National Capabilities for Maritime Security
The likelihood of major combat operations at sea has diminished significantly for the next two to three decades. In its place, maritime security operations against numerous non-military, non-traditional, asymmetric threats-terrorists, criminals, pirates, smugglers, and assorted miscreants-are highly likely. These threats must be defeated, preferably at their origin, or well before they reach America's shores. This new national security environment places much greater emphasis on maritime security or constabulary operations for the purpose of "good order and discipline" at sea.
The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard are among the federal agencies addressing these threats to America's maritime security. The Navy will conduct increased global maritime security operations in regional cooperative agreements, primarily against the terrorist threat, while still addressing military threats from hostile nation-states as well as warfighting and deterrence responsibilities for dissuasion, contested access, and power projection purposes. The Coast Guard will concentrate on maritime security operations against terrorist and criminal threats in America's maritime domain while still addressing its responsibilities for maritime safety, mobility, protection of natural resources, and national defense.
Current Coast Guard maritime security capabilities are a unique blend of military and constabulary means, and its capabilities for terrorist and civilian threats are one and the same, whereas current Navy maritime security capabilities are purely military and do not address civilian threats since, by policy and custom, the Navy does not have the authority to enforce U.S. law. However, both the Navy and Coast Guard must be able to detect, intercept, and board ships in the ocean expanses as well as the littoral. They both need to conduct, at long range and for long periods of time, single-ship interdiction, escort, presence, surveillance, patrol, peacekeeping, international engagement, and other low-level sea-control/denial missions. Navy and Coast Guard ships conducting maritime security duties need speed, endurance, and sea-keeping for multiple small boat and helicopter operations; self-sufficiency for independent operations, broad area coverage, and rapid reaction; and adequate C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) and combat systems.
Despite great commonality in how both services conduct maritime security operations, the Navy and Coast Guard are headed in different directions to provide this capability. The Navy plans to adapt its sophisticated warship, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), and the Coast Guard is building purposely designed maritime security ships. In an era that places great emphasis on inter-service "jointness" as demonstrated by the Joint Strike Fighter Program, along with the very real reality of austere defense procurement budgets, the nation can no longer afford this bifurcated approach to its maritime security.
Two Separate Solutions for One Common Goal
Navy and Coast Guard capabilities for maritime security share a common mission-functional sequence for all terrorist and civilian threats- detect, intercept, and board civilian ships in the ocean expanses and littorals. Examples of maritime security operations are, for the Navy, interdiction of weapons of mass destruction under the Proliferation Security Initiative and, for the Coast Guard, interdiction of illicit drug smugglers and illegal high seas fishermen. For both the Navy and Coast Guard, these maritime security operations include the need to conduct, at long range and for long periods of time, single-ship embargo, interdiction, escort, presence, surveillance, patrol, blockade, peacekeeping, international navy/coast guard engagement, and other low-level sea-control/denial missions.
The Navy and Coast Guard maritime security capabilities for these missions share the same key ship design parameters-endurance, sea-keeping for multiple small boat and helicopter operations, and self-sufficiency for independent operations. Additionally, they share the need for "broad area coverage, rapid reaction, less capable combat systems, and austere self-defense suites." Endurance and self-sufficiency for independent operations are especially important because these ships will operate without a dedicated logistics train of replenishment ships and far from the battle group. Such similarities raise the issue of common ships and systems, for both Navy and Coast Guard maritime security operations, for savings through economies of scale and elimination of duplication, especially in light of today's fiscal realities.
The Navy and Coast Guard are headed in different directions with regard to building ships for maritime security duties. The Navy plans to adapt a future combatant for maritime security duties by altering its new, special-purpose, anti-access combatant, the Littoral Combat Ship, which is being designed in two variants-a 340-foot, 1,500-ton combatant and a 430-foot, 3,000-ton warship. Both variants will be speedy, optimally manned combatants, designed primarily to perform "focused missions" along the enemy's coastlines- neutralizing mines and defeating submarines and fast attack craft in relatively shallow coastal waters. Optimized with stealth and command-and-control technologies for focused warfare, and possessing robust self-defense capabilities, a maximum speed of 40 to 50 knots, a 21-day endurance and a 4,500-nautical-mile range at 22 knots, and only around a 1,500-nautical-mile range at high speed, the LCS design uses modular "plug and-fight" mission payload packages for each mission.
