Order Code RS22373
February 6, 2006
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Navy Role in Global War on Terrorism
(GWOT) — Background and Issues for
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
The Navy is taking several actions to expand its capabilities for participating in the
Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The Navy’s role in the GWOT raises several
potential oversight issues for Congress, including the need for an increased Navy role,
and amount of Navy personnel and funding associated with GWOT-related activities.
This report will be updated as events warrant.
Introduction and Issue for Congress
The Navy, which has participated for several years in what the Administration refers
to as the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is taking actions to expand its capabilities
for GWOT-related activities.1 The issue for Congress is: How should the Navy’s role in
the GWOT be taken into account in assessing the Navy’s budget and Navy programs?
Longstanding Navy GWOT-Related Activities. The Navy has carried out
certain GWOT-related activities for several years, including the following:
on-the-ground medical support and construction support for Marine
Corps operations in Iraq;
surveillance by Navy ships and aircraft of suspected terrorists in overseas
maritime intercept operations (MIO) aimed at identifying and
intercepting terrorists or weapons of mass destruction at sea, or
For an overview of the role of U.S. military forces in the GWOT, see CRS Report RL32758,
U.S. Military Operations in the Global War on Terrorism: Afghanistan, Africa, the Philippines,
and Colombia, by Andrew Feickert.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
potentially threatening ships or aircraft that are in or approaching U.S.
territorial waters — an activity that includes Navy participation in the
multilateral Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI);2
operations by Navy special operations forces, known as SEALs, that are
directed against terrorists;3
Tomahawk cruise missile attacks on suspected terrorist training camps
and facilities, such as the attacks carried out against targets in
Afghanistan and the Sudan following the 1998 terrorist bombings of U.S.
embassies in East Africa;
working with the Coast Guard to build and maintain maritime domain
awareness (MDA) — a real-time understanding of activities on the
assisting the Coast Guard in port-security operations;5
protection of forward-deployed Navy ships, an activity that was
intensified following the terrorist attack on the Navy Aegis destroyer
Cole (DDG-67) in October 2000 in the port of Aden, Yemen; and
protection of Navy bases and facilities in the United States and
elsewhere, an activity that was intensified following the terrorist attacks
of September 11, 2001.
The Navy states that
Winning the Global War on Terrorism is our number one priority. We continue
to support the GWOT through naval combat forces that are capable and relevant to the
missions assigned. The Department of the Navy [which includes the Navy and the
Marine Corps] has deployed various forces into the Central Command (CENTCOM)
area of responsibility (AOR) to support in-theater deployment of Marine Corps
combat units (and attached Navy medical personnel and construction battalion) and
provide other sustainment support (such as port and cargo handling and supply
support, medical support, mail and transportation, [and] explosive ordnance [support].
Currently, over 28,000 Marines and approximately 19,500 Navy (both ground
and shipboard) personnel are engaged in CENTCOM AOR supporting GWOT
operations. Hundreds of naval medical personnel were deployed to Iraq in support of
Marine forces, as well as over 1,000 active and reserve Navy Seabees responsible for
For more on the PSI, see CRS Report RS21881, Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), by
SEAL is an acronym that stands for Sea, Air, and Land. For further discussion of the SEALs
and of the role of special operations forces in the GWOT, see CRS Report RS21048, U.S. Special
Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress, by Andrew Feickert, and CRS
Report RS22017, Special Operations Forces (SOF) and CIA Paramilitary Operations: Issues for
Congress, by Richard A. Best, Jr. and Andrew Feickert.
For further discussion of MDA and the Coast Guard, see CRS Report RS21125, Homeland
Security: Coast Guard Operations — Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke,
and David W. Munis, “Vital Links,” Seapower, May 2005.
For more on the Coast Guard and port security, see CRS Report RS21125, op cit , and CRS
Report RL31733, Port and Maritime Security: Background and Issues for Congress, by John F.
A carrier strike group and an expeditionary strike group have continuously been
on station in the CENTCOM AOR, providing direct operational and combat support.
Naval coastal warfare and explosive detection forces provided security for Iraqi oil
terminals and thwarted terrorist forces from disrupting the off-shore energy supply.
The Navy has mobilized and provided additional forces to augment Army operations,
including medical support; Naval Expeditionary Logistic Support Forces, which have
provided port handling and supply support; military police and other security forces....
