Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Seabasing: Concept, Issues and Recommendations

Seabasing: Concept, Issues and Recommendations

Seabasing is a valid strategic concept that has been simultaneously under-defined, over-defined and vaguely defined.  It has become anchored to contradictions: it is officially a joint concept, but one that is widely perceived as a parochial tool to justify budget increases for the Department of the Navy.  It is an activity that has been alternately described as traditional and transformational.[i]  Many perceive it as defined by a specific set of hardware—future platforms such as the mobile offshore base (MOB), or additional ships for the Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF), such as the proposed Mobile Landing Platform which would allow for selective offload of prepositioned material while still at sea.[ii]  Its misapplied exclusive association with amphibious warfare, decidedly not a priority in the current Pentagon, has largely driven it out of policy discussions at the Office of the Secretary of Defense level (although programmatic plans linger). Ironically, it came to the fore in the past decade under a Chief of Naval Operations determined to cut capabilities from the amphibious fleet to fund future surface combatants.[iii]  From 2002 to 2008, it appeared with great frequency and great passion in many professional defense journals and reports.  But it is not once mentioned in the QDR 2010 report.

As a grand idea, it appears becalmed yet still visible out on the horizon.  However, as a practical reality, it is being done by U.S. forces today—and every day—even when the term is not spoken.  And the U.S. Marine Corps—along with a sometime supportive, sometime reluctant U.S. Navy—is projected to continue to make incremental improvements.

What is Seabasing All About?

There is both a broad vision and a narrow view of what seabasing is about.  The broad vision stems from conceptual discussions that began within the U.S. Navy in the 1990s.  It is also reflected in the introductory sections of the more recent joint U.S. Marine Corps-U.S. Navy-U.S. Army Concept for Employment for Current Seabasing Capabilities, released 19 May 2010.  However, a narrower view, focused on improvements to amphibious and MPF ship capabilities—as exemplified in the report of the Defense Science Board’s 2003 Task Force on Seabasing—current predominates in operational discussions.

In its broad vision, seabasing is about the capability to use the sea in the same way that U.S. forces utilize overseas regional bases for deterrence, alliance support, cooperative security, power projection, and other forward operations.  From that perspective, seabasing is decidedly not a new concept.  U.S. forces have been seabasing since the U.S. Navy became a global Navy at the turn of the last century—and, arguably, even before.  “The World War II “fleet train” [auxiliaries, oilers and supply ships that replenished the combatant ships at sea] that provided the U.S. battle fleet with such unprecedented range and freedom of action” could be considered a seabase since it allowed the fleet to resupply at sea or in isolated anchorages.[iv]  Likewise, it is easily observed that aircraft carriers are floating airbases that can be positioned and repositioned on a global basis.  Amphibious warships also constitute the components of a base for forces (primarily U.S. Marine Corps) that can be rapidly inserted onto land by both surface and air.  Combining with the USN grey hulls of the amphibious fleet are the Military Sealift Command’s civilian-crewed MPF ships.[v]  The U.S. Army too operates prepositioning ships.

The narrower view of seabasing focuses almost exclusively on naval expeditionary/amphibious capabilities and MPF support of the joint Services.  This narrower view is utilized by the U.S. Marine Corps when justifying incremental improvements in naval expeditionary platforms.

One may note, however, the above use of the word about rather than defined.  Seabasing has never had one generally accepted definition and the term itself has appeared in various formats: seabasing, sea basing, Sea Basing, Enhanced Networked Sea Basing, seabased, sea base, and other variants, all of which connote a specific nuance designed to distinguish it from the others.  It does have an official Department of Defense (DoD) definition, but one that many authorities agree is not complete.  The current Joint Publication 1-02 (DoD Dictionary) defines seabasing as: “the deployment, assembly, command projection, reconstitution, and reemployment from joint power from the sea without reliance on land bases within the operational area.”  But it also notes: “See also amphibious operations (JP-3-02).”[vi]

Although this definition is a great improvement—particularly for proponents of the broad vision–over the previous DoD Dictionary version (which stated that seabasing was a technique of amphibious operations), the note betrays the lingering–and perhaps natural—exclusive association with amphibious warfare.  This is one of the reasons that significant discussions of seabasing have not appeared in the defense literature in the past two years.  It is become apparent that Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates—kept in his position primarily to prevail in the “wars we are in”—discounts the likelihood of having to conduct major amphibious operation in the next few years (and certainly not an amphibious assault under fire).  As noted, the Quadrennial Defense Review 2010 final report, along with report of the QDR Independent Review panel, never once mention the word seabasing.  The QDR 2010 report does include a Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) in its listing of desired naval capabilities.[vii]  But a MLP, the first of which will be funded in the FY2011 defense budget, is merely another type (albeit unique) of future Maritime Prepositioning Ship (MPS), largely “connecting” or complimenting existing capabilities, and, in itself, does not indicate a strong commitment to seabasing.

