tional partners. However, the strategy does not consider the long-term implications of America’s partners
who free-ride on U.S. defense expenditures.
The strategy cannot reconcile the importance China
places on freedom of the seas, its global merchant fleet
that bring goods to America’s ports and uncertainty
about Chinese naval developments.
What aspects of maritime strategy should have
been addressed but were not?
CLARK: The strategy does a good job of addressing the
major strategic concerns and prescribing the force
design elements needed in the future fleet. It does not,
however, describe any new ways of operating that
would drive changes in budgets or operational plans.
For example, the Marines are looking at much more
distributed operations in the future, as described in
Expeditionary Force 21. The strategy could articulate
the implications of that evolution for presence, maritime
functions and force design. One instance would be that
perhaps amphibious ships will be equipped to operate
independently to a much greater degree, rather than
planning to always be in an ARG/MEU [Amphibious
Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit].
The most important things it needed to do as a strat-
egy that it did not are describing how the maritime
services will use presence and functions (or capabili-
ties) and the priority between them. The “how” is
needed for planners to understand the relationship
between investments and operations and threats or
opportunities they are trying to address. Priorities
enable standards to be set for capabilities and choices
to be made between investments or operations.
For example, the strategy suggests all-domain access
is the most important function, and that sea control and
power projection support it. But the strategy does not
directly say that. If this relationship is intended, then
planners could consider achieving all-domain access as
the minimum level of capability needed in sea control
and power projection programs. Another example
would be deterrence. If deterrence is the highest-priority
function, then other functions could be viewed as needing to provide deterrent effects first, and then other
effects if funding and time allow.
McGRATH: Geo-strategy. With the return of great power
dynamics, who is “on our team” matters, and where those
nations are matters even more. Egypt, South Africa, India,
Australia, Japan … geography matters and we need to
begin to talk in the language of maritime geo-strategy.
The maritime industrial base is ignored. It takes more
than a decade for a ship to be designed, procured and
built, with subsequent versions of the ship taking two to
three years for construction. The rebuilding of fleets is a
generational undertaking, and our shipbuilding and
ship repair industrial base has zero excess capacity in it.
With the decline in shipbuilding predicted in the
years to come, building yards will go out of business
never to return and the capacity problem will deepen.
The maritime strategy should have made a full-throated
argument for the sustainment of sufficient capacity in
the maritime industrial base to respond to wartime contingencies. While doing so is not flat-out free market
efficient, there are things government must do that
aren’t free market propositions. This is one of them.
REVERON: Unlike the 2007 strategy, humanitarian
assistance is not treated as a separate element of maritime power. The new document weaves humanitarian
assistance throughout to reinforce that the sea services
are multipurpose and can easily shift roles.
The strategy notes the importance of global trade
and the role seapower plays in facilitating commerce. It
does not seem to reconcile China’s rise through trade,
the disappearance of U.S.-flag merchants and the role
the U.S. Navy plays in maintaining freedom of the seas.
In a sense, the U.S. makes the world safe for Chinese
investment and trade that fuels China’s military spending.
On China, the strategy offers a note of optimism on
future U.S.-P.R.C. [Peoples Republic of China] maritime
partnerships, but cannot reconcile the current ambiguous relationship with China. While China has overlapping maritime claims with U.S. allies, China is also the
second-largest trading partner for the United States and
key foreign actor in the U.S. debt market. ;
A Qatari helicopter hovers while U.S. Marines from Kilo
Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine
Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, exit a U.S. Marine
Corps amphibious assault vehicle during a simulated amphibious assault on Failaka Island, Kuwait, during Exercise Eagle
Resolve 2015 March 25. As part of the new maritime strategy, U.S. naval presence in the Middle East will increase to
40 ships from 30, and the Marine Corps will maintain a large
Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force in the region.