In October 2004, Paul McHale, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense, and John Young, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, discussed employment of the LCS in homeland security missions, and since then it has become apparent that the U.S. Northern Command expects to use the LCS in homeland security missions. The Navy wants to modify the LCS and not use common ships with the Coast Guard, because the Navy believes the LCS's modularity concept lends itself to maritime security duties. Others, such as the Congressional Budget Office, are not so sure that the modularity concept is practical.
Service leaders have consistently stated that the LCS program is their number-one budget priority. Moreover, given the close relationship between the Navy and the Coast Guard's programs, with two Memoranda of Understanding put in place to ensure collaboration, some see the LCS as the answer to the Coast Guard's "high-end" maritime security cutter needs.
The Coast Guard is building two new types of maritime security ships as part of its Integrated Deepwater Project-a 421-foot, 4,200-ton ship and a 350-foot, 3,200-ton ship. With its 12,000-nautical-mile range, 60-day endurance, and 29-knot sprint speed, the "high-end" maritime security ship (WMSL) can provide a security presence throughout America's maritime domain, as well as operate overseas. The smaller maritime security ship (WMSM), with its 9,000-nautical-mile range, 45-day endurance, and top speed of 28 knots, can also provide a security presence in almost all parts of America's maritime domain. In a pinch, the WMSM could also deploy to forward areas.
The Coast Guard is currently planning to procure around 33 of these ships: eight large maritime security ships at about $280 million each and 25 medium maritime security ships priced at $200 million each. The Coast Guard is also ensuring that these two classes of ships can operate in the post- September 11 security environment.
In late January 2005, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved a revised Deepwater mission needs statement that incorporated homeland security and defense requirements. These two ship classes will have improved capabilities to defeat terrorist attacks, engage in opposed boarding, and conduct operations in a chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) environment. The Coast Guard FY 2006 budget submission reflects the Administration's support for more capable, responsive, and survivable ships to perform high-risk maritime security operations.
The Navy and Coast Guard are well aware of each other's efforts in regard to maritime security capabilities. The two services are focusing their collaborative and coordination efforts not on common hulls, or mechanical and electrical systems, but on C4ISR systems commonality and interoperability. The Navy and Coast Guard want their ships to be able to make use of each other's onboard and off-board systems when they find their ships working together in a homeland or overseas operation. (From a security standpoint, there are no longer any "home games" or "away games." Both services see homeland security, homeland defense, and overseas operations as key elements of their "portfolios" for the 21st century.) Undoubtedly, their approach is reasonable given the different originating context and timelines associated with LCS and Deepwater. However, this de facto joint Coast Guard-Navy approach is not mandated or overseen by Congress.
Questions About the Navy's Solution for Maritime Security
While there is little doubt that the LCS-or, for that matter, all classes of Navy surface combatants-could conduct the Navy's maritime security role, questions exist about whether other non-LCS options that place greater emphasis on maritime security capabilities may be more suitable, effective, and affordable for the Navy. Unfortunately, there is no original Analysis of Multiple Concepts to draw upon for supporting an evaluation of the LCS's role in maritime security missions, which some analysts and observers have decried. 
Despite the absence of such a formal assessment, it is possible to offer some analytical parameters. The Navy needs to consider whether the LCS places sufficient emphasis on maritime security capabilities for regional acceptance of its presence, international engagement and operations, and the security environment of the next two to three decades. Additionally, the Navy must consider whether the LCS has too much capability for homeland security duties.
Question 1: Is the U.S. Navy confident that the LCS's presence will be accepted by all regional nation-states?
Haze-gray U.S. Navy warships, with their inherent national orientation, cannot shake off their ominous appearance or disguise their primary purpose as combatants expressly built for offensive military missions such as power projection and forcible-entry operations. The experience of Admiral Thomas Fargo, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, underscores this issue. In the spring of 2004, he attempted unsuccessfully to implement his Regional Maritime Security Initiative in the Straits of Malacca by employing naval capabilities optimized for major theater war-U.S. Navy combatants with embarked U.S. Marines. U.S. Navy warships, designed for high-intensity war against a major opponent, when used for maritime security duties are just too menacing in regions sensitive to sovereign rights and may not always be the most politically acceptable means for duty against maritime criminals and terrorists.
