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"Forward...From the Start"

The U.S. Navy & Homeland Defense: 1775-2003

Cover of "Forward ... From the Start": The U.S. Navy & Homeland Defense:1775-2003

COP D0006678.A1/Final
February 2003

"Forward...From the Start": The U.S. Navy & Homeland Defense: 1775-2003

Peter M. Swartz

CNA [Center for Naval Analyses], Center for Strategic Studies

4825 Mark Center Drive
Alexandria, Virginia 22311-1850

COP D0006678.A1/Final
February 2003

"Forward … From the Start":
The U.S. Navy & Homeland Defense:

Peter M. Swartz

CNA [Center for Naval Analyses], Center for Strategic Studies
Alexandria, Virginia

[Approved for Public Release; Distribution Unlimited.]


On September 11, 2001, terrorist hijacked four loaded passenger aircraft and slammed three into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (A similar attack on a target in Washington, DC, was foiled by the brave and selfless actions of the passengers in the fourth aircraft). The American people and their leaders and representatives demanded immediate protection, including close-in naval harbor and offshore homeland defense.1 Capturing the national mood, Congressman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-LA) suggested that a "Navy cruiser might be needed in the Potomac River to protect airspace." 2

The response of U.S. Navy forces was immediate, substantial, and in some ways unprecedented, both at home and far forward. Carriers and cruisers rapidly deployed off American cities on each coast. A hospital ship quickly deployed to New York, where a fast sealift ship had already been pressed into immediate service. 3 A Naval Reserve Strike fighter squadron provided air cover over the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Navy E-2 Hawkeyes took to air to provide surveillance coverage. 4 Other Navy and Naval Reserve units responded as well.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard had sprung to action as home as well, as massively as was possible for that much smaller service. Much of its force structure on the East Coast sped for New York, where the Coast Guard provided security for the evacuation of a million people from the lower Manhattan waterfront. Cutters took up situations at all the nation's ports, and began to enforce new control measures, including keeping civilian vessels away from Navy ships. The Chief of Naval Operations poured more watch standers into the National Maritime Intelligence Center, and told the Commandant that he'd help in any way he could. 5 Naval base security was beefed up, and later thirteen small Navy-manned patrol coastal (PC) warships chopped to Coast Guard operational control.

And then it was over at home for most of the Navy. True, lots of small changes were made and continued to be made, largely by dint of hard work by officers, sailors and civilians alike: Base security stayed heightened, new barriers appeared at gates and in the water; Navy master-at-arms forces expanded; and a couple of innovative joint harbor defense command posts were set up. The PCs stayed with the Coast Guard, and some in-port warships with air defense capabilities were given collateral assignments. 6 Some new research and development projects were launched. 7 Navy and joint staffs ground out plans, Navy intelligence efforts in Maritime Domain Awareness vastly increased, and a few imaginative force protection games and fleet exercises were and are being run. And the Navy's new Fleet Forces Command became a component of the even newer joint Northern Command, charged with homeland defense missions. 8

But no major changes in naval programs or force dispositions ensued. The carriers left their stations off America's harbors as quickly as they had taken them up. No new, dedication Navy "Homeland Defense Squadrons" were created. No existing Maritime Defense Zones were activated. No in-strength sustained coastal patrols were inaugurated. No at-sea Navy barriers were set up off America's shores. No new Navy homeland defense ship types appeared in the Navy budget. Congressman Tauzin's cruiser never did sail up the Potomac.

Far forward in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere, however, it was a very different story. There the response-and counter-attack-was not only immense and immediate, but also sustained. Carriers raced into position off Pakistan, one carrying Special Operations Forces. So too did Amphibious Ready Groups and their Marines, cruise missile-capable attack submarines and surface combatants, and maritime patrol aircraft. The Navy contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan was quick, in strength, and most important- like the operation's name-enduring. Smaller forward operations were mounted in the Mediterranean and the Straits of Malacca. A little over a year later, the Navy deployed even larger forces far forward, this time to deal with Iraq (even taking with them some of the PCs and part of the Coast Guard). 9

Why the difference?

Why was the Navy at the forefront on the far-forward attacks on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and the move against Iraq, while willing to take a back seat to the Coast Guard at home? Why did the Navy respond to one of the worst failures in defense at home in the nation's history principally by striking farther forward than it ever had before? Current national policy and naval strategy provide much of the answer, of course.

History, however, also provides some clues. 10

1775-1815: Submersibles & Gunboats

During the War for Independence, there were lots of American navies-the Continental Navy, but also state navies, Army-led navies, and privateers. A private citizen, the inventor David Bushnell, deployed the world's first underwater weapons for homeland defense against British warships in American inshore waters-the submersible Turtle as well as the floating gunpowder-stuffed barrels launched during the "Battle of the Kegs." 11

The navies deployed by the stated and the Army generally stayed close to home, but the Continental Navy's civilian masters and officers thought the best place to hurt the British from the sea was forward-in the Caribbean-and even far forward-on the coasts of Britain herself. 12 The navy's very first action was an amphibious raid on the Bahamas to acquire materiel for the Army. Later, John Paul Jones landed in England, and it was no accident that he fought his famous duel with Serapis off Yorkshire's Flamborough Head…not off Long Island's Montauk Point.

