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Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress

Changes from May 29, 2008 to July 8, 2008

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Order Code RS22373 Updated May 29July 8, 2008 Navy Role in Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) — Background and Issues for Congress Ronald O’Rourke Specialist in Naval Affairs Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division Summary The Navy for several years has carried out a variety of activities related to what the Administration refers to as the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The Navy states that as of February 2008, more than 11,300 Navy sailors (including Individual Augmentees) were ashore supporting ground forces in the U.S. Central Command region (including Iraq and Afghanistan). The Navy’s role in the GWOT raises several potential oversight issues for Congress. This report will be updated as events warrant. Background Longstanding Navy GWOT-Related Activities. The Navy for several years has carried out a variety of activities related to what the Bush administration refers to as the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), including the following: ! Navy sailors, many of them individual augmentees (IAs), serving on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan in various mission areas, including but not limited to medical and construction support; ! surveillance by Navy ships and aircraft of suspected terrorists overseas; ! maritime intercept operations (MIO) aimed at identifying and intercepting terrorists or weapons of mass destruction at sea, or 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);1 ! operations by Navy special operations forces, known as SEALs, that are directed against terrorists;2 1 For more on the PSI, see the CRS Report RL34327, Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), by Mary Beth Nikitin. 2 SEAL is an acronym that stands for Sea, Air, and Land. For further discussion of the SEALs (continued...) CRS-2 ! ! ! ! ! Tomahawk cruise missile attacks on suspected terrorist training camps and facilities, such as those reportedly conducted in Somalia on March 3 and May 1, 2008,3 and those conducted in response to the 1998 terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa; working with the Coast Guard to build maritime domain awareness (MDA) — a real-time understanding of activities on the world’s oceans; assisting the Coast Guard in port-security operations;4 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 domestic and overseas Navy bases and facilities. Initiatives Since 2005 To Expand Navy Role in GWOT. Since July 2005, the Navy has implemented a number of initiatives intended to increase its capabilities for participating in the GWOT, including the following: ! establishing a multilateral global maritime partnership (originally known as the “1,000-ship navy” concept) for ensuring global maritime security; ! establishing the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC); ! reestablishing the Navy’s riverine force; ! establishing small sea bases called Global Fleet Stations (GFSs) in various regions around the world; ! establishing 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; ! assuming 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 assuming the lead in defending the Haditha Dam in Iraq; 5 ! procuring Automatic Identification Systems (AISs) for surface ships; 2 (...continued) 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. 3 Edmund Sanders, “U.S. Missile Strike in Somalia Kills 6,” Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2008; Stephanie McCrummen and Karen DeYoung, “U.S. Airstrike Kills Somali Accused of Links to Al-Qaeda,” Washington Post, May 2, 2008: A12; Eric Schmitt and Jeffrey Gettleman, “Qaeda Leader Reported Killed In Somalia,” New York Times, May 2, 2008. 4 For more on the Coast Guard and port security, see CRS Report RL33383, Terminal Operators and Their Role in U.S. Port and Maritime Security, by John Frittelli and Jennifer E. Lake; and CRS Report RL33787, Maritime Security: Potential Terrorist Attacks and Protection Priorities, by Paul W. Parfomak and John Frittelli. 5 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. CRS-3 ! ! ! developing a GWOT mission module for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS);6 developing Global Maritime Intelligence Integration (GMII) as part of Joint Force Maritime Component Command (JFMCC) and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA); and engaging with the U.S. Coast Guard to use the National Strategy for Maritime Security to more rapidly develop capabilities for Homeland Security, particularly in the area of MDA. In discussing its GWOT-related activities, the Department of the Navy, which includes the Navy and the Marine Corps, states that naval forces (the Navy and Marine Corps) provide the bulk of the nation’s worldwide rotational military presence and an increasing portion of the required support for ground units in Operations Enduring Freedom / Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) [i.e., Afghanistan and Iraq]. These operations support our nation’s interest by