Navy to Unveil New Maritime Strategy

Friday, September 28, 2007
The U.S. Navy will unveil a new maritime strategy next month that will address the demands of a globalizing world, a top military official said Sept. 27.

Vice Adm. John G. Morgan Jr., Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5), spoke to a group gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building for a conference on National Security Strategy and Policy.

He told the audience that during the International Seapower Symposium next month in Newport News, Va., the Navy will present a new maritime strategy to some 91 heads of allied navies, Marines and coast guards. The doctrine, which took some 16 months to complete, is the Navy's first attempt to document a seapower strategy since the 1980s.

"If you contrast the last time we made an effort to write a maritime strategy in the 1980s, you'd agree that the world today looks a lot different," he said.

Globalization -- the notion that the world's nations and people have become, and continue to grow, more interdependent -- was in its early stages during the drafting of the last strategy. Since that time, important maritime milestones have occurred. Russia recently placed a flag on the floor of the North Pole, Morgan said, and the Northwest Passage, a sea route through the Arctic Ocean along the North American coast, has opened for the first time.

Furthermore, climate change is altering the planet's shape and the number of navigable areas. The growing human population is moving closer to coastlines and into urban centers, and as a result, people are moving goods around the world by sea more than ever before, Morgan said.

Morgan declined to describe in full detail the elements of the new strategy, but said that it addresses the changing 21st century world. Furthermore, strategy planners tried to anticipate what Morgan called the key uncertainty: what the United States' grand military strategy and foreign policy will be in the next few decades.

"Instead of looking for a specific answer, what we did was consider a range of options: primacy, cooperative security, selective engagement and offshore balance," he said.

These paradigms commonly are used by military planners to measure the quality of strategic components against hypothetical challenges. In addition to these theoretic structures, the Navy added "concert of power," or the idea that major world powers will work in concert with the United States to preserve a mutually beneficial status quo. In contrast, planners introduced the "coalition of denial," a paradigm pitting all major players against strategic interests sought by the United States.

From the six hypothetical paradigms, Morgan said, a team that comprises hundreds of American and foreign experts drafted five possible maritime strategies. The experts then whittled the five strategies down to three.

Morgan's team traveled to seven locations around the country to present the strategies to American citizens. In what was dubbed "the conversation with the country," Morgan and his team used Americans' feedback and helped shape one strategy, which currently is a work in progress in its final stages.

"This has been an open and loose process," he said. "We are creating an unclassified document, one with significant international flavor, informed by constructive dialogue with friends around the world."

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