Adapting to the Changing Operational Environment.

Author:Mewbourne, Dee L.

Continuing attacks on commercial vessels operating near the strait of Bab-Al-Mandeb and the Red Sea demonstrate that there are, and will remain, threats to mariners and ships that make portions of the maritime commons contested. In fact, there is broad consensus that today's security environment is faster paced, more complex, and increasingly competitive. (1)

The recently published National Defense Strategy makes this very clear: "We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long standing rules-based international order--creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory." (2) The strategy leaves no uncertainty as to our charge: "The Nation must field sufficient, capable forces to defeat enemies and achieve sustainable outcomes that protect the American people and our vital interests." (3)

Sealift is integtal to executing the requirements of the National Security and National Defense strategies. To give context, an example from World War II demonstrates where sealift was the decisive factor in the outcome of a larger national security imperative.

The Battle of the Atlantic pitted German U-boats against US and Allied merchant shipping. The Battle of the Atlantic was not what one usually thinks of as a "battle," since it did not take place in one location over a limited period. It was a battle for control over the supply chain. Using escorted convoys, the Allies moved equipment and supplies that fed, fueled, and armed Great Britain and were essential to her survival. The success of the Allied effort enabled the build-up of troops and supplies that led to the defeat of the Germans on the continent. Winston Churchill, the wartime Prime Minister of the United Kingdom noted in his memoirs, "The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea, in the air, depended ultimately on its outcome." (4)

Looking at the environment today, [former] Commander of US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), General Darren McDew, said:

"When the United States goes to war, USTRANSCOM moves 90 percent of its cargo requirements with the strategic sea-lift fleet... The ability to deploy a decisive force is foundational to the National Defense Strategy, as the size and lethality of the force is of little consequence if we are unable to project power in the pursuit of national...

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