1
Review of Sea Basing Concepts

A number of Sea Basing concept documents—some Service-originated and some joint documents—have been issued or are in draft form. While they have much in common, there are significant differences among them. For the purpose of this study, the committee chose to base its analysis on the Naval Operating Concept for Joint Operations, which was issued by the Navy and Marine Corps Service chiefs jointly. This document defines Sea Basing as—

the foundation from which offensive and defensive power are projected, making Sea Strike[1] and Sea Shield[2] realities. It describes the projection, sustainment and operational maneuver of sovereign, distributed and networked forces operating globally from the sea. Sea Basing will provide Joint Force Commanders with global command and control (C2) capability and extend integrated support to other services.3

1  

VADM Cutler Dawson, USN; and VADM John Nathman, USN. 2002. “Sea Power 21 Series, Part III: Sea Strike: Projecting Persistent, Responsive, and Precise Power,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 128, No. 12. Available online at <http://www.usni.org/Proceedings/Articles02/PROdawson12.htm>. Last accessed June 2005.

2  

VADM Michael Bucchi, USN; and VADM Michael Mullen, USN. 2002. “Sea Power 21 Series, Part II: Sea Shield: Projecting Global Defensive Assurance,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 128, No. 11. Available online at <http://www.usni.org/Proceedings/Articles02/PRObucchi11.htm>. Last accessed June 2005.

3  

ADM Vern Clark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations; and Gen Michael W. Hagee, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps. 2003. Naval Operating Concept for Joint Operation, Department of Defense, Washington, D.C., September 22, p. 3.



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Sea Basing: Ensuring Joint Force Access from the Sea 1 Review of Sea Basing Concepts A number of Sea Basing concept documents—some Service-originated and some joint documents—have been issued or are in draft form. While they have much in common, there are significant differences among them. For the purpose of this study, the committee chose to base its analysis on the Naval Operating Concept for Joint Operations, which was issued by the Navy and Marine Corps Service chiefs jointly. This document defines Sea Basing as— the foundation from which offensive and defensive power are projected, making Sea Strike[1] and Sea Shield[2] realities. It describes the projection, sustainment and operational maneuver of sovereign, distributed and networked forces operating globally from the sea. Sea Basing will provide Joint Force Commanders with global command and control (C2) capability and extend integrated support to other services.3 1   VADM Cutler Dawson, USN; and VADM John Nathman, USN. 2002. “Sea Power 21 Series, Part III: Sea Strike: Projecting Persistent, Responsive, and Precise Power,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 128, No. 12. Available online at <http://www.usni.org/Proceedings/Articles02/PROdawson12.htm>. Last accessed June 2005. 2   VADM Michael Bucchi, USN; and VADM Michael Mullen, USN. 2002. “Sea Power 21 Series, Part II: Sea Shield: Projecting Global Defensive Assurance,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 128, No. 11. Available online at <http://www.usni.org/Proceedings/Articles02/PRObucchi11.htm>. Last accessed June 2005. 3   ADM Vern Clark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations; and Gen Michael W. Hagee, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps. 2003. Naval Operating Concept for Joint Operation, Department of Defense, Washington, D.C., September 22, p. 3.

