Amerika (Vereenigde Staten van Amerika)

De Kleuren van de Zee

Dit is een vertaling van een Twitter collectie geschreven door HUNTSMAN (@man_integrated). Het gaat over de Amerikaanse invloed in the wereld en hoe de Amerikaanse Marine van cruxiaal belang is om deze invloed te behouden.

De Amerikaanse marine is een van de kritieke pijlers die de Amerikaanse invloed over de hele wereld ondersteunt. Het is zelfs zo dominant geweest dat Amerika de wereldwijde gemeenschappelijke natuurlijke rijkdommen al 60 jaar beheerst. Dat is allemaal aan het veranderen.

Cruciaal om te begrijpen is dat er drie brede soorten maritieme militaire operaties zijn:

  • Bruin Water: rivier/binnenland
  • Groen Water: kust
  • Blauw Water: open zee (nergens land)

Kosten, mankracht en verdedigingsstrategie bepalen hoe landen hun marine bouwen.

Blauwwatermarines zijn het duurst en vereisen kapitaalschepen, ondersteunende schepen, lange bevoorradingsketens en permanente operationele bases verspreid over de hele wereld.

Ze moeten in staat zijn om kracht te projecteren EN zichzelf te verdedigen door de lucht, op het water en onder water. Op dit moment zijn er negen marines die op de een of andere manier beschikken over een vloot voor blauw water. De Amerikaanse marine is de enige met een alomtegenwoordig wereldwijd bereik.

Frankrijk en het VK hebben een beperkt wereldwijd bereik, met anderen zoals Rusland, Italië en China als belangrijke spelers in hun regio’s.

In dit verhaal beschouw ik een land alleen als het een blauw-water marine heeft met ten minste één operationeel vliegdekschip.

Turkije heeft momenteel een vervoerder in aanbouw (de 𝘈𝘯𝘢𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘶), die hun slagkracht regionaal aanzienlijk zal vergroten.

Het voordeel van een blauw-water marine is dat het de natie in staat stelt om het gevecht overal te brengen. Een natie kan geen wereldwijde strijdkrachten projecteren zonder een sterke marine met meerdere domeinen.

Het belangrijkste is dat alles binnen de vloot interoperabel moet zijn, met overlappende mogelijkheden.

An F-18 operating from a US carrier is able to perform surveillance, engage in air combat, attack enemy naval vessels, or operate over land in support of ground forces.

With roughly 40 F-18’s per carrier, a single US Navy carrier strike group can dominate air, land, and sea.

In addition to the carrier itself, the other vessels in a strike group offer a variety of offensive and defensive capabilities – ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, anti-submarine warfare, fleet protection, naval surface combat.

The Navy is the steel spine of US policy.

However, even a juggernaut like a USN carrier strike group has limits.

One challenge leads to another.

It costs a ton of money to build, operate, and sustain a fleet based around capital ships, expensive missiles, and hundreds of planes and helicopters.

Cost = compromises.

The leadership of the various branches, along with the appropriations committees in the US Congress, must play a delicate game of haggling over mission profiles, roles, and “who owns what”.

Those roles determine asset investments.

And those investments determine budgets.

Downstream from that fight is a massive network of defense contractors, sub-contractors, and whole communities whose survival often depend on the jobs provided by a single defense contract.

The bigger the ship, the bigger the budget required.

With the USN and its network of contractors having every incentive to invest into massive capital ship-based fleets, the l

eadership does little more than pay lip service to green-water and brown-water capabilities.

Very often, we rely on our smaller allied navies for this.

So while the US Navy is massive, it is not agile either bureaucratically or operationally.

Vessels and hardware just now being deployed for regular use began their development two decades ago.

The world is very different now.

The entire threat structure has changed.

A navy that depends on long supply chains and global network of permanent naval bases cannot easily respond to emergent threats.

New hardware like China’s DF-26 missile overnight changed the operational paradigm (and thus policy).

link naar De Zuid Chinese Zee

Whereas America once had the buffer of being able to simply pull a carrier strike group close to shore and hammer an enemy, its near-peer adversaries can now (theoretically) push the fleet outside standoff range.

America’s crutch is less stable than ever.

When facing a taller boxer with a longer reach, shorter boxes are taught to “get inside” – close the distance, stay quick, and neutralize the range and power of the taller fighter.

Agility, speed, pressure, and a specific type of short-range strength. Think Mike Tyson.

In naval terms, the shorter boxer is an effective green-water navy.

Small, nimble vessels can easily harrass capital ships and “slip the punch” of their standoff capabilities.

