy’s role is not well understood because many who discuss irregular warfare wear “cammies” and emphasize ground-centric perspectives. In reality, the Navy’s daily operations reveal the enormous value of our sailors and platforms as practitioners of the art. On any given day, Navy forces conduct combat missions in support of counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa, counterinsurgency support in Afghanistan. and multinational counterpiracy patrols in the Indian Ocean, while countering illicit trafficking of all types and simultaneously carrying out a host of “other” activities. All these operations fall well inside the mission space of IW, and certainly within the Navy’s broader role in confronting irregular challenges.
A Few Insights
As director of the Navy’s Irregular Warfare Office, I have taken part in the ongoing debate and gained the following important insights.
• The future operational environment will increasingly feature irregular challenges. The Navy (especially the Navy–Marine Corps team), through its afloat support to special operations forces (SOF) and close cooperation with multinational naval partners must be ready to conduct ever broadening irregular-warfare missions. IW will remain a growth industry for naval forces.
• Irregular warfare, like its conventional counterpart, is about warfighting first. IW is what we do while operating forward, and our naval forces must be ready to confront a growing array of threats from adaptive non-state actors while deterring state-sponsored aggression. In short, the Navy approach to irregular warfare is completely aligned with the “CNO’s Sailing Directions” and the Commandant’s vision for the Marine Corps; both of which emphasize warfighting as a first priority.
• Despite the Navy’s growing skill in the domain, many still don’t (or won’t) understand how significant the Navy’s contributions to irregular warfare are in preserving the access, safety, and security of the global maritime commons on which so much of world’s trade and commerce depends. As a true ounce of prevention, Navy’s steady-state response to irregular challenges deters worse threats of aggression, reinforcing a key tenet of the “CNO’s Sailing Directions” to “provide offshore options to deter, influence, and win in an era of uncertainty.”2
• Finally, Navy irregular-warfare capabilities are cheap but not free. Sources of instability, if left unattended, can eventually grow into more serious security challenges. Navy resources needed to prevent and respond to irregular threats include those for training today’s Fleet forces, innovative investments in niche capabilities, support to special operations forces, and sustainment of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command. These investments keep the Fleet ready and help our security partners increase their contributions to regional security. Decreasing them will diminish Fleet readiness for responding to emerging IW threats and our ability to sustain key partnerships. Apart from resilient maritime irregular-warfare capabilities, irregular challenges can produce greater instability, threatening America’s long-term economic and security interests.
Institutionalizing Navy IW Capabilities
In view of these insights, innovating new means and methods for confronting irregular challenges remains crucial to the Navy’s future relevance and success. The pursuit of initiatives across Navy doctrine, organization, training, matériel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities is continually enhancing the Navy’s proficiency in irregular warfare:
• Doctrine: In coordination with the Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and our interagency and international partners, we are refining naval doctrine to better reflect the irregular challenges maritime forces face. A maritime-stability operations doctrine developed with the Marines and Coast Guard was recently tested during a challenging Naval War College game that involved interagency and international naval partners.
• Organization: Fleet readiness for the IW mission will increase as the organizational structure of Fleet maritime-operations centers better reflects the Navy’s growing role in it. The Office of Naval Intelligence Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center provides tailored naval-intelligence products to Fleet forces.
• Training: Fleet Forces Command is aligning predeployment training of units on both coasts with special operations forces units to improve interoperability and integration.
• Matériel: As we acquire new platforms and systems, we must ensure their employment in the full range of military operations includes irregular-warfare missions; e.g., the littoral combat ship will support SOF rigid inflatable boats.
• Leadership and Education: Facing an increasingly uncertain security environment, all our sailors (officers and enlisted) need cultural understanding and critical-thinking skills to respond wisely to future challenges. Expanding the foreign area officer and language, regional expertise, and culture programs are enhancing the Navy’s proficiency to perform future IW missions. The Naval War College Center for Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups is advancing a broader understanding of the Navy’s role in the specialty.
• Personnel: Irregular warfare is more about people than weapon systems. The Navy is increasing its combat support and combat service support manning to naval special warfare, and as these personnel return to Fleet assignments, they will enhance Navy-SOF operational integration. The Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands program is developing the deeper cultural expertise needed for both operational and staff assignments.
• Facilities: The Navy and Marine Corps are making significant progress in adapting ranges and training facilities to provide warfighters with more realistic irregular-warfare training conditions.