Returning to the statement that seabasing is about using the sea in the same way U.S. forces use regional land bases, it becomes apparent that there can be degrees or levels of seabasing in the same way that there are different types of land bases—from austere to well-developed infrastructures.  Mid-developed seabases currently exist and have existed; a U.S. naval task force—depending on its configuration—can provide joint C4ISR, rapid strike capabilities using stealth or non-stealth assets,[viii] special operations forces (SOF) insertion, theater ballistic missile defense, control of regional air space, SAR and emergency medical facilities, space for a joint task force command element, and the positioning of infantry, light armor, and artillery ashore beyond the beach.  This is comparable to the capabilities of a regional land base (relative to the size of personnel assigned).  Of course, it can not provide a golf course—but it can move, thereby making enemy targeting more difficult.  Its elements can also be widely dispersed throughout the regional sea, an advantage that can only be duplicated by a network of land bases.

What it (seriously) cannot do is provide landing for heavy lift aircraft or store an iron mountain of supplies.  Nor can it land significant heavy armor ashore.  Nor can it make an Army or Air Force general feel fully in command of things—an unarticulated determent to the perception of jointness (even if the U.S. Army officially supports seabasing).  Yet, it can be most assuredly joint—and not simply by operating Army helicopters off aircraft carriers near Haiti.

In a practical sense its jointness is also not new.  Army forces participated in amphibious assaults along with the Marines in the Pacific, and on their own in the European theater.  Although the largest landing force in World War Two (D-Day invasion) operated across a narrow channel, and therefore was well supported by land-based aircraft, such was not true in North Africa or Southern Europe.

If the essence of seabasing is a traditional U.S. capability, what has the debate in the past decade been about?  Largely it has been:

(1) a question of how capable seabasing can be made by applying new technologies and greater resources and whether it is valid in countering anti-access defenses;

(2) an issue of the U.S. Navy appearing to simultaneous oversell the concept and under fund its resources and whether the other Services would support the concept in the joint arena;

(3) an issue of the U.S. Marine Corps justifying amphibious lift through joint terminology, and struggling with the Navy over new ship programs and OSD over the future of MPF ships; and

(4) the implication that seabasing could be a replacement, not just a supplement, to regional land bases.  An element that adds intensity to the last issue is that seabasing does not requite the permission of another nation.

Sea Control, Sovereignty and Anti-Access

Seabasing is a capability that exploits command of the sea, or less prosaically, sea control.  In fact, it can not exist without sea control.  Recently that has not been an issue because of the dominant nature of American naval power, and certainly not since the collapse of the Soviet Navy in 1991.  Since that time, American sea control has been a given, unlike the fight to achieve sea control in World War Two.  Clearly the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and perhaps others, intends to contest American sea control within its region.[ix]  However, PLA maritime capabilities have not yet matched their aspirations and it is unclear whether if efforts at sea denial (attempts to deny an opponent use of a contested sea, even when unable to achieve one’s own sea control) would be effective.  American sea control is not yet broken, presumably allowing the continued viability of seabasing.  But the growing ambition for regional denial capabilities—often referred to as anti-access or area denial strategies (A2/AD being the current acronym)—is itself undeniable.

Because it is dependent on sea control, it is natural that the U.S. Navy would provide the vast majority of seabasing platforms out of its own fleet inventory.  Originally the Rumsfeld-era Office of Defense Transformation defined sea-base as “a noun; the sea and not the things on it.”[x]  However, the seabase can more properly though of as the ships and platforms on which and by which the forces are positioned.  The ocean is the fluid medium that provides both the terrain and the reduction in friction that allows for the movement of heavy objects.  Metaphorically, it allows castles to move.  These iron castles constitute the seabase.  Within the castles are stored and transported the means of military power, including the expeditionary power of the U.S. Marine Corps and resupply for Army land forces.  These castles also provide the best logistics platforms for humanitarian assistance in littoral regions.