This was notoriously proven out in 2002 in the massive Millennium Challenge.

MC is one of the most controversial military exercises in American history.

USMC General Paul Van Riper led the defensive OPFOR (“Red Team”).

General Van Riper overwhelmed Blue Team (attacker) with saturation missile strikes and tiny kamikaze boats in less than 10 minutes.

It was a humiliating-enough outcome that the Pentagon kept it under wraps for years after.

More importantly, it was a painful lesson that a committed, underresourced enemy could cripple the strongest naval force in history by exploiting the US Navy’s close-in weakness.

Put differently, the “color of the seas” has shifted.

Blue-water force and supply chains once dominated.

The advent of new standoff weapons, more agile enemy ships, and proliferation of unmanned aerial and naval assets puts new emphasis on green- and brown-water tactics.

Recognizing that matching the US Navy’s prowess was an impossible task, China and its allies ceded the blue-water domain completely to the US and its allies.

Rather, through savvy geopolitical maneuvers, China has simply increased the cost of approaching the coast.

Mentioned previously, the “String of Pearls” port-acquisition spree under #BeltandRoad makes even more sense in this light.

It’s not just about dual-use infrastructure supporting trade and the Chinese naval supply chain.

It’s about controlling the littoral zones.

A Chinese-led coalition would be a formidable enough force to threaten a US carrier strike group.

Russia’s Syrian base at Tartus, and China’s bases at Djibouti and Gwadar, could likely sustain significant naval operations for a long time.

 Why Would Russia, China, and Iran, Plan Joint Naval Exercises?

Iran, specifically, brings two assets to the table that Russian and China do not have:

  • Coastal-defense submarines (Ghadir and Fateh-class)
  • More than 1,500 fast attack boats armed with machine guns and anti-ship rockets

As the US Navy learned in 2002, swarms are deadly.

The primary USN force operating in the Indian Ocean/Middle East theater is the Fifth Fleet, based at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

A quick check of the map shows Bahrain inside the Persian Gulf.

If conflict erupted, Iran and its allies would close the Strait of Hormuz.

 

Reinforcements to the theater would have to come from Diego Garcia’s contingent of strategic bombers, and the Sixth Fleet’s base in Italy.

The only thing in the way is the Red Sea, with the Suez Canal at the north end, and a Chinese naval base at the south.

The changing geopolitical landscape has outpaced the American defense industry.

Where America has recognized the gaps, it is moving too slowly to address the need.

China, seemingly overnight, has shifted the balance of power towards favoring large green-water fleets.

Consider the current conflict zones of greatest concern to the US:

  • Black Sea
  • Persian Gulf
  • South China Sea
  • Eastern Med Sea

At each location, China and Russia have directly or indirectly positioned themselves to maximize the terrain to limit the US’ blue-water naval might.

The Black Sea (and Ukraine) sits beyond one of the seven global maritime chokepoints (the Turkish Straits).

Access from the Med means dealing with Russian/Chinese-controlled ports in the Aegean Sea, the Russian naval base at Tartus in Syria, and the Turkish navy.

The Persian Gulf challenges were discussed in tweets 23-26.

The South China Sea situation was highlighted in the thread linked in tweet 14.

The eastern Med Sea front is of a kind with the Black Sea.

The Chinese axis has shifted geopolitics into their operational favor.

In the modern age of #durabledisorder, it is rapidity of action and mobilization that will carry the day.

The US is built to crush peer or neer-peer adversaries in wars of attrition and firepower.

It is not built to deal with an enemy that fights from geopolitical ambush.

Consider this information in light of other Chinese ploys, such as using the UN and Belt/Road Initiative to push the US and UK out of the Indian Ocean altogether.

Consider also China’s empowerment of proxies, such as North Korea and Iran.

Link naar Het Onzinkbare Vliegdekschip

The colors of the sea have indeed changed.

The US trade war is designed to starve the economic engine that has fueled China’s growth.

The Blue Dot Network is designed to counter Belt/Road.

But the US must begin the painful task of shifting its defense priorities, as well.

More, smaller vessels trained in littoral and riverine combat tactics.

Better mobilization of forces using the US’ global network of bases.

Moving supply chains closer to key theaters.

Finally, the humility of knowing the US must prepare for the end of hegemony.

The issue of littoral combat will be explored more deeply in future threads through the lens of China’s investments into “drone” submarines, the US’ failed Littoral Combat Ship program, and advances in anti-surface/subsurface warfare.

 

 

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