Fundamental Crosscutting Issues
This chapter collects the results of the committee’s assessment of five major elements of the nation’s mine warfare programs and posture that transcend the specific focus of Chapters 3 through 5 on mining, offshore countermine warfare, and inshore countermine warfare, respectively:
Mine warfare as a major naval warfare area,
Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance,
The dedicated mine counter-measures forces,
Vulnerability reduction, and
Joint interests and integrated concepts of operations.
MINE WARFARE AS A MAJOR NAVAL WARFARE AREA
The increasingly recognized importance of mines as a growing threat to the U.S. fleet and its freedom of maneuver, as well as to freedom of the seas generally, has fueled the movement to place mine warfare in the mainstream of naval force planning and operations. The importance of the mine threat is reinforced by the strategic orientation of the naval forces—and U.S. joint forces generally—to expeditionary warfare along the littorals, where battle groups, amphibious forces, and the seaborne logistic support for all U.S. forces overseas will have to operate and where sea mines are most likely to be employed by hostile forces to try to impede U.S. access (see Figures 2.1 through 2.4).
The United States has used sea mines as an instrument of diplomacy, to shape the naval battlespace, and to extend naval power into areas the fleet could not immediately guard on several occasions in recent decades. In the opinion of
the committee, such U.S. use of sea mines should become more prevalent in the future as the potential for technologically advanced minefield surveillance and remote-control techniques could enable effective U.S. use of sea mines while adhering to international conventions in situations short of war.
All of these developments mean that mine warfare has risen to a level of significance that necessitates its designation as a major warfare area, similar in importance to air warfare, surface warfare, and submarine warfare. This requires that current approaches to planning, preparing, and organizing the naval forces be modified in several ways. Naval forces’ exercises and the facilities for exercises and for developing new concepts of operation under mine warfare conditions must be enhanced. Personnel education, training, and career development require similar attention. Until naval personnel are fully qualified and knowledgeable in the mine warfare area, and are able to advance their careers from such an orientation, there will be little hope of raising mine warfare into the mainstream. And appropriate adjustments must be made in the budget for mine warfare to more fully meet the needs described in this report. It is important to note that the actions that need to be taken to elevate the importance of mine warfare would not lead to a significant growth of naval force structure, but rather to increased mine warfare capabilities within the force structure that is currently planned or one that emerges from current defense reviews.
Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps should take the steps needed to establish mine warfare as a major naval warfare area. Such an elevation in warfare status will require that the Department of the Navy (a) coordinate and improve the focus of its “mainstreaming” initiatives; (b) upgrade mine warfare-related readiness reporting, certification, training and education, and officer career planning; and (c) program, budget, and execute accordingly. Continual follow-up by these officials will be necessary to ensure implementation.
The major activities that need to be addressed if this recommendation is to be fully implemented are discussed below. While each of these major activities is addressed separately, the committee believes that they are sufficiently interrelated that substantial progress will be needed in each area if the collective goal is to be achieved.
The Navy Fleet Engagement Strategy
In the fall of 1998 the Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition (ASN (RDA)) tasked responsible commands to develop plans of action and milestones (POA&M) to support the four Fleet Engagement Strategy pillars—doctrine and tactics, education and training, industry and technology, and public affairs— with these plans due in March 1999. The committee learned from briefings and
reports commissioned by the Navy that as of December 1999, only about half of the plans had been developed and submitted to the Director, Expeditionary Warfare (N75), as designated in the task letters.1 To date, some additional progress has been made in each of these areas. Navy staff briefed this committee on shortfalls in the Fleet Engagement Strategy and a draft implementation plan intended to both address the shortfalls and define the schedule and the hierarchy of responsibility and accountability for “mainstreaming” mine warfare.2
Mainstreaming mine warfare and adding organic MCM capabilities to the fleet is a significant and complex undertaking, critical to the ability of deployed carrier battle groups (CVBGs) and amphibious ready groups (ARGs) to attain and maintain sea battlespace dominance. Primary Navy emphasis is on phase five of countermine warfare (see Chapter 1), MCM, or countering mines after they have been put into the water. However, the roles intended for the dedicated and future organic MCM systems in the expected types of operations remain to be fully defined as experience is gained with organic MCM capabilities.
The proposed hierarchy relies on the existing Navy chain of command and places ultimate responsibility and accountability with the senior Navy leadership, specifically the VCNO. The ASN (RDA) would provide the linkage to the Secretariat and associated program executive offices. The Director, Expeditionary Warfare (N75) would serve as the executive agent for the VCNO, addressing day-to-day issues and monitoring all facets related to mainstreaming mine warfare and facilitating the transition to organic MCM capabilities.
Three key architects would serve the VCNO, including the following:
A capabilities architect (Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT) components to include the Commander, Second Fleet, supported by the other fleet CINCs and the fleet marine forces),
A requirements architect (N75, supported by the other OPNAV codes and Headquarters, Marine Corps), and
An acquisition architect (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mine and Undersea Warfare, supported by other associated deputy assistant secretaries and program offices).
Although the year 2000 target dates have now all passed unmet, the Navy remains committed to mainstreaming mine warfare and to transitioning organic MCM capabilities to an initial CVBG by 2005.
While some progress has been made toward tasks required to implement the Fleet Engagement Strategy, a comprehensive implementation plan has not yet been endorsed by the senior Navy leadership. To be successful, mainstreaming initiatives need to address issues ranging from command structure implications to training and education at both the schoolhouse and waterfront levels. Sustained high-level support is critical for the major cultural changes required for successful, fleet-wide mainstreaming of mine warfare.
Recommendation: The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the senior Navy leadership should expeditiously establish an implementation plan that assigns responsibility and accountability to the appropriate officials to bring to fruition the mainstreaming of mine warfare, in particular the introduction of organic mine countermeasures capabilities. Such a plan should include the seven key elements— doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, people, and facilities—detailed below.
Incorporating organic MCM capabilities into the fleet and mainstreaming mine warfare are integrally related. They succeed or fail together. Seven key elements are essential to this success or failure:
Doctrine. Development of countermine warfare (CMW) CONOPS, tactics, and doctrine specifically defining the roles of organic and dedicated MCM relative to joint and naval missions.
Organization. Development of an overall command structure that addresses the role of the mine warfare commander, CVBG and ARG staff billets, and a planned transition from current mine warfare coordinator to mine warfare commander.
Training. Implementation of the needed schoolhouse (operations, intelligence, and Judge Advocate General (JAG)) and fleet training from the system level to the CVBG and ARG interdeployment training cycle (IDTC).
Materiel. Implementation of the maintenance and logistics support plans needed for the transition of organic MCM systems to the fleet.
Leadership and education. Establishment of an education program for developing naval leadership commitment to well-equipped and well-trained mine warfare forces, as well as to the key role of future organic MCM systems.
People. Development of the necessary manning concepts for incorporating future organic MCM systems on multipurpose fleet units (surface combatants, submarines, aircraft), and establishment of attractive career paths for officers in the mine warfare community.
- Facilities. Development of various mine warfare-related support facilities to enhance tactical development, training and education, maintenance, logistics, and other facets of mine warfare.
