Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, Chief of the Royal Australian Navy
As an island nation, Australia’s lifeblood is the sea. We depend on it for our prosperity and way of life. Good order at sea is vital to our nation’s economic and environmental welfare and to our national security. The most recent Australian government guidance states:
Our region is in the midst of the most consequential strategic realignment since the Second World War, and trends including military modernisation, technological disruption and the risk of state-on-state conflict are further complicating our nation’s strategic circumstances. . . . The Indo-Pacific is at the centre of greater strategic competition, making the region more contested and apprehensive.
In the Indo-Pacific, an idiosyncratically maritime region, maritime security challenges are an essential part of international relations.Strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific is intensifying across all domains. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will continue to advocate for stability, security, and sovereignty in our immediate region. International engagement will also continue to be a core and strategic Navy activity; strengthening trusted relationships with our allies, friends, and regional partners to ensure we can work together to achieve a commonality of purpose.
In 2021, the RAN averaged 20 ships at sea at any one time, with more than 2,000 personnel deployed across the Indo-Pacific. Domestically, an unprecedented bushfire season and the COVID-19 pandemic saw the RAN deploy ships and people to support communities across Australia. The defense budget has been lifted above 2 percent of GDP, and our continuous indigenous shipbuilding program is accelerating. The RAN workforce, so integral to the delivery of maritime capability, has grown, and our separation rate has stabilized. Through a combined and modernized recruitment and retention strategy, initial entry courses are witnessing record intakes, and the RAN is now the largest it has been since the late 1990s. Our Navy Mastery program will fundamentally change the professional development of our workforce, enhancing the delivery of maritime capability by empowering our sailors and officers to strive for excellence in each of its core elements of social, technical, and maritime mastery.
COVID-19 is but one of several challenges and evolving threats facing the navies of our region for which we must be collectively ready. There are no assumptions that cannot be tested: The Indo-Pacific is complex, dynamic, and increasingly central to global security. Australia and the RAN will continue to actively support and advocate for the stability, security, and sovereignty of the Indo-Pacific.
Rear Admiral Kiril Mihaylov, Commander of the Bulgarian Navy
The Black Sea region has been constantly striving for stability during the past three decades. Regardless of all efforts, security challenges and new threats are emerging at a regular pace, along with the resurgence of old ones, making the regional security environment fragile and unstable. Dormant conflicts continue to pose a threat for escalation and deterioration of maritime safety and security. In line with that, the Russian Federation is more openly opposing the pro-NATO alignment of neighboring countries, which it considered neutral and a buffer zone in the past.
Nevertheless, Russia has never ceased projecting its influence in the whole region and interfering in the domestic affairs of former Eastern Bloc countries. The escalation of hostile activities, starting with the 2008 invasion in Georgia and the subsequent illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, culminated on 24 February with the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, which confirmed our doubts that political means do not suffice for Russian leaders.
The completely transformed security situation in the Black Sea region presents new tasks for the Bulgarian Navy that require additional capabilities. The process of acquiring new inventory is already underway, with contracts signed for building new naval vessels, upgrading the maritime surveillance system, and adopting modern warfighting platforms. But this might not be enough in this new security environment. More decisive measures should be taken. At the same time, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy contribute to the strain in implementing the National Armed Forces Development Plan and on the acquisition process.
The overt demonstration of Russian military power, by invading Ukraine on a pretext, compelled the regional actors—Bulgaria in particular—to evaluate all the capability requirements of the armed forces. This led to the conclusion that Bulgaria needs to act decisively with concerted efforts and apply adequate measures for speeding the process of developing new military capabilities.
How we balance future requirements, planned capabilities, and available ones will define the level of accomplishment of the Navy’s tasks and pave the way to approach future challenges, especially in the upcoming months, as the region is now dealing with a major armed conflict at the doorstep of NATO.
Vice Admiral Craig Baines, Commander, Royal Canadian Navy
Surrounded by three oceans, Canada is deeply affected by the evolving maritime security environment. This security environment plays out in different ways in the Euro-Atlantic, the Indo-Pacific, and the Arctic (as examples), but in all areas Canada’s maritime capability is strategically relevant and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) must be ready to face operational challenges on behalf of the government of Canada. As such, the RCN must contribute meaningfully to regional security to ensure that Canadian interests, along with those of our allies and partners, are protected.
Our competitors and adversaries will continue to try to undermine the rules-based international order—be it by encroaching on freedom of navigation, challenging sovereignty, or testing responses in unique operating areas such as the Arctic. Even in times of crisis, when our nation is preoccupied, our Navy must continue to maintain strategic awareness and operational readiness to act with our allies and partners to defend shared values. The RCN is focusing on three lines of effort to ensure operational excellence:
Operations: The COVID-19 pandemic had the potential to greatly impact operations at home and abroad. The RCN met these challenges with robust isolation and testing regimes. While this allowed the RCN to meet national and international obligations, it also forced us to reimagine how we do things and be innovative. Because of these pressures, the RCN continues to work with the Canadian Coast Guard and international partners to explore synergies, including shared resources and knowledge. Resilience in operations is key to remaining ready, even in the most challenging circumstances.
Fleet recapitalization: The RCN is undergoing its largest recapitalization program since World War II—building new surface combatants, Arctic and offshore patrol ships, and auxiliary ships; life-extending and modernizing Victoria-class submarines and evaluating replacement options for the class; and pursuing necessary infrastructure maintenance and upgrades to shore and training facilities. As development on each class of ship progresses, analysis of the continually evolving global security environment remains key to future-proofing vessels to ensure not only that systems stay relevant for years to come, but—more important—that tomorrow’s sailors have the equipment they need when sent into harm’s way.
Personnel: Without trained and effective people, our ships, submarines, and aircraft are not deployable. A common concern for all navies is recruiting, training, and retaining top-notch personnel. The RCN is striving to innovate in recruiting and training to generate new sailors. Today’s generation was born into a digitized world; as our ships, shore facilities, and training establishments become fully digitized and connected, we need to leverage these technologies while ensuring operational security. We also must be careful not to burn out sailors in an environment in which it is hard to find work-life balance. Like the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole, the RCN is taking appropriate measures to affect culture change. The RCN is using the government’s Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) tool to assess systemic inequalities and how diverse groups of women, men, and gender-diverse people experience policies, programs, and initiatives. Using GBA+ also ensures that future ships and submarines are not designed on incorrect assumptions that could lead to unintended and unequal impacts on particular groups of people. This will help ensure that the future RCN is an inclusive workplace in which Canadians feel comfortable and willing to serve.
Admiral Juan Andrés De La Maza Larraín, Commander-in-Chief, Chilean Navy
The mission of the Chilean Navy, in addition to safeguarding the nation’s maritime interests wherever required, is to protect its vast oceanic jurisdictional area, ensure the safety of navigation and life at sea, secure control over said area, and contribute to the preservation of its resources.
From there, and in accordance with the provisions of the new National Oceanic Policy, responsibilities arise that compel us to evaluate diverse strategic scenarios, in which the Navy is called to play a leading role. For this reason, we keep a close eye on the developments taking place in different oceanic areas—such as the Indo-Pacific—where a large part of our maritime trade, representing almost half of our GDP, is carried out.
This requires us to maintain and develop capabilities to work collaboratively with other navies, operating in accordance with international maritime law, in the face of threats such as piracy, illegal fishing, marine pollution, or transnational organized crime; or in the face of certain risks that may result from unilateral actions by states that do not comply with international maritime law, which may hinder freedom of navigation.
The COVID-19 pandemic marked a pause in the normal activities of the institution, as surely was the case for the other navies in the region. We had to make minor adjustments to an organizational structure designed to fulfill one of the missions envisaged by the government to face this type of scenario and, in conjunction with other government institutions and agencies and making use of available capabilities and assets, contribute to the prevention, response, and mitigation of the pandemic’s effects.
We are also fully aware of the new and complex risks and threats looming over and from the oceans, particularly those derived from global warming and its close connection with climate change, which are starting to manifest themselves through phenomena such as the acidification of the sea, the critical rise in sea levels, and changes in tidal patters. These have consequences such as the flooding of coastal areas and the destruction of port infrastructure and associated logistical networks, all of which have a significant impact on the population.
Added to this are the political, social (migratory movements, food shortages, multisectoral mobilizations), economic (recessions, unemployment, poverty), and cultural (changes in social values) consequences, unpredictable in their actual magnitude and whose effects are already starting to be felt globally.