Recent diplomatic activity by the Japanese government underscores this issue of "acceptable presence" by the U.S. Navy. For the October 2004 Proliferation Security Initiative exercises held off Tokyo, the Japanese government formally requested that the United States include Coast Guard forces in the American contingent. The Japanese wanted the Coast Guard present primarily to emphasize the law enforcement nature of the exercises, as well as to draw upon the Coast Guard's unexcelled reputation and skill in boarding, conducting maritime searches, and constabulary duties.
Question 2: Is the U.S. Navy convinced that the LCS is the most appropriate naval ship to engage and operate with the majority of the world's navies and coast guards in a meaningful manner?
The overwhelming majority of the world's navies and coast guards are not blue-water, power-projection, sea-control navies, but coastal forces concerned about maritime security threats. Regional maritime security operations are the most likely and probable U.S. Navy activity with the international naval community.
It is usually extremely difficult for these international navies and coast guards to connect to the U.S. Navy's high-technology warships, especially the deep-draft, super-sized warships. While the LCS resembles a frigate in size, the LCS may not relate to the missions and force structures of many of these international naval organizations, and could very well intimidate them, if it cannot act in consort with them on an equal basis. In fact, according to retired Royal Australian Commodore Sam Bateman, a maritime security expert specializing in Asia-Pacific affairs, coast guards are emerging as important national institutions in Asia and the Pacific with the potential to make a major contribution to regional order and security.
It is important to note that the LCS would probably be highly appropriate for maritime security operations with the navies such as the Royal Navy, French navy, German navy, Australian navy, Canadian navy, Indian navy, Spanish navy, Italian navy, and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force. But maritime security operations with lesser capable navies using ships purposefully built for warfare like the LCS may not be the most appropriate means.
Question 3: Has the U.S. Navy fully acknowledged the likely at-sea security environment for the next 20-30 years, and will it be able to buy enough LCSs to meet the majority of the maritime security threats it will face?
This future environment resembles in broad outline the mid- to late-Victorian era when the United Kingdom faced no peer naval competitor to contest the Royal Navy's global reach, presence, and sea control. With an adequate main battle fleet of capital ships and world-ranging cruisers to deter any would-be rivals, the Royal Navy, even so, frequently found itself conducting sea-denial operations with its dispersed frigates and a host of specialized and purpose-built gunboats, optimized for local conditions, against maritime security threats-assorted miscreants, criminals, terrorists, insurrectionists, pirates, and the like who threatened the empire's interests. The Royal Navy, with its ships on independent stations widely scattered around the globe, acted as the world's maritime constabulary. With the Royal Navy safeguarding the seas, British merchant ships "upon their lawful occasions" sailed without impediment, ensuring regional and imperial stability and an unfaltering British, if not world, economy.
Today, the United States faces a nearly similar situation. Major theater war at sea is remote, but maritime security operations against numerous non-military, asymmetric threats trying to harm America are highly likely and must be defeated before they reach American shores. Such operations require the U.S. Navy to deploy to numerous distant "stations" around the globe for unilateral and regional maritime security operations.
The very act of this global naval presence also benefits the world by providing protection for shipping. Even though the United States has a negligible merchant marine fleet engaged in the international trade, the United States understands the value of safeguarding the trade, since global commerce fuels the American economy. In early January 2005, the Chief of U.S. Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, stated that the days of major naval engagements are past-at least for now. He continued, "Building a force set that is designed only to deal with…major combat operations…is the incorrect approach."
The U.S. Navy in this future security environment shares another parallel with the Victorian Royal Navy. Numbers count, and will there will be enough U.S. Navy ships to meet the demand generated by non-military and terrorist threats, especially if the Navy must also equip itself with hugely expensive, highly capable warships for dissuasion, contested access, and power projection purposes? In the Victorian era, the First Lord of the Admiralty complained about the pressures from merchants, missionaries, and the Colonial and Foreign Offices:
[F]rom Vancouver's isle to the river Plate, from the West Indies to China the Admiralty is called upon by Secretaries of State to send ships…. The undeniable fact is that we are doing or endeavoring to do much more than our force is sufficient for. It is fortunate that the world is not large, for there is no other limit to the service of the fleets.
