Where is the outer boundary of our military operations?
A major theme of this website is that we are destroying ourselves though hubris. We see so many of the world’s problems as calls for US military intervention. Inevitably either this will bankrupt us, or we’ll buy into a conflict with ruinous consequences. This open-ended lust to play global cop affects ever our finest military analysts. Like Galrahn at Information Dissemination, the go-to website for insight about naval affairs. Excerpt from “Streetfighter 2010: The New Navy Fighting Machine“, 6 January 2010:
Littoral Operations as a Strategic Capability
If you read the internet, newspapers, magazines, or watch too much 24-hour news networks, you have met many instant experts on Yemen describing the strategic options of the US. One of the most interesting aspects of the discussion in my view is how various experts are attempting to highlight the strategic interests of the United States through a prism of examining the human and geopolitical terrain, and applying them to our national security interest.
Playing the part of an instant expert, I’d suggest that perhaps the internal politics of Yemen has very little strategic importance to the United States, indeed I would suggest the Houthi insurgents in the north or the separatist movement in the south have very little influence on our strategic interests regarding Yemen, as our interests rely not on the internal politics of Yemen but in the prevention of external influences to the internal politics of Yemen.
The human terrain of strategic consequence to the United States is not in Yemen, it is around Yemen, most notably at sea in the Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea. It is the human migration patterns from Ethiopia and Somalia. It is the international shipping traffic in the Gulf of Aden. Finally, it is the protection of the vital Bab-el-Mandeb passage from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea that prompts our strategic interest.
The assistance the US can provide to Yemen most likely to serve our strategic national interests would be the development of Yemen sea based capabilities to disrupt the sea lines of communications used by external forces that support the internal political problems of that country. Assisting in the development of capabilities for the state to protect itself is our vital interest, not resolving the states internal political disputes.
… The Streetfighter 2010 concept, on the other hand, with inexpensive $60m offshore patrol vessels and $4m inshore patrol craft would give our leaders that type of capability. Matched with a Global Fleet Station program that provided maritime security training and helped develop C2ISR capabilities at sea with Yemen, one could potentially put 8 offshore patrol vessels and 64 inshore patrol vessels off Yemen at a fleet cost of $736 million. As a 10 year procurement plan, the costs would run less than $75 million annually and the capability goes long term not only to defending the sea lines of communication of Yemen, but also towards developing a regional Coast Guard capability to defend international shipping against regional piracy. As a 15 year action plan, the cost comes down below $50 million a year and after 15 years, if Yemen is a cooperative partner in the 15 year plan, we simply give the equipment away as a permanent regional maritime security capability.
- How often do America’s geopolitical experts see a crisis and recommend no US involvement? Africa, and …?
- Take a map and shade the areas — land and sea — that are of strategic interest to the US. If Afghanistan is, how many lands are not? If providing coast guard services to Yemen and Somalia are a strategic interest for the US, what is not?
- It’s often said that the rest of the world — esp our fellow developed nations — are free-riding on US military expenditures. Let’s see how they value those services by saying pay or we’ll stop providing them. My guess: they will laugh. Or thank us.