Hudson Experts Stress the Need For Developing a ‘Coherent’ Maritime Strategy
By OTTO KREISHER, Seapower Correspondent
WASHINGTON — The return of great power competition demands that the United States creates a new maritime strategy, which historically has been a “fundamental” element of its national security grand strategy, naval scholars at the Hudson Institute said Jan. 29.
The new maritime strategy would require making difficult choices in the allocation of national resources to support an expansion of the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base that would be needed to increase U.S. naval power to the size necessary to counter the growing military strength and aggressive behavior of Russian and China, Hudson experts Seth Cropsey and Bryan McGrath said.
The two scholars addressed a forum announcing the release of a new study titled “Maritime Strategy in a New Era of Great Power Competition.”
“The importance of maritime strategy used to be understood. … That understanding has largely disappeared” during the post-Cold War era when the United States was the unchallenged global power and its control of the sea was assumed, Cropsey, the director of Hudson’s Center for American Seapower, said.
Building the fleet that will be needed to support a new maritime strategy would require “a massive increase in defense spending … and the reallocation of resources within the Defense Department” to prioritize naval power over land forces, added McGrath, a retired surface warship commander and Cropsey’s deputy.
The new Hudson publication argues that sea power would be the most effective U.S. conventional counter to the growing challenge from Russia and China. The document contends that after decades of concentrating on countering terrorism and homeland protection, the return to great power makes developing a “coherent” maritime strategy essential.
“The nation’s current maritime strategy is, unfortunately, not up to the task” and “does not suggest a posture for naval forces that act as an effective deterrent, its derived force structure is too small … and it is silent on the need for the nation to invest in a maritime industrial base that can enable an appropriate strategy,” it said.
Cropsey and McGrath agreed that the shipbuilding industrial base, which has shrunk dramatically since the end of the Cold War, has to be rebuilt, with government support, in order to produce the necessary ships.
But they disagreed on what that expanded industrial base should produce, with Cropsey advocating building both commercial ships and combatants and McGrath arguing that the U.S. should focus on building warships and allow international allies and partners to provide the cargo ships and tankers needed to ensure the flow of supplies.
McGrath gave a qualified approval to the recently released national security and national defense strategies for recognizing the great power competition with China and Russia, but said they did not go far enough in supporting the essential requirement for greater maritime strength to meet the challenge from those two competitors.