While the world has not grown smaller in the intervening 100-plus years, the size of the U.S. Navy continues to decline. The Navy wants the LCS to cost no more than $230 million in then-year dollars for the hull alone, not including the modular mission packages that could cost another $80 million to $100 million per hull. Can the Navy afford the numbers-50 to 60 LCSs-that its advocates frequently cite? At a cost that will likely exceed over $300 million a copy, the LCS may still be a Cadillac when a Chevrolet-priced ship would do nicely for maritime security duties.
Question 4: Is the LCS too capable for the overwhelming preponderance of homeland security duties? And, more important, what are the homeland security requirements that offer LCS as a solution?
According to a 2004 Congressional Research Service report, Navy and Coast Guard officials:
agree that the Navy's role should be to support the Coast Guard, particularly in areas, like air defense, where the Coast Guard has little or no capability. Navy officials believe that the Navy, while contributing to maritime homeland security operations, should remain primarily focused on deploying naval forces overseas to provide a forward defense against threats to the United States.
What has changed for the Navy to decide it now must employ LCS in homeland security? And will the Navy use LCS to augment the Coast Guard for homeland security missions or conduct separate, stand-alone missions? Department of Defense (DOD) officials have offered few specifics about envisioned homeland security duties and numbers needed for the LCS. One defense analyst believes that LCS will be used to guard offshore infrastructure, such as oil platforms or underwater fiber-optic cables. Since broad area surveillance, interdiction, boarding and searching vessels, and physical protection are the mainstays of homeland security duties, using the LCS in physical protection and interdiction duties means its expensive warfare mission modules will find little everyday use.
Before the Coast Guard could proceed with incorporating improved homeland security and defense capabilities for its two new maritime security ships, the Department of Homeland Security conducted two exhaustive reviews at the Joint Requirements Council and Investment Review Board. It would seem reasonable that the DHS decision calculus used to approve that capability upgrade would be useful to evaluating the LCS's role in homeland security.
Furthermore, it would seem that if the Navy wants to use the LCS in homeland security, determining needed numbers cannot be done without accounting for the Coast Guard's contribution of at least 33 major ships. Conversely, it would seem that the analysis that led McHale and Young to determine that the Navy needs to employ LCS in homeland security may in fact be used by the Coast Guard to see whether additional maritime security ships are warranted.
What Congress Should Do
Step 1: Before allowing the Navy to proceed with adapting the LCS for maritime security duties, Congress should direct both the Navy and the Congressional Research Service to analyze separately whether:
The LCS can effectively and efficiently provide both warfighting and maritime security capabilities, especially in light of a prominent defense analyst's statement that the LCS is "going to spend 95 percent of its life doing [global war on terrorism] missions" such as interdiction, searching vessels, boarding operations, and the like. Procuring expensive ships optimized for the least likely scenarios, but employing them almost exclusively in the most likely scenarios, is a policy whose costs and benefits require close examination.
The Navy should use the Coast Guard's large maritime security ship, the WMSL, in lieu of the LCS to conduct the Navy's maritime security duties. With a range and endurance three times greater than the LCS, coupled to a 29-knot sprint speed, this Coast Guard ship may adequately serve-in terms of affordability, numbers, mission fit, and operating characteristics-as a suitable Navy ship for the Navy's global maritime security duties. Furthermore the WMSL's purposeful design for constabulary vice warfighting duties, on-board equipment and systems, and dimensions makes its presence more acceptable and relevant for regional maritime security operations and international engagement purposes.
The Congressional Budget Office's 2005 Budget Options Report underscores the need for such an analysis. While the CBO does not endorse this suggestion, the document points out that "the Navy could save as much as $29 billion between 2006 and 2015 if it opts to build new frigates instead of procuring the DD(X) next generation destroyer and the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)."
Step 2: As part of its ongoing revamping of its defense needs, the United States can ill afford to continue ignoring the lack of meaningful maritime security planning and coordination between the world's largest navy and the world's seventh largest navy-America's Navy and Coast Guard.
Furthermore, Congress needs to provide meaningful oversight of the Coast Guard's military role. The committees that oversee the Coast Guard have no national defense responsibilities, and the committees that have those responsibilities do not oversee the Coast Guard. So the Coast Guard finds itself in a Catch-22-like position in regard to its military responsibilities. As a direct consequence, there have never been any hearings before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees on the national defense roles of the Coast Guard's $20 billion Deepwater construction program to replace its offshore ships, aircraft, and sensors-all with significant national defense capabilities.
