Chief Boatswain’s Mate William Partington, Coast Guard
International Training Division, and Storekeeper 2nd Class
Alfonso Anglada, U.S. Navy interpreter, conduct small
boat training with the Dominican military near High-Speed
Vessel 2 Swift. Task Group 40. 9 was deployed as part of
the pilot Global Fleet Station to the Caribbean basin and
Central America to enhance cooperative partnerships
with regional maritime services and improve operational
readiness for the participating partner nations.
Work, however, applauds document’s endorsement
of the National Fleet concept — in which the Navy,
Coast Guard and Marine Corps integrate and decon-flict their roles in support of each other.
“It’s important to note that in the 1,000-ship navy,
the U.S. Coast Guard is the Navy’s most loyal, dependable and stalwart ‘ally,’” said retired Coast Guard Capt.
Bruce Stubbs, a security analyst. “We will always be
there. There’s no pool of conditions for the Coast
Guard to report to duty.
“I would caution the Navy not to reinvent itself as a
Coast Guard as it looks at the spectrum of so many non-military maritime security threats,” said Stubbs. “It
might be more prudent to advocate and strengthen the
role of the U.S. Coast Guard to provide the maritime law-
enforcement capabilities that are so needed to address
these civil threats.”
One omission from the strategy is the part to be
played by the Maritime Administration. The administration, part of the Department of Transportation, is
charged with, among other things, ensuring “an intermodal sealift capacity to support vital national security interests,” as stated in the agency’s mission.
“They weren’t consulted about it at all,” said one government official familiar with the strategy. “They talk
about surge capabilities, but they don’t talk about the role
of the merchant marine in making that possible.”
The official said someone who is not in the U.S. Transportation Command nor intimately familiar with how
beans and bullets make it to the battlefield might not understand how the private sector fits into surge capability,
not just the maritime aspect, but airborne shipping as well.
“It’s a silent service and a lot of people don’t understand its role,” the official said. “Realizing the role of
the commercial merchant marine is really important,
and that document kind of lacked it.”
Matching Force Levels to Strategy
Implications of the strategy for forces levels, particularly numbers of ships, are left to debate. Some analysts
doubt the Navy can match its strategy with the force levels needed to carry it out, especially given inadequate
shipbuilding funds and cost overruns in some current
programs, such as the Littoral Combat Ship.
The Navy’s goal — supported by Mullen and
Roughead — is to build back up to a level of 313 ships
from the current level of 279.
Sen. James Webb, D-Va., a former secretary of the
Navy, said Oct. 18 the Navy needed a fleet of more than
350 ships to carry out its responsibilities.
“I am concerned today about how far the Navy force
structure has been allowed to deteriorate,” he said.
“We need to reverse the steady slide in shipbuilding.”
“Before you talk about a 350-ship navy, first you
have to prove that you can build ships that are affordable enough to get to 313 ships,” Work said.
Robert D. Kaplan, a national correspondent for The
Atlantic and a professor in national security at the U.S.
Naval Academy, expressed concern about decline in U.S.
national power as a result of a decline in the fleet size.
“During the Cold War, our 600-ship Navy needed to
be in only three places in force — the Atlantic and
Pacific flanks of the Soviet Union and the Mediterranean. We sometimes subcontracted out less-important
tropical sea lanes to other free-world navies,” he wrote.
“Now we need to cover the Earth with less than half that
number of ships.” ■