– War on the Rocks – Whatever its purported justification, China’s new base in Djibouti has stirred consternation in India, where commentators regard the development as a statement of strategic intent in the Indian Ocean. With an estimated area of nearly 250,000 square feet, the facility includes a large underground complex and is capable of hosting an estimated 10,000 troops. Over the past decade, New Delhi’s view of Beijing’s Indian Ocean ambitions has evolved significantly. Previously, a section of India’s strategic elite saw China’s forays in the region as largely commercial, and believed the Indian Navy, which dominated the South Asian littorals, could effectively counter PLAN aggression there. That consensus appears to have shifted. Many Indian observers now believe China’s military outpost in East Africa is aimed at regularizing a PLAN presence in the Indian Ocean, underscoring Beijing’s strategic ambition across the arc of the Indo-Pacific Region.
– BBC – Ten US Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the US destroyer John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore.
– Proceedings of the US Naval Institute – The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Northrop Grumman’s Tactical Autonomous Systems business unit are preparing for a second phase of dynamic interface testing for the MQ-8C Fire Scout vertical takeoff unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV), to be conducted on board the littoral combat ship USS Little Rock (LCS-9) early next year. The “Charlie” is on track to complete initial operational test and evaluation in late 2018.
– Proceedings of the US Naval Institute – The first of Great Britain’s two new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, began sea trials in May. She and her sister ship, Prince of Wales, represent the revival of Royal Navy fixed-wing aviation. The last of Britain’s earlier fixed-wing, carrier-based airplanes, the Sea Harrier fighter, was retired in 2006, and the last of three Invincible-class light aircraft carriers—HMS Illustrious—was decommissioned in 2014. Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, displacing some 70,000 tons each, are by far the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy.
– CIMSEC – On 19 July 2017, after a long transit through the Indian Ocean and around the European continent, a three-ship People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) task group entered the Baltic Sea to conduct exercises with the Russian Navy (RFN). The flotilla reached Kaliningrad, the exercise headquarters, on July 21st. While hardly the first time that China’s naval ensign could be spotted in this Northern European body of water (for instance, a Chinese frigate participated in Kiel Week 2016), “Joint Sea 2017” marks the first ever Russo-Chinese naval drill in the Baltic Sea.
– USNI News – The Navy will re-designate its first Expeditionary Landing Base ship a warship this week, converting the Military Sealift Command ship USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3) into USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) so it can better meet operational needs abroad.
– USNI News – The Navy and Raytheon are close to signing a deal to integrate a new sensor into the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile to allow the missile to attack moving targets at sea.
– USNI News – Navy Seabees are building a maritime operations center on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, for use during annual U.S. and Ukrainian military exercises and to assist allied maritime operations.
– The Guardian – HMS Queen Elizabeth, sitting in Rosyth dockyard in Scotland, is ready to head out to sea for its first trials this summer. The milestone will mark significant progress in delivering HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest and most powerful surface warship ever built for the Royal Navy.
– CIMSEC – An interview with Admiral Scott Swift, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
– CIMSEC – This series delves into the evolution of China’s national security debates pertaining to maritime security. Part Two will analyze Chinese maritime policy debates going into the modern era.
– CIMSEC – Join us for the latest episode of Sea Control for a conversation with Professor John Burgess of the Fletcher School about the Law of the Sea and its enduring effects on maritime security.
– CIMSEC – This summer while many European vacationers bask on sunny Mediterranean beaches, out in the water, hundreds of people are fighting for their lives while an increasingly more complex and robust collection of maritime non-government organizations (NGOs) (see Table 1) alternatively try to rescue them from drowning or send them back to Africa. The line between maritime human trafficking and a flow of refugees at sea has been blurred. In response to the ongoing migrant wave, the group Defend Europe recently raised enough money to charter a 422-ton ship, the C-Star, to convey a team of its activists to Libya. They arrived in the search-and-rescue zone off the Libyan coast on August 4-5.
– Breaking Defense – With 19 Marines killed in two aircraft crashes since July 10th, Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller has ordered all aviation units to stand down for safety reviews. This summer’s crashes come after months of rising accident rates, with a total of 22 deaths and 18 “Class A Mishaps” – incidents involving loss of life or $2 million in damages – since last spring, plus numerous lesser accidents.
– War on the Rocks – Today’s ideological battles are not simply confined to land or cyberspace. Nor is conflict at sea reserved for state-sponsored navies. The high seas are increasingly a battlespace for non-government organizations (NGOs). Although organizations such as Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have been conducting maritime operations in support of their environmental missions for four decades, in recent years other maritime NGOs have emerged for a variety of causes.
– New Scientist – Reports of satellite navigation problems in the Black Sea suggest that Russia may be testing a new system for spoofing GPS. This could be the first hint of a new form of electronic warfare available to everyone from rogue nation states to petty criminals.
– Breaking Defense – Lockheed Martin is studying several new air and missile defense systems, from an all-new six-foot rocket to a ship-launched version of the Patriot missile. In keeping with the military’s emphasis on multi-domain operations that attack old problems from new angles, Lockheed is even looking at launching its Patriot PAC-3 MSE from an aircraft.
– The Economist – An interesting scenario of nuclear conflict between the U.S. and North Korea.
– War Zone – The Royal Navy’s new supercarrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and her escorts are about to finish a series of multi-national training exercises off the coast of Scotland. Notably, the flattop joined the U.S. Navy’s USS George H.W. Bush and members of her own Carrier Strike Group Two (CSG-2) to practice what may become a model for future combined operations between the two navies.
– BBC – North Korea says a plan that could see it fire four missiles near the US territory of Guam will be ready in a matter of days.
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– ABC – An Iranian drone came within 100 feet of a U.S. Navy F/A-18 fighter jet that was waiting to land on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier in the central Persian Gulf.
– ABC – About 100 more Marines will be sent to the troubled Helmand Province in Afghanistan to help the 300 Americans who are already there advising and assisting Afghan security forces.
– CIMSEC – America has grown weary of the post-9/11 wars. Long, drawn-out conflicts have worn down American resolve and left many defense officials nostalgic for “the good-old days” when adversaries were easier to describe and devoted military efforts toward preparing for conventional warfare. Seizing an opportunity, the U.S. Navy has capitalized on growing disillusionment and sought to exaggerate the military challenges posed by an ascendant China for parochial benefit in terms of gaining larger budgets and greater quantities of more expensive ships. The Navy should consider an external strategy review that accounts for efficiency as an aspect of its operating concept. This article reviews America’s current naval strategy and is divided into two parts. Part 1, below, analyzes U.S. naval defense strategy in light of 21st Century national defense threats.