Sea Control 20 – McGrath on Maritime Strategy

Matthew Hipple and Christopher Barber discuss with Bryan McGrath the future of maritime security. McGrath commanded the USS Bulkeley from 2004-2006, and finished his career by leading the team that wrote the “Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower“, the nation’s current maritime strategy. From August 2011 to November 2012, he served on the “Mitt Romney for President Defense Policy Working Group”. McGrath is Founder and Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group LLC, a defense consultancy. He is also the Assistant Director of the Hudson Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute.

The show is inspired by McGrath’s Article in the National Interest about his work in 2007 on maritime strategy. In McGrath’s view, “the 2007 Strategy was right for its time, but in the interim, the strategic environment had changed substantially, warranting a sharper, more focused approach. Chief among these changes were the fiscal condition of the United States and the increasingly unpredictable behavior of China in the Western Pacific, neither of which were central to the 2007 document” (Bryan McGrath, “What Should the New U.S. Maritime Strategy Look Like?”, The National Interest, 07.01.2014). Some of his suggestions are that the new strategy should explain why a globally deployed US Navy is necessary, it should clearly identify the threats and how the reaction should look like. Because he advocates a true integration between the Navy and the Marine Corps, he had a lively debate with Barber, who served in the United States Marine Corps.

McGrath thinks that the US isn’t in a special bellicose time. In contrary, when the US Forces return from Afghanistan end of this year, the second major combat operation after Iraq will be terminated. In the medium term, the People’s Liberation Army Navy is no threat to the US Navy. This means that the US Navy has to develop their capability to deter a possible aggressor further. In this regard, it’s important to understand that a force, which is designed to deter, differs partially from a force, which is envisaged to battle. Because China is building up his capabilities in the long term, the US has to keep the possibility to project power in the Pacific Ocean and wherever it wants. McGrath thinks that this has to influence significantly the future maritime strategy.

A naval soldier onboard China's first aircraft carrier 'Liaoning'.

A naval soldier onboard China’s first aircraft carrier ‘Liaoning’.

From the focused threat of China to McGrath’s ideas on a unified sea service, this is one of the best episodes yet. Nevertheless, for the listener, a basic knowledge about maritime security is strongly advised.

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CIMSECThe Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank. It was formed in 2012 to bring together forward-thinkers from a variety of fields to examine the capabilities, threats, hotspots, and opportunities for security in the maritime domain. Check out the NextWar blog to join the discussion. CIMSEC encourages a diversity of views and is currently accepting membership applications here.

This entry was posted in China, English, International, Sea Control, Sea Powers.

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