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Future Maritime and the Ten Commandments

Future Maritime and the Ten Commandments

Supported by the Royal Navy, RUSI's Future Maritime 2005 Conference attracted over 350 senior-level delegates during the two-day event. With emphasis upon the contribution of the three Armed Services to joint operations via the maritime environment, the conference examined the role of maritime forces in defence policy, and how maritime power can deliver and facilitate manoeuvre and effect – and in particular – flexibility in approach and volume in firepower - from the joint sea base to enable maritime forces to support, shape and engage in the wider battlespace. Here are the edited remarks by Admiral Mike Mullen at the RUSI Future Maritime Warfare Conference London, England, December 13, 2005. Source: Navy NewsStand.

It is a true pleasure to be here with so many esteemed colleagues and to be back in London. Having left Europe less than six months ago and having just celebrated the 200th Anniversary of Trafalgar, the truth is, I feel quite at home here.

Speaking of home, I recently crossed the other pond to visit Hawaii last week. By the way, the weather there is just a little better than it is here (laughter).

Every year, America commemorates the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, a pivotal point in world history.

Every year we return to Pearl Harbor to discover and to learn. We look out at the USS Arizona Memorial and the over 1,000-man tomb exists and it reminds all those who fought for freedom.

Back home in the United States, more than 1,500 World War II veterans pass away every day and with them so passes our first hand knowledge of that titanic struggle. I find it remarkable that the Arizona, this symbol of a war gone by, is the most visited attraction in that part of the world.

Those who flock to this memorial are not only Americans and veterans. They are more than one million visitors a year from all over the world. They come from all points of the globe to see what galvanized the world at war, to be reminded of how an event can turn the course of history.

They come from all over the world because Pearl Harbor was an event felt worldwide. It was an event that aligned all freedom-loving nations in a grand coalition to advance the universal principle of freedom over tyranny.

Today, I find our world becoming similarly galvanized around a need for action, but not just any action. Action that, like in World War II, is collective, coordinated, and comprehensive, action that is similarly founded in and bolstered by the principles of our beliefs.

This is true not just in the deserts and mountains but in the maritime domain, the largest maneuver area on earth -- the global commons that covers two-thirds of the world, including most of the ungoverned and under-governed parts of our planet.

At this year's International Seapower Symposium in Newport, Rhode Island, Chiefs of Navies, Coast Guards, and maritime forces from 72 nations gathered to discuss the growing threat to maritime interests and the growing imperative of maritime security.

Today I'd like to continue the discussion we started in Newport on how the world's maritime forces can work together to confront common security challenges, by establishing and participating in a global network of maritime nations for a free and secure maritime domain.

  • Why do we need a global network to provide maritime security?

The short answer is the maritime domain is vital to most nations' economic prosperity and no nation can provide the requisite level of security by itself. It must be a shared endeavor among most of the world's nations if it is to be effective and efficient.

Today our navies, indeed, all military forces, are challenged like never before. They simultaneously must be prepared for large-scale conventional campaigns, they must confront the increasingly sophisticated transnational threat, and they must actively defend the homeland.

They must be ready to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the wake of tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes. We must be ready to respond to all manner of natural and man-made disasters.

Today's security environment has more competitors, more complex contingencies, and a broader range of missions for maritime forces around the world. It also requires a balance of capabilities; high-end warfighting, the ability to provide maritime security wherever and whenever necessary, and the ability to respond to disasters whether natural or man made.

We live in a world where high-end warfighting capabilities are more important than ever. They are costlier than ever too.

We, the United States Navy, welcome all who have the national will and the interests to sail with us in defense of freedom whenever and wherever it is threatened.

And it is never lost us in the United States that we can always count on the magnificent capabilities of the Royal Navy when the going gets tough.

Just as we do in the United States, there are great challenges to maintaining, sustaining, and modernizing such a highly capable naval  orce. But both of our navies and nations must overcome those challenges. I am convinced that freedom depends upon our navies remaining highly capable, and resolute, and together. 

Just as it is critical that every freedom-loving nation with a vital maritime interest develop the right mix of capabilities appropriate to their circumstances, that will ensure that together we are ready for the challenges ahead.

Some of you might recall that it was exactly two years ago today, December 13th, that our combined forces in Iraq captured Saddam Hussein.
This was a memorable day for coalition air, ground, engineering, intelligence, special forces, and inter-agency elements working together to achieve a strategic goal. And it is instructive to note the degree of cross-service, interagency, international, and industry coordination that was required to succeed at this high end of the spectrum of conflict.