As part of the implementation plan the CNO should assign to one of the fleet
CINCs (perhaps the Commander, Second Fleet, representing CINCLANTFLT) the responsibility and accountability for addressing the waterfront issues for mainstreaming mine warfare and transitioning the battle groups to organic MCM capabilities.
Adequate CVBG and ARG Expertise
Independent of the transition to new organic MCM capabilities, deploying CVBGs and ARGs need to prepare for the likely mine threat by leveraging existing countermine warfare capabilities. For example, the mission areas required for CVBG and ARG certification prior to deployment already formally include the mine warfare mission area. Deploying force command structures currently include a mine warfare coordinator with the CVBG only, rather than a mine warfare commander for the CVBG or the ARG. Effective execution of countermine warfare phases one through four—intelligence collection and surveillance, notification of imminent mining, interdiction, and post-interdiction intelligence evaluation and dissemination—as detailed in Chapter 4, involves not only the mine warfare commander, but also the other warfare commanders (i.e., those responsible for interdiction and for the execution of amphibious operations), the intelligence officer and intelligence support infrastructure, and the JAG staff to facilitate appropriate rules of engagement (ROE).
Currently, specific individual schoolhouse training and prior experience requirements do not include mine warfare, resulting in only limited mine warfare awareness and expertise embedded in CVBGs and ARGs. Each of these combat forces face potentially varied countermine warfare scenarios, particularly when operating apart, with the ARG typically in shallower, closer-to-shore waters than the CVBG units. Although current CVBGs and ARGs deploy with capabilities to plan and execute the first four phases of countermine warfare, the IDTC provides an existing process for expanding these capabilities as part of the mainstreaming initiatives.3
The committee notes that the Commander, Second Fleet, has taken meaningful steps toward improving the mine warfare components and assessments in the routine predeployment joint task force exercises and the at-sea certification test for deploying CVBGs and ARGs. Evidence to date indicates that at least sporadic initiatives are under way to improve training. The command structure implications are addressed in the draft concept of operations (CONOPS), which has yet to be implemented, with the exception of Fleet Battle Experiment HOTEL. A more focused effort is required to raise the awareness and expertise of naval personnel fleetwide.
It would be useful if the CNO assigned a numbered fleet commander the responsibility to continue and broaden initiatives toward mainstreaming and, combining efforts with the opposite fleet, to increase awareness of and expertise about mine warfare in CVBGs and ARGs deploying worldwide.
Fleet CINCs should hold CVBGs and ARGs more strictly accountable for fulfilling the already existing mine warfare mission requirements comparably with other warfare areas. All training establishments should follow suit by better supporting the training requirements as defined by the fleet CINCs.
Predeployment Training, Fleet Exercises, and Readiness Reporting
Realistic scenarios for fleet training exercises are fundamental to instilling proper understanding of the entire mine warfare area. Proper training is as important for senior commanders and staffs as for individual ships or aircraft or personnel. Additionally, the importance of mine warfare to fleet operations means that mine warfare/MCM readiness must be a part of fleet readiness reporting, to the same extent as readiness to engage opposing missile, air, and submarine forces. Defense against mines should become a major element of the Navy’s force protection initiative.
Historically, fleet exercises have tended to ignore the effects of mines on an operation: Time lines have been artificially shrunk to overcome the delays caused when mines are encountered, a unit encountering a mine has been “reconstituted” almost immediately, or the encount itself has been ignored completely. These procedures have tended to foster the idea, even if only subliminally, that mine damage is either imaginary or that it can be ignored as a real factor in operating the force.
To ensure development of mine warfare expertise in all participants in a fleet exercise, the likely consequences of an encounter with a mine have to be played out at least to the same degree that encounters with air or submarine attackers are accounted for. This will require a more versatile exercise mine system and procedures such as adjudication of the interaction by on-scene referees, removal of the unit from the exercise, rescue, medical evacuation of the “casualties,” and salvage of the damaged ship. The argument that scarce training time will be diverted is perhaps specious, since the training imparted by an artificial response to a mine incident is suspect at best and can be considered to be counter-productive in the long run.
Similarly, readiness to conduct mine warfare must be reported as part of overall unit readiness, especially in view of the growing likelihood of mine encounters in littoral waters and in expeditionary operations. As the new organic MCM systems are introduced into the fleet, MCM readiness associated with those systems should become reportable in the ship’s operational readiness training status (SORTS) report by each ship and aircraft squadron. Tactical aircraft squadrons and submarines that have mine delivery capabilities should routinely
report their readiness to conduct such missions in SORTS. As the new mission capability assessment system (MCAS) is introduced, battle group commanders should begin reporting the collective readiness of their units to conduct mine warfare operations.
The mine warfare readiness and effectiveness measurement (MIREM) program (modeled after the SHAREM program for antisubmarine warfare (ASW)) has been under way for several years. The primary emphasis to date has been on evaluating the performance of dedicated MCM forces. The performance of existing organic MCM capabilities on current warships (surface combatants, submarines), such as their on-board high-frequency sonars and their signature control capabilities, have largely not been evaluated as part of MIREM exercises to date.
The committee concluded, based on examination of all these needs, that the mine warfare portions of fleet and subunit exercises and readiness reporting are not given the status of other warfare areas. Their relegation instead to secondary and unrealistic auxiliary positions fosters an inappropriate and inaccurate concept of the roles and importance of mine warfare in maritime operations among the officer corps from their most junior years.
Recommendation: The Department of the Navy should establish broad first-order force-protection requirements for naval units that will ensure adequate levels of countermine warfare capability, both active and passive.
Recommendation: Naval component and other operational commanders should enhance realism in predeployment training, fleet maneuvers, and amphibious warfare exercises by routinely including mine threats, in addition to air and submarine threats, in such exercises and by assigning realistic consequences to poorly planned and executed countermine warfare operations.
Recommendation: The CNO should have the MIREM program examined and upgraded, including increased emphasis on warship self-protection measures and emerging organic MCM systems.
Recommendation: The CNO and the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) should ensure that the routine interdeployment training cycle for fleet battle groups and amphibious ready groups entails the same level of rigor in certifying capabilities for mine warfare and in reporting readiness, in both the ship’s operational readiness training status (SORTS) report and the mission capability assessment system (MCAS),4 as is now the practice for the other major warfare areas. Readiness should include the routine measurement of the acoustic and magnetic signatures of applicable ships.
Mine Warfare Battle Laboratory
The committee concluded that there is an urgent need for a mine warfare battle laboratory (1) as an essential adjunct to the ongoing effort to bring mine warfare into the mainstream of naval force planning and (2) to provide a facility for exploration of fleet mine warfare-related operational concepts and capabilities, to assess fleet mine warfare operational issues and doctrine, and, in war games and other exercises, to provide the means whereby mine warfare can be practiced realistically, accurately, and in real time by the war game or exercise participants.
Such a facility ideally must be a true extension of the fleet and should be sponsored, tasked, and controlled by a senior fleet operational entity. While the Navy’s R&D centers and laboratories must naturally be involved with and supportive of the technical side of the battle laboratory, the primary sponsor and customer of the laboratory must be the operational side of the Navy. It is the consensus of the committee that the mine warfare battle laboratory should report to the numbered fleet commander(s) and should be located in, or be accessible to, a fleet concentration center such that it is visible, used, and useful to the fleet operators, directly or indirectly. A location in Ingleside, Texas, while not in geographic proximity to fleet centers, could be feasible, if funding and manpower resources are made available to clearly support robustly linking the laboratory with other fleet and R&D sites. Also, to ensure adequate and appropriate attention to inshore countermine warfare, the Marine Corps would have to be a participant in battle laboratory activities, along with amphibious force commanders.