As mentioned, a most attractive feature of seabasing is that it provides for an overseas base of operation located close or in a crisis area that is completely under the sovereignty of the United States.[xi]  Although the United States can project strike power from the continental United States (CONUS), such constitutes but a small portion of the power projection required to affect events on land in combat or crisis.  Seabasing provides for a forward presence and deterrence efforts that might not be achieved by latent conventional capabilities in CONUS.  Seabasing is also the optimal means of providing sustained security cooperation and humanitarian relief.  All of this can be conducted without violation of anyone else’s sovereign rights under international law.

Strong proponents of seabasing like to quote British naval strategist Sir Julian S. Corbett’s observation (in 1906) that Britain—then the world’s greatest sea power, traditionally favored sovereign ports and bases that made her “independent of uncertain neutrals and doubtful allies.”[xii]  But to justify spending resources on seabasing by the need for such independence is a bit of over-selling.  America’s current allies are neither weak nor uncertain, and in the current political environment it is doubtful they would place restrictions on basing when facing a mutual threat.  However, it is valid to argue that spending on seabasing should be increased because anti-access capabilities of potential opponents (primarily China and Iran) have made fixed regional land bases extremely vulnerable.  Seabasing also faces an increasing threat, but by virtue of its mobility presents a much more difficult targeting problem for opponents.

A question becomes whether new seabasing technologies can outpace the growing anti-access threat.  The Navy-Marine Corps are planning incremental improvements in expeditionary offload from sea to shore.  The development of BMD and improved air defense from Aegis destroyers and cruisers gives additional protection to the seabase.  But if future survivability proves increasingly problematic, is a significant investment in improving overall seabasing warranted?  And if it is warranted, what technological improvements should be prioritized?

Right now technological/engineering improvements are being applied to expeditionary offload (particularly, the proposed MLP).  These are relatively low cost improvements.  But more extensive acquisition—such as the MOB proposed in the 1990s—has lost favor in light of other priorities and concerns over anti-access capabilities.  Proposed increases to the naval amphibious fleet are also vulnerable to these concerns.  This seabasing versus anti-access debate has been smoldering for some time and remains likely to get hotter.

Seabasing in Sea Power 21

Seabasing (or Sea Basing as it appears in the plan) was touted as one of the pillars of CNO Clark’s Sea Power 21 plan and a means of “projecting joint operational independence.”[xiii]  It was also described “as the foundation from which offensive and defensive fires are projected—making Sea Strike and Sea Shield [two other pillars] realities.[xiv]  But the plan omitted any discussion of amphibious ships (see note 5) and emphasized the striking capability of the cruiser-destroyer force.  To omit the capability of the seabase to land forces ashore (whether for conflict or non-conflict intervention), would seem to ignore the most significant means for the seabase to affect events on land, and relegates seabasing to but a new name for fleet strike—unless the omission indicated a pre-decided budget priority.  Clearly CNO Clark intended to emphasize the Navy’s role in supporting joint forces already ashore and expressed support for MPF shipping in resupply of those forces.  But this would be a joint supporting capability rather than a joint enabler.

The emphasis on enabling joint forces via a new (but old) concept would not seem to engender much support from other Services in the joint arena except as a quid pro quo: I’ll support you program if you support mine.  And it would seem almost a deliberate provocation of the Marine Corps, which naturally enough would consider itself a full partner in any new naval concept.  This resulted in a Navy overselling seabasing in the sense that it relied on old missions (the exception being BMD) to justify a supposedly new construct.  This was not an auspicious way to advance the seabasing concept.  Given the length of time required for shipbuilding, it did allow the 2002 Navy to squeeze some money from amphibious shipbuilding—which directly effects today’s fleet.[xv]  The overall result is that even today it is not exactly clear (CNO Clark’s successors having largely ignored Sea Power 21) what the Navy’s staff considers seabasing to be.

Future of U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary-Amphibious Capabilities and the Maritime Prepositioning Force

Since the Navy construct of seabasing did not include the Marine Corps, the Marines did what they do best–declared it an expeditionary objective and took it.  Seabasing was turned around from a concept that largely excluded amphibious assault capabilities to one focused on improving them.  Such a focus would seem natural, even within the broad vision.  But it did not bank on Secretary of Defense Gates’ apparent discounting of the need for strong amphibious capabilities—capabilities that where not particularly needed in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Recent OSD efforts to kill the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program and the Marine Corps’ efforts to keep it alive despite horendous cost increases may have also tainted SECDEF’s attitude toward amphibious capabilities, MPF and seabasing.