Because more than 95 percent of the world’s commerce moves by sea, it is likely
that terrorist networks utilize merchant shipping to move cargo and passengers. The
United States naval forces are well trained to carry out the mission of deterring, delaying,
and disrupting the movement of terrorists and terrorist-related material at sea.6
Recent Actions To Expand Navy Role in GWOT. On July 12, 2005, Admiral
Vernon Clark, who was Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) until July 22, 2005, issued a
memorandum directing several “actions to expand the Navy’s capabilities to prosecute
the GWOT,”7 to be completed at various points between FY2005 and FY2007, including:
establishment of a riverine force, a reserve civil affairs battalion, an MIO
intelligence exploitation pilot program, an intelligence data-mining
capability at the National Maritime Intelligence Center (NMIC), and a
Navy Foreign Area Officer (FAO) community consisting of officers with
specialized knowledge of foreign countries and regions;
integration of active and reserve parts of Helicopter Combat Support
(HCS) squadrons 4 and 5, which are used to provide airlift support for
procurement of Automatic Identification Systems (AISs) for surface
development of a concept for a Navy expeditionary combat battalion that
would supplement but not duplicate capabilities in the Marine Corps, and
a concept for a Navy expeditionary training team.
The Navy subsequently decided against establishing a Navy expeditionary combat
battalion, but is pursuing other items on the list.
In October 2005, Admiral Clark’s successor as CNO, Admiral Michael Mullen,
issued a guidance statement for the Navy for 2006 that contained follow-on initiatives
intended to strengthen the Navy’s capabilities for participating in the GWOT, including
U.S. Department of the Navy, Highlights of the Department of the Navy FY 2007 Budget.
This memorandum was an update to a similar memorandum issued by Admiral Clark on July
The AIS is a transponder-like device that transmits a ship’s identification, position, course,
speed, and other data to other ships and relevant authorities. The International Convention for
the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires AIS to be installed on ships with a gross tonnage of
more than 300 tons.
“Develop adaptive force packages and flexible deployment concepts to
include NSW [naval special warfare — the SEALs], U.S. Coast Guard,
and coalition partners in support of operations in blue, green, and brown
water environments that are aligned with the National Fleet policy9 and
the National Strategy for Maritime Security;”
“Identify requirements to organize, train, maintain, and equip a Navy
Expeditionary Combat Command” to coordinate the activities of several
Navy organizations performing GWOT-related activities;”
“Develop concepts for green and brown water operations to include
[certain types of visit, board, search, and seizure, or VBSS, operations],
Expanded Maritime Interdiction Operations, expeditionary training team
concepts, enhanced combat and force protection capabilities, civil affairs,
and Theater Security Cooperation influence activities;”
“Leverage existing language, area studies, and technology curricula to
enhance and expand Foreign Area Officer development, intelligence,
information warfare, and cryptologic expertise as well as to develop
practical cross-cultural skills needed to further relations with emerging
“Develop Global Maritime Intelligence Integration (GMII) as part of
JFMCC [Joint Force Maritime Component Command] and Maritime
Domain Awareness (MDA) in support of Joint, Navy, and interagency
“In line with the National Fleet policy, engage with the U.S. Coast Guard
to leverage the National Strategy for Maritime Security to more rapidly
develop capabilities for Homeland Security, particularly in the area of
Maritime Domain Awareness.”10
The Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), headquartered at Naval
Amphibious Base Little Creek, VA, was established informally in October 2005 and
formally on January 13, 2006. NECC will
consolidate the current missions and functions of the 1st Naval Construction Division,
Naval Expeditionary Logistics Support Force and Maritime Force Protection
Command. NECC will also serve as functional commander in control of manning,
training, equipping and organizing forces that will execute ATFP [anti-terrorism force
protection], shore-based logistical support and construction missions across the joint
operational spectrum.... Between 40,000 and 50,000 Sailors will join the command
in phases over the next two years to ensure current operations are not disrupted. The
command will oversee units ranging from bomb-disposal crews, expeditionary
logistics specialists, the naval coastal warfare groups and the master-at-arms forces.
The NECC will also provide the 5,000 to 7,000 Sailors supporting the Army and
Marine Corps in the Middle East with proper training for these non-traditional jobs. 11
The National Fleet policy is a joint Navy-Coast Guard statement that commits the two services
to achieving closer coordination in a number of areas.
M. G. Mullen, CNO Guidance for 2006, Meeting the Challenge of a New Era. Washington,
2005. pp. 5, 8.
Katrina Scampini, “Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Stands Up,” Navy News Service,
January 14, 2006.