Recommendation: The CNO and the CMC together should establish a mine warfare battle laboratory under the auspices of the numbered fleet commander(s) and provide the resources necessary to ensure its effective utilization.
Individual Education, Training, and Career Development
For mainstreaming of mine warfare to be fully effective, officers must perceive expertise in mine warfare as career enhancing. To this end a desirable promotion path is needed for officers who have devoted career time to gaining expertise in mine and countermine warfare. At present such paths exists only to the 0–6 level, and only in the MH-53 airborne MCM and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD)/very shallow water (VSW) detachment communities. Such viable career paths also need to be established in the surface warfare and MH-60 helicopter communities. Selection of flag officers should increasingly value mine warfare knowledge and experience, which should become an explicit prerequisite for such key operational commands as Commander, Mine Warfare Command. Currently, such experience tends to be discounted, and there is a well-justified belief among many officers that assignment to a mine warfare post detracts from
promotion prospects. If attention to mine warfare is increased by making it a warfare area on a par with other warfare areas, this “second class” status for mine warfare officers is likely to disappear, but the issue needs continuing command attention at the highest levels of the Navy and the Navy Department until the change is securely in effect. The Navy has reportedly recently made a step in this direction by deciding to assign some of its most promising junior officers to command each of the 26 small mine-hunting and mines weeping ships.5 The extent to which the future assignments of these outstanding officers to additional tours in mine warfare billets would be considered appropriate has not been discussed with the committee.
Another facet of the Navy’s mine warfare mainstreaming initiative also needs to be strengthened. There should be clear educational curriculum requirements for mine warfare disciplines, just as there are for naval surface, air, and undersea warfare, as well as much greater emphasis on mine warfare in officers’ professional schools. Currently, for example, instruction in mine warfare history, technology, and operations constitutes a very minor part of the curriculum in the Naval Academy and the Naval War College, and it is given but 20 percent of the time that is given to antisubmarine warfare in surface warfare school. Aviation MCM training relies on on-the-job training. The need to incorporate mine warfare into the mainstream of naval force training and education is noted above, and the current state of inadequate attention to the necessary personnel planning and training for integration of the organic MCM systems into the fleet is noted in Chapter 4 in connection with offshore countermine warfare.
Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy, the CNO, and the CMC should ensure that the growing importance of mine warfare is emphasized in all appropriate Navy and Marine Corps formal education curricula and in officer career development practices. These curricula and career development criteria should place mine warfare expertise on a par with the emphasis given to air warfare, surface warfare, and submarine warfare.
Mine Warfare Budgets
The committee attempted a detailed examination of the budget devoted to mine warfare, in comparison with that devoted to other warfare areas. Assembling the budget for a warfare area is a notoriously difficult task, since it requires allocating the costs of large, multimission systems, such as Navy ships, into components devoted to each of the warfare areas. This, in turn, requires ascer-
taining the multiyear costs of several levels of subsystems and component equipment, and making judgments as to their specific applicability, by warfare area. Cost research to this level of detail did not prove possible within the resources available to the committee, even with the excellent support that the Navy furnished for the committee’s deliberations.
However, the results of the committee’s explorations in this area were sufficient to indicate that (1) the total Navy budget for sea mine warfare is small relative to that for air and missile defense, and (2) the budget for mines and mining, as part of that, is trivially small compared with that for strike warfare weapons (a few million dollars compared with several billion over the future year defense program (FYDP)), and may soon drop to zero. The budget that the Navy identifies with mine warfare, approximately $4.6 billion over the next 7 fiscal years, is devoted almost entirely to countermine warfare. Roughly one-third of the countermine warfare budget is for operations and maintenance (O&M) of the existing fleet of dedicated mine warfare forces, and another third is for ongoing development of the seven organic MCM systems described in Chapter 4 of this report. This leaves a little over $1.5 billion over the 5-year FYDP period to meet all the other needs for mine warfare described in detail in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of this report.
As indicated in those chapters, there are many unfunded or underfunded needs in the mine warfare area. These deficiencies include, to reiterate but a few major examples:
No funding to acquire a very shallow water and assault breaching system to support amphibious landings in this decade;
Lack of funding to remedy important equipment shortfalls on the MCM and MHC classes of MCM ships;
Inadequate funding for technologies (including advanced signal processing techniques) to find buried mines, and to support the objective of removing people and other mammals from the minefields—e.g., bottom-penetrating sonars, electric field sensors, and synthetic aperture sonars;
Inadequate funding to maintain and verify the reduction of ship magnetic and acoustic signatures;
Insufficient funds to populate the databases for the mine warfare environmental decision aids library (MEDAL), information that is essential for mine hunting and clearance in littoral waters and in ports important to U.S. and allied shipping;
Lack of funding for necessary upgrades to the systems on the mine warfare command ship Inchon to replicate and extend such a capability to fully and effectively meet the needs of a two-ocean navy;
Phasing out of the MH-53 helicopter needed for heavy-duty mines weeping because funds are not available, rather than for technical and operational reasons;
Lack of funded preplanned product improvement programs for the organic MCM systems now being developed and soon to be entered into service;
Disappearing funds for mines and mining capability;
Inadequate funding to adequately exploit foreign mines as needed to design effective countermeasures; and
Restriction of organic MCM to carrier battle group ships, leaving even new amphibious ships such as the LPD-17 with no active defenses against mines.
Shortfalls such as these must be funded if the Navy is to meet all of its mining and countermine warfare responsibilities in the face of the shrinking Navy and the growing mine warfare threat. The committee’s explorations suggest a serious imbalance in the allocation of funding among the various warfare areas. If mine warfare is to become a partner comparable in importance with air, surface ship, and submarine warfare in the naval forces’ panoply of systems to enable expeditionary warfare, some redress of this imbalance is needed.
The committee did not have the budget analysis resources to make credible, detailed estimates of how much additional funding would be needed. However, it is estimated very roughly that the most important unfunded needs might be met by approximately doubling the budget remaining after the O&M funding for the dedicated forces and the organic system developments are accounted for over that period—in the neighborhood of an additional $1.5 billion over the next 5 years— about a 30 percent increase in annual spending on mine warfare. A detailed budget plan would show the extent to which part of this increase, or further funding beyond it, would be needed to meet the requirement for continuation or expansion of the mine countermeasures command ship concept (the mine control ship (MCS)-12, Inchon and/or its replacement(s)) discussed below in this chapter. Most such MCS funding would be needed later in, and beyond, the FYDP period.
The committee could not identify large amounts of mine warfare money that appeared to be allocated inappropriately or was being spent wastefully, so that shifting funds within the mine warfare complex of systems cannot solve the problem of serious shortfalls. It therefore appears to the committee that the Navy will have to allocate additional funds to mine warfare from other areas in the Navy budget by deferring some expenditures intended to meet threats that are less imminent.
Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy, the CNO, and the CMC should increase the priority of funding for mine warfare relative to other warfare areas. The Secretary of the Navy and the CNO should review the allocation of funds by warfare area in the future year defense program (FYDP), with a view to finding ways to increase funding in the mine warfare area to meet the urgent mining and countermine warfare program needs identified in this report.
INTELLIGENCE, SURVEILLANCE, AND RECONNAISSANCE
Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) activity is at the heart of mine warfare. Notwithstanding its importance, ISR for maritime mining and countermine warfare is not in good order, either in the fleet or elsewhere in the defense establishment. Improvement in ISR for mine warfare can have a greater impact on naval forces mine warfare capability than any other step that might be taken. This does not necessarily mean that good ISR can make the avoidance of minefields always feasible, although that might be a desirable ultimate goal. It does mean that good ISR can make mine warfare far more efficient and timely than it can be if the current weak approach to mine warfare-related ISR continues. This section discusses ISR in support of offensive mining and mine countermeasure interdiction, and for defensive MCM in threat determination, environmental characterization, and integration with the naval C4ISR system, and includes an example of the use of ISR in planning and executing a Marine Corps amphibious landing operation.
With regard to mining, ISR is needed to define target areas for laying maritime minefields by observing opposition activity and maneuver, and for monitoring the condition of the minefields and managing them—e.g., activating and deactivating mines to interdict belligerent but not neutral or friendly traffic. It is needed to determine when it is necessary to replenish minefields and which parts to replenish based on observed opponents’ MCM and mine hits on opponents’ ships. It is needed to observe and analyze the minefields’ effects on opponents’ war-making capacity and capability, and to observe and counter opponents’ countermine activity.
The technical characteristics and likely operational employment patterns of potentially hostile mines must be determined through intelligence in order for the United States to be able to field countermeasures that can neutralize the mines efficiently and effectively without casualties to U.S. and friendly forces. Exploitation of foreign mines has lagged; only 10 percent of foreign mine models have been analyzed, and tactics can be fully developed only against exploited mines. As mine technologies evolve to microprocessor settings and logic mechanisms, traditional means for exploitation need to evolve to enable microprocessor exploitation.
Beyond exploitation of foreign mines, ISR is needed to observe mine acquisition and stockpiling activity, the removal of mines from storage, and the transport of mines to areas intended to be mined so that military forces can interdict such mine stockpiling, transporting, and mine-laying activity whenever possible after the onset of hostilities. If interdiction is not possible (e.g., for ROE-related reasons), then ISR is needed to locate and define the boundaries of minefields and the distribution of mines within them by observation of mining activity, and to identify areas most likely to be free of mines. This, in turn, enables friendly forces either to avoid hostile minefields or to effectively concentrate countermine
warfare assets to facilitate hunting, sweeping, or other means of neutralizing the mines when established minefields must be penetrated. To this end, ISR is needed to monitor and determine the success of friendly mine-hunting and minesweeping activities, to help meet and counter hostile interference with countermine activity, and to help guard against reseeding of minefields.
The ISR task from the beginning of a campaign through preparation for a Marine Corps landing is illustrated in Figure 2.5. It will be noted that although many of the ISR-related systems are within the naval forces, there are also many essential capabilities that come through joint forces, other Services’ force components, joint task force (JTF) and CINC headquarters, and national agencies, and such systems are therefore an essential part of the overall ISR system for mine warfare.
Although mine warfare-related activity may be observed by overhead assets as other information is sought, the data will not routinely be extracted and sent to the operating forces unless the collection agencies are explicitly tasked for the purpose. Such tasking has not been done regularly. Pre-landing surveillance to select littoral penetration zones and sites depends on national surveillance assets that combine to form a littoral surveillance system (LSS) (see Appendix A) that is currently being evaluated by the Navy. However, provision of information on mine warfare activity that has been derived from national collection systems has been more in the nature of a demonstration rather than a result of routine tasking. Clandestine reconnaissance assets in the fleet can be cued by the surveillance data received. ONR’s ongoing assessment of the concept of MCM in support of STOM (see Appendix A) with the development of small unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) and sensors through the MCM future naval capability (FNC), is making excellent progress for clandestine reconnaissance inside the 40-ft lane. Unmanned undersea vehicles that have a variety of capabilities and are affordable will play an important role in future MCM.
A new littoral remote sensing (LRS) capability developed by ONR that fuses data from several sources enables estimates of beach and Marine landing zone conditions and detection of near-surface mines, minelike objects, and obstacles, and it can transmit such information to the fleet. However, the full potential and capabilities of both the LSS and the LRS are not widely known in the operating forces.
MCM ships and fleet combat ships do not routinely have on board the environmental data needed for efficient MCM operations, from simple avoidance to active mine hunting and mines weeping. Knowledge of environmental conditions is essential both for mining and for countermine warfare. The needed parameters include hydrographic conditions so that estimates can be made of sound propagation, tide and wave movements, and the composition, hardness, and roughness of the ocean bottom and beaches where mines are laid. Knowledge of water movement through mined areas and detailed knowledge of objects on the bottom that might look like mines to detection instruments but are not mines (nonmine,
minelike bottom objects (NOMBOs)) are also needed. Indeed, accurate geolocation of bottom objects and features at the highest affordably achievable resolution is of greatest interest. The ability to anchor or bury mines on the bottom and the speed and effectiveness of mine hunting and mine neutralization activity all depend on such prior knowledge of the environment. Today, such knowledge is scant for areas where U.S. Navy mining or countermine activity may be needed: along the littorals in potential contingency areas and in U.S. homeland, allied, or critical base area ports and waterways that may be mined by terrorists in peacetime or by opposition forces in wartime.
Environmental data collection means not only the overt and clandestine collection in areas of immediate operational interest during a contingency, but also the retention, storage, and cataloguing of data obtained by mine-hunting sonars during exercises and routine operations. Obviously, it is also necessary to repeat data gathering in areas of special interest since bottom conditions and especially the kinds and distribution of NOMBOs can be expected to change over relatively short time scales in some areas. But the time-series observations that are needed to establish appropriate resurvey rates in key areas have yet to be made. Accumulation of environmental data over the years will give some sense of the density and rates of change of bottom features and NOMBOs, and will therefore greatly assist detection of change and enhance the rate of mine hunting.
The Navy has developed a viable system for cataloguing key environmental data and promulgating the database to operating forces. This mine warfare data access system now also provides related mission-planning functions based on the environmental data it has stored for areas of interest in the mine warfare environmental decision aids library (MEDAL). However, the level of effort for populating this mine-environment data system has been kept low by a lack of funding and a lack of collection priority, so that with some limited exceptions the database is essentially empty. The U.S. Marine Corps is developing an INTELINK contingency planning tool that will gather baseline infrastructure data from various databases and “preposition” the intelligence for each Marine expeditionary force (MEF) area of responsibility (see Appendix A). This system along with MEDAL has the potential for providing situational awareness quickly for power projection missions of the future.
If mine warfare is to become a warfare area comparable with air, surface, and undersea warfare, all the information collection discussed above must be considered part of the naval forces’ expansion of their fundamental design and operational techniques into the network-centric warfare mode.6 Mine warfare cannot be treated as a merely collateral responsibility for the naval and joint forces’ command, control, communication, computing, intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance (C4ISR) system—it must be made into an intrinsic part of that system.