Chile ranks 14th among countries that will be most affected by climate change worldwide in the coming decades. The Chilean Navy plays a key role in the protection of the oceans, the preservation of their resources, and maintaining their safety and control. The effectiveness of these tasks will have a significant impact on national development.
Admiral Gabriel Alfonso Pérez Garcés, Commander of the Colombian Navy
The maritime security environment in Colombia is changing because of the constant mutation of transnational threats acting on the maritime domain. Domestic drug trafficking organizations continually modify their ways and means to smuggle illicit drugs, and use the profits to finance terrorism, violence, and corruption. This changing environment motivated the development of alternative ways of planning and executing operations.
Aligned with the cooperative security concept, the Colombian Navy has been leading the planning and execution of the Orion Naval Campaign against illicit drug trafficking at sea in the Central American and Caribbean region since 2018, with the cooperation of 40 countries and 102 institutions. Through this mechanism, 255 tons of illicit drugs transported by sea were seized in 2021 alone, with an estimated market value of $6.6 billion.
In addition, the influence of foreign states is generating political and economic instability in the region. The Colombian maritime territory has been threatened by the disregard for binational border treaties and by foreign military support to governments of neighboring countries, including sales of conventional weapons.
Furthermore, these actors are using elements of “hard power” in Colombia to increase their influence in the region. They are actions not unrelated to the current scenario of global competition, a framework the Naval Development Plan 2042, published in 2021, which considered an adjustment to the budget or personnel policies but determined it was not necessary.
In the same way, the Colombian Navy is executing the Artemisa Naval Campaign to protect marine areas; counteract climate change, illegal and predatory fishing, sea pollution, and illegal migration; and expand the state’s capacity to protect sovereignty and understand our natural and cultural resources. The emergency unleashed by Hurricane Iota in November 2020 on the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina motivated an immediate unified response by Colombia, called Plan Renacer and led by the Colombian Navy.
Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the social, political, and economic conditions that generate other threats. The Colombian Navy can quickly adapt to these and future challenges. This is the experience we have acquired in the fight against domestic threats, which has led us to have trained, qualified, and motivated crews, with a modern, flexible, and dual-use naval fleet, and with an adequate organizational structure to comply with institutional roles and functions.
Rear Admiral Ivo Raffenilli, Commander of the Croatian Navy
New security challenges, such as global terrorism or illegal migration, have not had a great impact on the security situation in the Republic of Croatia or on maritime security in the Adriatic. Only a few cases of illegal entry of migrants into the Republic of Croatia have been reported in the Adriatic. Although there are no significant threats in the Adriatic, the Croatian Navy (CN) contributes to allied maritime security by participating in NATO and European Union (EU) operations in the Mediterranean and parts of the Indian Ocean as a reliable and secure partner, demonstrating our determination to deter and combat modern security threats.
By participating in NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian, the CN fulfills its mission and obligation to contribute to peace-support operations as a NATO member country. This maritime security operation in the Mediterranean ensures freedom of navigation, contributes to maritime situational awareness, improves maritime security, and combats terrorism and the proliferation of weapons.
The Croatian Navy contributes to the EU Operations Irini and Atalanta with autonomous vehicle protection detachment (AVPD) teams to prevent, deter, secure, and protect against pirate attacks, kidnappings, and robberies. Vessel protection teams also take turns on ships carrying U.N. humanitarian aid and food to those in need off Somalia and neighboring countries.
In the regional context, the Croatian Navy will host the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative Exercise Adrion events this spring, during which navies of the Adriatic-Ionian region will have the opportunity to show their cooperation in maritime security.
In addition, the Croatian Navy has a leading role of the European Coast Guard Functions Forum in 2022. The Forum itself deals with the multitude of maritime issues related to maritime safety and security.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CN has followed the guidelines of national health authorities to prevent a significant spread of the virus within its units. Thanks to that, the CN was able to carry out its tasks and maintain the continuity of training.
The CN expects four new coastal patrol vessels to be delivered in 2022 and 2023. Currently, the preparations for the acquisition of a new network of coastal radar systems for monitoring the situation at sea are taking place, and the maritime situation image will be integrated and exchanged at the national, NATO, and EU levels.
Other capability development projects include acquiring mine countermeasures (MCM) platforms and procuring multipurpose offshore vessels with multidimensional fighting capabilities that will significantly improve overall capabilities.
With the aim to attract young people to join the Navy, the CN together with the University of Split has developed a new study program at pace with technological progress and the newly identified threats and tasks.
Rear Admiral Brúmel Vázquez Bermúdez, Commandant General of the Ecuadorian Navy
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a large impact in different fields. The armed forces are no strangers to this reality.
In Ecuador, the pandemic began in 2020 with a quick and deadly spread of the virus that was counteracted in 2021 with an efficient vaccination campaign led by the national government. The Navy, whose personnel maintained a high sense of duty, continued its operational activity, achieving optimal results and keeping the security of the sea lines of communication that are so important for a maritime country such as Ecuador.
An example of this commitment is the interdiction of a low-profile vessel in October 2021 in international waters northeast of the Galapagos Islands by the tall ship Guayas, an unprecedented event in the region because of the asymmetry of the assets. This event, together with a historic record of controlled substances seized, was recognized by U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Douglas M. Fears, Director of the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force–South.
In addition to these achievements, important actions against the smuggling of goods, fuel, chemical precursors, weapons, ammunition, and explosives, among others, were carried out in the fight against transnational organized crime. This includes improving maritime capabilities and maritime domain awareness with the support of technology, sharing information with partner countries, and the active participation of the Navy in regional and global cooperation events, such as the multinational Operation Orion, an example of the cooperative fight against drug trafficking.
In 2020, the Ecuadorian Navy was involved in the logistics and security of the vaccination process, demonstrating the need to prioritize support to the population in the COVID-19 pandemic fight. Despite that, in 2021 and 2022 naval operations were efficiently fulfilled thanks to compliance with biosecurity measures, the complete vaccination schedule, coronavirus PCR tests for the crews, and a culture of prevention as a human resources policy. These measures have contributed greatly to the accomplishment of our mission in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic with a low impact to the Navy’s budget.
Finally, it can be assured that the Ecuadorian Navy has accomplished its constitutional mission of protecting national sovereignty and fighting against illegal activities at sea, which has allowed us to maintain maritime security, permanently adapting to face new threats and risks, even in a complex environment such as this pandemic.
Rear Admiral Ashraf Ibrahim a Twa, Commander in Chief of the Egyptian Naval Forces
Presently, the Middle East challenges in international maritime security include but are not limited to:
• The current conflict in Yemen. Clashes between the government and Houthi militia continue, with the latter still using manned and unmanned vessels and primitive mines. This puts the warships and merchant ships of unassociated nations at risk.
• The internal political situation in Somalia and the postponements of the electoral process, which continue to raise the threat of insecurity. The movement of striving youth continues in Mogadishu, the northern region of Puntland, and the southern regions.
• A sensitive political phase in Sudan, while Egypt and the international community continue to urge all Sudanese stakeholders to find a common path that meets the legitimate democratic aspirations of all Sudanese people.
• The Libyan crisis, which is going through a critical phase that carries very serious security outcomes that may extend to Libya’s neighbors.
• Challenges in the eastern Mediterranean, including the development of natural gas resources, border delimitation, and maritime presence.
The Egyptian Navy’s measures to overcome challenges such as regional threats, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic include:
• Securing sea lines of communications
• Countering illicit trafficking and illegal immigration
• Securing the Suez Canal in cooperation with the other state agencies around the clock
• Participating in Operation Restore Hope and the combined maritime forces to ensure freedom of navigation and flow of the global trade from the Bab al Mandeb to the southern entrance of the Suez Canal
• Immunizing all sailors and their families at no cost
• Planning to inaugurate the Egyptian Navy Hydrographic Department Research and Development Center, which will cooperate with many national and international research and development centers to provide multiple services such as environmental impact studies and shoreline stability to monitor our changing environment and the impact of human activities on it
Finally, the Egyptian Navy is conducting a strategic review because the changing environment impacts our operations, budget, and personnel policy in the following ways:
• Distributing forces across the Mediterranean and Red Seas to ensure rapid response to threats
• Procuring maritime units and technology transfer in cooperation with friendly countries
• Enhancing the level of human resources practically, scientifically, and physically
Rear Admiral Jori Harju, Commander of the Finnish Navy
The Baltic Sea is of indisputable strategic importance for the surrounding countries. Trade, energy, communications, and defense requirements underline this. Secure sea lines of communication are vital for Finland’s economy and security of supply—and the same applies to many other Baltic Sea countries. The significance is also reflected in Russia’s ambitions to ensure a sphere of influence on its borders.
