NEWPORT, R.I. - Naval War College (NWC) professor Cmdr. James Kraska, of the International Law Department (ILD), recently wrote a chapter in an electronic book, “The Strategic Impact of Energy Dependency.”
For all of human history access to resources has been a strategic issue. This is even more critical today given rising demand for resources from developing societies and the quest for renewable and alternative sources of energy.
Kraska’s chapter, titled “Energy Security in the Coastal Zone
,” examines countries’ access to resources in the face of modern threats, like maritime piracy, offshore sources of energy, and the role of energy in economic prosperity.
The book, available on Nov. 12 in English and French, was published by the Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) Institute as its fourth annual Vimy Paper, an annual study that addresses a critical strategic defense and security issue for Canada and Canadians. Edited by CDA Institute’s Senior Defence Analyst Colonel Brian MacDonald (ret.), it observes the function of energy as political policy in specific geographical regions, political or economic climates.
Vimy Paper 2009 is not a recipe book, but offers valuable perspectives on some of the hottest (and in one case, the coldest) topics in global development and security. It contains nine chapters by eminent practitioners and experts in the field, each of which examines key aspects of the strategic impact of energy dependency from different vantage points, be it from the national, regional or international level, or from a resource, geopolitical or military perspective.
Not since the Iran-Iraq tanker war of the 1980s has maritime security infrastructure—primarily crude oil tankers, and oil platforms and terminals in the coastal zone—been at such a high risk of disruption by armed attack at sea. The bitter conflict between Baghdad and Tehran swung open the door to new and irregular maritime threats and hybrid littoral warfare against maritime energy infrastructure, resulting in damage to more than 500 oil tankers and the memorable reflagging of Kuwaiti tankers by the United States. During the tanker war the threat of attack arose from the seam between conventional naval warfare and unconventional threats at sea, and included naval mines, seaborne terrorism, small, fast boat swarms and littoral insurgency. Today, those threats still exist, and added to them is maritime piracy. Natural gas carriers and oil tankers comprise 40 percent of the world shipping fleet, and offshore sources of energy are becoming more important for new development. Addressing the threats against energy vessels and infrastructure in the maritime domain is essential for maintaining economic prosperity, especially in Asia, which is dependent upon Gulf oil. An effective approach requires the right strategy and carefully selected tools to accomplish the task — a large, dispersed fleet of small patrol craft is best suited for the mission.
Disclaimer: This article and the book do not necessarily reflect the official views of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Navy. Entries may link to web sites outside of NWC, which is provided as a community service to promote academic discourse and critical thinking and does not constitute endorsement.