continuing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, expanded maritime interception operations, and counter-piracy and counter-drug patrols. There are over 11,300 sailors ashore (including Individual Augmentees supporting ground forces in core mission areas and new capability areas) and 12,000 at sea in the U.S. Central Command region alone engaged in the GWOT. Since assumption in FY 2007, the Navy continues command of the detainee mission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and at Camp Bucca, a high-security prison in Iraq. Additionally, Executive Agent responsibility remains in effect for command of the GWOT related Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF HOA) in Djibouti. Our presence in the Horn of Africa, which is an impoverished part of the world that struggles with disease, drug running, human trafficking, smuggling and pockets of extremism, is a key to ensuring that terrorism doesn’t gain a foothold in the region. CJTF HOA was initially formed in November 2002 as a seafaring force aimed at blocking terrorists fleeing Afghanistan from establishing a new safe haven. Soon after, the task force moved ashore and its mission morphed into a blend of military cooperation, military-to-military training and humanitarian assistance over a massive, eight-country region. The Navy is now engaged to help bring stability, security and hope to the region.... The Navy spearheads OEF by providing sovereign deck space from which to launch combat sorties into Afghanistan, continues to support ground operations in Iraq from the sea, in the air and on the land as part of OIF, and conducts deterrence operations in the Persian Gulf. The Navy also responds to humanitarian crisis, patrols for pirates, interacts with the developing navies around the world and supports counter-terrorism operations in the Philippines.... Under the National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD-41), we are continuing to cultivate relationships and develop capabilities to maximize the advantage that operating in the maritime domain brings to homeland security. Because more than 90 percent of the world’s commerce moves by sea, protection of merchant shipping from potential terrorist networks is critical. United States naval forces are 6 For more on the LCS, see CRS Report RL33741, Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Oversight Issues and Options for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke. CRS-4 well trained to carry out the mission of deterring, delaying, and disrupting the movement of terrorists and terrorist-related material at sea. However, the United States cannot accomplish this monumental task alone. We are broadening our relationship with the navies of international allies to prosecute the GWOT. We are expanding the Proliferation Security Initiative to other countries and working bilateral boarding initiatives in all hemispheres. We are also integrating intelligence and command and control systems with other government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security to effectively evaluate the maritime environment and anything that could adversely influence the security, safety or economy of America and our allies. We continue to develop the Navy’s role in the Maritime Domain Awareness concept, including ship tracking and surveillance, to identify threats as early and as distant from our borders as possible in order to determine the optimal course of action. We are working with the Department of Homeland Security to develop a comprehensive National Maritime Security Response Plan to address specific security threats and command and control relationships.7 Global Maritime Partnership (Previously 1,000-Ship Navy). The Global Maritime Partnership, previously known as the 1,000-ship Navy concept, is a U.S. Navy initiative to achieve an enhanced degree of cooperation between the U.S. Navy and foreign navies, coast guards, and maritime police forces, for the purpose of ensuring global maritime security against common threats. The Navy states that the future of maritime security depends more than ever on international cooperation and understanding. There is no one nation that can provide a solution alone. A global maritime partnership is required that unites maritime forces, port operators, commercial shippers, and international, governmental and non-governmental agencies to address mutual concerns. Ongoing discussions of a “1,000-ship navy” continue. The name itself captures the scope of the effort. The concept is not actually about having 1,000 international ships at sea. Rather, it is more about capabilities, such as speed, agility and adaptability. Membership in this navy is purely voluntary and has no legal or encumbering ties. It is a free-form, self-organizing network of maritime partners — good neighbors interested in using the power of the sea to unite, rather than to divide.8 NECC. 