Congress must formalize and oversee the de facto joint relationship between the Navy and the Coast Guard for ship, aircraft, and C4ISR procurement (and maritime security operations) to produce savings through economies of scale and elimination of duplication, as well as to ensure integration of operational effort. Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Philip Dur, chief executive officer of Northrop Grumman's Shipbuilding Systems, recently commented that it would be helpful if both the Navy and Coast Guard jointly planned their long-term shipbuilding buys. "I do not know that either service takes the other service's capabilities into account," he said. DOD's announcement to use LCS in homeland security without regard to developments in the Coast Guard is in itself added testimony for improved planning and coordination between the Navy and the Coast Guard.
Specifically, Congress should:
Arrange regular appearances by DHS and Coast Guard leadership before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and by DOD, Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and Navy leadership before the Coast Guard oversight committees to testify about the Coast Guard's military duties.
Require inclusion of the Coast Guard in the Secretary of Defense's Annual Report to the President and the Congress and the Secretary of the Navy's Posture Statement. Both reports are routinely devoid of any language that recognizes the Coast Guard's national defense role. Yet only the Defense and Navy Secretaries can reasonably address the Coast Guard's ability to fulfill its military role and oversee the preparation of the Coast Guard for its military duties.
Codify in law the Coast Guard-Navy National Fleet Policy. This innovative, out-of-the-box policy commits both services to develop complementary forces that address the entire spectrum of America's 21st century naval and maritime threats; to leverage each service's core competencies to improve capability, interoperability, and affordability; and to stretch the "national" budget dollar with economies of scale in total ownership costs. The time has come for Congress to make the National Fleet objectives a reality. In the interim, Congress should direct the Coast Guard and Navy to submit detailed plans on how they intend to meet the objectives of their National Fleet Policy.
Amend the Goldwater-Nichols Act to require Coast Guard officers to participate in the Joint Officer Professional Military Education (JOMPE) Program. Congress has required the other four armed services to participate in the JOMPE Program that qualifies their officers for joint duty. If the Coast Guard wants to be a viable, contributing military service, then it must prepare its personnel for defense operations in the same manner as the other military services.
Designate in law the Commandant of the Coast Guard as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Designate in law the Coast Guard as a "Naval Service" in the same fashion as the Marine Corps so that the Navy consistently includes the Coast Guard in all its operational and resource planning efforts as a full partner on its defense team.
Expand the charter of its bipartisan Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus, under the leadership of Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis (R- VA) and Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS), to include the Coast Guard as well as the Navy. Increasingly disturbed about declining naval capabilities, some Members of Congress in January 2005 formed this Caucus  because of their concern that the shrinking number of Navy ships will harm the nation's shipbuilding industrial base and reduce capabilities for national security, especially for the war on terrorism.
In his 2005 Guidance, Admiral Vern Clark directed a strong "belt-tightening" approach, calling for a faster, more agile, and smaller fleet. Admiral Clark clearly recognizes that the Navy's present acquisition plan is unaffordable. Admiral Clark also knows that building a Navy force set that is designed only to deal with major combat operations, given all the other tasks that the Navy faces in the world today, "is the incorrect approach to building the force set of the future."
Admiral Clark wants to reshape the Navy to "handle anti-terror missions as well as traditional naval operations." One of Admiral Clark's key lieutenants, Vice Admiral Joseph Sestak, says that "the Navy's traditional areas of operations-overseas offensive combat operations and homeland defense-are merging." It almost sounds as if the Navy is reinventing a portion of itself to do Coast Guard missions as it searches for more relevancy and affordability.
With a Coast Guard equipping itself with 33 maritime security ships, with a Navy headed toward placing greater emphasis on homeland and maritime security duties, and in a world plagued with a burgeoning growth in terrorist and civilian maritime threats, the nation can ill afford two separate solutions for its maritime security requirements. Full integration between the Navy and the Coast Guard with respect to maritime security capabilities, planning, and operations is warranted, especially in light of current and foreseeable budget realities. The Coast Guard and Navy must forge close bonds and blend their respective national elements of maritime power in a collaborative way to meet the nation's maritime security requirements.
Bruce B. Stubbs, a retired Coast Guard officer, worked on the National Security Council staff during the Reagan Administration. He is now a technical director, Center for Security Strategies and Operations, Anteon Corporation, Arlington, Virginia. This paper was prepared as part of The Heritage Foundation's ongoing studies of maritime security and homeland security issues.