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Fighting the New Pirates

June 4, 2005

For years I have wondered why the Navy has publicly turned away from its Cold War, blue water strategy, to littoral or coastal warfare, while continuing to build large, expensive carriers, destroyers, and attack subs ; at the same time disposing of lo-end platforms such as frigates and patrol craft. After 15 years it seems the Navy is getting the message, as stated in a Sea Power magazine article:

“The Navy is working to figure out what changes are in order for its blue-water fleet, which is designed to fight a conventional enemy on the high seas. Until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Navy prepared for two major theater wars with the expectation that all other missions — from humanitarian relief to peace-keeping to counterterrorism — could be accomplished with the organizations, equipment and skills at hand.
Prepared by the Navy’s Information, Plans and Strategy staff at the Pentagon, the draft strategy acknowledges that the likelihood of major war on the high seas has significantly diminished. While maintaining the ability to conduct a major combat operation the Navy must be prepared to deal with a wider array of maritime security operations, including stability operations, the global war on terrorism (GWOT) and homeland defense.
The draft strategy anticipates a “limited number” of new requirements will take shape to fulfill these missions, and that some existing capabilities will need modification to keep them relevant in the new strategic landscape, “while other capabilities will need to be expanded in scale to meet the challenges of the post-9/11 security environment.”
To enhance its ability to contribute to the GWOT category, the Navy will enhance its theater security cooperation. “The maritime dimension of the GWOT — the ability of terrorists to exploit the seas — requires the U.S. Navy to operate in a manner analogous to that of the British Navy in the 18th century during its campaign against piracy,” the strategy states. The idea is to improve the proficiency of navies around the world at policing their own regional waters, freeing the U.S. Navy to work elsewhere.”

I keep thinking the Littoral Combat Ship, which is designed to fight the threats mentioned above, will save the navy from itself. Lets hope this time the brass will get the message and build ships it can afford, instead of massive battleships, to fight this new age of pirates at sea.

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