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Sea Basing: Ensuring Joint Force Access from the Sea NAVAL OPERATING CONCEPT FOR JOINT OPERATIONS The Naval Operating Concept (NOC) describes the near-, mid-, and far-term organizational structures that are to evolve the concepts to achieve joint operational capability over the full spectrum of conflict. It states as a far-term objective “an increased ability to protect, project, and support joint and multinational forces from the sea.”4 As is the case with many concept documents, however, it is silent on the particulars. Specifically, the NOC does not further define “joint and multinational forces” with respect to size, type of unit, or means of employment. This lack of specificity has left the members of this committee, as well as the community at large, without a full definition of the desired end-state capabilities for this concept. For example, the Defense Science Board has stated that “sea basing must become a truly joint concept with capabilities that allow for the projection of the full panoply of military power.”5 The uncertainty regarding the ultimate destination of this concept is a serious problem, as is shown later in this chapter. The committee’s analysis of the NOC, together with a review of related documents, can be summarized as follows: Plans for Sea Basing. Sea Basing is one of three warfighting concepts, or pillars, basic to the the Navy’s capstone concept Sea Power 21 (the others are Sea Strike and Sea Shield).6 It is the only one of the three that represents a new mission and is, in the view of the committee, the most transformational of the three pillars. These characteristics of Sea Basing have led to the engagement of many organizations in the planning and programming necessary to achieve this capability. The existing planning for Sea Basing is tactical (e.g., the development of concepts of operations, and war gaming to explore and define operational parameters: distances, times, logistical needs, and so on), as well as programmatic (major acquisition programs, associated research and development (R&D), and so on). It did not appear to the committee, however, that this broadly based planning is coordinated or that there is any central direction guiding it. As a consequence, the planning is to a degree incoherent. Further, it has not involved joint entities outside the Department of the Navy (such as combatant commanders (COCOMs), the Air Force, Army, Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and the like) to any significant degree. For example, U.S. Army forces are not configured or conceptually designed in a sea 4   ADM Vern Clark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations; and Gen Michael W. Hagee, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps. 2003. Naval Operating Concept for Joint Operations, Department of Defense, Washington, D.C., September 22, p. 16. 5   Defense Science Board. 2003. Defense Science Board Task Force on Sea Basing. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Washington, D.C., August. 6   ADM Vern Clark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations. 2002. “Sea Power 21 Series, Part I: Projecting Decisive Joint Capabilities,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 128, No. 10. Available online at <http://www.usni.org/Proceedings/Articles02/PROcno10.htm>. Last accessed June 2005.

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Sea Basing: Ensuring Joint Force Access from the Sea base context, although the Army itself is beginning to move in that direction. The potential consequences of these problems with planning are disturbing. For example, absent Army input, Navy planners might assume an incorrect or inappropriate Army force mix. If sea base vessels and support systems were configured to deliver a Stryker Brigade and the Army desired to use or assumed delivery of an Air Assault Brigade, considerable mismatch would result. However, the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and TRANSCOM are initiating discussions to begin some of the necessary coordination in planning. Opportunities from Sea Basing. Sea Basing has the potential to change—in very fundamental respects—the way that the armed forces of the United States operate. Among the most important potential benefits of Sea Basing are (1) assuring access worldwide for military operations, (2) enhanced forward-defense posture, (3) improvement in immediate response capability, (4) rapid initiation of joint command and control, (5) very rapid transition from crisis to joint forcible entry, and (6) a greater degree of force tailorability and scalability. Limitations of Sea Basing. The limitations of Sea Basing can be characterized as both operational and cultural: Operationally, Sea Basing is dependent on the capabilities projected to be resident in Sea Shield, particularly those associated with missile defense, antisubmarine warfare, and mine countermeasures. Although Sea Basing has obvious benefits in conducting limited regional conflicts, it appears to have only a complementary role in major regional conflict or theater warfare. This is because of the limitations in the flow of supply tonnage—most of which would have to arrive by sea—that could be sustained in such a situation. Sea Basing will require robust command and control—of operations, fires, movement, and logistics. The command, control, and communications (C3) systems necessary to command and support tactical operations from the sea at great ranges (variously given as 110 to 300 nautical miles) are limited, and current development efforts are desultory at best. The practical physical limitations of Sea Basing include those caused by high sea states, restricted space on the sea base, and the limitations imposed by the need to transfer cargo between the connectors and the sea base in the open ocean in a seaway. The cultural limitations, however, are the more significant. To field a Sea Basing capability such as that described in the NOC will require realignment in procurement accounts, together with far-reaching changes in training, doctrine, force structure, and infrastructure. To achieve the Sea Basing capability, all of these changes will be necessary, and because of the nature of the needed changes, all will most likely be resisted vigorously. Finally, to date there is a lack of an overall integrated systems engineering approach, which is required to consider the multiple elements and increments necessary to yield the optimum Sea Basing capability. A system-of-systems approach is necessary in order to gain the synergy needed to achieve a successful joint Sea Basing capability.

