Cooperative strategy focuses on common threats, mutual interests
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
■ Limiting regional conflict.
■ Deterring major power war.
■ Winning wars if deterrence fails.
■ Contributing to homeland defense in depth.
■ Preventing or mitigating disruptions and crises.
To any observer of maritime affairs, the new joint
maritime strategy set forth in October by the U.S.
Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard would hardly
seem new. The strategy had, if not on paper, been in
execution for more than two years. The new document
laying out the strategy reflects the constructs under
which the sea services have been operating in the current global maritime environment.
“A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower” was unveiled Oct. 17 to an audience of maritime service leaders from more than 100 nations at the
18th International Seapower Symposium at the Naval
War College, Newport, R.I. The venue was symbolic of
a major tenet of the strategy: the need to foster international cooperation for maritime security.
The strategy codifies the Global Maritime
Partnership initiative, the formalization of the “ 1,000-
ship navy” concept that has been promoted since 2005
by Adm. Mike Mullen, former chief of naval operations
and current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen
fostered a voluntary maritime partnership that enlists
navies, coast guards, shipping companies, port operators and interested government, nongovernmental and
international organizations and
promotes global maritime security.
The new strategy attempts to
grapple with the great dilemma facing the sea services today: how to be
prepared to counter the full spectrum of maritime threats — actual
and potential — facing the United
States in its superpower role, with
resources sorely taxed by such factors as current wars and rising costs
of shipbuilding. The document
reflects the sea services’ intent to
operate in the brown- and green-water realms as well as its traditional
Though unveiled with much fanfare, the strategy received a lukewarm reception by some
longtime maritime affairs analysts, several of whom
classified it as a vision statement rather that an operational strategy. They noted that it did not address how
the sea services were going to fight the current wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan; what types of wars were to be prevented; its vagueness on the role of the Marine Corps,
which is eager to resume its expeditionary role; the lack
of any mention of sea basing or ballistic-missile defense;
the role of the Maritime Administration, which was not
included in the dialogue that produced the strategy; and
its lack of guidance on force levels.
They say the document is short on putting forth
means to achieve ends.
The new strategy is the third crafted by the Navy since
the mid-1980s, when, under then-Navy Secretary John
Lehman, the service formulated a bold blue-water Cold
War strategy to counter the Soviet Navy in and near its
home waters in the event of war. In the post-Cold War
era, the Navy shifted to a littoral, power-projection strategy know as “… From the Sea.”
As the global war on terrorism rages on, the new
strategy solidly recognizes the necessity of joint and
The United States’ new maritime strategy lays out six major
imperatives for seapower:
■ Fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships with international partners.