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. The Department of the Navy states that NECC will help meet the irregular challenges of the 21st Century. It will serve as a functional command to organize, man, train, and equip forces that operate in an expeditionary environment. It will be the single advocate for all Navy Expeditionary Forces to include Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Naval Construction Force (NCF), Maritime Expeditionary Security Force (MESF, formerly Navy Coastal Warfare) and Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG), and key new capabilities: Expeditionary Training Command (ETC), Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center 7 U.S. Department of the Navy. Highlights of the Department of the Navy FY2009 Budget. Washington, 2008. (February 2008) pp. 2-1 through 2-3. 8 U.S. Department of the Navy. Highlights of the Department of the Navy FY2009 Budget. Washington, 2008. (February 2008) pp. 1-3 to 1-4 CRS-5 (ECRC), Maritime Civil Affairs Group (MCAG) and Riverine Force. These forces will conduct Maritime Security Operations and Theater Security Cooperation and are capable of protecting critical infrastructure, securing the area for military operations or commerce, preventing the flow of contraband, enabling power projection operations, joint, bi-lateral or multilateral exercises, personnel exchanges, and humanitarian assistance. Whether extending a helping hand or finding and prosecuting our enemies, we are redefining the limits and meaning of 21st Century Seapower.9 Riverine Force. The riverine 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. The consists of three squadrons of 12 boats each, and include a total of about 900 sailors. The Navy established Riverine Group 1 (which oversees the three squadrons) at the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, VA, in May 2006. The first riverine squadron was established in FY2006, deployed to Iraq in March 2007, and returned in October 2007.10 The second squadron was established in February 2007 and deployed to Iraq in October 2007 to relieve the first squadron.11 The third squadron was established in July 2007.12 Following the completion of the first squadron’s deployment, the Navy in 2007 reportedly was considering expanding the riverine mission to other parts of Iraq.13 Global Fleet Stations (GFSs). The Navy envisages establishing as many as five GFSs around the world, each of which might be built around a single amphibious ship or high-speed sealift ship. Under Navy plans, GFSs could host or support Marines, Navy LCSs or patrol craft, Coast Guard small boats, and Army and Air Force personnel. GFSs under Navy plans would be capable of conducting or supporting various operations, including some that could be considered GWOT-related.14 Potential Oversight Issues For Congress Potential oversight issues for Congress relating to the Navy’s role in the GWOT include the following: 9 U.S. Department of the Navy. Highlights of the Department of the Navy FY2009 Budget. Washington, 2008. (February 2008) p. 2-2. 10 For a discussion of this deployment, see Tim Fish, “RIVRON 1 Claims Success in Tackling Iraqi IEDs, But New Boats May Be Needed,” Jane’s Navy International, January/February 2008: 12-13. See also John Suits, “RIVRON 1 Sailors Return Home,” Navy News Service, October 23, 2007. 11 “Riverine Squadron 2 Deploys,” Navy News Service, October 4, 2007. 12 Louis Hansen, “Third Riverine Squadron Formally Established At Yorktown,” Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, July 7, 2007; Chris Johnson, “Navy Creates Third Squadron For Riverine Missions in Iraq,” Inside the Navy, July 9, 2007; Matthew D. Leistikow, “NECC Establishes Riverine Squadron 3,” Navy News Service, July 10, 2007. 13 Chris Johnson, “Navy Mulling Expansion of Riverine Mission to More Areas in Iraq,” Inside the Navy, July 23, 2007. 14 For more on GFSs, see CRS Report RS21338, Navy Ship Deployments: New Approaches — Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke. CRS-6 ! To what degree can or should Navy GWOT-related activities be used to reduce the burden on other services for conducting GWOT-related activities? Are the Navy’s steps to increase its role in the GWOT partly motivated by concerns about its perceived relevance, or by a desire to secure a portion of GWOT-related funding? ! 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? ! Is the Navy adequately managing its individual augmentee (IA) program?15 ! 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?1516 ! Is the Navy devoting sufficient attention and resources to riverine warfare?1617 ! 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 force-structure requirements (i.e., the required size and composition of the Navy)? ! Is the Navy adequately coordinating its GWOT-related activities and initiatives with other organizations, such as the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Coast Guard? ! 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? 15 For a discussion of the Navy’s management of the IA program, see Andrew Scutro, “Fleet Forces Takes Charge of IA Program,” NavyTimes.com, July 7, 2008. 16 For additional discussion of this issue, see CRS Report RL33153, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke. 1617 For an article that discusses this question from a critical perspective, see Daniel A. Hancock, “The Navy’s Not Serious About Riverine Warfare,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, January 2008: 14-19.