Additional details about current and future mine warfare ISR capabilities and needs are given in subsequent chapters of this report. Although the details presented there are in general pertinent to the main subjects of the chapters, the reader will understand that ISR is a continuum, not easily partitioned among mining and offshore and inshore countermine warfare.
Recommendation: The Department of the Navy should place greater emphasis on the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance needed for mine warfare operations. Increased priority should be given to (a) technical exploitation of threat mines; (b) mine warfare indications and warning (I&W) tasking and dissemination at all command levels; (c) rules of engagement (ROE) to counter hostile miners; and (d) relevant environmental databases, such as the mine warfare environmental decision aids library (MEDAL) and the INTELINK contingency planning tool.
Recommendation: The CNO and the CMC, through their senior planning staffs, the fleet and fleet Marine force commands, and in joint forums, should take steps to ensure that the ISR needed for mining and countermine warfare is planned and integrated into all naval warfare activities as part of a total system that starts with ISR and ends with successful mine interdiction, mine countermeasures (including avoidance), and U.S. mining activities in critical waters along the littoral.
Recommendation: The CNO and the CMC should also take steps to ensure that theater Navy and Marine Corps operational commanders are trained in the tasking of the collection and analysis agencies so as to obtain and update mine information and mine warfare-related data and analysis, including the observation of potential opponents’ relevant activities, as a routine part of theater warfare planning and operations.
Recommendation: The CNO should ensure that the Oceanographer of the Navy places increased emphasis on mine warfare-related environmental data collection and entry of all existing data into the MEDAL system. Provision also should be made for the collection and automated transmittal of key environmental data from the applicable dedicated and organic MCM sensors as well as from national sensors. Up-to-date MEDAL databases should be “pushed” to ships en route to contingency operations. Additional and supporting steps would include:
Relaxing the current cap (or fence) on mine warfare R&D funding such that mine-hunting systems can be upgraded to use the most advanced currently available sensors (such as synthetic aperture sonars) and data processing capabilities to find and identify both exposed and buried mines and NOMBOs for rapid clearance of ship and landing craft channels;
Supporting and expanding the LRS capability and making its capabilities
more widely known to the fleet, with provision for fleet use of those capabilities during near-shore and amphibious operations, including exercises; and
Upgrading the Inchon and any follow-on or successor ships, and other seaborne MCM units (MCM and MHC ships) to a Link-16 capability so that they can communicate and transmit data among each other and with other Navy and joint force elements, as part of a battle force’s overall combat capability.
THE DEDICATED MINE COUNTERMEASURES FORCES
Close-to-shore and inshore mine clearance is needed in support of battle force and amphibious operations and for over-the-shore logistic support of joint forces; to clear approaches to ports through hostile or potentially hostile waters; and to clear mines—even mines that the United States or its allies may have deployed—from such waters after a conflict. These could be enormous tasks that require detailed clearance of mines from offshore operating areas, and of mines as well as obstacles from inshore and beach operating areas. Such tasks require specialized capabilities that in some cases will likely be well beyond the organic capabilities that will be routinely resident and available in the deployed battle groups. Indeed, amphibious task forces and over-the-shore logistic support ships, as well as ships moving to secured ports to support combat forces ashore, are more likely than the battle groups to have to operate in heavily mined waters. Timing of countermine warfare will be critical for both the amphibious forces and for ensuring access by the maritime prepositioning ships on which the Army, Air Force, and Marines rely for early combat capability in littoral theatres. Sustained follow-on logistic support by the TRANSCOM transport fleet, following any landing, will be crucial for successful operation of any forces ashore.
From another perspective, some of the new organic MCM systems (RMS and MH-60S capability) will add still another mission onto the DDG class of ships (together with antiair warfare, antisubmarine warfare, naval surface fire support, and potentially, theater ballistic missile defense (TBMD)) and SSNs (together with antisubmarine warfare, Special Operations Command support, and land attack). Under many operational conditions it will be necessary to prioritize these mission areas in ways that could place demands on ship operation that preclude carrying out the MCM missions at critical times. In addition, flight deck spots for MCM helicopters would compete for space with battle group combat aircraft on CVNs and with assault helicopters/tilt rotor aircraft and close air support vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL)/short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft on amphibious ships. If the footprint of the needed airborne MCM capability is too large for accommodation with the other necessary loading of battle group and ARG ships, then the deck space will have to be augmented.
From all the above considerations, it is clear that even after the organic MCM systems are integrated into the fleet, the mine warfare capability and capacity of the battle groups and the amphibious forces will logically need to be
augmented in some—perhaps many—important situations. A suitably sized, capable, dedicated MCM force, including MCM craft and ships, helicopters that provide more capability than the battle group’s MH-60S, and the current and, subsequently, a future version of an MCS appears likely to best meet this need.
Today, that dedicated force includes the Inchon (MCS-12), 14 MCM- and 12 MHC-class ships, and 20 MH-53E helicopters assigned to that force. As is indicated in the subsequent paragraphs, the MCS and airborne MCM components of the dedicated MCM force are aging and face serious maintenance and upgrade needs. Even more to the point, the composition and functionality of the dedicated MCM force will be in flux as the organic systems come into the fleet and more is learned from experience about the operational modes and the complementary of the tasks that each part of the total MCM system is found to be capable of undertaking.
Recommendation: The U.S. Navy should modernize its dedicated mine countermeasures (MCM) force. Elements of this modernization should include (a) sustaining and upgrading the current (legacy) elements of the dedicated MCM force; (b) replacing the aging Inchon (MCS-12) as soon as one or more suitable replacement(s) can be readied; and (c) planning and programming for follow-on dedicated MCM command and support capability and for follow-on dedicated surface, airborne, and undersea MCM capabilities.
Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy, the CNO, and the CMC should plan to retain and continually evolve the dedicated MCM force based on an integrated plan that is prepared, updated, and optimized as lessons from the combined dedicated and organic force operations are learned.
Mine Warfare Support Ship
The previous USS Inchon, an LPH-12 amphibious ship, was converted to be a mine control ship in 1996 and became the USS Inchon (MCS-12). The Inchon possesses a reasonably modern C4ISR suite to support mission planning and evaluation for the MCM commander. It can host, maintain, and logistically support an airborne MCM squadron of MH-53E helicopters; it can host and support explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) MCM detachments; and it can provide maintenance and support for up to four surface MCM ships. Using the Inchon in this way improves interoperability and sustainability among these diverse MCM assets.
The Inchon is a unique ship, homeported in Ingleside, Texas; it could take weeks for it to be made ready when called and to sail to an overseas contingency region. Additionally, given the advanced age of the ship, maintenance requirements have frequently reduced the ship’s availability and readiness. Finally, as is indicated in Chapter 5, neither the current dedicated MCM forces supported by
the Inchon nor the planned organic MCM systems provide a satisfactory capability for rapid mine clearance in very shallow water and from there through the surf zone and onto the beach.