I believe that navies are not only critical, decisive, and enabling in times of war, but they may be even more important in maintaining the peace.

John Morgan will talk more about the strategic environment and the US Navy's Strategic Plan.

For me, I would like to focus on how navies and maritime forces around the world must work together to confront the transnational challenges.

Virtually every nation is touched in some way, shape, or form by globalization, and most nations understand the prosperity that comes from participating in global markets.

In this context, the case for Seapower becomes very clear:

-- Economic prosperity is the goal of most nations – or put more simply: I want my children to live a better life than I.
-- This prosperity can best be achieved by embracing globalization and international market forces.
-- Globalization and international markets require trade - in fact, 90% of the world's trade moves by sea.
-- To trade by sea, the world needs a safe and secure maritime domain.
-- And, to ensure the security of this vast domain, most nations need effective maritime forces.

In our global and interconnected world, every navy, coast guard, and maritime force matters. Every country, no matter its size, has something to contribute to increasing security in the maritime domain.

If you've read Malcolm Gladwell's, The Tipping Point, you know that even when a small number of people start behaving differently they have the potential to change the world.

The attacks at Pearl Harbor or on 9-11 were clearly tipping points.

  • I think we recently witnessed a tipping point in the maritime domain. It happened just last month. It happened when a luxury cruise liner was attacked and pursued by pirates. This wasn't a case of coastal violence. This attack occurred almost 100 miles offshore.

It's not known what the attackers planned to do if they had succeeded in boarding the cruise ship. But to me this is a new form of brashness and audacity that, if left unchecked, has the potential tospread and infect other parts of the maritime domain. Others are clearly watching.

Piracy has been with us for centuries, but this latest nexus of piracy, terrorism, and exploitation of the maritime domain for illegal purposes demands a response that only maritime forces, working together regionally and globally, can provide.

When we were at the International Seapower Symposium we spoke of a global network of maritime nations for a free and secure maritime domain. We talked about the importance of individual nations tackling issues like piracy, human smuggling or slavery, illegal drug smuggling, environmental degradation, illegal weapons smuggling, WMD proliferation; the transnational challenges we all face.

We also talked about the importance of individual nations working to capture the efficiencies that are gained when nations and navies cooperate regionally.

Lastly, we talked about bringing together existing and emerging regional fora into a global network in order to close the seams created by the transnational threat.

The strength of any network, including a global network of maritime nations, is in its simplicity, inclusiveness, and adaptability.

  • Given generally accepted principles, the best networks are self-governing.

An excellent example of such a network, with a very specific purpose, is the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). PSI needs no formal support structure, no secretariat, no headquarters, no chairperson.

Rather, it consists of a simple agreement between participating states to work together to take action against the spread of WMD when and where they are able. The protocol is that simple.

A global network for maritime security, as the name implies, must also be simple, in the self-interest of participating nations, and be flexible enough to accommodate national, regional, and global concerns.

So with the foregoing in mind, for the next few minutes I'd like to develop a set of first principles to guide the establishment of the global network, a rule set for a network flexible enough for all nations to participate, a playbook to enhance global maritime security.

Before doing so, however, I should be upfront that I know of 10 such principles, all worth mentioning. And in arriving at that number, I am reminded of French President Clemenceau who once chided President Woodrow Wilson for his use of 14 points relating to the League of Nations.

  • Clemenceau asked why Wilson needed 14 points when God only required 10 for his commandments (laughter).

So, when considering the First Principles of a global network of maritime nations, I understand where the threshold is drawn.

  • The first principle of the global, maritime network is that national sovereignty comes first and foremost and is always respected.

Nothing about the global network requires a compromise of this first principle.

Second, nations, navies, and maritime forces participate where they have common interests. A global network is not going to solve all problems in the maritime domain, but it can assist in solving most of the common challenges we all face day in and day out. Most nations abhor piracy, illegal drugs, human smuggling, and environmental exploitation. It is against these common challenges that nations can band together to confront them effectively and efficiently.

  • Third, the focus of the global network is security in the maritime domain.

While nations face many challenges beyond the maritime domain, they are outside the scope of what we are trying to do here.

Our challenge is big enough: the safety and security of ports, harbors, territorial waters, maritime approaches, the high seas, international straits, and the numerous seams between each that can be exploited by those who would threaten maritime safety and security.

  • Fourth, the very foundation of the global network is individual nations' capabilities.

This is the fundamental building block. While no nation can do everything, all nations can do something to increase security in the maritime domain. Maritime security starts with every nation's capacity to contribute, and expands outward from there.

