"A New Policy Direction?"

By Strasser, Joseph C | Naval War College Review, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview

"A New Policy Direction?"


Strasser, Joseph C, Naval War College Review


A book reviewer occupies a position of special responsibility and trust. He is to summarize, set in context, describe strengths, and point out weaknesses. As a surrogate for us all, he assumes a heavy obligation which it is his duty to discharge with reason and consistency

Admiral H. G. Rickover

Meconis, Charles A., and Boris N. Makeev. U.S.-Russian Naval Cooperation Westport, Conn.: Greenwood 1996. 151 pp. $55

CHARLES MECONIS AND BORIS MAKEEV, the former an American naval arms control analyst and the latter a retired Russian naval officer, have collaborated on a thoughtful analysis of the benefits to the United States, Russia, and indeed the entire global community, of the world's two great naval powers seriously discussing and adopting significant naval arms limitations agreements.

The authors define naval arms control as "any action, agreement or statement . . that reveals, restricts, restrains or reduces the operations, capability, composition, structure, or size of any nation's naval forces for the purposes of preventing conflict, reducing damage should conflict occur, and reducing the cost of procuring and maintaining forces."

After each author reviews the naval aspects of his own nation's national security, Makeev describes the development program of the Russian Navy, while Meconis outlines U.S. naval strategy as promulgated in ". . . From the Sea: Preparing the Naval Service for the 21st Century" and "Forward . . . From the Sea." All of this serves as background for the authors' strong support for meaningful naval arms limitations discussions and agreements. Meconis and Makeev have concluded that the need to prevent or contain maritime conflict in the post-Cold War era still exists and that naval arms control can play a major role in that effort and in establishing a framework for U.S.-Russian naval cooperation and possibly even partnership. This is so, in their opinion, because in the post-Cold War era the Russian Navy no longer seeks full parity with U.S. naval forces and Nato, and because the Russian Navy is no longer interested in limiting American naval power in areas that do not affect Russian interests.

The authors propose a three-stage approach to the realization of their naval arms control agenda. The initial phase, which is already in progress, promotes maritime confidence-building measures. It is envisioned that this stage would reinforce existing confidence-building measures at sea and would include the following: a verifiable agreement for the prevention of incidents involving submarines; a full and formal exchange of information on the makeup, location, missions, and building and decommissioning plans of the ships and aircraft of both navies; an increased exchange of ideas concerning strategy, doctrine, and operations through direct navy-to-navy contacts; and prenotification and observation of naval exercises.

The second stage would be more difficult to reach agreement on and would be perceived as essentially one-sided in nature. The proposal calls for a bilateral agreement to limit the size and activities of U.S. antisubmarine forces in certain areas near the Russian coast, so as to preclude effective "strategic" antisubmarine warfare but not interfere with other types of naval operations, including "tactical" antisubmarine warfare. …

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