Editor's Page

For all of Putin’s pride in his navy, the service is having trouble redefining its role for the 21st century. As former Soviet naval officer Andrei Martyanov explains, the Russian navy is lost in a “doctrinal fog.” The problem ranges from a misguided carrier-centric focus to ship acquisitions of dubious merit to an underlying nostalgia for the perceived glory days of the Soviet naval past. The planned purchase of two Mistral -class amphibious ships from France only adds to the confusion, as there seems to be no apparent mission for them. “Discussion . . . still revolves around specific ships and technologies rather than around doctrine,” he laments, “ignoring altogether the ultimate necessity to first formulate the mission for the navy and then develop the operational requirements from there.” Sound advice for all naval planners.

One area where there is no confusion for Russian naval strategists is the Black Sea, says longtime Russia specialist Dr. John C. K. Daly. Whether it’s 1853 or 1947 or 2014, Russia has always understood the importance of the Crimean region to its naval ambitions. Moscow’s recent moves there have come at the expense of Ukrainian sovereignty and have rekindled the area’s status as a global trouble spot. NATO vessels entered the Black Sea in July, but the alliance’s options are limited, and the situation has devolved into a “geostrategic checkmate” as Russia has increased its Black Sea forces to counter every Western move. Dr. Daly looks at this volatile situation and offers some guidelines for a well-tempered NATO response.

As the U.S. military continues to deal with the impact of sequestration and budget cuts, it’s easy to forget that, amid all the discussions of which high-priced weapon systems might go on the chopping block, the people manning and maintaining those systems are also affected. This All-Volunteer Force has been pushed to the limit over the past 13 years of war. To maintain the quality of that force will require significant action. We’re fortunate to have Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Admiral Bill Moran with us this month to discuss some possible ways forward. “We should look at this challenge with fresh eyes,” he says. “A bold argument could be made for needed modernization of the All-Volunteer Force, in concert with the end-strength, pay and compensation, and retirement-reform debates that surely must follow.” We look forward to seeing those debates play out in the pages of the open forum.

Paul Merzlak , Editor-in-Chief



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