The Inchon needs upgrading; it will soon be ready for replacement, and the capability it represents is needed for more rapid deployment to contingency areas than is currently possible with this unique ship. In addition, the capability of a ship like the Inchon or a future replacement should be extended to clearing inshore waters in support of amphibious assaults and over-the-shore logistics operations. Finally, a ship with expanded capabilities would be able to house and operate the remote mine-hunting system (RMS) that will be a key fleet organic MCM system, allowing it to augment a battle group’s organic capability when battle group ships may have other assignments.
Given the demonstrated utility of the USS Inchon (MCS-12) in supporting dedicated MCM operations and considering the widely dispersed theaters where mine countermeasures operations could be likely, having a force of at least two MCS units (at least one per major fleet) would reduce the risk of an untimely response.
The age and obsolescence of the Inchon suggest the need for a more modern, supportable platform in the near future to perform the MCS function. To facilitate current operations the ship should have a well deck, as well as a flight deck, to be able to launch RMS and VSW DET teams, mammal mine-hunting teams, and other systems that may be developed for inshore MCM.
For the longer term (i.e., beyond the lifetime of the above short-term Inchon replacement ships), the anticipated continuing need for larger-scale MCM capabilities than those planned for the battle groups, as well as the need for better support to inshore MCM, indicates a prospective need for more capable forward-deployed, dedicated MCM forces to avoid the long deployment times. However, as the organic capabilities are proven and, perhaps, some of the MCS command functions are absorbed into or duplicated in ships of the battle group, the relative roles and capability needs for the organic and dedicated forces, and therefore of the MCS, will change. As this experience is gained, it will facilitate the design of the optimum mix of capabilities in the future dedicated MCM forces, including the MCS, and the new generations of MCM and mine hunter, coastal (MHC) ships that will replace the current ones when their service lives end.
Also, any mine warfare support ship design that emerges from the above considerations for the dedicated MCM force must be able to operate regularly with an ARG and/or battle group deployed forward. It may be found that higher-speed hull forms currently under consideration by the Navy could be adapted to the MCS function, augmented for inshore MCM, as described in Chapter 5. Ideally, for this purpose, there would have to be three such ships on each coast— one in maintenance and shoreside training, one in exercises and training in home waters, and one deployed forward with the ARG or battle group in a contingency
area. At a minimum, three appear essential—one each with the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, and one in the maintenance cycle.
Recommendation: In the short term, the CNO should address the obsolescence issues related to the USS Inchon (MCS-12) by planning (and programming) to replace it with one or more ships to ensure a continuing MCM support capability. The near-term replacement ship should have a well deck, for mine countermeasures craft and sweep gear, as well as a flight deck, to provide increased flexibility and efficiency of operation, and to provide optimized support for MH-53E minesweeping operations and increased support for inshore MCM. Meeting this short-term need will most likely require the conversion of an existing hull suitable for this purpose.
Recommendation: The CNO should consider providing more than a single replacement ship, to permit faster assured crisis response by the dedicated MCM force in both oceans.
The CNO should, at the appropriate time, initiate long-term planning for a next-generation (beyond Inchon and its short-term replacement) mine warfare support ship able to carry out the MCS functions for the dedicated mine warfare force. Hull forms facilitating rapid deployment of the ships overseas and operation with battle groups and ARGs should be considered in this long-term planning.
Status of the Surface, Airborne, and Undersea MCM Components
The surface, air, and undersea MCM components of the dedicated mine warfare forces discussed in detail in Chapter 4 are not unique to offshore MCM. Because of their additional role in logistic support closer to shore and in inshore MCM in support of amphibious landings and their relationship to current and planned capabilities of the MCS discussed above, their essential capabilities and shortcomings are summarized here, leading to the future of the dedicated mine warfare forces. Detailed recommendations regarding these force components individually are contained in Chapter 4.
The reports of the MCM Flag Oversight Committee detail many maintenance and upgrade items needed for the MCM- and MHC-class ships.7 These vary from fixing cracked bedplates for on-board machinery or enhancing aft deck machinery reliability, to improving communications bandwidth and operator consoles, to enhancing some critical training activities. Some of these deficiencies have been carried forward without full resolution since 1998, or even in a few cases, 1995.
For a summary of such items, see the 13th Mine Countermeasures Flag Oversight Council Action Item Summary Resource Center Web site online at <http://www.cnsl.spear.navy.mil/mcmfoc/13th/viewall.asp>.
Beyond these problems, the current surface MCM ships will not start to reach the end of their service life until about 2022, so there is time available to properly plan the next generation of surface MCM ships and craft. Such plans will have to account for changes in the distribution of functionality as the organic and dedicated parts of the Navy’s total MCM capability gain experience in working together. This planning process should consider including innovative surface MCM craft such as the MHS-1 discussed in Chapter 5.
The MH-53E (Sea Dragon) constitutes the current airborne MCM component of the dedicated mine warfare force. It is a multipurpose helicopter employed for both vertical replenishment and airborne MCM. Two airborne MCM squadrons of 10 aircraft each are operating today, one based at Corpus Christi with the Mine Warfare Command and the other at Norfolk with the Atlantic Fleet. In the airborne MCM role, the MH-53E can tow a mine-hunting sonar or a variety of minesweeping and countermeasures gear, some of which (e.g., the large Mk 105 magnetic influence hydrofoil sled) cannot be towed by the MH-60S. The MH-53E has a greater than 4-hour mission capability (compared to less than 3 hours for the MH-60S) and can support greater than 25,000 lb of tow tension load (perhaps 4 times greater than the MH-60S). It is capable of rapidly deploying to a theater and achieving high area coverage rates (towing systems at speeds on the order of 25 knots). Overall, with suitable off-board support for its large sweep gear, the MH-53E can achieve a level of minesweeping effort much higher than that of the MH-60S with the planned organic airborne and surface influence sweep (OASIS) system.
However, infrastructure and support costs for land-based or large-deck-ship-based MH-53E operations are very high. Partly for this reason, there are currently no plans for extending the service life of the MH-53E helicopters beyond 2010; without an extension they will be phased out of the inventory at that time. If they were to be retained in service, many technical upgrades (described in detail in Chapter 4) would be necessary or desirable. Alternatively, it may be found more cost-effective to replace them with a follow-on helicopter having greater capability than the MH-60S, but possibly different and better performance in critical details that will be ascertained as the dedicated and organic force elements work together. In any case, this decision will be affected by the naval forces’ need for a continuing heavy-lift capability such as that embodied in the CH-53E helicopter and its follow-ons. The committee saw no evidence that an airborne MCM mission is being considered for the Navy’s next-generation heavy-lift support helicopter.
Such dedicated airborne MCM aircraft and their subsystems could be operated from a ship like the Inchon or a follow-on ship such as that discussed above (or from a temporary base on a CVN, if conditions warranted), and would provide a significant extension of mine-hunting and minesweeping capability when needed, beyond that which will be afforded by the organic systems.
Currently, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) diver systems and marine mammal systems (MMSs) play key undersea MCM roles in offshore mine war-
fare operations. EOD MCM attachments are employed to identify, neutralize, and exploit mines as well as to participate in post-interdiction intelligence collection. Exploitation of hostile sea mines recovered by divers supports responsive, effective, threat-oriented influence sweep operations.