  • Fifth, although the world's navies will be the cornerstones in the global network, the global network is about more than navies.

Some of you may have seen the "1,000 Ships" article in last month's Proceedings by John Morgan and Charlie Martoglio, two officers who serve on my headquarters staff.

The article says that to provide for a secure maritime domain, the world needs a 1,000 ship navy, not gray hulls flying the US flag, but a network of international navies, coast guards, maritime forces, port operators, commercial shippers, and local law enforcement all working together to increase security in the maritime domain. As this article says, maritime security requires a lot more than just navies.

Now, before continuing I should tell you that the next three principles all fall into the category of "England expects every nation to do its duty" and, as I said earlier, every nation, regardless of size or capacity, can do something to contribute to maritime security.

  • The sixth principle is that those nations or navies that can assist others do so.

This is usually the world's more capable navies providing security or security assistance to others. It's about providing forces to international coalitions like Task Force 150 in order to bring security to ungoverned or under-governed regions of the world.

It's about helping less capable navies increase their capacity to provide maritime security in their own ports, harbors, territorial waters, and approaches. And it's about leveraging special relationships between nations, those intangible but nonetheless strong bonds between nations based on cultural or historic ties.

Not every nation welcomes assistance from the United States. But they may welcome such assistance from the UK, France, Australia or a trusted regional ally. And each navy capable of providing this type of assistance, including the US Navy, needs to be a willing participant.

  • Likewise, number seven is that those nations or navies that need assistance ask for it.

This is harder than it may sound because it requires political will, often admitting a capability shortfall that some nations are not willing to admit.

Recalling our first principle, the primacy of sovereignty, means that nations have to voluntarily participate in the global network – and that extends to asking for help.

The special relationships mentioned above may provide a good venue to get reluctant nations to participate.

  • Number eight: regional nations must develop regional maritime networks.

Most of my fellow Navy Chiefs from around the world, have been delighted by the progress made by the existing regional symposiums over the past five years or so, including the start up of an African Seapower symposium just this year.

We need to capitalize on this momentum because effective and efficient regional networks are the keys to building a global network that will significantly improve maritime security.

  • Number nine: to be effective and efficient, a global network must share information widely.

And to the greatest extent possible this information must be unclassified. Sometimes this is intelligence, but mostly it is information. When it is intelligence, all nations are rightly concerned for its security.

But in the case of the global network, information sharing is key: commercial ship characteristics, accurate cargo manifests, merchant ship crew lists, sailing times, destinations, and current ship locations. Needless classification is an impediment to productive information sharing. This is the type of information that must be shared among nations to close the gaps and make for a secure maritime domain.

  • Finally, the 10th principle of the global network is about timing, understanding that while this is a long-term effort, it needs a near-term start.

The security of the maritime domain demands that we start now in strengthening:

-- Individual nations' capacity to provide for their own maritime security,
-- The operational side of regional organizations to harness the efforts of all like-minded nations in a region with a goal of confronting common challenges.
-- And, lastly, the relationships between regional organizations as a means to begin to build the global network by harnessing the capabilities already resident in the regions.

I believe we are on the verge of a global tipping point that will affect the world and our children for many years to come if we do not, together, confront the challenges that lay before us.

Captain Edward Beach, a World War II submarine skipper in the US Navy and author of the book Run Silent Run Deep once remarked, "…from time immortal the purpose of a navy has been to influence, and sometimes decide, conflicts on land." I agree with Captain Beach …
maritime security is our responsibility and it is our time to lead our navies, coast guards, and maritime forces in a collective, coordinated, and comprehensive way to ensure we live up to our responsibilities.

The power to create a voluntary network of maritime forces is within our grasp. We have the capability to seize on our inherent nature of cooperation at sea and, together, overcome transnational actors who threaten the very fabric of global safety and security.

The maritime domain is too vast, too important, and too vulnerable not to do so.

Prime Minister Tony Blair remarked, "Our ultimate weapon is not our guns, but our beliefs." And for those in this room, a common belief is the one we share in a free and secure maritime domain.

I like to be reminded of the power of beliefs, not only as a tipping point in history, but also as a true enabler of change.

Sometimes, it's the simplest beliefs that have the most powerful outcomes.

Simple beliefs. Powerful consequences. That is what I believe a global network of maritime nations for a Free and Secure Maritime Domain is all about.

Thank you for inviting me here today. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you. Thank you for all that you contribute to freedom and security across our globe.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).