Security of Northern Europe - As seen from the Sea
- I’d like to thank the US Embassy for hosting this event and Col John Olsen for inviting me to speak at the launch of his important book. Thank you.
- Honoured to be speaking on such a panel with Admiral Jamie Foggo – long term friend and mentor.
- Pleased to be speaking – this is important.
- In the next 10 mins I hope I will show why. Actually I am going to do three things
o First highlight why this conversation is important.
o Second, What we are doing about it and,
o Third – where I need your support! You are a captive Audience – your reporting will be helpful.
- First I need to congratulate John Olsen and his contributors on another volume of this most important subject. It is really important to keep the drive of education, engagement and energy. Thank RUSI for being one of the enablers in the debate. Professor Peter Roberts and requires special mention and it is the renewed collective sense of inquisition in RUSI that is exciting.
- I have read the first volume of John Olsen’s work ‘NATO and the North Atlantic’ cover to cover. It isn’t a drip map but one of those references that has become essential. This next volume is the same.
Why is this Important – WHY?
- MARCOM’s principal conclusion is that the sea, the maritime battlespace, feels different.
o Threats are not just binary, not just to the East, or to the South. Not just Russia, anti-submarine warfare or migration.
o Threats are now all linked to defence, security and the environment and are both persistent and fleeting and several can, and are, emerging simultaneously.
o Threats might be behind us or in territory we thought was our back yard.
o Threats - all the threats - are positioned like counters on a chess board; This image, the chessboard, with events popping up and surprises becoming the norm defines our focus.
These threats need to drive agility, fashion escalation control, containment and deterrence and demand understanding of the environment as never before.
- The seas and oceans are the Alliance’s new frontier - not unlike space or cyber;
o Indeed, the operational environment does not have an edge or a boundary but is all around us and is temporal.
o Yes, there is a sense that it is a return to the past but the newness comes from a more complex geo-political climate which is set in a fiercely competitive arena and an environment of limited elasticity.
- Competition (at sea and/or in our heads) is not theoretical – it is real.
o Our competitors are mobilising to maximise their chances and this explains much of the behaviour of those who worry us.
o Russia's strategic planning is preparing it for a period of intense competition and it is readying itself for this challenge; not just to their West but to their South, North and East as well.
o China is following suit - hence their expansionism and the new "One Belt One Road” strategy – and just look at their new purpose-built headquarters and military base in Djibouti – a daunting military outpost placed to guard the resupply of oil, food and raw materials.
o Both of these major powers are going to be robust competitors in an era where our planet is increasingly stressed and the impacts of events are completely interrelated and immediate.
So what do we do about this!
Topic 1 – Which is To Understand!
- First: Whenever we fail to do proper research, to convert knowledge to understanding and that to wisdom we fail. I am struck by the lovely parable – "Nasradinn’s Fable about a fool who looks for his keys where there is light. He never looks in the dark place where the keys have fallen”.
- We must recognise that Russia practices Maskirovka (the art of camouflage and deception) better than ever we will.
- We must also recognise that western societies generally are less comfortable considering the security of the sea than the land. We don’t have maritime issues in the common lexicon and patois which is a weakness.
- In an Atlantic Alliance we must work ceaselessly to understand the lessons of our predecessors as well as the revenge of geography and the environment.
- Second; we invariably fail to understand people and our enemy. My sense, at the beginning of almost every campaign, is that we see our foe through our eyes and are invariably surprised by what he does next. Andrew Monahan (currently at Oxford) chastises us, kindly, for our veneer deep understanding of the Russian Navy, its people and the hinterland within which they live. We need to be careful of this.
- Finally we are too often fixed on ‘our plan’ not his. History is littered with examples and the British approach to the North Atlantic and the Anti-Submarine threat at the start of the Second World War is a classic example of how to get this nearly very badly wrong. To buck this, Vice Admiral Liza Franchetti, the Commander of the US 6th Fleet and my battle buddy is doing some very interesting analysis into trends and behaviour of the Russian Navy in the Eastern Mediterranean, Perhaps heeding the advice of The Center of Naval Analysis who speak about ‘the Russians hidden in plain sight’.
On all these points it is good that John and his team seek to educate us and take the debate on. Education and understanding are critical to our success in the future. We mustn’t fall back on old assumptions and we must press ourselves to be honest about our developments – to make sure that we understand when we are investing to satisfy our own political audience and when we are investing to defend, deter, defend and defeat our foes.
