'Sea Bases' Will Be a Growth Industry, Predicts Expert

By Erwin, Sandra I. | National Defense, November 2004 | Go to article overview

'Sea Bases' Will Be a Growth Industry, Predicts Expert


Erwin, Sandra I., National Defense


The relevance of the U.S. Navy in future military conflicts will be pegged to its ability to provide adequate "sea bases" for ground troops and tactical aircraft. This "assured access" will be an essential component of U.S. military strategy, because land bases on foreign lands increasingly will be unattainable.

These are the predictions of Owen R. Cote Jr., associate director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology national security studies program. Cote is a futurist working on a Navy-funded study focusing on what lies ahead for carrier-based aviation. The study was commissioned by Vice Adm. (Sel.) Mark Fitzgerald, former director of naval aviation.

Cote said be can predict safely that "sea basing and tactical aviation are growth industries" in the U.S. Navy. "Access to bases is episodic, and comes with constraints. That's not likely to change."

Although critics contend that the vulnerability of sea bases to enemy attack will put a damper on this strategy, potential enemies of the United States are unlikely to pose serious threats to aircraft carriers or other large-deck vessels, Cote noted. It would be reasonable to expect that "the basic capability asymmetry that exists today will remain for as long as we can see," Cote said.

Early-warning radar aircraft such as the Air Force AWACS or the Navy's E-2C Hawkeye will help to "keep the other guy at arm's length," he added. …

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