The result is that the Marine Corps views seabasing as a program of incremental improvements in amphibious lift, and primarily as developing capabilities to use MPF ships without having to offload in port.  Offloading at sea, particularly a combat offload, requires utilizing modern connector ships, such as the MLP, onto which cargo can be loaded from roll-on, roll-off and break-bulk carriers of the Maritime Sealift Command and re-loaded onto LCACs (land craft air cushion) in the sequence it is needed ashore.  This would increase expeditionary landing capacity without the higher costs of building more amphibious warships.

But while the Marines experiment with incremental improvements, and part of their program has been blessed by the QDR, the Defense Department’s program objective memorandum (POM) for fiscal year 2012 has mandated a drastic cut in the Navy’s prepositioning budget that may lead to putting two-thirds of the current MPF into reserve status and/or eliminate one of the three Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons (MPSRON)—specifically MPSRON 1 located in the Mediterranean region.[xvi]  There is logic in this decision since OSD perceives a great unlikelihood of the equipment being needed by the U.S. European Command/NATO in the immediate future.  But a two-thirds cut, rather than incremental reduction, does not bode well for the overall concept of seabasing.

Even as Undersecretary of the Navy Bob Work—acknowledged expert on seabasing—outlined a future with more individually capable MPF ships in a recent speech on October 5, 2010 at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Expeditionary Warfare Conference, it became apparent that his view might not be shared on the OSD level.  At the same conference, Brigadier General David Berger, Director of the Operations Division at Headquarters, Marine Corps described the defense leadership as divided between the view that MPSRON ships are merely floating warehouses and those who see it as a forward crisis response capability in support of the regional Combatant Commanders.  Outgoing Marine Corps Commandant General James Conway defended Navy-Marine pre-positioning by contrasting it to the Army’s view of prepositioning as simply a fast means of resupplying forces already engaged on the ground.  As Conway put it, “The Army uses theirs to support a capability.  In many ways, our [Navy-Marine Corps] is the [crisis response] capability.”[xvii]

Supplementing or Replacing Land Bases

The question of whether seabasing can replace land bases, or at least a dependence on land bases, immediately raises bureaucratic issues within DoD that contribute to the opposition to commit to joint seabasing.  To some extent, it is a question of foresight.  If the future of U.S. war fighting consists of pacifying terror-supporting insurgent groups within land-locked countries, or the continuing utilization of quick striking SOF forces supported by land-based tactical aviation, investment in seabasing would not seem a priority.  At times this seems to be Secretary Gates’ view, but at other times it seems unclear.[xviii]

If future wars are going to be dominated by ever more precise global strike from CONUS—which would seem to be the U.S. Air Force’s preferred future, seabasing would also seem a much lower priority.  An additional concern is that a greater commitment to seabasing—along with a qualitative or quantitative reduction in overseas land might cause allies and partners to question U.S. commitment to mutual defense.

However, if the future involves a range of regional crises in which the United States wishes to retain direct influence, there is a lot to commend seabasing as a primary instrument.  As anti-access capabilities of potential opponents expand, the survival of regional land bases would seem problematic.  The coordinates of these bases are well known and can be struck repeatedly by ballistic missiles relying solely on GPS.  But prioritizing seabasing (and ensuring it can survive in an anti-access environment) could also mean a future defense posture in which overall DoD force structure is predominantly maritime.  Relying primarily on naval assets as the foundation for most joint force regional basing would be largely seen as a defeat for jointness—which, rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, is still largely viewd in DoD to mean a roughly equal or at least a proportional share of the pie to all Services (and major Defense Agencies).  This is a formula that the Gates Pentagon has yet to break, and as defense cuts are imposed on major acquisition programs, it is likely that they will affect the Services roughly equally, again, rhetoric to the contrary.

Although the developing Air/Sea Battle planning would seem to bring Air Force-Navy cooperation to a peak, the competition for resources between seabasing and global strike in a flat defense budget is obvious.  At the same time, the Air Force is not keen to admit the vulnerability of its long term regional bases, which are required if land-based tactical aviation is to be effectively applied to a regional contingency.  The Army has an interest in resuplying its forces—presumably already on the ground—by sea, but it has no interest in becoming a second marine corps.