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Sea Basing: Ensuring Joint Force Access from the Sea IMPLEMENTATION OF SEA BASING CAPABILITIES The extent to which Sea Basing is initially designed, developed, and implemented will determine the extent to which it achieves the envisioned joint operational capabilities. If Sea Basing is to be successful as a joint capability, it must be joint from its conception on. If fully implemented, the Sea Basing concept offers a significant new capability to protect, project, support, and sustain joint forces. If it is implemented to some lesser degree, the concept will fall well short of the envisioned attributes quoted at the beginning of this chapter. The level of implementation has profound implications for the types of vessels that will comprise the sea base. The most critical of the questions regarding the level of implementation involve the aviation capability and the ability to move cargo between ships in sea states as high as Sea State 4, but the effect of the ultimate capability desired will reverberate throughout the entire design process. The dependence of a future sea base on the systems embedded in Sea Shield is unsurprising, being consonant with historical practice. The Navy-Marine Corps doctrine governing amphibious assault requires air and sea superiority before an assault is launched. This doctrine must be brought up to date to encompass relatively new tactics such as over-the-horizon assault, possibly by substituting a form of tiered protection for an absolute requirement for superiority. However, the principle underlying any new doctrine will be the same as the historical principle: an assault force must rely on external protection for its survivability. It is yet to be determined if commercial standards7 for damage stability and many other factors such as strength are generally acceptable for the ships, the connector vessels, and other craft comprising a future sea base. Some upgrading of these standards in such areas as electrical redundancy and firefighting will be required. The sea base will operate alongside commercial container ships; commercial carriers for petroleum, oil, and lubricants; and allied and coalition vessels of all types: if the Sea Shield umbrella is not sufficient to provide a low degree of vulnerability for a force such as this, in all likelihood the Sea Basing operation would not be undertaken. To validate these conclusions and to quantify the issues, a vulnerability study is recommended. The committee identified four levels of implementation of Sea Basing capability that could be pursued in the context of the Naval Operating Concept: Level One—reinforcement and/or benign operations. Level One is the least-expensive and lowest capability level. It represents an improvement over current capability and would entail the following: the reinforcement of an ongoing Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG)/Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) operation by a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) through use of the prepositioning of 7   These commerical standards include those of the American Bureau of Shipping, the Maritime Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

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Sea Basing: Ensuring Joint Force Access from the Sea ships for providing equipment and sustainment support and strategic airlift for personnel delivery. The development of Sea Basing capabilities such as selective off-load, at-sea assembly, and improved delivery and transfer systems would greatly enhance the existing capability. Level Two—MEB Ship-to-Objective Maneuver (STOM). The Level Two option would enable the combatant commander to employ an MEB (or potentially a larger Marine Corps force) tactically from the sea. In addition to the new capabilities outlined above, this level of implementation would require a great deal of aviation and C3 capability in Navy prepositioning ships. Level Three—joint force enabler. Level Three would add initial joint capabilities and interfaces to the capabilities of the first two levels. For example, it would provide off-load and sustainment support of the Army Regional Flotilla prepositioning ships, use as a temporary Afloat Forward Staging Base for the Army, Special Operations Forces support and employment, C3 for a Joint Task Force commander, port and airfield opening capability, and planning and coordination for joint fires. At Level Three, the sea base would constitute a naval capability. Level Four—full joint integration. The Level Four capability would permit the tactical employment and sustainment of a wide range of joint forces from the sea base (e.g., Stryker Brigade, Air Assault Brigade, Future Combat System units of action, Army light brigades, Air Force fighter and heavy-lift logistics aircraft squadrons, and integrated joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance). In this configuration, the sea base would be a fully joint rather than a naval capability. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION The committee concludes that Level Four—that is, full joint integration—as described above, is the optimum solution for Sea Basing implementation and recommends that it be adopted as a specific end state. Sea Basing is an inherently joint capability, and it should therefore be planned and designed as such. The committee further concludes that the four levels identified above are distinctly different configurations, and Level One, for example, is not simply a lesser version of Level Three. The Navy needs to define the desired end state and to understand that a spiral development process will not easily progress from Level One to Level Three or Four. Regardless of the level of Sea Base capability ultimately selected, several programs are common and critical to all implementation levels and should be emphasized. Discussed at length in Chapters 2 through 4, these programs are as follows:

