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Mattis Is Pushing The Navy To A Brand New Fleet Strategy
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Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently hinted at major changes to how aircraft carrier battle groups are deployed, saying that the current eight-month deployment cycle is “no way to run a Navy.”
Instead, the order of the day is preparation for peer conflict. Deployments scheduled years in advance may be replaced by flexible 90-day tours. “They won’t spend eight months at sea,” Mattis continued in his remarks to the House Armed Services Committee last month. “We’re going to have a force more prepared to surge and deal with high-end warfare as a result, without breaking the families, the maintenance cycles-we’ll actually enhance training time.”
Mattis seems to be bringing his old Marine Corps “Chaos” persona to an organization that’s built a business model on predictability. Training, readiness, and staffing issues aside, what effect would the secretary’s proposed changes have on US Naval Strategy?
The best way to understand the contemplated changes is to see this as a transition from a Mahan-inspired Navy to a Corbett one.
What does that mean? Well, the work of Alfred Thayer Mahan is at the core of our Navy’s culture. It formed the basis for the grand strategy of the US Navy. In particular, his 1890 book The Influence of Seapower Upon History articulated the strategic logic behind a naval building frenzy that took the world by storm. Mahan believed that concentrated battle fleets made up of capital ships on the strategic offensive, based at and supplied by chains of distant colonies, would establish “command of the sea” for the nation’s shipping interests. Unfettered access to foreign markets was won through fleet-on- fleet battle. An enemy fleet’s proper place was trapped in port or on the seafloor. Mahan’s theories paved the way for American holdings in Cuba and the Philippines. Later, colonies were replaced with bases stationed with allies around the world.
Sir Julian Corbett was a British contemporary of Mahan. In Some Principals of Maritime Strategy, published in 1911, he argued that “command of the Sea” was a relative term, as the world’s oceans were too vast to “control.” What could be controlled were lines of communication. The act of passage, then, was more important than outright control. It was better to maintain a presence, then quickly seize temporary control of small areas when needed. Corbett prized maneuver over decisive battle in an overall plan of strategic defense that featured concentrated local offensives and combined operations. Commerce raiding and blockades featured heavily. Capital ships were only one part of the equation. The enemy never needed to be destroyed in the Mahanian sense.
Secretary Mattis’ view of sea power comports more with Corbett’s views than with Mahan’s. Corbett wrote his tome for the Royal Navy, then a long established sea power—as, now, is the U.S. Navy. Defending the status quo in delicate geopolitical situations meant decisive fleet on fleet battles were to be avoided. Corbett’s emphasis upon the operational level and hitting enemies fast and hard where needed fits neatly with Mattis’ views of warfare. While aircraft carriers have long since taken the battleship’s place as the fleet’s capital ship, Corbett’s theories make room for other types of warships to contribute to the mission. Cruise missiles, armed UAVs, and special operations forces make this facet quite attractive.
Reordering the Navy from its Mahanian mindset will be tough. Questioning long-standing philosophies always meets resistance. Mahan’s arguments on decisive battle and absolute control of the sea were made at the time America was a rising sea power, not an established one. This is supported by Mahan’s popularity with new naval powers like China. It’s yet to be seen whether the Navy is unwilling to give up the historic foundation of its mission.
While the specifics of Secretary Mattis’ plans have yet to be announced, the strategic implications are many. Bottom line is, Mattis seems to be gambling that certain regions used to a predictable naval presence will remain stable despite unpredictable rotations. How will allies and opponents react?
Kyle Gaffney received his Master’s Degree in History from William Paterson University. He last wrote for The Long March about Tom’s hero, Gen. William T. Sherman. Follow him on Twitter at @citizenGaffney .
Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."
"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.
"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."
Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.
Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.
No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.
With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.
Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.
And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.
But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.
As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.
The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.
That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.
The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.
Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.