Friday, April 25, 2008

Navy Slowly Accepting Gunboat Diplomacy

Call it asymmetrical warfare at sea if you like, but the mere presence of a USN gunboat nearby can often deter aggression far better than a supercarrier far out at sea. Here's David Axe:

Preventing -- or, more accurately, deterring -- war has long
been a major Navy mission, but the means of prevention has traditionally been
overwhelming display of potential force. The Africa Partnership Station concept
reverses that tradition by emphasizing assistance over threats. But doing so
means resisting the powerful magnetism of the Navy's -- and the world's -- most
powerful warships.

For decades, the U.S. Navy built its forces and operations
around large nuclear aircraft carriers equipped to wage major conventional wars,
especially against the Soviet Union. When the Cold War ended, the 100,000-ton,
$5-billion-per-ship carriers remained -- but without a serious enemy to fight.
Meanwhile the traditional concentration of naval forces around carriers left
vast swaths of sea vulnerable to pirates, smugglers and insurgents. The Africa
Partnership Station breaks the carrier's death-grip, pushing small groups of
vessels into troubled regions where they can help local navies secure their own

We see with the woes facing the littoral combat ship (See Costly Lesson on How Not to Build a Navy Ship ) the USN leadership trying too hard, thinking a few hi tech warships can solve all our problems. With the demise of the Soviet Blue Water threat, the Navy has been desperately seeking a like foe specifically in China, which may someday occur but certainly not now. Gunboat Diplomacy might not be as glamorous as commanding a missile cruiser or nuclear attack sub, but is an equally vital and far less costly mission if its carried out seriously. With the mass outbreak of piracy in recent years, is the Navy finally getting the message?

Galrahn has more on the story.