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In late March, the Navy announced plans to dissolve its Strategic Studies Group at the Naval War College. The group organized each year with 18 to 22 members of senior officers tasked with working on chief of naval operations-directed projects.
A senior retired officer familiar with the matter told Defense News, “there was a question about whether that group couldn’t be used better. … A think tank might do a better job over eight months.”
Retired Adm. James Stavridis agreed with the decision to retire the group in an op-ed for Foreign Policy, calling it a “timely and sensible one,” and goes on to say that while the group made good contributions, “it has moved away from producing cutting edge, quick reaction work over the past years.”
Stavridis cites several reasons for this, one of which is the inevitability of all strategic organizations reaching a natural and logical end. But he also cites other reasons such as the location of the group in Newport, Rhode Island — far away from Washington, D.C. He also points to the “less dynamic” set of officers sent to fill the organization each year as the another source of trouble.
Both Stavridis and the senior retired officer point cited by Defense News to another possibility: to bring back Deep Blue, a once active naval operations study group in the Pentagon set up by then-Chief Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark.
The inception of Deep Blue came on the heel of the 9/11 attacks and assembled from the Quadrennial Defense Review in late 2001. The intention for Deep Blue was to provide Clark a direct path to a strategic think tank located in his immediate circle in Washington. Initially, the group’s mission was to synthesize ideas for fighting the war on terror at a strategic level. A few years later under Rear Adm. Michael Mahon’s leadership, Deep Blue’s mission expanded.
“We bring the intelligence community together with the operators,” said Mahon in a 2004 interview. “We talk to fleet commanders, look up what their missions are out there, what capabilities they have to perform their missions, and what [other] effects they need to accomplish that mission.”
Three naval innovations from the past decade, Sea Swap, the Expeditionary Strike Group, and the afloat forward staging base all had either inception or development in Deep Blue. Yet the group was dissolved in 2008 when the billets were reassigned to a new QDR integration group.
Today, the Navy is in a strategy deficit. This, plainly stated, in a report from the Naval Postgraduate School released in June 2015: “The Navy has failed to ensure that strategy drives program development and execution.”
The report points to the historical changes in diplomatic, political, economic, and technological setting as the inevitable challenge in maintaining naval strategic supremacy. But in Peter Hayes book, “Toward a New Maritime Strategy,” Hayes describes more specific forces that contributed to the atrophy of naval strategy in the past decade as follows:
- Clark’s focus on operational problems and a belief that strategy problem solving belongs to the secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs.
- The Goldwater-Nichols Act diverted the most promising naval officers of away from billets within the naval plans and strategy department and into billets within the secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs.
- Support for programs to educate naval officers as strategist declined as evidenced by the shutting-down of Naval Postgraduate School’s two-year strategic planning master’s program.
In the conclusion of his book, Hayes writes, “The Navy needs to ask questions that require its leaders to put aside their in-baskets and reflect on strategy and the implications of globalization.”
There seems to be a philosophical tug of war in play within the Navy on where best to apply manpower resources: operations or strategy. Indeed, it appears the well-regarded Deep Blue was also more operations-focused than strategy.
The dissolution of the Strategic Studies Group in Newport underscores this dilemma, as the Defense News senior retired officer familiar with the matter explained, “To have 18 captains up in Newport working on one problem wasn’t as valuable as having that same manpower working on various problems in real time.”
Maybe he’s right.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine on Monday and is moving them to a handover location agreed with Kiev, Crimea's border guard service was cited as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday.
A Reuters reporter in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014, earlier on Sunday saw coastguard boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially be handed over to Ukraine.