Naval Transformation: Background and Issues for Congress Page: 4 of 6
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- that fixed overseas land bases in the future will become increasingly vulnerable to
enemy anti-access/area-denial weapons such as cruise missiles and theater-range ballistic
missiles. Although the sea basing concept originated with the Navy and Marine Corps,
the concept can be applied to joint operations involving the Army and Air Force.
To implement the sea basing concept, the Navy wants to field a 14-ship squadron,
called the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future), or MPF(F) squadron, that would
include three new-construction large-deck amphibious ships, nine new-construction
sealift-type ships, and two existing sealift-type ships. Additional "connector" ships would
be used to move equipment to the MPF(F) ships, and from the MPF(F) ships to the
operational area ashore. Some analysts have questioned the potential affordability and
cost effectiveness of the sea basing concept.6
New Kinds of Naval Formations. The Navy in the past relied on carrier battle
groups (CVBGs) (now called carrier strike groups, or CSGs) and amphibious ready
groups (ARGs) as its standard ship formations. In recent years, the Navy has begun to use
new kinds of naval formations - such as expeditionary strike groups, or ESGs (i.e.,
amphibious ships combined with surface combatants, attack submarines, and land-based
P-3 maritime patrol aircraft), surface strike groups (SSGs), and modified Trident SSGN
submarines carrying cruise missiles and special operations forces - for forward
presence, crisis response, and warfighting operations. A key Navy objective in moving
to these new formation is to significantly increase the number of independently
deployable, strike-capable naval formations. ESGs, for example, are considered to be
formations of this kind, while ARGs generally were not.
The Navy in 2006 also proposed establishing what it calls global fleet stations, or
GFSs. The Navy says that a GFS
is a persistent sea base of operations from which to coordinate and employ adaptive force
packages within a regional area of interest. Focusing primarily on Phase 0 (shaping)
operations, Theater Security Cooperation, Global Maritime Awareness, and tasks
associated specifically with the War on Terror, GFS offers a means to increase regional
maritime security through the cooperative efforts of joint, inter-agency, and multinational
partners, as well as Non-Governmental Organizations. Like all sea bases, the composition
of a GFS depends on Combatant Commander requirements, the operating environment,
and the mission. From its sea base, each GFS would serve as a self-contained
headquarters for regional operations with the capacity to repair and service all ships, small
craft, and aircraft assigned. Additionally, the GFS might provide classroom space, limited
medical facilities, an information fusion center, and some combat service support
capability. The GFS concept provides a leveraged, high-yield sea based option that
achieves a persistent presence in support of national objectives. Additionally, it
complements more traditional CSG/ESG training and deployment cycles.
6 For more on the seabasing concept, see CRS Report RL32513, Navy-Marine Corps Amphibious
and Maritime Prepositioning Ship Programs: Background and Oversight Issues for Congress,
by Ronald O'Rourke.
7 For more on the modified Trident submarines, see CRS Report RS21007, Navy Trident Submarine
Conversion (SSGN) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke.
8 U.S. Department of the Navy, Naval Operations Concept 2006, Washington, 2006, pp. 30-31
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Naval Transformation: Background and Issues for Congress, report, April 10, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc817070/m1/4/: accessed February 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.