Sunday, May 18, 2008

Basis See Conference, Pt2 : The Navy

Speaches by:
Vice-Adm. Wolfgang E. Nolting : Inspector of the Navy
Flot.-Adm. Klaus von Dambrowski : Navy C4I/CD&E Staff Division Leader
Flot.-Adm. Karl-Wilhelm Ohlms : Navy Logistics Staff Division Leader

Three speaches that i've grouped together for summarization. These present the Navy point of view, primarily from the Navy planning section at the MoD.

Basis See, from the Navy point of view, has a wide mission spectrum, in particular in joint operations. Of particular value, given previous missions, is the capability for expeditionary operations without Host Nation Support. Dambrowski outlines a number of missions undertaken in the past 10 years - from evacuating troops from Somalia on frigates to disaster support in Bandah Aceh by a EGV - to underline this.

Ohlms gives a description of Basis See that i rather like - according to him, it represents an "Order of Capabilities", which forms an abstract layer between the initial mission concept and the Order of Battle. The Order of Capabilities is derived from the mission context - selecting capabilities out of what the Basis See framework offers to fit the mission - and the order of battle is subsequently derived from the Order of Capabilities - ie selecting ships that offer the selected capabilities.

There are still a number of legal problems for the German Navy when facing non-military threads such as piracy or terrorism. Both for operations inside the German EEZ - German Military may not be used internally - and in certain scenarios abroad. For example, a German ship without a parliamentary mandate can't attack a pirate ship with military means according to Nolting, who proposes a change of constitution to solve this issue - a little change to Article 87, which demands parliamentary approval for peacetime use of the military.

Nolting also notes that Basis See has one distinct plus for German foreign politics - a naval expedition reduces the dangers of being drawn into foreign conflicts in comparison to traditional ground-based peace-keeping.

Dambrowski outlines the immediate further development of Basis See: In particular, the CD&E for the "Lead from the Sea" project will be continued. Also, the recently founded NATO Center of Excellence for Operations in Confined Shallow Waters, located at Kiel, will be used as a think tank of sorts that will bring further development into Basis See.

There is a dilemma coming up in the future according to Nolting. That being keeping traditional conventional warfare capabilities despite the transformation. This is of course something that has been given thought worldwide lately - does specialization for expeditionary warfare - and in particular asymmetric warfare - cripple the navies in a potential conventional conflict. Nolting sees modularization as a possible solution, while traditional specialized units may face obsolescence.

Ohlms also sees an elementary question of mission modularity or multi-mission-capability in future platforms. He brings in the doubtful side though, citing necessary evaluation of cost, logistics and training for such mission modularity, especially when considering potentially necessary in-theater role changes. There are a number of capabilities though that can be exploited without too much of that, namely the increased usage of UUVs, UAVs and USVs from Navy platforms for a number of capabilities. For future units, there's a potential for modularization in both the K131 corvette class and the Joint Support Ship project, according to Ohlms.

Regarding expeditionary warfare, one thing is of course lacking in the German Navy, and that's an amphibious component. This amphibious component is discussed as GMSV in the Navy - Gesicherter Militärische See-Verlegefähigkeit, i.e. Secured Military Sea-Transport Capability. Dambrowski sees GMSV as a necessary component. GMSV is complemented by GGSS - commercial sealift. Both differ of course in that GGSS only offers basic transport, while GMSV has the potential to host force packages. One additional potential use for GMSV is seen in shuttling cargo between GGSS and a mission area by Dambrowski. Nolting however strictly denies that the Navy is seeking a Marine Force service, which would of course be a somewhat logical proceeding from GMSV.

Finally, there's a short introduction into the Industry/Navy relationship presented in these speaches. Apparently, this relationship currently faces some quality and competency issues due to cost-saving pressure and the public market. A possible solution for this is proposed through a sort of public-private partnership, based on the currently developing "structured dialogue" between Navy and industry. Such a public-private partnership could also be applied in other fields, in particular cross-training (to retain competency of specialized personnel) and infrastructure.

Part 3 will be the views of the other services to contrast this.

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