Towards a Balanced Fleet: Options for a 21st Century Navy
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Towards a Balanced Fleet: Options for a 21st Century Navy

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Michael E. Hutchens
122 g
246x189x3 mm

This monograph studies the challenges facing the U.S. Navy in 2009. It is principally an historical study that attempts to draw a parallel between today's strategic environment and past environments. The historical analysis focuses on past maritime strategies produced by the U.S. Navy and an historical review of the Royal Navy of the late 19th Century. Through this analysis, broad strategic themes become apparent. Recognizing and understanding these strategic themes illuminates options available to the U.S. Navy. The first historical analysis centers on the development of U.S. maritime strategy since 1970. After almost forty years of maritime history, its stability and coherence remain remarkable. U.S. Navy missions over the forty years focused on four mission areas: sea control, power projection, naval presence, and strategic deterrence. Despite dramatic changes in the strategic environment, what changed in the strategies was the priority placed on specific missions. The strategic concept of the Navy's most recent maritime strategy departs from past examples. A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower adds two additional missions: maritime security and humanitarian assistance/disaster response. This is a dramatic change, but it is a change that fits the current environment. The second historical analysis centers on the comparison of the Royal Navy of 1850-1900 with the U.S. Navy of 2009. The strategic environment the Royal Navy faced over fifty years at the end of the 19th Century mirrors that faced by today's U.S. Navy. The decisions made by the Royal Navy over a century ago provide options for today's maritime service. The Royal Navy example illuminates the importance of the following themes: policing the commons, remaining first in shipbuilding, and developing a balanced fleet. Through these historical strategic themes, it is possible to identify potential courses of action. This paper recommends continued investment in perfecting theater ballistic missi