Changing roles for the Navy

Navy mission shifts inland

In early November MO noted the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, a centralized command for the Navy’s various land forces and a move to tweak organizations for the asymmetrical wars that we keep finding ourselves in. The Honolulu Advertiser has a great article on more restructuring and re-prioritization within the Navy, including

Adm. Michael G. Mullen, who took over as chief of naval operations in July, envisions a U.S. Navy that will operate as a “brown water” and “green water” force in rivers and along coasts in addition to its traditional big-ship, blue-water role.

“A lot of that is closer to shore, whether it’s in the rivers of certain countries that we would be involved to assist in, or whether it’s in the shallows near land,” said Mullen, who spoke to reporters after making an “all hands” visit last week with sailors at Pearl Harbor.

“We’re in a long war. It’s a global war on terror, (and) the Navy is incredibly relevant in that,” he said. “We’re changing mission sets for the future to get at that.”


and

“We cannot sit out in the deep blue, waiting for the enemy to come to us. He will not. We must go to him,” Mullen said in August.

The search-and-seizure teams are tapped to board suspicious vessels that may be trafficking drugs or harboring terrorists. Big-deck ships, such as aircraft carriers, have Marines and specialized boarding capability.

The search-and-seizure course began in Chesapeake, Va., and is also offered at the Centers for Anti-Terrorism and Navy Security Forces at Ford Island, in Mayport, Fla., and in San Diego.

“It’s a huge focus, a huge shift and a manpower-intense requirement,” said Brown, the senior enlisted adviser at the center. “We’re taking ship personnel for this, not added personnel, and we’re taking them off the ships two to three months for the schools.”

While it’s good to see that the Navy isn’t just lazing around while the boots on the ground do all the hard work right now, I hope that they don’t over-compensate and get too focused on these sorts of things. It doesn’t look like they are.

Comments

  1. But if all those sailors are onshore firing M16s at the enemy, who will be available to operate the big guns on the battleships when the Navy wakes up and realizes the error of its mistake in mothballing them? Seriously, though, this had to happen. The key point in the quote you, uh, quoted is this: We cannot sit out in the deep blue, waiting for the enemy to come to us. He will not. We must go to him.’ Not only will no one come to us, no one really can. As far as truly effective blue water navies, it’s us and the Brits. And even they don’t really measure up to us. If the Navy wants to do more than occasionally lob a tomahawk at someone, this is what they have to do. And as you (or maybe one of your commenters) pointed out in the earlier post, the Navy doesn’t have the Marines any more, now that they are effectively an independent service with their own mission. The Navy still needs someone to fill that role, and if it can’t be the Marines, this will likely fit the bill.

  2. More roles for the NECC? Not suprising… The question is now, how long before the Marines and Navy conspire to kill off the Army? It won’t happen overnight but it seems the Army is slowly having its jobs eaten away at. They already have to share the limelight with the MC, and don’t get to fly fixed-wing aircraft- it seems they are in a pot slowly coming to boil.

  3. But if all those sailors are onshore firing M16s at the enemy, who will be available to operate the big guns on the battleships when the Navy wakes up and realizes the error of its mistake in mothballing them?’ The Army Expeditionary Sea Command?

  4. I could have sworn this is why the Marines were created in the first place. Or is the Navy simply trying create a Marine Corps. Part Deux?

  5. Not to burst a bubble here – but the Navy has no real choice in the matter. A good chunk of the Navy’s ships are nearing the end of their operational lives. (unlike the battleships which were made when we did not make disposable 3 billion dollar ships) Anyway- if you plot out the retirement schedule and enter in the procurement schedule for new ships – you’ll come up will a bunch of sailors looking for a job. Hence the Navy is giving itself new missions to keep the funding alive. Marines without the ability to make amphibious landings is really just a second army that has incompatable communications systems with the real army.

  6. James – The Marines seem to me more like a force somewhere inbetween an Army and Special Forces, who also specialise in amphibious assaults and emphasize well-integrated support. I think having such a force gives good flexibility. They’re elite, without being so elite that they’re too small to mount conventional ops. I was doing some thinking earlier today, and came up with this:

     Grunts Planes Ships Space Army x Helos x Navy x x x Air Force x x x Marines x x x 

    A lot of people with a lot of thumbs in a lot of pies 🙂

  7. The services duplicate a lot of things. The US Army operates a large number of amphibious lift ships to move equipment from point A to point B. The Air Force has troops to protect installations. And the Navy has one of the world’s largest air armadas, as well as units for land warfare. An extreme example of the above can be seen at the island of Diego Garcia. Supposedly, the Army runs the tugboats, the Navy the bulldozers, and the Air Force is responsible for base security.

  8. Nicholas – I have no issues with the Marines. They make excellent targets. They tend to be a tad slow at times. I remember in Okinawa we joked that the reason the Marine kept jumping out of the planes was not because of ‘training’ but because by the time they figured out the safety instructions (ie the seat as floation device) the plane had already taken off. Marines being marines – then jump out of the plane to see if the seat really does float.