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Admiral Trost's 1987 Proceedings Article on Maritime Strategy

Admiral Trost's 1987 Proceedings Article on Maritime Strategy

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Admiral Trost's 1987 Proceedings Article on Maritime Strategy
Admiral Trost's 1987 Proceedings Article on Maritime Strategy

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Looking Beyond
the
Mariti01e
Strategy
ByAdmiral Carlisle A.H.Trost, U.S. Navy Chief
of
Naval Operations
M
uchhasbeensaidand written over theyears aboutU.S.Maritime Strategythat has touchedoff exceptionally vigorous discussions.
As
a side effect, some
of
those
di
sc
ussionshaveleft the province
of
profe
ss
ional
strategists-naval
officersand
civilians-to
paradewith other defense
is
.s
ue
sintheshooting gallery
of
defensecriticism. Watching thishappen,Iamreminded
of
a comment by Mark Twain
in
his memoir,
Life on the Mississippi:
"War
talk
by
men who have been
in
a war is always interesting;whereas moontalk byapoetwhohasnot been
in
themoon is likelytobe dull."
In
thelastseveral years, therehasbeenalot
of
moon talkabouttheMaritime Strategy; much
of
it
confusesour Maritime Strategywith employment
of
forces,campaignplans,or thelocalstrategy
of
battleforceortheatercommanders.Some
of
itoverlooksplainfact and evenplainercommonsense. In thisarticle,Iwouldlike
to
share with you
my
perspectiveonthesubject.
The
GlobalView:
Thetranscendentfact
of
modemAmerican history istheemergence
of
the UnitedStates
as
a worldpower,with worldwide interests and respon
si
bilitiesthatwe ignore onlyatour peril. The wishful view
of
a ''Fortress America
,''
securewithinits
in
su
larshores, ignores reality. Vital alliances,trade, communi cations,thetravel
of
Americancitizens,andevenour
ge
nerous spirit andidealistic naturecompelustolook overseas.At thesametime,our interestsarebeingcontested bya confederation
of
powerswhose highest priority
isto
replaceall free anddemocratic societieswith totali-
Proceedings
I
Januar
y1987
tarianstates.The threat
to
the security
of
theFreeWorld isglobal,capable,and growingdaily.Much
of
it
is
directedfrom acenter
of
power in
th
eSovietUnion. Some
of
it is directedto thesamegeneralend by fanatics
in
other countries.The Soviet Union,alandpower,enormous,sprawl ing,self-contained,operatesoninterior lines
of
communications which requirevirtually
no
intercourse withothercountries. It doesn't need alarge na
vyto
besecurewithinits borders,but
it
h
as
oneanyway,a fine navy,largerthan our own. Although wehavealways enjoyed a qualitativeadvantageovertheSoviets,
in
thetalents
of
our people, their training,theirwinning tradition,and
in
thesuperiority
of
our technology,that advantage
is
shrinking.The Soviets aregetting better fast. They have operated
in
proximity
to
ourNavyformany years,ha
ve
watched andlearned,andthey have improved. And what theyhaven't beenable to earn for themselves, they have
tried-successfu
ll
y
in
the case
of
Walker-Whitworth and
others-to
steal.Thatnavy
is
out on the oceans every day.Itdoesits levelbest
to
influence thedecisions
of
any governmentwith maritime interests.
It
poses adirectthreat that it can back
up
its demands withairplanesoverhead, troopson the beaches,or
miss
iles inbo
un
d.Itdoesn't careaboutthe human element or aboutthe niceties
of
civilizedbehavior.It didn'tstop to pick up the boat people
of
Southeast Asia;
it
steamedright
by
them.
It
doesn't respect territorialboundaries,a fact to which millions
of
Swedes can attest,afterrepeatedsightings
of
Sovietsubmarines
in
Swedishhomewaters.
On
thelandmasses,thethreat
is
just assignificant.
In
Europe and Asia, the Soviets and theirsurrogates
13
 