Present-day strategic competition is unpredictable, and incidents that appear distant can have ramifications in the Baltic Sea region. International political, diplomatic, military, and economic actions often resonate in our maritime environment. The ongoing war in Ukraine is a contemporary example. A corridor from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea—consisting of Ukraine, Belorussia, and Kaliningrad—relays tensions to and from the Baltic Sea, Northern Europe, and the Arctic.
Despite evolving warfare, it is worth noting that Russia maintains significant conventional warfighting capabilities in the Baltic Sea region and vicinity. Furthermore, Russia’s rapid decision-making and readiness of its armed forces enable operations with limited early warning.
For the Finnish Navy, the Baltic Sea operating environment and deductions made from it are clear—high readiness capacity remains essential. The Navy, for its part, ensures a credible threshold and prepares to defend the country. Finland’s high public will to defend its territory, general conscription with large reserves, and the comprehensive security model involving all national stakeholders constitute a resolute foundation for national defense and resilience.
The Navy is tasked to focus on surveillance and protection of territorial integrity, securing sea lines of communication, and repelling seaborne attacks jointly with the other services. If required, the Navy provides military assistance for partner nations. Finland actively engages in international defense cooperation to develop combined capabilities and interoperability. Long-established and close Finnish Navy and Swedish Navy cooperation is the spearhead.
To prepare for the uncertain, the Finnish Navy continues to implement its development plan. The Squadron 2020—our multirole corvettes with comprehensive capabilities—will be capable of operating for extended periods in all Baltic Sea conditions year-round. A new antisurface missile system will enter service soon. In addition, naval mine warfare, underwater capabilities, and the mobility and firepower of coastal troops remain focal development areas. We are determined to maintain our capability among the top-tier of littoral warfare militaries in the Baltic Sea region. In addition, the novel capabilities alongside existing ones ensure the Finnish Navy provides unified striking power in the future.
Admiral Pierre Vandier, Chief of Naval Operations, French Navy
The French Navy is facing three major headwinds: a massive global rearmament; technological advances that obviate long-standing naval tactics, techniques, and procedures; and the impact of climate change. These obstacles demand the French Navy adapt its acquisition timelines, personnel recruitment and operational training, and international partnerships.
The first upheaval is the rapid global buildup of naval tonnage. Across the world, fleets are swelling in both size and complexity. This rearmament induces requirements for new capabilities, which demand heavy investment to remain competitive. However, France’s tight fiscal environment requires its Navy to choose technologies that will bring the most efficient effects for the lowest cost. It also must expedite acquisition timelines for capabilities in new military domains, such as seabed warfare. Moreover, the French Navy must replace many dated warships with modern vessels equipped with cutting-edge combat systems. The pace of change has been so blistering in regions such as the Indo-Pacific, the French vessels based there have found themselves outgunned in the face of new competitors. To maintain relevance, the French Navy will refine its modernization cycle for operational units by continually implementing upgrades, vice stem-to-stern retrofitting every 20 years.
The second major evolution relates to technological advancement that has expanded the battlespace to include space, cyberspace, the electromagnetic field, and a revolutionized information operations sphere. To fight and win, navies must now achieve effects in all these battlefields, and synchronization is paramount. To meet this new reality, the French Navy is adapting its recruiting and professional curriculum as demands for new skills emerge.
In addition, operational preparation has evolved. In November 2021, Exercise Polaris was a watershed moment for the French Navy in terms of its size and sophistication. The six-day live exercise portion pitted two opposing forces against one another in free-play virtual combat across all warfighting domains. This exercise made it possible to test new courses of action, resulting in the evolution of stale tactics. The detect-to-engage sequence was respected, and participating units could not reanimate after exercise hits, nor were refills of virtual munition stocks permitted, achieving an unprecedented degree of realism in a training environment.
The final key disruptor, climate change, is causing extreme phenomena and a myriad of other consequences, such as displacement of fish populations, the opening of new sea lanes, human migration, and sea level rise, warming, and acidification. France, which possesses the world’s second largest exclusive economic zone, has a special responsibility to circumvent further environmental damage. The French Navy is seeking to strengthen its interoperability and partnerships with navies worldwide to present a common front in the face of these disruptions, which will ultimately destabilize whole regions.
Vice Admiral Jan Christian Kaack, Chief of the German Navy
Maritime security in all its dimensions is essential for Germany and Europe. Trade flows, jobs, income, and prosperity depend significantly on the freedom of sea routes and the timely shipment of goods of all kinds. What happens when this system is disrupted was impressively demonstrated by the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal in March 2021.
Defending the freedom of the sea lanes is and always has been a core task of the German Navy. The external security environment is therefore crucial for the Navy’s deployments. Here, the priorities have changed in recent decades. The German Navy was primarily focused on international crisis management operations. With Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the incursion into eastern Ukraine in 2014, however, there has been a growing focus again on national and collective defense, reflecting the reorientation of our security policy.
In terms of naval warfare, the German Navy is oriented toward national and alliance defense. Our main areas of interest are the North Sea, parts of the North Atlantic, and, of course, the Baltic Sea.
Maritime security also must be ensured in the Mediterranean and Red Seas, especially regarding free and open sea lanes as the flow of economic goods to and from Europe is vital for Germany.
Maritime diplomacy was, is, and will continue to be a central task of all navies in the world. With the rise of Asia, the political and economic balance is increasingly shifting toward the Indo-Pacific. The region is becoming the key to shaping the international order in the 21st century. For Germany, deployments in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific are therefore integral parts of maritime diplomacy.
Regarding these three potential maritime tasks, the German Navy must provide a balanced fleet to ensure the fulfilment of all obligations that our political leaders may place on us. This results in an extensive range of capabilities to be trained simultaneously. Given the limited resources available, we seek to achieve this by way of downward compatibility. If we can succeed in high-intensity multidimensional operations, we also will be best equipped for any other task.
The German government has clearly acknowledged the great importance of the German Navy by approving all planned projects, despite the budgetary constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In the coming years, we will get new frigates, corvettes, submarines, maritime patrol aircraft, tankers, missile systems, helicopters, and more, and see extensive upgrades to existing units.
Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis, Chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff
Undoubtedly, the contemporary maritime security environment is under continuous change. Especially in the eastern Mediterranean, the main strategic area of interest for Greece, current developments show that a wide range of risks challenge the overall security and stability.
When we focus on geopolitical antagonism, the enduring crises in several states of the region and existing disputes over maritime zones concerning the control of natural seabed resources pose not only a serious challenge to the protection of important sea lines of communication but also a threat to peace and stability. In addition, the regional maritime security environment is being challenged by illegal seaborne migration through the Aegean Sea and its instrumentalization by regional actors.
In that context, the core mission of the Hellenic Navy—which is the protection of Greece’s sovereignty and national interests—remains unchanged. To complete its mission, the Hellenic Navy maintains a robust deterrent and defense posture in the adjacent seas. Furthermore, the Hellenic Navy—in support of the Coast Guard’s efforts to counter the illegal migration flows—adjusted its maritime operations accordingly.
Greece also has developed strong strategic cooperation schemes with several states of the region based on the respect of international law in which the Hellenic Navy actively participates. Moreover, we remain determined to fulfill our international obligations as a member of the United Nations, European Union, and NATO and as a part of bilateral/multilateral agreements and/or initiatives to safeguard the stability of the wider region.
In this vein, after almost a decade of economic austerity and serious budget cuts, today the Hellenic Navy is in the process of implementing major procurement programs to improve its capabilities and continue fulfilling its mission.
Certainly, the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic was an important lesson learned. The Hellenic Navy confronted an invisible enemy over the past two years that threatened not only the health of its sailors but also its capability to project forces at sea. This challenge was perceived and handled as an opportunity to test and adjust our health protocols and medical capabilities. Adopting, early on, all precautionary and protective measures, the Hellenic Navy keeps its personnel safe without affecting its operational tempo.
Similarly, although the full range of climate change impacts is not yet comprehended, its results will challenge the current state of maritime affairs. Navies should consider this in their future assumptions and adjust their strategic and operational planning accordingly.
Admiral Enrico Credendino, Chief of the Italian Navy
Over the past two years, the Italian Navy has been facing traditional threats and new challenges with all its forces, always maintaining an unchanged level of operational readiness and commitment in ongoing missions. This goal has been achieved thanks to a responsive organizational adjustment, the discipline of crews, and our sailors’ determination.