Under these circumstances, proponents of seabasing might emphasis the role of supplementing regional basing, rather than replacing them.  But in a flat or shrinking defense budget, “supplementing” any capability would likely be seen as a luxury rather than a requirement.

Reality and Recommendations for the Future of Seabasing

Thinking About Seabasing: All Ahead Slow is the title of Bob Work’s magisterial study, an approach he still espouses as Navy Under Secretary.  It is an apt recommendation for a defense program environment in which seabasing is not viewed as a priority.  In the 1920s and 1930s, the Marine Corps experimented (on a limited budget) on amphibious warfare, thereby developing the concepts and equipment that would enable the great advances in amphibious assault needed in the Second World War.  Experimentation with but modest programmatic investment might do the same in advancing seabasing until its need is apparent for future contingencies.

However, if one takes the broader view of seabasing, the responsibility for improving the capacity to seabase falls primarily on the Navy–which must also make particular efforts to gain joint support for the broad vision.  Dispersed platforms must be netted together (and securely), with the overall fleet functioning as a multiple-domain, combined arms base, rather than groups of independent task forces.  The current CNO, Admiral Gary Roughead, has called for greater efforts in developing “revolutionary concepts” for naval information and computing, and his actions in combing the N2 (Naval Intellegence) and N6 (C4ISR) on his staff indicates his interest in the tighter netting of information.  Tighter netting (“forcenet” in the terms of Sea Power 21) of dispersed platforms is indeed a requirement for successful seabasing, but is obviously not sufficient in itself.[xix]

The current Gates Pentagon must deal with a quandary as regards seabasing.  Experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to sour future Administration on extensive commitment of ground forces in crisis-torn states.  On the surface, this would seem to benefit investments in naval capabilities, but because seabasing remains associated in putting forces larger than SOF forces (e.g. Marine Expeditionary Units) ashore—SOF being the preferred instrument even beyond counter-terror operations—it is unlikely to attract more than incremental investment.

One mission that might increase interest in netting a tight seabase is naval BMD, since reliable information from multiple sources (including land-based) can increase the probability of accurate target solutions.  But it is easy to foresee BMD-capable ships as being treated as individual strategic assets, operationally separate from conventional forces.  This would be a mistake.  The Aegis destroyer providing ballistic or cruise missile defense is as much of the seabase as a Patriot battery defending an overseas land base is part of that base’s combat infrastructure.  At the same time, the ballistic missile defense provided to the land territory of allies by the same Aegis destroyer is as much a functional mission product of the overall seabase as the capability for landing troops ashore.  The logistical network that flows through the seabase—such as fuel delivery by fleet oilers–is the means of keeping the Aegis destroyer on station.

To reduce the Pentagon’s quandary, three recommendations can be made:

1.  To examine and experiment with the broad vision of seabasing, particularly in conjunction with developing a joint operational concept for anti-access warfare, and in developing the particulars of Air/Sea Battle.

2.  If a decision is made to reduce MPSRONs, a significant portion of the savings should be invested in the Marine Corps’ programs for increasing the capabilities of the remaining MPF through new technologies and platforms.  This is in keeping with earlier statements by Secretary Gates that the Services could keep most of the savings from cuts made.

3.  To maintain naval BMD platforms as an integral part of deployed conventional forces—part of the seabase as exists today—rather than isolate them as an element of strategic deterrence.

Defense policy is all about making choices: who/what is the threat; what strategy should we adopt; how should we emplace or deploy our forces.  As noted, it is also about managing resources, even for the United States with its incomparable military but current fiscal crisis.  Since there is no certain answer, risk is always involved and alternative strategies must always be considered and evaluated.  It is the responsibility of defense planners, and especially the defense leadership, to try to mitigate the risks as much as possible.  As a concept, seabasing mitigates risks involving overseas basing, anti-access defenses, and regional presence.  The priorities given to mitigating these specific risks is an accurate indicator of the future that the defense leadership envisions.

A prudent strategy in uncertain times for the United States that mitigates risk would be to strengthen capabilities that do not rely on non-sovereign overseas basing, even while working diplomatically to maintain alliances and access to overseas bases.  It would appear best to invest in a balance between SOF capabilities, long-range CONUS-based capabilities (such as global strike) and highly maneuverable and well defended seabases.  These capabilities would seem both compatible and complimentary.  CONUS-base forces can provide extensive firepower, but can not sustain “boots on the ground” in a contested region.  Most U.S. interests overseas lie within range of seabased forces, our involvement in Afghanistan notwithstanding.