havestationedthe largest armiesand air forces
in
theworld. The peopleare good,theequipment
is
evenbetter, andyou seeit everywhereyoulook,forhundreds of miles. They traineveryday,andthey practice not defensive maneuvers, butattack,the all-outassault. Elsewhere
in
theworld,
in
manycasesinspired
by
the Sovietsandin mostcasesequipped
by
them,aregovernments
of
fanatics whosenational policy
is
to
destroy what theyconsider ''The Establishment''
-the
U.
S.and our"'allies. There havealwaysbeengovern-
[the Maritime Strategy] was
not-and
is
not-a
force builder,
and
it was certainlynot the origin of the 600-ship Navy.
ments like this(theentrance of Libyan banditsontothe worldstage appears
to
be acyclicalphenomenon), butthe difference today
is
that they haveaccess
to
technology nearly
as
good
as
our own, and theyarelessin hibitedaboutusingitthan the people whosupply it
to
them. Like the Soviets, thefanaticsmove
in
whereverthey perceive a weakness. They use terrorism
as
an
instrument; theyuse it coldly and deliberately. In manyways these governments are an even morevisiblethreat
to
us
than the Sovietswhomanipulateand succor them.Every naval officer understands the realityof
the·
global
situation-the
reality
of
a world wherethevitalinterests
of
the United Statesextendintoeveryregion, the reality of a world whereeventhesmallest andmost innocentpresence
of
things American
is
at considerablerisk.Thechallenge
is
to geteveryone
to
understand.In our modern lifeweare confrontedwithaspec trum
of
violence that ranges from the real
to
the potential,fromisolatedterrorist bombings andkidnappings,
to
communist insurrections infriendly countrieslike thePhilippines, to the threat of all-outassaults
in
Europeor Asia. As Senator Patrick Moynihansaid inhis bookabout the United Nations, theworld
is
truly
"a
dangerous place."
National Defense Strategy:
Given thesituation,our countryneeds and hasanational
strategy-a
numberofdirectivessigned
by
the President andabody
of
thought thatsupports
them-whose
purpose
is to
helpguide policymakers,civilian andmilitary,in carrying out the responsibilitiesofthe United States in theworld today. Our nationalstrategyhasconsistentlyrested on three pillars:deterrence, forward defense,and allied solidarity.Obviously, our number one responsibility
is
to
deter war. That has been thecenterpieceofAmeri canpolicy for more than 40years.
We
have beensuccessful
in
deterringgeneral warbecausewehave been strong.By thesametoken,wehave been
moreor
Less
successfulin deterring limitedconflictsdepending
on
how strong and resolute we were perceived
to
be
in
the
14
regionat thetime.Whilewedeterwar, our strategy
is
to
control crises
as
theycomeup,and
to
support our allies.Bothobjectivesrequire
us
to
maintainaforward presence.For this reason,wedo thingssuch
as
stationing garrisonforces
in
EuropeandKoreaanddeploying navalforces
in
international waters,wheretheycan
be
available at amoment's notice.
In
addition,we
in
the militaryare charged with considering, on adaily basis,howwe would go
to
war ifdeterrencewere
to
fail.This
is
nota case of gazinginto the future butone of considering our owninterestsandthose
of
our allies,theimportance of alliance soli darity,thegeopolitical situation,thecapabilities
of
thethreat,and our resources-in-being
to
dealwiththatthreat. Amongthose resourcesweincludeour econ oiny, ourindustrial base,theadvantages
of
our owngeography,the utility
of
any forwardpositionsfromwhich we are operating, and ournationalresolve.That
is
strategy:a way oflookingattheworld situation.It
is
nota"gameplan"withthe first20playsalready charted.
Sea Powerin the NationalDefense:
In
this world situation, there
is
aparticular needfor American seapower.
We
arenota fortress,but
an
island nation,dependent uponother countries for vitalraw materials.Thesealines
of
communicationsare ourlife's blood. Water
is
all continuous.Theoceans
of
theworld give
us
the opportunity
to
protectour intereststhroughfor ward-deployed
ships-but
by
the same token,theseshipsprovide theonlybarriers
to
threats fromoverseas.Twice
in
thiscentury
an
enemy's seapower has broughtwarhome
to
our shores.In 1915,the sinking ofthe liner
Lusitania
shookthiscountry out
of
its reverie.In 1942, Americanscouldlookout
to
seawardfromthe Boardwalk
in
Atlantic Cityand seethefires of shipsburningfromGermansubmarine attacks.
To
avoid such adebacle
in
the future, weneed
to
maintainaready,capableNavy,which canbring
to
bearagainst any
problem-or
against severalproblemsat
once-sufficient
forcetocarryoutournationalstrat egy
of
deterrence,crisis control,and support
of
our allies.
We
havesuch aNavytoday.
It
is
the finest,readiest instrument that I haveseen
inmy
more than
37
years of service.
It
does the jobwherever andwhenever the assignmenttakesit,andthenifnecessary
it
steams awayto
do
anotherjobsomewhere else.Op erating
in
international waters,
it
enjoysthe uniqueadvantage
of
beingable
to
signalII!enacewithout violatingsovereignty,and oncethe need
is
past,ofbeingable
to
sail over thehorizonwithout signallingretreat. For thisreason, the Navy has been theforceofchoice
in
theoverwhelming majority
of
the200-plus crises ourcountryhasfaced sinceWorld War
II
.But the Navy has not always beenso capable.Justa
few
years ago,ourworldwide commitments weremore than the Navycouldmeet. Theships were operated until theyfell apart,andtheycouldn't be repaired be causethereweren't enough sparepartsandtherewasn't
Proceedings
I
January
I
987
 
