Joint Chiefs of Staff members discuss future of maritime forces

The chief of Naval Operations and the commandant of the Marine Corps spoke together at the July 11 Military Strategy Forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies about the future of maritime forces and how to best face challenges presented by sequestration.

“We have a budget that has been sequestered but the requirements have not been sequestered,” said Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert.

Greenert and Gen. James F. Amos said those requirements can still be met by focusing on joint command and control, getting creative with what is currently available, and maintaining forward deployed forces.

One of the greater challenges facing the maritime forces is the capacity for joint command and control. Greenert explained that currently, “we do disaggregated operations so the command and control, if necessary, can pull these together to do tailored operations.” The more pragmatic alternative, he argued, is to distribute operations with tailored ships with tailored capabilities.

“It’s about bringing portable mission planning on board. We’ve invested in that and we will have that here in due course in six to eight months,” said Greenert. They are bringing onboard a program called the Amphibious Assault Direction Force System -- an upgraded version of Blue Force Tracking, the GPS-enabled system that provides command and control with location information of friendly forces.

Joint command and control also means building stronger relationships with military allies. On June 24, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps successfully executed combined operation Dawn Blitz with coalition partners Japan, Canada and New Zealand. For the first time, the team successfully landed a U.S. MV-22 Osprey on a Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ship.

Looking for low-cost, smart systems that will allow payloads to evolve is another priority. “What do we have right now that we ought to be able to do more things with?” said Greenert. He described the mobile landing platform, which acts as a floating base and transfer station.

“We have this now. It’s been delivered,” he said.

But will additional developments, he added, it can also land aircrafts. The Naval Sea Systems Command solicited a contract for an afloat forward staging base in May.

With sequestration cutting surge forces, forward presence is critical—something Amos said the maritime forces were designed to provide. The 7th Fleet is the largest forward deployed force covering the Asia-Pacific. At any given time, it has 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircrafts and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Without the force, the construction of the ballistic missile defense in less than 72 hours would not have been possible when recently confronted by North Korea.

About the Author

Nicole Grim is an editorial fellow at Defense Systems. Connect with her on Twitter: @nicole_grim.

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