A two-day conference entitled, “A New Maritime Strategy” at The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on September 26, 2007, organized by The Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, hosted a multiplicity of panelists, many in uniform, who spoke about several crucial issues, ranging from rationale for a new maritime strategy to the need for developing critical skills for naval personnel to meet 21st century challenges.
The Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Plans and Strategy from the United States Navy, Vice Admiral John C. Morgan Jr. set the stage and tone for the overall conference, by highlighting major themes and key questions. In his keynote address, he set forth the rationale for a new maritime strategy. In doing this, he “outlined the key issues and trends that underpin its development,” and he examined the new strategy to advance maritime security, and broaden U.S. national security.
As the day progressed, several panelists, including the Executive Vice President of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Dr. Jacqueline K. Davis, “examined the key elements of the unpredictable security setting that now confronts the U.S. and how “they may affect stability and security throughout the global maritime domain.” They referred specifically, to the “existing and emerging threats and challenges” such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cyber warfare, piracy and large scale disasters. Special mention was made of the security setting after 9/11.
Later on that day, Former Commander of the Marine Corps Forces Lieutenant General Robert C. Blackman Jr. and other members of the panel looked at the strategic challenges. Mention was made of the growing interdependence of world economies, “the increasing global competition for energy, and energy sources”, and “the spread of violent ideologies and security threats that place in jeopardy critical interests of the U.S. and its key allies and partners.” It was during this session that mention was made of the increasing vulnerability of oceanic trade routes where most of the world’s trading is now done.
Different panelists addressed critical issues such as “force structures, modernization priorities, interoperability and connectivity, engaging the private sector and getting everyone on board by coordinating with other military services and interagency actors.” This first day ended with a panel discussion on how to find “the proper operational mix.”
Additionally, representatives of key allies and partner countries of the U.S. shared their perspectives on maritime strategies and options for enhanced cooperative relationship with the U.S. during their discussions on the international dimensions of maritime strategy. The Naval Attaché of The Embassy of India, Commodore Parasurama Naidu Murugesan, spoke about forging strategic partnership with a rising power like India. The Defense and Naval Attaché of the embassy of Japan, Rear Admiral Masanori Yashida, analyzed the U.S. Japanese security planning partnerships and the opportunities for enhanced regional contingencies. Some of the panelists discussed “lessons from recent collaborative activities and their potential application to the new maritime strategy.” They also examined the role played by formal and informal alliance organizations.
During the final session, the panelists referred to the difficulties and challenges in providing the maritime force structure, as the U.S. Naval research and development community faces workload reductions and loss of expertise. Members of the panel spoke about what needs to be done to ease or overcome these constraints to “the development and procurement of needed technologies and weapons systems.” The state of the U.S. research and development and manufacturing base as it relates to the key naval and maritime plans and supporting capabilities was critically examined by the chief of naval research, Rear Admiral Williams E. Landay III.
The final session concluded with a discussion “of what is needed to ensure that the U.S. defense industrial base retains the time, naval and broader maritime forces sufficient to meet the challenges outlined in the new strategy.”
Nirmala Punnusami is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.