enough money for overhauls. Even moreimportantthanthe ships was the personnelsituation.Sooner or latera feed pump can
be
replaced, but the human being
to
operate
it is
a perishable commodity. He must beeducated
in
the civiliansector,recruited into the Navy, trained, challenged
to
excel,coordinated withothers, givenachance
to
bewithhisfamilyin betweensix month deployments,andthen, when his period ofen listment
is
over,retained
as
aprofessional.
If
he leavesthe Navy, years
of
investmentgo withhim, and hisreplacement
is
notsomeoneonecanhire off thestreet. Justfiveorsix years ago,peoplewereleaving the Navy
by
the thousands, and we hadshipsthat weren't safe
to
operatesimplybecause they didn't have enoughtrainedsailorson board. Our capabilitieswere contract ing.At thesametime, the Soviets were carrying outa long-prepared program
of
expansion.Now we have turned thatsituationaround,andthe difference
is
well understood beyond our ownshores.Creditgoes
to
everyone concerned:
to
our peopleonthe deck plates,whoseperformance hasstirred somuch admiration;
to
those
in
support, fromwhom many resourceshave been diverted to meet the requirements ofthe fleet;
to
the planners,who havegottenthe mostout of every dollarappropriated;andfinally,
to
the Congress, entrustedwit theirconstitutionalresponsibility for raisingandmaintaining acapableNavy.
The Development
of
theMaritime Strategy:
The rebirth of Americanseapowerandthe origins of
an
American Maritime Strategy have been mutuallysupportive events. It
is
hard
to
distinguish between thetwo, and it
is
dangerous
to
think that oneexistswithout the other.
As
we were developingaready,capable Navy,structuredto meet the threatwith allitsvariety, taking into account such things
as
overseas commitments,personnel andoperational (out
of
homeport) requirements,calledPERSTEMPO/OPTEMPO, andthe level of risk
of
having a reduced forcestructure with
The Maritime Strategy
is
a part of ouroverall national strategy to exactly the sameextent that sea power
is
a part of nationalsecurity.
limited retention
of
trained/skilled
personnel-as
wewerecreating
an
appropriate capability, we continued
to
ask ourselves how this revitalized instrument met thenational security objectives.This was not a new question, and when it wasasked
in
the late 1970s, weweren't asking itforthefirst time. Overtheyears our Maritime Strategy has beenvery much like the British Constitution-unwritten butthoroughly understood by thosewhomust practice it.Even
in
theyears when wehad aso-calledwritten strategy, for example,the Rainbow plans just beforeWorld War II, thestrategy wasfluid and had
to
be
Proceedings
I
January
1987
adapted
to
events. Had there not beenaDouglas MacArthur
in
addition
to
aChester Nimitz, there wouldn'thave beenatwin-track offensive
in
the Pacific.Andhad we not had theshipsand airplanes
to
supporttheoffensive, wewouldhave had
to
come
up
withanewset ofplans.In those days thestrategyrecognizedwhat
we
werecapable
of
doing-both
the Navyandthe industrial base behind
it-and
whereweneeded
to
go.Strategies always do this.
In
the late 1970s,
as
webegan
to
evolve the present Maritime Strategy,capabilitiesandrequirements went hand in hand.
As
wedeveloped the 600-ship Navy,a general purpose forcesized
to
meet botha specific and a generalthreat, we were reviewing the missionofthe Navy
in
support
of
ournationalsecurityobjectives. Outof this review came the Maritime Strategy.
It
was
not-
and
is
not-a
force-builder, anditwas certainlynot the origin
of
the 600-ship Navy. Most
of
the MaritimeStrategy
is
simple common sense.It
is
not great literature(althoughthestacksofcriticism aboutitwoulddo justice
to
Shakespeare), but
it
does makegoodreadingif onewants
to
understandourcountry'sworldwide commitmentsand the Navy's vital contribution
to
theirdefense.The Maritime Strategy represents aconsensus
of
professional opinion andcarriestheacceptanceof boththe
U.
S.Governmentandthegovernmentsof our allies.
It
representsa consensusbecause, for the most part, navalofficers,experienced andknowledgeablein their profession, wroteandrevised it.
It
has been accepted
by
the President and the Secretary
of
Defense and
by
our allies,whose localsecurity interestsdependon in tegrated,common defense plans with the United States.The Maritime Strategy
is
an
intellectual counterpart
to
those plans,but
is
notsubordinate
to
them.
The Essence
of
the Maritime Strategy:
Although it
is
abriefconcept,the Maritime Strategy containsseveral elementsthatshouldbe looked at
as
unexceptionallyAmerican.First, it dealswiththeforceswe have
at
our disposal
today.
It
is
nota"wish
list."
Americans play the handthey've been dealt.
In
the Navy,carryingout one'sas signment
to
the best
of
one'sabilitywith the resourcesathand
isan
almost sacredtradition.
As
we
builtamorecapableNavy,webuilt thestrategy
to
addressit.Subsequent revisionsalwaystake into account whatforcesare available.Second, it
is
a forward strategy, forward
in
thesense
of
meetingourtreaty obligationsandothercommit ments
by
operating away from our own shores.This
is
typically American
as
well,
as
the
histQ{Y
of
the 20thcentury shows
us
.It reflectsanAmericanattitude that the bestway
to
solve aproblem
is
to go right
to
theheartofit."The best defense
is
a goodoffense,"
we
say;or
as
General Nathan Bedford Forrest put it
in
theCivil War,
"I
alwaysmake it a rule
to
gettherefirstwith the most... .
'
We
operateforward because this
is
wheretheactionis,where our alliesare,and where they need
us
.
To
this end,we arefortunatebecause our
15

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