Sharpening our Maritime Strategy


Our maritime strategy, A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (CS21), was a significant milestone for the U.S. Sea Services – the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. CS21 defined the purpose and application of seapower in the 21st century and was our nation’s first tri-service maritime strategy.   

Much has changed in the five years since CS21 was published; for example we ended the war in Iraq and began the drawdown of operations in Afghanistan. We reduced our defense budgets to help get our nation’s fiscal house in order. And, we are beginning to rebalance toward the Pacific even as we continue to address challenges in the Middle East in cooperation with our European allies.

These developments in our fiscal, geopolitical and security environment require that we revise CS21 to align it with the ends, ways and means of seapower today. I have begun this effort in consultation with my fellow Sea Service chiefs, General James Amos of the U.S. Marine Corps and Admiral Robert Papp of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Specifically, we intend that this revision:

  • Reflect changes in the geostrategic and fiscal environment since 2007
  • Emphasize warfighting as the primary mission of the Sea Services, while maintaining and promoting an international cooperative approach to maritime security
  • Define how American seapower supports the U.S. defense strategy

The CS21 revision will reflect the latest defense and national security guidance, including the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, my Sailing Directions and Navigation Plan, and the equivalent documents from the USMC and USCG.

I will keep you updated on the status of this effort and encourage you to join in the conversation about maritime strategy both here and in other online forums.

Thank you,

Admiral, U.S. Navy


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  • Mike Lambert

    Admiral Greenert,

    I certainly understand the need to revise since 2007 with regard to the geostrategic and fiscal changes.

    I don’t understand why the existing strategy did not address:

    ■Emphasize warfighting as the primary mission of the Sea Services, while maintaining and promoting an international cooperative approach to maritime security
    ■Define how American seapower supports the U.S. defense strategy

    Seems like that should have been addressed already.

    Vr/Mike Lambert
    Captain USN retired

  • Anonymous

    Admiral Greenert,

    Whether intentional or not, this explanation of the CS21 “Revision” seems to imply that the Sea Services are now going to give greater emphasis to warfighting while still maintaining some residual but lesser focus on cooperative maritime security.

    Seems to me that the Sea Services would be better served and more reflective of current defense guidance, recent geostrategic changes, impending fiscal realities and the “Rebalancing to the Pacific” Strategy if we were to expand our successes at establishing cooperative international maritime security to a focus on developing new international maritime collaborative relationships to enable warfighting success.

    This focus would better capture the growing recognition that the USA cannot continue its traditional role as Lone Ranger, especially in the vast expanses of the Pacific. Future success in deterring or defeating near peer competitors will depend on innovative policy and operational initiatives to establish multinational partnerships where only bilateral agreements existed before, will require a much broader spectrum of access, dispersal of fixed targets and disaggregation of limited force structure, and could triumph or fail based on creating a broader spectrum of base access, geographical diversity and the tailored warfighting contributions of a disparate array of partners large and small.

    Sending a message that fostering a new level of international maritime cooperative security (to include warfighting when deterrence fails) is not quite so important as warfighting alone will not get us there.

    V/R CAPT Dick Diamond, USN(Ret.)

  • Anonymous

    Admiral Greenert

    As an analyst who has reviewed CS21 (2007), one of the major shortcoming I see is that it appears to assume that resources are essentially unconstrained. A strategy which does not take into account limited/declining means is no strategy at all.

    I am very glad to see that your revision will be bounded within the very real fiscal challenges we face. I look forward to reading it!