However, tighter resource constraints usually bring out the worse in organizational rivalries and bureaucratic politics, and a clash between seabasing, global strike, planning for future wars like the wars we are in, recapitalizing land forces, and expanding SOF capabilities.         In the current Gates Pentagon, such a clash would likely find seabasing on the shorter end.


[i] Robert Work, Thinking About Seabasing: All Ahead, Slow (Washington, DC: CSBA, 2006), p. iv.

[ii] One of the strongest proponents of the MOB in the 1990s was Admiral William A. Owens, USN.  See Owens, High Seas: The Naval Passage to an Uncharted World (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995), pp. 163, 165, and Owens and Ed Offley, Lifting the Fog of War (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000), pp. 175-176, 205.  See an excellent discussion in Lieutenant Commander Henry J. Hendrix II, USN, “Exploit Sea Basing,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, August 2003, pp. 61-63.

[iii] This is my own interpretation of the decisions of CNO Admiral Vern Clark, USN in the early 2000s.  Such a motive was never publically stated.  See note 5.

[iv] Work, p. 9.

[v] This broad vision interpretation is consistent with seabasing as defined in the U.S. Navy’s 2002 policy Sea Power 21 except for the fact the Sea Power 21 made no mention of amphibious ships as part of seabasing—an incomprehensable, albeit deliberate, omission.  Work critically discusses this omission, dismissing Navy staff excuses that Sea Power 21 was a “Navy” document, but not a “naval” document, therefore not intended  to include the Marine Corps, and, thus, not the amphibious ships associated with them (Work, pp. 163-165).  But he does not come out with the key factor that CNO Admiral Vern Clark, whose career was almost exclusively in cruiser-destroyer type ships, had little if any interested in expending much shipbuilding resources on amphibious ships.  Rather, he saw reductions in amphibious capabilities as a “bill payer” for increasing the capabilities of the cruiser-destroyer force.  On Sea Power 21, see Admiral Vern Clark, USN, “Sea Power 21: Projecting Joint Power,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, October 2002, pp. 32-41.

[vi] Department of Defense,  Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, 12 April 2001 (As Amended Through 31 July 2010), p. 412.

[vii] Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 2010, p. 46.

[viii] Primary stealth assets being cruise and conventional ballistic missile launching submarines (SSGNs).

[ix] A fact that is not popularly recognized is that the national government of China does not officially have armed forces.  The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its subordinate People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) swear allegiance to the CCP, not the state.  This complicates any strategic calculus of Chinese intentions.  This is a point well made in CDR Thomas Henderschedt and LTCOL Chad Sbagia, “China’s Naval Ambitions: 10 Myths that America Holds about China,” Armed Forces Journal, September 2010.

[x] Work, p. 8.

[xi] Sovereignty might be shared with allies or partner nations if they provide ships, platforms and/or personnel for the seabase.

[xii] Quoted in Work, p. 17.

[xiii] Clark, p. 36.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] See Grace V. Jean, “Marines Question the Utility of Their New Amphibious Warship,” National Defense, September 2008. at:

[xvi] Cid Standifer, “Work: Prepositioning set for big changes,” Inside the Navy, 11 October 2010.

[xvii] Ibid.

[xviii] In his Foreign Affairs article of 2009, Secretary Gates outlined his plan as being one that maintains balance between “between trying to prevail in current conflicts and preparing for other contingencies, between institutionalizing capabilities such as counterinsurgency and foreign military assistance and maintaining the United States’ existing conventional and strategic technological edge against other military forces, and between retaining those cultural traits that have made the U.S. armed forces successful and shedding those that hamper their ability to do what needs to be done.”  While “other contingencies” could indicate operations that seabasing could facilitate, it should be noted that he refers to maintaining “the United States’ existing conventional and strategic technological edge” rather than an existing edge in capabilities.  Analyses of the article have pointed to “balance capabilities” as meaning a balance across the spectrum of conflict—but that may not be what was meant.  In any event, the SECDEF’s natural focus has been on unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency and counter-terror—in which seabasing would play largely a supplimental, ot critical role.  Robert M. Gates, “A Balanced Strategy: Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age,” Foreign Affairs, January-Februart 2009,

[xix] Andrew Burt, “New Memo from CNO: Roughead Seeks ‘Revolutionary’ Concepts in Information and Computing,” Inside the Navy, 11 October 2010.