In the so-called blue century, the maritime arena is a fast-changing environment with an increasing number of security challenges, already flanked by the widespread adverse effects of emerging natural and anthropological phenomena. Undoubtedly, the current pandemic and climate change are variables that we must take into consideration in our operational planning process, together with the global impacts of local and regional crises.
Today, more than ever, maritime security contributes to both international stability and social prosperity. Illegal activities, possible competitions, and regional crises that may hamper freedom of navigation and exploitations of natural resources are just some examples of risks and challenges affecting our capacity to peacefully make the most of our “blue common.”
In this scenario, awareness and readiness are key factors to sustain maritime security. The capacity to achieve clear and reliable maritime situational awareness and share it with all relevant stakeholders is the starting point in being able to intervene effectively wherever and whenever necessary. Furthermore, it is fundamental to build the capacity to avail oneself in a timely manner of the entire range of operational skills, from low-end (including the so-called dual-use and cooperation security tasks) to high end.`
To this aim, the Italian Navy is improving and tailoring its capacities and capabilities to fight in all domains. This requires fostering flexibility, readiness, and an expeditionary, multidomain approach through what we define as the “Trident for Projection,” based on:
• A carrier strike group, able to deploy far from homeland waters, with the fifth-generation fighter capability
• An amphibious task force that allows the projection of capabilities from and on the sea
• Special operations forces, supported by new generation submarines
Notwithstanding other considerations, the ship remains the core feature of the maritime forces, enabling force effectiveness in a multidomain approach with its sea-based capacity and full set of advanced equipment. Maintaining and further developing a modern, well-balanced maritime component is essential and requires sustained financial planning, budgeting, and personnel development.
The Italian Navy is seamlessly committed in the “wider Mediterranean” along a value chain ranging from maritime security to the defense of national interests. These two missions have been steadily converging across time, calling for a systemic, comprehensive, and cross-functional whole-of-government approach.
Admiral Hiroshi Yamamura, Chief of Maritime Staff Office, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Because the sea is a global commons that must be defended, Japan—a maritime nation—is engaged in various defense cooperation activities with its ally and partners to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, based on assertions that are incompatible with the existing international order in the East and South China Seas, continue to be a challenge for the region and the international community, including Japan. In addition, issues such as coronavirus infection and global warming are also common challenges to all humankind.
Against this background, in addition to our regular surveillance and intelligence gathering in our seas and skies, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) last year participated in joint exercises such as ARC 21, La Perouse, and CSG-21 with visiting European countries such as France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany during their deployments to the Indo-Pacific region.
In addition, our highly responsive units have contributed to peace and stability in the region by conducting exercises. For example, the Indo-Pacific deployment units participated in the Japan-U.S.-Australia-India quadrilateral Exercise Malabar and the Japan-France bilateral exercise Oguri-Verny. In addition, the Indo-Pacific and Middle East deployment units were dispatched to an international maritime exercise sponsored by the U.S. Central Command.
It is a privilege of navies that such contactless defense cooperation can be carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to regular cooperation in surveillance and intelligence gathering with our ally the United States, on 3 October, supported by the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy, we successfully verified the landing and take-off capability of the F-35Bs on board the destroyer Izumo. The strong relationship between the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps has strengthened the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance and become a driving force for freedom of the use of the sea and the resolution of various issues.
We need to adapt to changing circumstances brought about by rapidly developing technologies and diversifying threats and challenges. The JMSDF will strengthen the capability to carry out cross-domain operations in the space, cyber, and electromagnetic fields, in addition to traditional domains, in accordance with the JMSDF’s four lines of effort: workforce improvement, functional enhancement, concept development, and improved cooperation. To support these, we will upgrade our C5ISRT capability to support faster decision-making and ensure information superiority.
To this end, the JMSDF will seek the optimal balance of physical and non-physical assets, manned and unmanned units, and quality and quantity, thereby building a maritime defense force underpinned by advanced technologies such as AI and quantum computing.
This year marks the 70-year anniversary of the founding of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and various events are planned, including the West Pacific Naval Symposium Plenary and the International Fleet Review. The Japanese government also is working to revise strategic documents such as the National Security Strategy, which will mark a major milestone. Through these efforts, the JMSDF will continue to make headway toward the realization of freedom of the use of the sea through white-crested waves, together with our ally and partners, in an era of change.
Republic of Korea
Admiral Kim Jung Soo, Chief of Naval Operations, Republic of Korea Navy
The Republic of Korea (ROK) is experiencing a critical transition in the maritime security environment. First, it must deal with North Korean threats, particularly weapons of mass destruction and missile programs. It also faces maritime security dynamics characterized by competition among major powers in the Indo-Pacific region. And we are observing growing transnational threats such as piracy, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, climate change, and pandemics that blur the lines between traditional domains and new types of security challenges.
These changes call for naval capabilities that can address traditional maritime security threats as well as a more comprehensive capacity for responding to the nontraditional global threats. As the ROK Navy carried out vaccine operations in islands around the Korean Peninsula as part of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, it has become very important for our Navy to adjust to the changing security environment and expand its role in a flexible manner. In other words, the ROK Navy should focus both on managing the current phenomena and on preparing for the future.
As the well-known wisdom “win before fighting” from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War implies, it is important to prepare for future challenges. For this enterprise, the ROK Navy is planning the Korean Naval Transformation (K-NT) 2045 (tentative title).
K-NT 2045 embodies three distinct pillars. The first is optimizing a naval strategy to a new maritime strategy by adapting to the future maritime security environment and defense management conditions. The new maritime strategy would provide directions for the force structure that would be built on advanced future technologies. It also would help the ROK Navy optimize the command and organizational structures that would enhance the effectiveness of maritime operations in the challenging environment of the future.
The second pillar is a warfighting concept that reflects the ways of warfighting on the future battlefield. Given the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, manned-unmanned teaming, and directed-energy weapons, it is highly likely that future warfighting characteristics will be different from those of today. To adapt to these changes, the ROK Navy plans to innovate future warfighting concept through intellectualizing battlefield functions, improving manned-unmanned teaming combat system, and constructing a kill web–based operations system.
The third pillar is the transformation of our organizational culture; a spirit and lifestyle shared by its personnel. To meet the needs of the time, society, and our sailors, we must reform everything from the administrative system to the military and organizational culture. The ROK Navy will implement the naval culture reformation through a disciplined navy spirit; a fair, efficient, and transparent unit management; and the 21st-century advanced naval culture that fosters respect, compassion, sympathy, and communication among sailors.
The maritime security environment around the Korean Peninsula and the region looks uncertain and complex. However, the ROK Navy’s efforts to plan and implement K-NT 2045 will help navigate the unruly seas and turn them into opportunities for the future. In 2045, the centennial of its founding, the ROK Navy will be playing major roles in keeping peace, prosperity, and maritime order around the Korean Peninsula and beyond.
Brigadier General Hazza Mutlaq Alalati, Commander, Kuwait Naval Forces
In today’s world, change is happening a lot faster than two or three decades ago. Changes are taking place much faster because of technological advancements and the number of actors competing on the maritime stage. Maritime security is no different and must change rapidly to remain relevant. In addition, the current generation is growing up in a smaller and well-advanced world, and these are the personnel who motivate the navies of the world to change. The sky is cluttered with drones, and motherships now can deploy automated vehicles to cover greater areas than ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic has the tendency to put negative pressure on our economy, and climate change might affect fishing. Both these issues affect the regional threat picture because when humans compete for resources and food and add economic pressure, it is inevitable for the threat to increase. It is easy to get into the habit of saying regional, but we are wise enough now to say the threat is more global. Regional thinking is less effective today than ever, and the victors among us are going to be the minds that think globally. We seem to have learned to do so after COVID-19. If there was any positive outcome of COVID-19, it is that the world is now thinking a bit more about global concerns, or at least for the near future.
In any military, size matters, and it is only human nature to create uniformity both visually and emotionally. Hence, in today’s rapidly changing world, training the desired number of sailors is a difficult task. The desired uniformity stems from a computerized culture that motivates lesser manpower requirements to operate sophisticated hardware, and that hurts the visibility needed for deterrence. This kind of environment leads to a stealth maritime environment with sophisticated equipment, and that hurts the budget, especially now when the current pandemic economy is forcing our Navy to do more with less to support the nation as it continues to cut its defense budget. In the end, these variables negatively impact naval operations. With that in mind, today’s leaders are under more pressure than ever to be sharp and flexible in leading an effective naval power.
