When one picks up "The Free Sea: The American Fight for Freedom of Navigation" by James Kraska and Raul Pedrozo, they will soon find themselves asking if this book is a diplomatic history, a history of the merchant marine, a naval history, or a political history. The Free Sea is, in fact, all of these.
Although some have asked for renewed interpretation and analysis of the meaning of sea power, maritime strategy, and naval power, they have often ignored that this has often revisited challenges and questions that have been raised before. Many of these questions Corbett, American naval thinker Alfred Mahan, and the founding father of the scientific study of naval history, Prof John Laughton, have tackled repeatedly in the past.
Secretary Lehman, awaiting the declassification of several key Cold War documents, recently published Oceans Ventured, meticulously documenting the Navy’s aggressive operations in the 1980s. Secretary Lehman’s readily accessible book tells the story as if you were having a casual conversation at the Black Pearl, listening to the reminiscences and sea stories of a well-traveled naval officer.
To say there is something here for everyone would be something of an understatement. There is more than enough in the volume for naval strategists and historians in terms of scope, geographical region, and topic. But for a popular strategy audience this collection will be a hard slog, if not intimidating. This is a shame, because these essays have much to offer. So, if one can afford it, purchase the anthology, peruse the topics, and read. Otherwise, for the everyman strategist out there, go to your nearest college library and get it there. You will still be rewarded.
Maritime hybrid warfare has the potential to become a major issue across all the levels of warfare. Its methods are numerous, but will likely involve autonomous systems, drones, Q-boats, little blue sailors, cyber-attacks, and propaganda. Ultimately, these methods will be hard to combat, but their effects can be reduced.
Fundamentally, naval maneuver is based on the ability of the naval forces to generate overwhelming operational tempo and a series of dilemmas for the enemy that shatters his cohesion through a multiplicity of rapid, focused, and unexpected actions. Generating and sustaining this necessary tempo requires keeping more ships in the fight longer, sustaining their maximum warfighting capacity, and delaying the fleet’s culminating point as long as possible. The logistical functions of supply and maintenance (to include salvage and repair capabilities) are critical to achieving this advantage.
The U.S. Navy faces a demanding challenge to recover its ability to generate high tempo unrelenting operations. A skilled naval maneuver warfare capacity creates a multiplicity of overwhelming dilemmas for an enemy that shatters the enemy’s cohesion through unexpected but highly coordinated actions on, over, below and from the sea, including fully employing the advantages of littoral and archipelagic terrain.
In the post-Cold War era, the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet has been operating around three general concepts: carrier strike group defensive protection, land-attack missions, and ballistic missile defense. In the absence of a blue water adversary, and few contested areas, the Pentagon emphasized these cost-saving and efficient concepts in an attempt to overcome an evolving threat environment. This article will define and explain a new concept of operations called distributed lethality.
Addressing risk in this case is a simple math problem. Either the strategy needs to be resourced with the appropriate number and type of adequately survivable warships, or the scope of the strategy needs to be reduced. Hesitance in taking either course of action is instead a de facto decision to accept dire risk to U.S. geopolitical strategy.
Throughout much of history, the world’s oceans and seas belonged to no one, yet everyone. For that reason, nations that depend on the sea for trade, as a source of food, and more recently, as a source of minerals, have cooperated to some extent. Naval Cooperation is a compilation of USNI Proceedings articles written over the last ten years discussing a range of topics related to cooperation.
The Russian defense industry has always had a flair for the dramatic. The Soviet military-industrial complex carried so much sway in the Politiburo that at times, it operated with little oversight from the General Secretary. It produced wonder weapons and prestige platforms with little regard for their cost and strategic value. The past few years have seen a resurgence of this mindset.