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Sea Basing: Ensuring Joint Force Access from the Sea High-speed connector development, including the study of a self-deploying, beachable, high-speed connector;8 Landing craft air cushion X development; Heavy-lift, intratheater airlift9 (the CH-53X helicopter is the current program of record, but the real requirement is for a heavy-lift (greater than 20 tons) intratheater air transport);10 Sea State 4 operating capability; Strike-up/strike-down system;11 and Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) ship design. The Department of the Navy widely describes Sea Basing as transformational. The committee agrees with this characterization—if implemented at Level Four as described above, it will enable new alternatives and fundamental change in the way that the Services and the combatant commanders operate. It will have a profound effect on force structure, logistics, training, and infrastructure. The achievement of this capability will necessarily impact a large number of programs and will require significant R&D as well as affecting doctrine, training, and other areas. It clearly requires a management approach that emphasizes systems engineering. The current situation, with concept development, R&D, war gaming, and other activities all apparently proceeding independently (in some cases redundantly and in other cases divergently) will not yield the capabilities envisioned for the Sea Basing levels discussed in the preceding section. Recommendation: A Joint Sea Base Planning Office—directed by a Navy flag officer or a Marine Corps general officer—should be established. The director of this office should report to an appropriate official in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The Joint Sea Base Planning Office should be staffed with representatives from the four Services, Special Operations Command, and U.S. Transporta- 8   These applications are of critical importance to the U.S. Army as well as for Sea Basing, and their ability to support the Army Regional Flotilla should be a threshold requirement. 9   The lengthy assembly/disassembly time of the CH-53E is due to interoperability limitations with current strategic lift platforms and is a significant pacing factor in meeting required deployment time lines. As currently envisioned, the CH-53X program accepts these times and physical limitations as givens. It seems prudent for the CH-53X program to state a requirement for eliminating or for designing-in more efficient or reduced assembly/disassembly times. 10   Three U.S. military Services (the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps) have similar requirements for the capability to airlift 20 to 23 tons over a 200 to 300 mile radius, originating from existing or planned MPF ships. A joint program office could profitably engage this challenge and might come up with a better solution than a rebuilt CH-53. 11   Asset-visibility and inventory-control systems need to be developed and fielded for efficient movement, handling, and storage of military items. Also, other design and engineering issues need to be addressed and solved in order to produce a practical, reliable, shipboard cargo-handling system that will achieve the cargo flow volumes and rates that will be required on the sea base.

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Sea Basing: Ensuring Joint Force Access from the Sea tion Command. These representatives should be at the O-6 level or above. This office should be responsible for carrying out the necessary studies for the design and operation of the sea base and the airborne and seaborne connectors and for guiding the experimentation with one or more testbeds, as needed. At some appropriate stage of planning, as the studies and experimentation and related Service programs mature, this office could grow into a Joint Program Office for the Sea Base. The experience of the Services in developing, coordinating, and managing the immensely complicated Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is offered as a model for the Joint Sea Base Planning Office. The JSF model is of interest owing to its success in involving all of the Services working through design and budget issues and actually beginning production runs.