The CNO often describes the Navy as operating forward at the strategic maritime crossroads. The service is deployed in every theater of operations, conducting security-force assistance, and security-cooperation activities that help prevent instability, and responding decisively to irregular threats from terrorist, criminal, and insurgent organizations. The Navy’s continued forward presence is as important to IW missions as it is to deterring aggression from both state and non-state actors.
What You Need to Know about IW
Every sailor—petty officer to flag officer—needs to embrace three truths about the Navy’s role in IW to meet today’s and future irregular-warfighting challenges.
People are the terrain. We must actively seek to better understand partners, allies, and potential adversaries. This is the first step in helping partners overcome irregular security challenges and deterring those who threaten their societies and ours.
IW is a team sport. The Navy utterly depends on partnerships to succeed in the endeavor. In addition to strengthening the Navy–Marine Corps team, we must forge closer cooperation with SOF, the interagency, and multinational naval partners to pursue comprehensive approaches. We don’t have the capacity to go it alone, and even if we did, it would produce unsustainable solutions to the complex security challenges that the nation faces.
Finally, IW is an integral part of naval warfare. All hands must be involved to institutionalize proficiency in irregular warfare across Navy doctrine, organization, training, matériel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities. This is true not only for defending the nation against increasingly pernicious irregular threats, such as nuclear terrorism, but also for how performing the irregular missions contributes to the Navy’s continued and unfettered access to crucial overseas facilities and the regional maritime crossroads where many security challenges arise.
As we remember the War of 1812 and consider how the lessons from that era apply to today’s Navy, we are well served to view the evolving security environment from multiple perspectives, including irregular warfare. The War of 1812 demonstrated the importance of full-range operations and how they can occur simultaneously with often reinforcing effects. IW and traditional warfare, high and low end, together provide offshore options for accomplishing the nation’s strategic objectives in an era of uncertainty.
War is war, and the Navy doesn’t get to choose what part of the range of conflict it must confront. Hedging this uncertainty means possessing robust irregular-warfare capabilities, which are also an absolute necessity for the Navy’s readiness today and in the future.
2. “CNO’s Sailing Directions.” Washington, DC, 2012.
Rear Admiral Harris, commander of U.S. Fourth Fleet, served as director of the Navy Irregular Warfare Office from 2011 to 2012.
‘Like’ Navy on Facebook
Hundreds of Navy commands maintain their own Facebook pages. With more than 1 billion active users, no organizational leader, whether civilian or military, can risk not engaging audiences in such a popular forum. As stated by the former Navy Chief of Information, Rear Admiral Dennis Moynihan, the need to make use of social media is an imperative in effective communications with command stakeholders.
The choice of whether or not to participate is a false one. Opting against using social media cedes the conversation to others. People will be talking about your command and forging your public reputation, but without your input. Choosing not to participate simply means you surrender your stake in the outcome.1
Inherently, by its very design, a command Facebook page enables effective two-way communication with command stakeholders by circulating information quickly, enabling better monitoring of public relations trends, segmenting publics for greater in-depth research precision, and managing and understanding an organization’s reputation.2 In this medium, organizations can generate effective communication with a wide variety of public groups, including journalists, sailors, families, and retirees.
To clarify terms, two-way communication is defined as information that flows from an organization to the public and vice versa.3 One-way communication, on the other hand, is disseminating information without regard to input or feedback.
Commands that use Facebook simply to disseminate information but not allow feedback are missing opportunities. Often leaders demand better communication by directing public-affairs staffs to put out more messages. The key, however, to better communication is not crafting better and more messages, but listening to stakeholders, thereby providing Navy leadership the information necessary to understand their knowledge and opinions.
Myriad factors explain why some command Facebook pages are operated as a message-dissemination tool rather than for two-way communication. For some, interactive communication is not that important. This is understandable. The Navy is not a civilian corporation that must adjust to the needs of stockholders.
But such orientation does not translate into neglecting the need to understand the public and internal perceptions of decisions and actions. Enough articles have been written addressing the failure of military leadership to consider public perception and understanding in military operations, and the negative affects from such postures.
Given the value of Facebook as an interactive communication tool, and the large presence of the Navy on the social networking service, a group of military public affairs officers (PAOs) and civilians at San Diego State University investigated the factors affecting Facebook use as a more effective communication tool.4 They looked at how Navy commands were using Facebook, and what factors predicted its use.