These teams, with the equipment described in Chapter 4, also currently constitute the only means for hunting and clearing mines from shallow inshore waters and for hunting buried mines. Small unmanned undersea vehicle systems that are under development as part of the undersea MCM toolkit will eventually augment or replace the EOD divers for detection, reacquisition, localization, and neutralization of mines, particularly in the very shallow water regions. These and other system developments (AMNS, RAMICS) may also augment or replace divers in the mine neutralization role.
Currently MMSs have relatively low nominal area coverage rates compared to surface MCM and airborne MCM sonar systems, but their unique detection and discrimination capabilities make them indispensable, particularly against buried mines. Divers are limited by the number of deep dives they can perform over a given period and are more adversely affected by strong currents or other environmental factors.
The major issue with the EOD/VSW diver and MMS force is the very small number of existing and planned units, when compared with the potentially large demands for rapid clearance of an amphibious landing zone. Unless (or until) the Navy fields an alternative system such as UUVs that can find and clear mines more rapidly, reliance on the planned small EOD/VSW force structure will either limit the size of future assaults against potentially mined littorals, or require additional time to support large assaults.
Recommendation: The CNO should plan to retain and modernize a capable, dedicated MCM warfare force that would be available for those situations in which the MCM requirements exceed the available organic MCM capabilities of the deployed battle groups. Such a dedicated force should include:
Upgraded surface MCM ships and their potential future replacements as discussed in Chapter 4;
Dedicated MCM helicopters, including retention of the MH-53E helicopter in the dedicated airborne MCM force until it can be replaced by equipment that provides comparable capability, perhaps as a variant of the Navy’s next-generation heavy-lift logistic aircraft;8
Augmented EOD/VSW teams and systems designed to help or replace them;
Continued provision of support for deployed dedicated surface, airborne, and undersea MCM craft that is similar in concept to that provided by the Inchon (MCS-12), enhanced by the future evolution of the command and support capabilitiy embodied in the Inchon. Such support should be extended to inshore MCM.
Additional capabilities such as a mine-hunting craft like the MHS-1, as discussed in Chapter 5, and hull forms facilitating the rapid deployment of ships and their operation with battle and amphibious ready groups.
Ship and MCM Force Vulnerability Reduction
Particular attention reportedly is being given to the signatures of the new Zumwalt-class destroyer and the Virginia-class submarine, as it has been given to some current fleet combatants. Nevertheless, attention to the existing signature control measures to reduce susceptibility to diverse mine fuzes has been lagging for most existing ships.
For combatants to retain their designed signatures their equipment must be well maintained and their magnetic signatures measured periodically by Navy measurement and degaussing ranges. A half dozen measurement ranges are located at various CONUS bases plus Hawaii and Yokuska, Japan, with two portable degaussing and acoustic ranges located overseas (in Sasebo, Japan, and in Bahrain) for surface MCM units (MCM-, MHC-class ships); four additional portable ranges have been purchased at congressional direction, but they have not been activated. These signature maintenance facilities have not all been kept in good working condition.9 Additionally, for warships operating in mineable waters, it is generally recommended that they operate at low speeds (< 5 to 10 knots) to reduce their acoustic and pressure signatures. However, the mine-ship interaction profiles that show safe ship speeds are not aboard or current on many combatants.
In addition, the MCM ships and helicopters will be vulnerable to enemy action in the form of antiship and antiaircraft missiles as they perform their missions within range of such weapons. When deployed, MCM ships have no
self-defense capability; a combatant in company generally must protect them. Further, they have no self-contained “early warning” and no passive protection measures against threats other than mines incorporated in their designs. While they cannot be expected to be as fully outfitted as some other warships, they could incorporate a degree of infrared (IR) suppression, minimal radar threat early warning, and some basic chaff and IR/radar decoy capability, in the interest of passive defense to ease the task of defending the MCM ships close-in by an escort.
The airborne MCM helicopters, when operating in hostile waters, almost always without escort, are particularly susceptible to attack by aircraft, helicopters, small craft, and, in inshore areas, by shore-based units, any of which could fire machine guns or antiaircraft missiles at them. These vulnerabilities could be eased by incorporating an electronic support measures suite, chaff, and readily available IR countermeasure equipment. Finally, the EOD/VSW teams work in waters where wave action, breaking surf, and enemy surveillance from the beach can both place them in great danger and give warning of impending amphibious action. The VSW mine-hunting systems, including any UUVs that may replace the swimmers and mine-hunting mammals, must thus be kept as low-observable as possible.
More generally, beyond the threat of enemy shore defenses discussed above, there seems to be a general inattention, in planning MCM and, more broadly, in developing overall countermine warfare systems, to potential obvious, low-cost enemy countermeasures to many ongoing U.S. MCM programs. Such countermeasures could include the use of nets or cables against UUVs, LMRS, RMS, and other towed sensors; self-burying mines; and acoustic surveillance of mine fields for MCM activities. It will be easier to build resistance to such countermeasures into the systems at the initial design phase than after the threats become obvious when the systems are operational.
Recommendation: As part of its force protection planning, the Department of the Navy should take further measures to reduce its (and the nation’s) vulnerability to sea mine threats.
Recommendation: The CNO and fleet commanders should ensure continuing attention to and maintenance of design acoustic, magnetic, and underwater electric potential signatures of all hulls. Updated data, charts, and decision aids showing operating conditions to protect against influence mines should also be available and understood on all naval platforms. This effort would require routine signature measurement and assessments of individual hulls as well as an understanding of signature expectations for ships of a class, and correction of signatures that noticeably increase the risk from mines.
Recommendation: The CNO should ensure that MCM ships and helicopters that may have to operate in areas where they are threatened by attack from sea- or shore-based forces are provided with appropriate self-protection.
Recommendation: The CNO should ensure that requirements for the new countermine systems reflect the need to overcome obvious, low-cost enemy countermeasures well before system designs are finalized.
Homeland, Critical Base, and Logistic Sea Lane Countermine Defense
Planning for the defense of U.S. ports such as New York and San Francisco against mines was essentially stopped in 1993 as part of the post-Cold War reorientation of U.S. military planning. However, in view of subsequent experience with terrorist attacks and the resulting heightened concern and anticipation of terrorist threats against the United States coming from various quarters and in various guises, the possibility of a terrorist release of mines in a major U.S. port or waterway should not continue to be neglected. A credible “peacetime” mine threat could quickly close a U.S. port or waterway, not only because of ships’ immediate concerns about damage, but also because ships entering mined waters would not likely be insured.
Clearly, a credible terrorist mine threat against a U.S. port would create a major economic problem. Current capabilities and plans would have airborne MCM and EOD teams operational within 2 to 4 days10 in ports such as New York or San Francisco after notification of a credible mine threat. Surface MCM augmentation would likely be needed to reduce the clearance time line to an economically acceptable level and to achieve the necessary degree of certainty that the port is actually clear of mines. Deployment of surface MCM to New York or San Francisco from their homeport on the Gulf Coast would take at least 15 or 45 days, respectively; these times might be reduced if Canadian surface MCM resources were ready and could be called in. Actual mine hunting and clearance times could be extended appreciably by lack of current data on bottom and NOMBO conditions in U.S. ports.