Captain Giedrius Premeneckas, Commander-in-Chief, Lithuanian Navy
Joining NATO in 2004 was one of the most important milestones for the Lithuanian armed forces and Lithuanian Navy. In the 18 years since the accession to the Alliance, truly profound developments have resulted: Procured equipment has been harmonized with NATO standards, NATO procedures have been incorporated into national ones, and, most important, personnel study, train, and participate in military operations together with NATO allies. Furthermore, we witnessed dramatic changes to the security situation in Eastern Europe, from initially secure to rapidly deteriorating in 2008, worsening in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea, and, obviously, most recently with Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine.
Over the past decade, the level of Russian Navy activity in the Baltic Sea has increased significantly in volume and complexity of training activities. The fact that Russian naval exercises resulted in merchant shipping diverting to Lithuania’s exclusive economic zone causes additional concern. Reflecting Russia’s assertive posture, NATO exercises are shadowed by the Russian Navy. Being neighbors, interaction between Lithuanian and Russian ships at sea is unavoidable, but, fortunately so far, has been conducted in professional manner.
The Russian annexation of Crimea demonstrated that even though Lithuania can expect support from NATO, investments in armed forces capabilities are needed to defend the country until allies arrive. Consequently, the military budget has increased significantly since the lows in 2013 and has been steadily above 2 percent of GDP in the past couple of years (COVID-19 had no negative impact on the budget). Importantly, political parties signed an agreement that 2 percent of GDP is not a limit, and the aim is to enlarge the military budget up to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030.
Even though most of the Lithuanian armed forces budget is allocated to the land forces, the Navy portion is slowly increasing. The Lithuanian Navy is not only maintaining its current platforms but also replacing old ones with new ones. Ongoing and near-future projects include enhancing maritime domain awareness by procuring 3D radars for patrol vessels and new command-and-control, identification friend-or-foe (IFF), and radar electronic support measures systems for all Navy units. By 2030, the Navy is planning to replace current vessels with new multipurpose offshore patrol vessels. The Lithuanian Navy also is investing its time in research and development to be ready to incorporate future autonomous technologies, AI-augmented systems, and big data.
While it is a worrying sign that the security situation in Eastern Europe remains tense and unclear, we believe the Lithuanian Navy is considered a vital part of the armed forces by politicians, military leaders, and our partners. Fulfilling the maritime state’s vital interests and being an equal NATO partner are the priorities of today to face future challenges and threats.
Admiral Tan Sri Mohd Reza bin Mohd Sany, Chief of Navy, Royal Malaysian Navy
Malaysia’s maritime security environment is influenced by two major factors—the great power rivalry and the COVID-19 pandemic. We strongly believe these two factors are impacting not only Malaysia’s maritime security environment, but also the region at large.
First, great power rivalry, especially in the South China Sea (SCS), has increased the potential of turning this region into a flashpoint. Evidently, the presence of naval assets from across the world, each asserting its national agendas adds to the possibility of greater tension and, in a worst-case scenario, physical military conflict when each other’s intentions are misconstrued.
For the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), this situation further complicates any effort in preserving its maritime national interest. This is particularly so because of the increase in the number of actors involved. Therefore, recognizing the importance of the SCS to the actors involved, it is paramount that all parties concerned should continue to exercise restraint and avoid escalation so that the SCS sea lines of communication will remain open and peaceful.
Second, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been multifaceted, affecting public health first and foremost, and the economy of Malaysia and the region subsequently. Prudently, defense budgets were reduced and redirected, forcing the Malaysian Armed Forces to maintain their operational availability with lower budgetary allocations. Similarly, this regional health and economic downturn has led to an increase in the magnitude of illegal migration and possibly a greater spread of the virus.
Hence, to control the influx of illegal migration and possible higher spread of the pandemic, the government developed economic and security countermeasures. To this effect, a national task force was formed to better coordinate efforts among relevant government enforcement agencies to curb this influx and support civilian response to contain the pandemic.
The intensity of great power rivalry and the possibility of COVID-19’s long-lasting impacts are unpredictable. However, the RMN’s strategies will correspond and be determined by national political and economic priorities.
Vice Admiral René Tas, Commander of the Royal Netherlands Navy
Since 1488, the Netherlands Admiralties and, for more than 200 years, the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) have provided safety and security at and from the sea with fleet and Marine Corps capabilities. We contributed to freedom in the past, do so in the present, and will continue to do so in the future. Together with our allies, the RNLN will be ready to deter adversaries and fight them if needed and win. At the same time, the RNLN is preparing for the coming decades in an ever-changing security environment. The seas and oceans—including the infrastructure at sea and on the sea bottom—have never been more important for our freedom, our economies, and our prosperity.
The Netherlands armed forces, and with that the RNLN, including the Netherlands Marine Corps, are in a transition phase. The previous government promulgated the Defense Vision 2035: Fighting for a Safer Future, outlining the development of the armed forces of the Netherlands. The armed forces, including the Navy, will be a technologically advanced and information-driven fighting force, and a reliable partner and protector of what we value. The Navy will embrace the new domains of cyberspace and space.
The current government has allocated significant extra budget to defense. About 10 billion Euros have been added for the period 2022–25 and, from 2026 onward, about 3 billion Euros annually. This will take the defense expenditures to about 1.85 percent of our GNP. The budget will allow us, among other things, to improve salaries and working conditions; rebalance combat, combat support, and combat service support capabilities; improve C4ISR and network systems; and enhance investment programs. This will enable us to further increase combat readiness and prepare for the future.
The RNLN will continue with investment programs for its frigate force, submarine force, and mine countermeasures (MCM) force. In addition, it is revising its amphibious warfare concept in cooperation with the Royal Marines and U.S. Marine Corps. There will be an increased effort in the cyberspace and space domains. The aim is also to increase the use of unmanned systems. The first trials already have been conducted in MCM activities and with nationally developed unmanned aerial vehicles. New capabilities are currently being discussed.
Rear Admiral David Proctor, Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy
The globalized interconnected nature of the world, notably exposed and tested by the current health pandemic, has highlighted the challenges New Zealand faces in maritime security. The Defense Assessment completed in December 2021 concluded that the security environment is far more complex and increasingly challenging, with the two principal challenges to New Zealand’s defense interests being strategic competition and the impacts of climate change. These challenges are evident in New Zealand’s near region of the southwest Pacific, as they are in the wider Indo-Pacific. Accordingly, while New Zealand will place emphasis in the Pacific and the near region, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) also will contribute farther afield in support of the international rules-based order, with a focus on maritime security and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The effects of climate change and COVID-19 have sharpened New Zealand’s focus both domestically and toward the Pacific. In the domestic context, the response to COVID-19 has seen the New Zealand Defense Force and RNZN contribute to internal border security. Although a different task to our usual security operations, the mission has ensured the safety of New Zealanders. The pandemic also has highlighted some lessons for the future, such as the value of a powerful information domain, and different ways of training our people. In addition, adapting to the pandemic has forced the RNZN to innovate and develop new ways of both operating and maintaining our ships. Contactless port visits have become the norm. Balancing these opportunities for efficiently sustaining missions, the pandemic has created challenges for our people as they adapt to a more restrictive environment at sea and when deployed.
Concurrent with the domestic COVID-19 response, the RNZN has continued to support and work with our Pacific partners in humanitarian and disaster relief operations, such as the January 2022 response to the Kingdom of Tonga volcanic eruption, resource and border protection operations, and COVID-19 related support, such as the delivery of vaccinations to widely dispersed atolls. Acknowledging the low-lying nature of many of these atolls and islands, the RNZN remains committed to supporting our Pacific partners and playing our part in identifying, alleviating, and minimizing the security impacts of climate change. From extreme weather events to climate refugees, the RNZN is ready to respond.
Beyond our near region, the challenge of strategic competition is evolving. As a nation exceptionally reliant on international trade, New Zealand continues to depend on open access to maritime trade routes for the economic well-being of the nation and the prosperity of New Zealanders. New Zealand’s investment in modernizing the Anzac-class frigates and purchasing the maritime projection and sustainment capability, HMNZS Aotearoa, demonstrates commitment to a combat-capable navy that can project beyond our immediate region to secure New Zealand’s security interests. As an extension of New Zealand, the RNZN remains committed to engaging with partners and friends in ensuring the maritime commons are available for all to freely navigate and trade.
Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff, Nigerian Navy
Nigeria’s vast maritime environment is richly endowed with strategic resources that are pivotal to the nation’s economic development. The environment is thus regarded as the nation’s economic center of gravity. This environment has witnessed changes owing to emerging threats exacerbated by the migratory and mutating nature of maritime crimes. To enhance operational efficiency, the Nigerian Navy (NN), like other navies of the world, has continued to adopt new approaches to meet its maritime security operations obligations in the changing environment.
The NN collaborates with domestic critical maritime stakeholders and others within the Gulf of Guinea region for a more wholesome outcome. Accordingly, the International Maritime Bureau Global Piracy Report of 14 July 2021 indicates the lowest total amount of piracy and sea robbery against ships in 27 years. This report was corroborated by the Defense Web maritime security report of 15 October 2021, which noted further decline in reported cases of piracy and armed attacks against shipping. Nevertheless, the NN continues to take deliberate steps to sustain its operational effectiveness, including collaborating with neighboring navies and partners.
Nigeria’s current maritime threat stemmed from the Niger Delta militancy, which later mutated into piracy and armed robbery at sea, sabotage of hydrocarbon infrastructure, maritime resource theft, and diverse forms of illicit trafficking. However, new regional threats such as the intensified activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra and their recent alliance with the Ambazonian Forces of Cameroon have posed transborder maritime security threats that were previously nonexistent. This has inspired new assumptions in the maritime security operations planning of the NN. In this regard, the NN reinstituted the Naval Base Lake Chad in the northeast theater of operation to support Nigeria’s counterterrorism efforts.
Furthermore, lessons learned from the impacts of COVID-19 on NN operations have resulted in new assumptions about virtual planning and remote interactions in cases in which physical presence and contact become untenable in operations. NN operations were noticeably affected by the changing environment, especially with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ships that experienced widespread infections had to be locked down, completely or partially, depending on the level of infection. Similarly, units and ships had to modify their budgets to accommodate changes that came with the adjusted routines and new demands for COVID-19 management facilities. This development inadvertently offered unwanted elements some freedom of movement at sea to perpetrate their criminal endeavors.
In addition to the recently acquired French-built hydrographic ship Lana and the Ocea-class patrol ships, the NN is also expecting to take delivery of the new landing ship, tank, Kada and some offshore patrol vessels. The acquisitions will guarantee fleet availability to contend with emerging threats. In line with my vision, the NN is being reorganized, recapitalized, and committed to developing its human capacity while also deepening collaborative engagements with critical stakeholders to enable the NN adapt to the changing maritime environment and meet the emerging security challenges for sustainable use of the sea and enhanced national development.
Rear Admiral Rune Andersen, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Navy
In times of uncertainty, a navy must offer stability, reassurance, and security and deter aggression. At this time in history, our job really matters. The North Atlantic is among the regions that see increased military activity because of growing great power competition. Russia actively deploys newly acquired capabilities more frequently farther south and west into the Atlantic. In response to this, we—together with allies and partners—have increased our own presence. We have improved our coordination and demonstrated our joint determination to protect freedom of movement, including the vital transatlantic link.
The Russian behavior has encouraged renewal and revitalization of relationships between like-minded allied and partner navies. Our coordination of future operations and integration in current operations have been strengthened, and these efforts will continue, as illustrated by Exercise Cold Response hosted by Norway this spring. As a large-scale exercise with a substantial maritime element, it tested and improved our collective defense and strengthened our interoperability.
When the security situation changed in the Euro-Atlantic region, operational tempo increased, and we were able to respond with ships that were planned, constructed, and built 10 to 20 years earlier. It is too late to start building a navy when you need it. While we are engaged in continual operations, our main effort is to ensure readiness and availability through sufficient maintenance and manning. At the same time, we need to build a bridge to the future, and this includes figuring out the risks and opportunities offered by emerging and potentially disruptive technologies. At present, the Norwegian Navy is in the early stages of designing a fleet for the 2030s and beyond.
We aim to maintain a fleet of sufficient size by seeking to break some of the cost-curves related to modern warships. Though this has been said and tried before, we now see great opportunities in closer integration with allies and in avoiding unique designs in small quantities. There are also opportunities in life-cycle-based cooperation with some of the high-end shipbuilding companies that serve the advanced off-shore industry, in combination with autonomy and long-range weapons.
Climate change is more obvious in the Arctic than most anywhere else, spurring an increase in civilian commercial activity in previously unavailable areas. We observe substantial changes in the large Arctic fisheries, and to ensure a sustainable development of these resources and good order at sea, the Norwegian Coast Guard operates continuously in the High North. As an integrated part of the Navy, the Coast Guard maintains an average of 12 of 15 ships on patrol 24/7/365. The Norwegian Coast Guard has conceptualized manning, maintenance, and operations in a way that will inspire the rest of the Navy into a future in which availability and presence matter.
Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi, Chief of Naval Staff, Pakistan Navy
Our region—the littorals of the Indian Ocean—has evolved as a global geoeconomic center of gravity, witnessing competition for resources and strategic dominance with significant influence on the broader international peace. This maritime region is also affected by traditional and nontraditional security challenges. Prolonged wars in Syria and Yemen, with threats extending into the maritime domain, continue to impinge on regional security. Attacks on merchant shipping by unknown enemies is a new form of “shadow war” in our region. Such attacks may manifest into a precarious situation concerning energy security for international shipping plying important sea lines of communication. Accordingly, the economic interests of major players in our region have compelled them to maintain naval presence to secure their interests.
In addition, COVID-19 has taken the lead in contemporary nontraditional security challenges and has exposed some blind spots in the traditional security paradigm. Because of COVID-19, our ships’ construction projects were affected to some extent—mainly because of travel restrictions and lockdowns imposed by respective countries. Nonetheless, we successfully managed this challenge, and all projects are being completed as per the planned timeline. Moreover, climate change and its effects are likely to put yet another enduring challenge to world navies. Pakistan is facing the effects of climate change in the form of rising temperatures, water stress, and degradation in the ecosystem. Our strategies, besides dealing with results of climate change, are also focused on preserving the environment through mangrove and tree planting in line with Pakistan’s vision to battle climate change.
The effects of marine disasters, tsunamis, climate change, and the pandemic transcend regional boundaries. The magnitude and diversity of these challenges aroused a realization that no nation can tackle them alone. The concept of collaborative maritime security has gained preeminence.
The Pakistan Navy is a firm believer in collaborative maritime security. We are contributing to regional maritime security to safeguard national interests and fulfill international obligations by participating in recognized maritime security regimes.
We view the collaborative maritime security as the scarlet thread to counter the prevailing threats in the maritime domain. Cooperation in the domains of search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maritime security operations can act as a starting point.
The coming together of navies improves interstate relationships. With this vision, the Pakistan Navy has been organizing the Aman multinational exercise series to bring the navies of the world “Together for Peace.”
While not indulging in an arms race, we are developing and modernizing the Pakistan Navy under a well-orchestrated strategy taking full stock of the diversity of threats and challenges. The Pakistan Navy is committed to fulfilling its obligations for maritime security. We shall continue to use our utmost capability to ensure peace and stability at sea, which are vital to the economic progress and prosperity of our region and beyond.
Admiral Alberto Alcalá Luna, Commander-in-Chief, Peruvian Navy
During recent years, Peru, with its geostrategic position in the South Pacific, has faced several challenges that have been influenced by many factors. Increased maritime transportation has caused greater economic movement and, with it, illicit maritime activities have intensified, such as smuggling, narcotics and human trafficking, illegal fishing, and water pollution. These threats know no borders and affect countries across the world.
For this reason, mutual trust mechanisms have been put into practice, consolidating a cooperative and collective security system at a bilateral or multilateral level. In this effort, the Peruvian Navy, via our National Maritime Authority, has been developing strategies to prevent and combat these illegal activities, strengthening and increasing its capabilities, executing maritime security operations, and employing digital technology, including the Traffic Information and Monitoring System, a tool that greatly enhances maritime and riverine awareness.
Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the economies and living conditions of people worldwide. In Peru during the pandemic, the armed forces have had an active role supporting the internal security and vaccination programs, efforts that demanded we reconsider our strategies to contribute to national concerns. In this context, the Navy, to fulfill its role to face regional threats that affect maritime security, is executing various modernization programs and updating its strategic plans, to meet present and future challenges. Finally, the National Maritime Policy, published in December 2019, is allowing us to develop coordinated actions within our maritime scenario for the long term.
