April 1, 2007  

In this issue

“We need to stop getting smaller,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chief of naval operations, said last year as he unveiled a plan to build a 313-ship fleet by 2020 that centers on 11 aircraft carriers and a battle force of 48 attack submarines and 88 surface combatants.

How that new force will be used will be determined by the new naval maritime strategy to be released later this year. The authors of our three-part cover story offer thoughts on what it should contain if this maritime nation’s Navy is to have both global reach and persistent presence.

Milan Vego, a professor at the Joint Military Operations Department at the Naval War College, calls for a re-embrace of the classical view of naval warfare. Milan, who counts among his past students former CNO Adm. Vern Clark, takes a prod at Sea Power 21 for its tendency towards the tactical.

Martin Murphy specializes in naval strategy and maritime security at the University of Reading in England. Observing the U.S. Navy from across the pond, he says the new focus on irregular combat in the littorals makes the creation of a specialized Navy counterinsurgency force the next logical step.

But retired Navy Capt. Ned Lundquist, who now works at Alion Science and Technology, warns of the perils of ignoring the open seas, where dominance is non-negotiable.

T.E Lawrence is one of those legends who seem to be both of his time and of ours. “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” has seen a resurgence in step with the increased use of the term counterinsurgency. Frank Hoffman guides us through Lawrence’s theories as an irregular warrior and their relevance today in fighting a war of ideas.

And in our other main feature, Chris Griffin observes Afghanistan, where the spring thaw potentially permits a new Taliban offensive.

Peter Brookes, a Heritage Foundation senior fellow, joins AFJ this month with the first of what will be a regular column. Flashpoint will zoom into those spots around the globe where the potential for conflict is stirred.

In a pairing of Perspectives, Ralph Peters and Air Force Maj. Tim Tenne, a C-17 pilot now studying at Air Command and Staff College, explore from different viewpoints the complex questions that confront an occupation force.