Advantage At Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power

11 Dec 2020 | General David H. Berger Commandant of the Marine Corps

Our actions in this decade will shape the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century.

The security environment has dramatically changed since we last published A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower in 2015. Several nations are contesting the balance of power in key regions and seeking to undermine the existing world order. Significant technological developments and aggressive military modernization by our rivals are eroding our military advantages. The proliferation of long-range precision missiles means the United States can no longer presume unfettered access to the world’s oceans in times of conflict.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, our three Sea Services have watched with alarm the growing naval power of the People’s Republic of China and the increasingly aggressive behavior of the Russian Federation. Our globally deployed naval forces interact with Chinese and Russian warships and aircraft daily. We witness firsthand their increasing sophistication and growing aggressiveness. Optimism that China and Russia might become responsible leaders contributing to global security has given way to recognition that they are determined rivals. The People’s Republic of China represents the most pressing, long-term strategic threat.

In the midst of fighting two wars, our three Services have worked to meet these global challenges. The Navy has prioritized controlling the seas, increased its forward deployed forces in Asia and Europe,  and realigned its warfighting organizations. Today, roughly 60 percent of Navy forces are in the IndoPacific region. Sweeping transformation of the Marine Corps is generating greater expeditionary combat power with enhanced capabilities for sea control and sea denial. The Coast Guard is expanding its global engagements and capacity-building efforts in key vulnerable regions. Together, we are developing new operational concepts and redesigning our forces to provide the capability and capacity to execute them. However, we are not yet where we need to be. Getting there will require predictable budgets and on-time funding.

America’s Naval Service defends our Nation by preserving freedom of the seas, deterring aggression, and winning wars. For generations, we have underwritten security and prosperity and preserved the values our Nation holds dear. However, China’s behavior and accelerated military growth place it on a trajectory that will challenge our ability to continue to do so. We are at an inflection point. Our integrated Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard must maintain clear-eyed resolve to compete with, deter, and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries while we accelerate development of a modernized, integrated all-domain naval force for the future. Our actions in this decade will shape the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century.

Together, we must act with urgency to integrate and modernize our forces as we prepare for the challenges ahead. The boldness of our actions must match the magnitude of our moment. The security of our Nation depends on our ability to maintain advantage at sea.

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