In an ever-changing global scenario, it is critical to strengthen and consolidate a navy capable of meeting current and future challenges in the fields of security, defense, and the nation’s development, as well as keeping sea routes open for global maritime trade. Therefore, we are in the process of improving the organizational structure, which begins with the development of our human resources, the pillar on which the institution is built. We are investing to provide better continual instruction and training to our sailors. An important aspect of this training is enhancing our interoperability with other navies, an effort demonstrated during UNITAS LXII-Peru 2021 and will be demonstrated in this year’s version of RimPac in Hawaii and other multinational exercises.
Finally, our Navy is making big efforts to strengthen the fleet by executing key programs, such as the construction of a second Makassar-class landing platform dock (LPD) and maritime patrol vessels and maritime interdiction boats. We also are refitting a maritime patrol aircraft with electronic surveillance capacity and intend to incorporate offshore patrol vessels and multirole vessels, which will be not only capable of traditional defense roles, but also more contemporary missions related to maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Vice Admiral Adeluis S. Bordado, Flag Officer in Command, Philippine Navy
As a maritime nation, the Philippines continues to experience a rapidly evolving strategic environment confronted by a broad spectrum of challenges not only in the field of maritime security, but more specifically in both its internal and external strategic environments. On the one hand, domestic challenges such as the decades-long internal armed conflicts and insurgencies still endure. On the other, the Philippines’ unique archipelagic features and geographic location are a constant source of strength and liability. The country’s location at the crossroads of the Indo-Pacific renders it susceptible to great power struggles happening in the region. Meanwhile, the porous nature of Philippine borders and seas makes it vulnerable to several traditional and evolving nontraditional security challenges.
Apart from the aforesaid challenges, the emergence of new regional threats has exacerbated some of the existing maritime security challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has provided new opportunities for navies across the world to play a critical role in supporting their respective governments’ COVID-19 response as well as overall acclimatization to the new normal. This includes the Philippine Navy (PN).
Accordingly, although there were initial challenges that the PN experienced because of the pandemic (e.g., budget cuts, operating in the new normal, adjustment of personnel policies), at present the PN’s efforts in fulfilling its vision of becoming a modern, multicapable, and responsive navy has not been thwarted. This is evident in the continuation of the PN’s modernization plan as well as the procurement of assets under its long-term vision of modernization.
Along with the upgrade of assets, the PN continues to conduct high-impact international defense and security engagements with partner navies, such as participating in international maritime exercises, virtual symposiums, staff-to-staff talks, and personnel exchanges. In this regard—notwithstanding present issues and challenges—the PN was able to adapt and respond without compromising its vision of modernizing its capabilities, all the while ensuring the conduct of engagements with counterpart navies despite fewer face-to-face interactions. Through continual modernization of the PN and enhancement of capabilities, the organization continues to address the challenges in the Philippines’ maritime domain, collaborating with navies across the globe through a range of activities and ensuring its contribution in resolving potential threats the country may confront in the future.
Admiral Henrique Eduardo Passaláqua de Gouveia e Melo, Commander, Portuguese Navy
A navy focused only on military activities cannot fully understand the overall maritime environment. Therefore, the Portuguese Navy warrants military and nonmilitary roles in a comprehensive approach, where nonmilitary action is oriented toward maritime security, state authority, response to emergencies, and the promotion of economic, scientific, and cultural development. For a country the size of Portugal, employing the same capabilities in these different roles has been a successful model.
To this end, the Navy must assume the operative functions of the state at sea as a way of rationalizing national resources, performing the traditional roles of navies and coast guards, according to a postmodern model of using naval and maritime power holistically, avoiding any form of selective blindness in its action. It is this model that underpins my vision for the Navy—a ready, useful, and meaningful Navy, necessarily holistic, focused and technologically advanced.
From this perspective, the Navy must be capable of performing six functions:
• Presence in maritime spaces under national sovereignty or jurisdiction
• Deterrence—preventing military use against national and allied interests
• Force projection—capable of influencing directly and decisively, at sea and from the sea
• Command and control—networked into the wider structure of the armed forces
• Science—in the areas of hydrography, cartography, oceanography, and navigation
• Maritime culture—contributing to preserve the national maritime identity
To respond to the current security challenges, the Portuguese Navy is also seeking to stimulate innovation by remaining current and technologically advanced, taking advantage of the opportunities provided by emerging and disruptive technologies to empower itself in the context of war robotization in areas such as high-performance computing, sensors, navigation systems, artificial intelligence, communications, and energy storage systems.
The Portuguese Navy is incorporating unmanned vehicles in its multiple areas of action, required to efficiently tackle the emerging challenges in the vast maritime spaces in which it operates, balancing the constant competition between available resources and the level of ambition required to successfully respond to the country’s needs.
In short, I envision a Navy that ensures the defense of the country; guarantees national sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction and the preservation of resources with a decisive contribution to national security is relevant in the eyes of our allies and partners; supports global stability; and is capable of projecting security wherever national interests demand it and Portuguese citizens need it.
Rear Admiral Oumar Wade, Chief of Naval Staff of the Senegalese Navy
The Senegalese maritime environment has undergone considerable change over the past two decades, marked by an increase and diversification of activities at sea. A space of socioeconomic opportunities but also of challenges and security issues, the sea is essential today as a major asset in the realization of the nation’s aspirations. These opportunities offered by the sea will further increase in the future with, in particular, the prospects for developing Senegal’s offshore oil and gas potential. This “new Senegalese border,” with its inherent perils and security threats, has naturally led to a broadening not only of missions but also of the radius of intervention of the Senegalese Navy.
At the national level, the defense of economic interests contributes considerably to the strengthening of security. For this reason, the Senegalese Navy, through its fisheries surveillance activities, ensures the fight against the overexploitation of important fisheries resources, which represent a large part of the proteins consumed by local populations.
At the subregional level, the increase in crime at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, which is very often a metastasis of security difficulties on land, is a concern for the navies of this area. To deal with this, the Senegalese Navy is firmly committed to cooperation by fully supporting regional initiatives such as the operationalization of the architecture of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct or the African Maritime Law Enforcement Program.
An armed force of the state at sea and a key player in controlling and securing the waters under Senegalese jurisdiction, the Navy has fully considered the evolution of its security environment by continuing to increase its power. Man being the primary instrument of combat, the Senegalese Navy very early on based its action on human capital by relying on three tenets—professionalism, discipline, and solidarity. Indeed, the new challenges related to regional maritime security as well as the upheavals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have shown the importance of developing and maintaining the resilience of crews to minimize the impact on operations. The emphasis placed on staff training is also explained by the allocation of substantial resources granted by Senegal with the aim of increasing and modernizing the Navy’s equipment. The preparation of crews for future naval acquisitions will make it possible to reaffirm the central role of the Senegalese Navy for a secure maritime space conducive to the development of a blue economy.
Admiral General Antonio Martorell Lacave, Chief of Staff, Spanish Navy
Oceans are the lifeline of Spain, and they are becoming unstable in an age of global and regional rearmament. Spanish maritime interests are widespread and thus subject to risks and challenges. In some areas the main risks to maritime security remain illegal activities such as piracy, smuggling, or irregular migration. In others, the eruption of hybrid tactics conducted by competitors and their proxies in what is dubbed as the “gray zone” of conflict pose a quite different challenge. Territorial claims, menaces to natural resources, or the disruption of sea lines of communication are a reality that navies must be prepared to tackle.
We strongly believe the most effective way to counter these new challenges is deterrence based on anticipation, decision agility, and decisive combat performance. This requires adapting our capabilities to operate in a multidomain environment, with significant improvement in joint capabilities to achieve information superiority, and presence and vigilance through more demanding operational readiness procedures. And we must pay due attention to training in conventional warfare scenarios. NATO and EU strategic thinking clearly point in that direction.
Regional dynamics in the past decade show that changes may happen on very short notice. The same applies to technology: Disruptive advances could create unexpected operational advantages, rendering legacy forces obsolete in a split second. Thus, we must keep up with our longstanding pursuit of a technological edge over likely competitors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed an adaptability and resilience challenge. We have been able to conduct almost every planned operational commitment; however, the Navy’s daily routines were significantly affected because of health precautions in military facilities and the support provided to the national security system. Resilience at individual, unit, fleet, and Navy-wide levels requires careful planning and strict adherence to procedures.
Regarding people, there is clearly a requirement to adjust our recruitment, education, and management processes to provide the specialists the future operational and organizational environments will require. This affects areas such as digital transformation, cyber, or operations in the cognitive domain, in which selection, specific qualifications, and stability in key jobs will be instrumental. In a nutshell, we need to develop a policy to better manage our people’s talents.
To sum up, the near future will test our ability to anticipate challenging situations, our agility to react, and our individual and collective resilience to remain decisive in combat.
Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Commander, Sri Lankan Navy
For centuries, the Indian Ocean has been a relatively calm place in geopolitical affairs. However, the situation is rapidly changing since the dawn of 21st century, and the Indian Ocean is increasingly becoming a key nexus for economic and military concerns. While strategic competition is rising between both regional and extraregional powers in the Indian Ocean region, the Sri Lanka Navy’s roles and responsibilities have also expanded significantly over the years in response to a changing strategic context.
The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) had to develop and maintain a strong brown-water fleet to police territorial waters to neutralize the threat posed by insurgents. This helped the SLN transform itself into an effective constabulary navy from a ceremonial one. Even today, not having a visible enemy in no way means that our seas are safe and secure. Obviously, we have new challenges to face. Thus, changing threat dynamics and other geopolitical developments in the region have necessitated a revision of the Navy’s strategy. As such, the SLN is in the process of acquiring technologically advanced larger platforms to develop a maritime domain awareness capability—one of the key national security imperatives of an island state.
On the other hand, nontraditional security threats including transnational organized crime are growing, and Sri Lanka is no exception to this problem. The most significant threat in the Indian Ocean region at present is the drug menace, and new SLN strategies to suppress the influx of drugs have brought considerable recent successes. Therefore, with its external environment remaining unpredictable and the range and scale of its operations changing constantly, the SLN again identified the need to advance the technological environment in which it operates.
However, as experienced by many other countries, the COVID-19 crisis has caused a significant shock to Sri Lanka’s economy and people as well. This put extra pressure on the SLN budgetary allocations from the public account, which already took a hit from COVID-19. Hence, the SLN will have to wait until the public financial situation improves or turn to friendly countries to acquire technologically advanced assets on a concessionary basis. Hopefully, policy measures will be able to strike a balance between those that support a quick recovery and those that are allotted for national security.
Rear Admiral Ewa Skoog Haslum, Chief of the Royal Swedish Navy
Russia’s political and military actions and the deteriorated security situation in the Baltic Sea region have made us reinvest in our defense over the past decade. The Russian attack on Ukraine and the European security order underpins this even more, and political discussions to spend 2 percent of our GDP on defense are now ongoing. That will mean more than a doubled defense budget compared with a decade earlier. Our expansion rests on two pillars—increasing operational capability and developing international defense cooperation. Our relations with our partners in NATO as well as deepened defense cooperation with Finland and the United States have never been more essential.
Even without a defense budget increase, the Royal Swedish Navy has increased its capacity on the west coast by reopening a Marine Corps Regiment in Gothenburg, adding to the protection of the strategic sea lanes to the largest harbor on the Scandinavian peninsula. Preparations for the midlife update to the Visby-class stealth corvettes, as well as designing and acquiring a new surface combatant class, are underway. This is much needed and long awaited after three decades of decommissioning or making life-of-type extensions on our surface fleet. Our subsurface fleet is also developing with a midlife update on our Gotland-class air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines as well as construction of two new larger Blekinge-class AIP submarines. We are now also strengthening our operational readiness and endurance.
In this, balancing resources among people, equipment, and operations is vital in every step. Equally important now is to address immediate actions as well as building for the future. For example, we are currently handling operational requirements because of the Russian activities, while at the same time training a larger number of sailors and Marines than we have in decades.
These dual priorities have made us synchronize exercises and operations to a much higher degree. In addition, we must be able to keep this tempo in the long run without risking our readiness or ability to retain people and attract new talent.
The ability to be inventive is key going forward. Structures and policies developed while downsizing are evaluated if best suited to support our growth. Simultaneously, we need to embrace technological advancements with unmanned systems, possibilities in the cyber domain, and new applications in the electromagnetic spectrum. Our strong competence in the underwater domain, working with Swedish industry and defense agencies specialized in research and development and acquisition, gives us an edge in operational capability today as well as for future force development.
The Royal Swedish Navy has its 500th birthday this year, and we look back with pride on our heritage as striving forward with determination to be relevant wherever we operate—today, tomorrow, and together with trusted partners.
Admiral Adnan Ozbal, Commander of Turkish Naval Forces, Turkish Navy
Located at the fulcrum of the Euro-Afro-Asia region and NATO’s southern flank, Türkiye has a vital geostrategic position in a rapidly changing security environment. Thus, Türkiye must be vigilant against the potential risks and threats emanating from geopolitical challenges.
Considering the emerging threats, the Turkish Navy (TUN) must deal with issues such as the regional repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the stabilization of Libya, irregular migration, and new challenges in the eastern Mediterranean, such as increased energy competition. Today, most crises that pose a risk to global peace and stability take place in our region. In this security environment, Türkiye is a key and indispensable actor for Euro-Atlantic security. Türkiye stands ready to support friendly and allied countries and, on the other hand, will preserve our rights and interests in the region, including those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 and 2021 were challenging years for all navies, including the TUN. Despite the disruptive impacts of the pandemic, our stringent health protocols helped the TUN maintain its operational readiness to deter any misadventures in the maritime area and protect the rights and interests of our nation.
To support maritime situational awareness and maritime security, the TUN conducts maritime operations such as Operation Black Sea Harmony and Operation Mediterranean Shield. Türkiye is one of the top two contributing nations to NATO Standing Naval Forces and the leading contributor to Operation Sea Guardian. In addition, to support NATO High Readiness Force–Maritime (HRF [M]), Türkiye established Turkish Maritime Forces, which will assume command of NATO HRF (M) in 2023 and 2028.
The TUN continues to protect Türkiye’s maritime rights and interests based on international law. Türkiye believes in peaceful solutions to existing problems in the region through the rule of law, good neighborly relations, and diplomacy. Such efforts will contribute to the prosperity of the region and facilitate solidarity within NATO.
Climate change and extreme weather conditions have raised the importance of our Navy’s nontraditional role in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR). The TUN works on enhancing its capabilities and expertise to support HADR operations whenever and wherever needed. In addition, Türkiye continues transforming its Navy, acquiring new capabilities, and modernizing its fleet and weapon systems to address new challenges.
This year we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of our nation’s NATO membership. As a staunch NATO ally, Türkiye has always made substantial contributions to the Alliance. And for 70 years, it has been carrying a heavy burden in the face of new risks and threats. Fulfilling its commitments to NATO, the U.N., and the international community; and devoted to the national motto “Peace at home, peace in the world,” as a legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of our Republic, Türkiye remains a top-tier contributor to regional and global peace, security, and stability.
Admiral Ben Key, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
Recent events in Ukraine remind us how quickly and fundamentally the global security environment can alter. This has led many to reflect on both the changes and constants within national security strategies.
For the United Kingdom, 2021’s Integrated Review described a changing strategic context foreseeing increased instability and growing state-on-state competition but also the need to increase commitment to alliances and partnerships. It highlighted key geoeconomic and geopolitical shifts: the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific and the exponential acceleration of technological change. In turn, we took the outcomes of this review and wrote a clear plan to prevail within this context—to remain global, modern, and ready.
Systemic competition requires a more deployed force, which is why we have prioritized the forward presence of our fighting forces. The frigate HMS Montrose has been deployed contributing to maritime security in the Arabian Gulf region for 24 months, with two rotational crews assigned. The offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) HMS Tamar and Spey are in the Pacific working daily alongside allies and partners countering a wide range of threats. Along with three other OPVs already deployed around the world, they reinforce the maritime norms that are part of the fabric of the rules-based order we currently find under such threat.
Also operating in the Indo-Pacific, the 2021 HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group deployment was a powerful demonstration of our determination to modernize—a fifth-generation carrier built to maximise the potential of fifth-generation F35Bs and with the Royal Netherlands Navy, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps fully integrated. We are enormously grateful for those countries’ support. Now we must do, and are doing, more: modernizing more rapidly, from harnessing unmanned technologies for mine warfare to reorienting our Royal Marines as commando forces to conduct distributed special operations.
But while change is everywhere, fundamental interests and commitments endure. We are a European Navy, a key ally for collective Euro-Atlantic security, committed to and at the heart of NATO. Correspondingly, our relationships with allies and partners remain paramount. Our ability to remain interoperable, and at times be interchangeable, is a key force multiplier that sets us apart from our competitors. The crisis in Ukraine has underlined this absolutely.
Underpinning all of this is the diversity of skills, thinking, and opinions that our sailors and Marines bring to the fight. So, as we seek to modernize and reorient, recapitalize and embrace change, we must remember to redouble our efforts to make the most of those responsible for our continued success—our people.