Leadership: February 12, 2005

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The U.S. Navy believes that  the strategic landscape is changing, and that the  navys new organization will revolve around Sea Basing -- a new concept enabling joint military forces to operate from ships offshore rather than from established land bases.

Sea Basing is one of the three cornerstones of "Sea Power 21. Another cornerstone is Sea Strike, which will expand power projection through increasingly networked sensors, combat systems, and war fighters. Sea Shield will provide global defensive assurance through extended homeland defense, sustained access to coastal areas, and the projection of defensive power deep overland. Sea Basing will provide enhanced operational independence and support for joint forces provided by networked, mobile, and secure sovereign platforms operating in the maritime domain (ships). This philosophy recognizes the facts that the US must be able to respond more quickly to threats from abroad in a time when other nations are increasingly reluctant to let the US base its forces in the territory, even temporarily. One has only to look at recent history to see how difficult it is to overcome the inability to base US forces in nominally friendly countries when political and religious consideration intervened. 

This new strategy of joint forces afloat implies big changes for the black shoe Navy the ship-driverofficer community, as opportunities to command are likely to be spread across multiple services as the number of ships in the Navy continues to decrease due to retirements, the large cuts to the shipbuilding budget announced recently, and the realization that some of todays ships simply are not compatible with Sea Basing due to speed, size, or age. Sea Basing is an extension of maneuver warfare and will be the basis from which offensive and defensive force is projected through Sea Strike and Sea Shield. Afloat positioning of assets is to strengthen force protection and free airlift-sealift to support missions ashore. Planned Sea Basing Technologies will include heavy equipment transfer capabilities, intra-theater high-speed sealift, improved vertical delivery methods, rotational crewing infrastructure, and international data-sharing networks. Ships will not only be forward deployed and crash deployed from US ports, but will spend extended periods at sea with crews swapped every six months or so. This capability can only become more important in light of the recently announced cuts to new Navy programs such as the inland fire support destroyer (DD(X)) replacement for the Burke and Spruance class destroyers and the Multimission Maritime Aircraft replacement for the P-3. K.B. Sherman

 


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