NECC will oversee the Navy’s riverine force, which is to consist of three squadrons
of 12 boats each, with a total of about 700 active-duty and reserve sailors. The force is
intended to supplement the riverine capabilities of the SEALs and relieve Marines who
have been conducting maritime security operations in ports and waterways in Iraq.12
Other reported Navy initiatives relating to the GWOT include the following:
The Navy has commissioned a study from the Naval Studies Board (an
arm of the National Academy of Sciences) on the adequacy of the role of
naval forces in the GWOT and options for enhancing that role.13
The Navy has announced that it will take back five Cyclone (PC-1) patrol
craft that it had loaned to the Coast Guard to help support Coast Guard
port security operations.14
The Navy will assume command of a GWOT-related joint task force in
the Horn of Africa, the detainee operation at Guantanamo, Cuba, and Fort
Suse, a high-security prison in Iraq, and will take the lead in defending
the Haditha Dam in Iraq.15
The Navy is developing a GWOT mission module for the Littoral
Combat Ship (LCS).16
The Navy states that
a number of new joint capabilities, outlined in the 2005 QDR [Quadrennial Defense
Review], are funded in the [Department of the Navy’s proposed] FY 2007 budget. The
Expeditionary Security Force increases the effectiveness of maritime interdiction
operations by supporting intercept and boarding capabilities in every strike group. The
National Maritime Intelligence Integration Center increases maritime domain awareness
through improved integration with interagency and international partners. Riverine
capability fills a critical capability gap and provides additional opportunities to enhance
partner-nation capabilities and capacity. Finally, the establishment of the Marine Corps
component of the Special Operations Command (MARSOC) enhance interoperability and
provides greater flexibility and increased capability to fight the war on terrorism.17
Jason Ma, “As NECC Stands Up, Navy Prepares Riverine Forces For 2007 Iraq Mission,”
Inside the Navy, January 23, 2006; Mark D. Faram and Andrew Scutro, “Back In Brown: Navy
Assembling Riverine Unit To Deploy To Iraq Next Year,” Navy Times, January 23, 2006; James
W. Crawley, “‘Brown Water’ Navy Takes Shape,” Media General News Service, January 10,
2006; Grace Jean, “Navy Riverine Force to Report for Iraq Duty in 2007,” National Defense,
January 2006; Andrew Scutro, “Greater Riverine Role,” Navy Times, November 14, 2005.
Christopher J. Castelli, “Navy Commissions Study On ‘Adequacy’ Of Naval Role In War On
Terror,” Inside the Navy, July 11, 2005.
Jack Dorsey, “Navy To Get Back Loaned Patrol Ships,” Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, December
21, 2005; Andrew Scutro, “Navy Calls On Cyclone Class,” Navy Times, December 5, 2005.
Jason Ma, “Mullen: Goal Is Not Naval Infantry, But ‘Maritime Security Force,’” Inside the
Navy, October 31, 2005.
Jason Ma, “Navy Developing Global-War-On-Terror Mission Module For LCS,” Inside the
Navy, January 16, 2006. For more on the LCS, see CRS Report RS21305, Navy Littoral Combat
Ship (LCS): Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.
Highlights of the Department of the Navy FY 2007 Budget, op cit.
Potential Oversight Issues For Congress
Potential oversight issues for Congress relating to the Navy’s role in the GWOT
include the following:
Need for increased Navy role in GWOT. Is an increased Navy role in
the GWOT needed? To what degree can or should increased Navy
GWOT-related activities be used to reduce the burden on other services
for conducting GWOT-related activities? Is the Navy proposing to
perform GWOT-related functions that might be better performed by other
organizations? Are the Navy’s actions motivated in part by concerns
about its perceived relevance to current threats, or by a desire to secure
a portion of GWOT-related funding?
Personnel and funding for GWOT. How many Navy personnel
globally are involved in GWOT-related activities, and where are they
located? How much funding is the Navy expending each year on
GWOT-related activities? How much will the personnel and funding
figures grow if the Navy implements its recent initiatives to expand its
capabilities for participating in the GWOT?
GWOT vs. other Navy priorities. Is the Navy striking an appropriate
balance between GWOT-related activities and other Navy concerns, such
as preparing for a potential future challenge from improved Chinese
maritime military forces?18 What other Navy programs have been or
might be reduced to support Navy GWOT-related initiatives?
Proposed GWOT initiatives. Are the Navy’s planned GWOT-related
initiatives appropriate? Do they represent the best potential uses of Navy
resources for the GWOT? Should some of these initiatives be dropped,
or others added?
Force structure requirements. Aside from the establishment of the
riverine force and a reserve civil affairs battalion, what implications
might an expanded Navy role in the GWOT have for Navy forcestructure requirements (i.e., the required size and composition of the
Coordination with other organizations. Is the Navy adequately
coordinating its GWOT-related activities and initiatives with other
organizations, such as the Special Operations Command (SOCOM)19 and
the Coast Guard?
Organizational changes. Are the Navy’s recent GWOT-related
organizational changes, such as the establishment of NECC, appropriate?
Does NECC include the right collection of Navy organizations? What
other Navy organizational changes might be needed?
For more on China’s naval modernization and potential implications for required U.S. Navy
capabilities, see CRS Report RL33153, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy
Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.
For further discussion about coordination with SOCOM, see Christopher J. Castelli, “Top
Navy, SOCOM Leaders Discuss Key Issues, Resources And Roles,” Inside the Navy, December