In the future, the new organic MCM systems that will become available on each coast later in the decade could reduce the initial response time now needed to move an airborne and surface MCM capability to the threatened area from Corpus Christi. However, depending on the size and technical complexity of the threat, movement of such specialized forces may well be needed. The committee found little evidence of current planning for such “homeland defense” contingencies.
In addition to homeland defense, the dependence of U.S. forces on the maritime prepositioning force (MPF) to support most sizable U.S. military responses to contingencies in the littoral areas is well known. Covert sowing of mines in waters adjacent to the MPF anchoring area and in sea lanes it must transit,
possibly leading to loss of an MPF ship, could seriously interfere with an urgent contingency response. Finally, as noted above, continuing mine clearance operations to clear the way for and to protect the U.S. Transportation Command’s (TRANSCOM’s) follow-on logistic support shipping will be necessary while U.S. and allied forces operate in a contingency area. Such protection will be necessary near shore whether TRANSCOM uses ports or logistic-over-the-shore offloading. Responses to the committee’s inquiries suggested that these problems have received little attention in contingency planning.
In all these situations, countermine warfare efforts and capabilities of U.S. allies can be of great help. To take full advantage of this potential, U.S. and allied countermine warfare forces will have to be highly interoperable, requiring standardized countermine warfare data structures and data links. NATO channels and procedures offer major opportunities for such standardization.
Recommendation: The CNO should ensure that the fleet commanders-in-chief (CINCs) and theater naval component commanders extend countermine warfare contingency planning to include transit and operating areas, homeland defense, and critical base defense.
Recommendation: The CNO should take steps to ensure that TRANSCOM contingency planning for expeditionary operations includes clearing and defense of the sea lanes, ports, and logistics-over-the-shore landing areas needed by TRANSCOM to support expeditionary operations ashore.
Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy, the CNO, and the CMC should take steps, as appropriate, to ensure that allied countermine capabilities and forces are enlisted and incorporated in mine warfare contingency planning. These steps should include standardization of data structures and data links, using existing NATO channels and procedures for the purpose, and expanding such connections with other allies such as Japan and the Republic of (South) Korea.
Proliferation of Advanced Mines
As noted in Chapter 1, sea mines can be a “poor man’s naval force” capability that is being proliferated widely, including to nations and organizations hostile to the United States and its allies. The mines themselves range from World War I vintage to modern, self-burying, hard-to-find mines with sophisticated fuzing that is becoming increasingly difficult to counter.
Even the poorest countries and hostile organizations may be able to acquire highly advanced mines. Such mines are being sold by U.S. allies such as Italy and friendly Western nations such as Sweden, in addition to Russia and other members of the former Soviet Bloc. This proliferation is quite dangerous to U.S. and allied interests and is much less visible than the proliferation of ballistic missiles.
A serious, if not wholly successful, attempt to inhibit the proliferation of ballistic missiles is contained in the Missile Technology Control Regime instituted in 1987.11 Twenty-four nations, including the United States and representing much of the world’s advanced missile design capability, are members of this voluntary (nontreaty) agreement to limit the spread of advanced ballistic missile technology, and several others have indicated their willingness to adhere to its export control guidelines. There are no sanctions for not keeping the promise to adhere to them, and violation of the voluntary agreement is suspected in many cases. Nevertheless, many of the most capable nations do adhere to it, and it is believed to have limited the spread of ballistic missiles having advanced performance capability.
A similar regime for mine technology, if it could be arranged among the exporting nations with which the United States is allied or has friendly relations, might similarly limit the threat of advanced mines that may be used against the U.S. fleet or shipping critical to the United States and its allies. Little would be lost in trying to arrange such an agreement, and much might be gained.
Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should take the lead in urging the Defense and State Departments to initiate international discussions among U.S. allies and other nonhostile nations to institute a mine technology control regime, analogous to the Missile Technology Control Regime instituted in 1987, to help slow the spread of increasingly sophisticated and threatening sea mines.
JOINT INTERESTS AND INTEGRATED CONCEPTS OF OPERATION
Although the Navy has the responsibility for clearing mines from the sea lanes and the inshore areas that must be traversed by amphibious and logistic support shipping, much of mining and countermine warfare is of joint interest and involves joint forces. For examples, see below:
Mining can be a strategic weapon system. Therefore, it must be a part of joint strategic planning processes.
ISR for mine warfare is supported by surveillance and reconnaissance assets from both the Navy and the Air Force, as well as by national assets.
Information about mining by hostile adversaries and the potential interdiction of that mining, gained from all sources, is of key interest to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the joint regional CINCs, and the National Command Authority.
Assured access to beaches for joint logistics over the shore (JLOTS) and for access to ports is of vital interest to TRANSCOM as well as the other Services whose forces must be supported by the logistics flow.
Arms Control Association. 2001. “The Missile Technology Control Regime,” Arms Control Association Fact Sheet, Washington, D.C. Available online at <http://www.armscontrol.org/FACTS/mtcr.html>.
The Air Force and the Navy have mine warfare mission requirements and will be involved in delivery of sea mines as part of overall strategic naval warfare planning.
The Navy and the Air Force engage jointly in air defense suppression operations close to hostile shores.
The importance of the Navy to Marine Corps amphibious warfare operations is such that the two Services’ responsibilities in amphibious warfare are essentially inseparable.
Additionally, rapid mine and obstacle clearance from amphibious assault channels using the Harvest Hammer explosive channeling technique (Chapter 5) is likely to involve Air Force bombers for delivering the explosive charges.
Despite all these joint interdependencies, joint concepts of operation have not been developed in any of the areas noted above. Indeed, there are, as yet, no approved concepts of operation in the overall mine warfare area, as noted in Chapters 3, 4, and 5. Specifically, these chapters point out the need for the following:
A concept of operations that links all the organic MCM systems into an architecture, couples them to joint ISR assets, and provides guidance on how they will be used in concert;
A joint Navy and Marine Corps concept of operations for amphibious operations against opposition, using the new MCM systems and also involving the Air Force in the case of explosive channeling; and
Joint concepts of operation for mine delivery in contingency areas, with families of sea mines that are compatible with both Navy and Air Force means of delivery.
All of these concepts of operation must be developed as an essential element of the integration of mining, countermine warfare, and all the subordinate systems and activities into naval force and joint force activities. As an essential step in these developments, the CNO and the CMC should see to establishment of the connections to the other Services and the national agencies that will enable subordinate naval force commands, such as the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) and the Naval Warfare Development Command (NWDC), and the analogous commands or offices of the other Services and national agencies to engage in the effort from a common, joint basis of understanding.
Recommendation: The CNO and the CMC jointly should take the lead in establishing connections and memoranda of understanding as needed among the Navy, Marine Corps, the other Services, and other appropriate joint and national agencies, to enable development of joint concepts of operation and, where necessary, equipment interface standards in support of mining and countermine warfare.
Recommendation: The CNO and the CMC should assign MCCDC and NWDC the joint responsibility for developing concepts of operation for countermine warfare in support of amphibious operations. These concepts of operation should be extended to involve the Air Force in delivering the explosive charges for explosive channeling to rapidly enable amphibious landings opposed by mines and obstacles. They should involve TRANSCOM in any aspects of logistic support operations that TRANSCOM must attend to in order to benefit from Navy countermine warfare support to protect logistics shipping and offloading.