EMC Chair Symposium: Maritime Security, Seapower, and Trade

March 24-26, 2014

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.


Working Papers




To make sense of the relationship among maritime security, seapower, and trade, the EMC Chair will convene a symposium that brings experts from industry, the policy community, and the sea services. Participants will reflect on the importance of classic maritime thought and how changes in the shipping industry, trade patterns, and non-state use of the oceans impact future naval operations. The implications are important for understanding the types of missions combatant commanders will execute and the types of equipment and training the Navy must provide to support these missions. Keynote speakers will address the diplomatic and operational considerations of maritime cooperation. 

Panel 1: Reflections on Maritime Strategy

Warfare has changed, yet the classics of strategic thought endure. From the triremes and hoplites of ancient Greece to the Special Forces in 21st-century Philippines, strategy is the process by which political objectives are translated into military action—using the means at a nation’s disposal to compel an enemy to bend to its political will. Whether it is Mahan’s ideas about  global basing or Corbett’s thinking on integrated operations, key thinkers such as these have had profound impacts on the world’s navies during the 20th century. At the same time, rising maritime powers look to the classics that led to the development of modern navies. This panel examines the foundational theories of sea power that influenced the maritime strategies of the great powers of the 20th century and considers the relevance of these theories for the maritime strategies of China, India and the United States in the 21st century.

Panel 2: The Evolving Role of Seapower in Peacetime

The historical peacetime role of seapower—protecting a nation’s trade at sea—seems to have lost much its relevance in contemporary times. Nonetheless, the increasingly globalized economy is vitally dependent on efficient, uninterrupted maritime commerce which can be placed at risk by a growing spectrum of threats. At the same time, today’s navies are being tasked with such missions as humanitarian relief, countering trans-national crime and terrorism, and combating piracy, often without appropriate strategy, doctrine or optimal platforms. This panel will look at the evolving role of seapower and answer this question: What are the proper objectives and methods of naval operations in peacetime today, and what are the implications for naval theory, strategy, doctrine, and force structure?

Panel 3: Naval Strategists’ Perspectives

In 2013, the Naval War College created Advanced Studies in Naval Strategy. This course of study builds on the broad graduate-level educational base of the core curriculum to instill a profound
understanding of the strategic uses of sea power, the role of economics in strategy, and acquired knowledge from history and the social sciences on issues of vital interest to the Navy. Three
students enrolled in the elective will present initial findings for their research that will inform future maritime strategic thinking.

 Panel 4: Shrinking Ice Caps and Shorter Sea Routes

Shrinking sea ice is creating access to shorter sea routes. In order to develop maritime strategy and field relevant capabilities in the Arctic, it is important to understand the strategic challenges and commercial opportunities likely to emerge over the next several decades. This panel brings together commercial industry experts from China, Russia, and the U.S. to explore the economic viability of a melting Arctic as a major pathway for global commerce. Additionally, it considers how Arctic shipping creates new challenges for preserving access and naval operations.

Panel 5: NGOs in the Maritime Domain

NGOs, protest movements, and other "cause"-drive groups are not often thought of acting in the maritime commons.  Yet in recent years, groups have increasingly taken their causes to sea, ranging from the "Gaza Flotilla" and Israel, to Sea Shepherd's interference with Japanese whaling ships, or African and Latin American states deputizing NGOs for marine resource protection.  As technology continues to empower non-state actors, it will be important to understand their maritime activities and the challenges and opportunities they present.   This panel will examine issues including likely maritime areas of interest for non-state actors, cases of maritime operations undertaken by non-state actors, and nation state reactions, both partnerships to pursue mutual goals and responses to non-state actors working against state interests.

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