For as General Gorshkov said in 1972 "Armies might win wars and Navies might loose a war but Navies determine peace. – Navies achieve the war’s political objectives.”
Second Topic: What are we doing about this?
I am assuming that the room understands that My HQ is in North London and we have the role of Theatre Maritime Component Commander; Commander of Standing and
Allocated Forces; SACEUR’S Maritime Advisor and NATO’s Maritime Advocate.
- Most importantly we have revolutionised the way we think and act. My HQ now has one focus – Operations. This, like an elite sportsman, drives our behaviour and our intent.
Every day we command live operations and activity – working with partners and offering Nations deterrence and defence AND … Value for Money. We work in partnership – NATO/National, NATO/EU, NATO/Partners, NATO/FRONTEX & Interpol and NATO/Commercial Shipping. All this from our Maritime Operations Center in North London.
- Under SACEUR’s direction we have reviewed structures and roles and the requirements of readiness, credible capability and Command and Control. As a result MARCOM will grow from 302 to 485 personnel hosted by UK in North London. Critically MARCOM’s Command responsibilities have thickened we are now a Theatre Component Commander as well as a Maritime Component Commander. This responsibility and authority comes with a need to establish concise, simple and consistent command relationships and I am delighted to report that under Admiral Jamie’s watchful gaze Lisa Franchetti (6th Fleet & SFN), Woody Lewis (2nd Fleet) and I (alongside some national maritime commanders) are in a hugely energising conversation about how will we command the Atlantic.
- This is critical. Too long have we been happy in a pot of despondency – the boiling frog syndrome! No people, No ships, No resources. Well – we want more of everything but we can do so much more than we are with what we have.
We just need to free this energy. So, my recommendation to SACEUR is that it isn’t the form of the Standing Forces that we need to change but how we use it. We need a Standing Navy that has more programming flexibility, if focussed on Operational Tasking and is high end exercises; but also one that is connected in a proper, non-patronising way with partners and friends. We can’t do that with a Schedule of Operations agreed by nations two years in advance – believe me! So I have instigated a revolution – it’s an experiment and it’s called Maritime Express. How do I manage 2019’s programme in the north to be agile – to control our destiny. I am going to ask for your help with this one!
- So I need concrete examples of betterment – let me give you a live example! To underpin my operational focus;
- In the Eastern Mediterranean; off Tartus – HS Elli……expand ….. where NATO and National (Allies and Partners) ships maintain watch while sharing a unified JChat and Link architecture all coordinated by MARCOM alongside the US 6th Fleet with my friend and partner Vice Admiral Lisa Franchetti; and our Dutch SNMG Commander on the scene onboard the Dutch ship De Ruyter. A far cry from 24 months ago!
- Now the future – we need to really re-energise the amphibious capability; this to stop talking shops; to recreate mass movement at speed and to bled the considerable European capability with the might of the US. A truly trans- atlantic endeavour. I am very proud that SACEUR has asked me to lead this and am already forming delivery teams
…. Hear this DELIVERY TEAMS.. to determine the next steps.
- And finally under DO….. it is Anti Submarine Warfare. NOT Theatre Anti-Submarine Warfare as practiced by our nuclear allies but NATO or ALL ARMS anti submarine warfare.
Bringing in all elements of NATO’s arsenal (Manned and Un- Manned; in service and experiment) to deliver composite effect. Winning the game of inches; using national excellence to add to the fight!
SO…. And I recognise that this is a rush! I need your help!
- I am impressed how hard it is to tell the maritime message up through diplomatic and political systems and get it to be an item on the agenda. So please advertise this energy – demand to come and see MARCOM; drag your Mil Rep along and then pull in your Ambassador! We have the President of Bulgaria visiting soon – because we have piqued his interest … can we trigger yours!
- Second: demand to understand how we are adapting and thinking differently. Make sure your best people are coming to MARCOM (especially my hugely influential posts) demand to have a voice at the NATO Manpower Conferences so that happens (make sure it isn’t a dull bit of horse trading … this is really important).
- Finally, Please challenge and argue (and relay) especially MARITIME EXPRESS (time is running out!!); but also Command and Control, Standing Naval Forces, Amphibiosity and Anti-Submarine Warfare. I need you to be my examiners and my messengers.
In the spirit of time and questions