Sea Service Officials Make Case for 'Forward Presence'
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The sea services must be “where it matters, when it matters,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan, acting deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy.
Donegan touted the sea services' new joint strategy, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower” — signed by the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard. “We’re forward to do something, to engage with our partners and allies and build trust. We’re forward to deter potential aggression. We’re there to respond to crisis when need be and, if necessary, fight and win a war together with the joint force," he said April 13 at the Sea-Air-Space exposition.
The original strategy was released in 2007, and the latest revision published in March. New threats and challenges around the globe made changes necessary, Donegan said. “As always when you look far into the future you get some things right and some other things happen in a different way."
For instance, no one could have predicted Russia’s annexation of Crimea, he said. Nor did anyone know that North Korea’s current leader Kim Jong-un would be more troublemaking than his late father Kim Jong-il. The rise of violent extremism was also a surprise, he noted. When the strategy was originally published, it focused on al-Qaida. Now the world faces terror groups such as the Islamic State, Boko Haram and al-Shabab. These groups have "evolved significantly,” he said.
The strategy focuses on the maritime services working together. It also emphasizes modernization of equipment, Donegan said. It’s more than just numbers, he noted. It’s about designing weapons that have flexibility.
Having a sound maritime plan is key to national security, said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Ronald Bailey, deputy commandant for plans, policy and operations.
“We have the largest economy of the world, and 90 percent of all of our goods move on the sea. Twenty-one of 28 mega-cities are within 62 miles of the littorals, so that in and of itself says that we as a nation need to at least maintain a focus on the sea,” he said.
Coast Guard Vice Adm. Charles Michel, deputy commandant for operations, said the strategy takes advantage of each of the service’s talents. “There is a lot of goodness that comes from the services,” he said. “We each have our strengths, and we each have our own gaps.”
He noted that as the Navy retires frigates from the Western Hemisphere, the Coast Guard is increasing its presence in the region to combat transnational organized crime.