The New Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard Strategy: A Turning Point in World History?

Don’t miss what could be a huge story for the future of the world. Here’s the short version from the Associated Press

It’s being called the first major revision of American naval strategy in 25 years.
Maritime officials say they plan to focus more on humanitarian missions and improving international cooperation as a way to prevent conflicts….
The new strategy reflects a broader effort to use aid, training and other cooperative efforts to encourage stability in fledgling democracies and create relationships around the globe that can be leveraged if a crisis does break out in a region.
The U.S has faired so poorly in rebuilding Iraq, in large measure, because of a lack of forces and training specifically dedicated to reconstruction operations. The announcement of this new strategy means that the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard intend to do their part to remedy this deficiency. It also means that the leaders of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard expect the U.S. military to be involved in more nation-building type operations in the near future, despite any isolationist sentiment that may seem to be growing in the country right now.
But what really makes the new maritime strategy significant is the shift within the military bureaucracy that it suggests. Almost certainly, a key reason that the U.S. has lacked forces tailored for humanitarian and democracy-stabilization missions has been a reluctance on the part of high-level military leadership to endorse their creation, reasoning that the existence of forces proficient in nation-building operations would overly tempt America’s leaders to undertake nation-building projects. Better not to have such forces at all and prevent the U.S. from being able to even think about joining certain classes of conflicts.
The new strategy means that a significant number of military strategists and policy makers, at least within the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard, have rejected this view. They’ve decided that safeguarding U.S. security means more than preparing for conventional threats and that American security now requires an ability to deal with and defuse violence and instability spawned by the many weak, backward states that populate the globe.
Hopefully, the Army and the Air Force are on their way to a similar realization. The coup-de-grace will come when the State Department recognizes that engaging people in retrograde states is part of its mission too!

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Greg
Greg
13 years ago

So many wonderful words to describe a new mission that won’t mean squat when it fails to get funded the next time we get a Dem in office.
Just like when Clinton thanks all of us Coasties for all of our humanitarian work in Haiti, gave everybody medals and then gave us the shaft by cutting 25% out of our budget the next year.

Andrew
13 years ago

Greg,
I could be wrong. I’m certainly no expert in the workings of military bureaucracy. However, as I see it, the major significance of this new strategy document is that it’s come from the professionals within the service, not from the more political level at the top of org chart, i.e. this is more than the result of GWB telling Robert Gates to tell someone to produce something that supports his pro-democratization rhetoric.
That means that…

  • There’ll be real momentum within the Navy/Marines/Coast Guard for making this work, over time and across different adminisrations, and
  • There’s a group of strategists in the military ready to challenge the Brent Scowcroftian and maybe even Rumsfeldian worldview that has retarded America’s development of military forces and doctrines maximally able to support the projection of soft power.
Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Yeah, yeah. And when someone says “Great idea! Now implement it,” they’ll have to cut the budget for parts and equipment so the USCG can afford the fuel. Just like 1994.

chuckR
chuckR
13 years ago

Various milbloggers have described how many of the troops in Iraq function as ministers without portfolios, doing the job no American (diplomats) want to do. This seems like a natural extension of their COIN work also. And who were the most effective entities responding early to the Boxing Day tsunami? Answer: the navies of the US, Australia, Japan and India. It didn’t go unnoticed in Muslim Indonesia, either.

Andrew
13 years ago

Chuck,
I agree with what you’ve said, and think the point of the new strategy is to prepare our soldiers and sailors better for the “minister without portfolio” role and make it more formal.
I’m positing that many people within government and within the military have realized that we’ve needed to do this for a while now, but have been prevented from doing so by the old-line “realists” (that’s probably not exactly the proper term to use here, but you get the idea) who didn’t want to do anything that might encourage American leaders to more aggressively undertake humanitarian actions than they have in the past, and that the issuance of the new strategy means that the new thinking is working its way into the upper ranks of American military leadership.

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