For decades, the U.S. Navy has been built around its carrier battlegroups and amphibious ready groups: huge clusters of heavily armed warships, tailored for delivering massive firepower, in the form of airplanes or Marines. But for today’s “hybrid” wars, where winning over local populations is as important as killing the bad guys, these traditional naval groups aren’t necessarily the best things.
The idea is that instead of having a group of ships centered on an aircraft carrier, whose primary mission is to launch strikes on shore, we ought to have groups of ships that have as primary functions training, providing humanitarian disaster relief, and U.S. smart power in Latin America supporting humanitarian projects. What I am thinking about specifically is centering a group around a hospital ship and then including in that group several smaller ships that bring training capability with them.
Stavridis, widely considered the Navy’s answer to the Army’s Gen. David Petraeus, is no stranger to new concepts. During his stint at Southcom, he deployed the Navy’s new catamaran high-speed transports, including the super-speedy Stiletto. He even blogs!
There’s evidence the Navy might take Stavridis’ idea seriously. The sea service has heavily emphasized humanitarian missions, of late. Plus, Navy Cmdr. Jerry Hendrix is helping craft the Navy’s portion of the Quadrennial Defense Review. In a recent article, Hendrix proposed mixing catamarans, Stilettos and Littoral Combat Ships, to form “Influence Squadrons,” optimized for humanitarian and training missions.
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