Navy Command Facebook Pages
The study was conducted in two phases. First a census was taken of all Navy PAOs who manage an official Facebook page. An online survey of factors that could influence two-way communication via Facebook was submitted to 390 page managers. Only responses from PAOs were accepted. For the purposes of analysis, a PAO was defined as an individual designated as the acting public-affairs official for a Navy organization. The Navy personnel designator 165X was not a prerequisite for classification as a PAO, and respondents included active-duty and reserve military special-duty public affairs officers, enlisted mass communication specialists (MCs), civilian public-relations practitioners, and collateral-duty public affairs officers. While military special-duty PAOs, MCs, and civilian PAOs were deemed full-time professional public-affairs practitioners, collateral-duty PAOs were considered part-time professionals.
A content analysis of participating PAOs’ command Facebook pages was conducted to assess the pages’ use as an interactive medium. The survey data was then correlated with that of the content analysis.
For the purposes of the study, for a command to use Facebook as a two-way communication tool, it must actively employ the medium in a manner that creates an environment for dialogue, such as asking questions, generating discussion, and use of polling tools. These functions are considered to be proactive use. The other aspect of this, the command’s response, was labeled reactive use.
After conducting regression analysis and analysis of variance testing, the group found two factors that have a large impact on Facebook’s use for two-way communications: time and public-affairs professionalism.
More time spent on Facebook increases the likelihood of a page being used for two-way communication. Thus, Navy PAOs must be willing and able to dedicate time into maintaining their Facebook pages to realize the full potential of the medium. Typically, the low-to-high time-commitment span ranged from less than 6 hours to close to 20 hours per week. The study demonstrated that if a PAO does not dedicate enough time to maintaining an interactive Facebook page, he or she will not obtain the full benefit of the medium’s capability.
What explains the variance of time? Numerous factors come into play, especially the size of a PAO’s department and related duties, including management of many different information mediums, such as a command newspaper and official website. It most cases, the likely reason is the PAO does not have the manpower necessary to dedicate someone to the interactive medium. Very few commands have a billet specifically designed to manage social media.
Professional vs. Collateral-Duty PAOs
The evidence further suggested that collateral-duty PAOs are not engaging in proactive two-way communications as often as full-time professionals. They tend to use interactive methods less and are not as knowledgeable as their special-duty counterparts.
This was not a surprise. A dedicated special-duty public affairs officer should have more advanced communication skills than a collateral-duty officer, just as a fully qualified surface warfare officer should have more ship-driving skill than a brand new ensign.
Nevertheless, in general, commanders who rely on collateral-duty PAOs for command public affairs aren’t getting the “full bang for their buck,” because either they or their PAOs don’t realize or know how to use Facebook to its maximum potential. The Navy, however, does offer through the Chief of Information’s office significant social-media training to all PAO levels.5 Commanders and their collateral-duty PAOs can take advantage of these programs to get the full value of social media.
Common sense could probably drive most people to the same empirical conclusions reached in the study. But that’s the point—empirical evidence proves that time and professionalism of the PAO are both necessary conditions for effective Facebook use.
Commands that wish to engage in social media need to take a hard look at not only why they want to use it, but also whether or not they have the capabilities necessary to achieve the medium’s two-way communication potential. Commands without the resources or personnel to enable their public affairs officer and/or staff to dedicate 20 hours per week to Facebook probably won’t get its full benefit. Additionally, commanders must carefully evaluate their personnel and determine if they possess the level of public-affairs professionalism to use social media fully. If not, they must consider and coordinate training opportunities with the closest full-time public affairs professional within the chain of command.
Navy commands cannot afford to miss out on the opportunities Facebook allows for generating two-way communication with its stakeholders. While information-dissemination efforts play a significant role in public affairs, listening and seeking to understand our audiences are equally important functions. As the study suggests, if a command does not have the resources dedicated to using Facebook effectively, then efforts to obtain all its benefits will fall short.
2. T. McCorkindale, “Can You See the Writing on My Wall? A Content Analysis of the Fortune 50’s Facebook Social Networking Sites,” Public Relations Journal 4, no. 3 (2010): 3–16.
3. B. L. Sha, “Dimensions of Public Relations: Moving beyond Traditional Public Relations Models,” in New Media and Public Relations, S. Duhé et al, eds. (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), 3–26.
4. W. B. Tisdale, J. Diddams, R. Gerstenslager, and C. O’Connell, “The U.S. Navy on Facebook: Does Knowledge Available Affect Two-Way Communication Use?” Unpublished manuscript in author’s possession, 2012.
5. U.S. Navy, Chief of Information. Navy PA resources website, social media, 2012, www.chinfo.navy.mil/chinfo/SocialMedia.aspx.