Editor's Page

In the wake of the nation’s strategic shift to the Pacific, so much of the conversation has revolved around the “partnerships-are-important” mantra that it’s easy to start taking the efficiency of such partnerships for granted. Commonality of intentions against a shared adversary is not enough to make a coordinated effort work, however. History, as it so often does, offers up an example. To illustrate how naval cooperative efforts can fail, Lieutenant Commander Kevin M. Moeller takes a look back at the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, and the doomed-to-fail attempt by Germany and Italy early in the conflict to launch a combined U-boat offensive. For those countries currently aspiring to provide a united front against a potential Pacific A2/AD threat, there are lessons to be gleaned from the Axis’ mistakes.

Lest we become too enamored with shiny new technology, let’s not forget the poor man’s naval weapon of choice: mines. Although it has been decades since a U.S. Navy ship has struck a naval mine in the Persian Gulf, the service is wise not to discount this danger. Cheap to produce and capable of inflicting severe damage, mines are an ideal asymmetric weapon for an outmatched enemy. “Our naval surface forces—particularly those operating independently—need an organic, self-contained, and integrated mine-queuing system that will preserve their freedom of movement even when mines are thought to be present,” proposes Navy Captain Steve J. Coughlin. To achieve this, he recommends that the Navy develop technology similar to the airborne laser mine-detection system for installation on the Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle. “For the ship driver, operating with the mine-countermeasures Fire Scout should become an everyday skill set similar to standard helicopter operations, underway replenishment, or taking station on the aircraft carrier for plane-guard duty.”

Since its public release in March, the newly revised U.S. maritime strategy has been the subject of much discussion and plenty of fanfare. Retired Coast Guard Captain R. B. Watts offers a contrarian view in this issue: To wit, there’s really nothing much new about the new maritime strategy. He believes that U.S. naval thinking remains mired in Mahanian capital-ship theory in a world that, as Captain Watts argues, is no longer all that Mahanian. The author’s call for “naval heresy” should stimulate a great deal of healthy, lively debate—and Proceedings , of course, is just the forum for it.

Paul Merzlak , Editor-in-Chief



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23 February - Seminar

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