This precedent was set. America-even in the eighteenth century-was a country with global interests facing threats from far across the sea, for which it needed a national navy with global reach and power to help keep those threats far away. Also, it possessed other forces that could well mind the homeland defense store at home, offshore, and on the beach.

Once the nation had achieved its independence, it set up two forces to do just that: a Revenue Marine to enforce its customs laws and stop smugglers at sea, and an Army to fortify and defend America's ports as well as secure the interior. 13 America and its commerce, however, were soon challenged-off its own coast and overseas-by a host of naval enemies: Revolutionary France, the Barbary States, and its old enemy, Great Britain's Royal Navy. In response, Presidents Washington and Adams created and deployed a new United States Navy balanced between big frigates for forward operations and galleys for coast defense. 14 The frigates and other blue-water warships cleared French privateers from U.S. coasts and then quickly moved forward against the French in the Caribbean and even the East Indies (Later they took on the Barbary corsairs in the Mediterranean, and the British again all over the Atlantic and even in the Pacific.) For that Navy's forward operations against the French, it took along key elements of the Revenue Marine. The galleys turned out to have little to do.

President Jefferson, Adams's successor was less interested in a balanced fleet than in saving money. He decommissioned most of Adams's frigates and other seagoing warships, but he built and deployed dozens of little gunboats throughout America's harbors for naval homeland defense. 15 He used them for homeland security operations as well: to help the Revenue Marine counter smuggling, to attack pirates and slave traders, and to deter separatism along the Mississippi. When the threat posed by the Royal Navy during the War of 1812 became overwhelming, the previously wide-ranging and victorious American frigates were eventually blockaded in their ports, protected by the guns of Army fortifications and by the wiles of still more private inventors and their crude but innovative underwater mines. 16 For coastal defense, President Madison built a new inshore barge fleet. These barges - and the gunboats he inherited - however, generally had little utility, although some acquitted themselves well in fighting anti-access delaying actions on the Chesapeake, and at New Orleans with General Jackson. Navy sailors left their ships and joined soldiers in the ground homeland defense of Washington and Baltimore, while the afloat Navy racked up its greatest victories fighting jointly with the Army on the Great Lake-off the nation's "north coast."

The end of the war in 1815 also marked the end of the nation's and the Navy's Great Experiment with naval homeland defense. 17 By and large, it was not a great success. Rather, wartime naval success for America appeared to lie far forward, on the open sea.

1815-1890s: Mines & Monitors

Following the War of 1812, the nation grew dramatically, especially commercially. The nineteenth century saw the U.S. Navy yet again deployed far forward. Now the Navy deployed in squadrons of frigates and sloops-of-war all around the world to protect America's big share of the world's commerce, look out for other American interests, and conduct the occasional scientific expedition or amphibious raid. In time of war the U.S. Navy deployed forward to the shores of its enemies-first Mexico and later the Confederacy-to blockade and help invade them.

Nineteenth-century threats to the American coasts were largely to be repelled by the Army, the fortunes of whose massive coastal fortification and coast artillery periodically waxed and waned all through the century. 18 Navy officers sat on the joint boards that planned these Army system, and along with the Army ran the nation's lighthouse system, vital for coastal navigation and potentially useful for homeland defense. An 1841 war scare with Britain, however, did spawn a US Navy Home Squadron for homeland defense. But when the scare quickly dissipated, so too did the squadron-to the Caribbean. 19 Public and Congressional calls during the Civil War for naval offshore protection of the nation's cities and coastal commerce met with disapproval by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and his officers. 20 Welles opted instead for pursuing with a vengeance a forward strategy of blockade, amphibious landings, and riverine operations. Scant forces were assigned to those port cities-like Portland, Maine-that attracted the attention of the occasional daring Confederate coastal raider.

Naval technology developed throughout the nineteenth century, including innovative systems potentially useful in naval homeland defense. Private inventors designed coastal steamships, floating batteries, and underwater weapons to repel enemies, but few funds were ever made available to bring their systems fully on line. Later, during the Civil War, the civilian John Ericsson put a revolving gun turret on the warship Monitor, which proved famously effective in the contested inshore waters of Hampton Roads.

Meanwhile, a second American Navy was in existence during the Civil War, of course-the Confederate Navy. Subject to Union blockade and amphibious assaults, but short on resources, that navy had to mount significant inshore and riverine homeland defense operations from the start, and deployed a host of ingenious and innovative naval homeland defense systems to do so. 21 These systems included ironclad rams, obstructions, underwater mines, and even a submersible torpedo boat-Hunley. The Confederacy too deployed some forces far forward, however. Its small fleet of blockade-runners-especially its commerce-raiders-ranged all over the world, from the North Atlantic to the Bering Sea to the Indian Ocean.

After the Civil War, a severely shrunken U.S. Navy maintained some homeland defense turreted monitors, experimented with underwater harbor defense mines, built a flotilla of coastal torpedo boats, and even constructed Katahidin - an innovative big coastal defense ram. But the pull of forward operations stayed strong, as the Navy deployed yet again into a global network of forward squadrons. A monitor occasionally surge-deployed on a long forward cruise to test that ship type's blue-water capabilities (which didn't prove great). Navy interest in stationary mines offshore evolved into interest mobile torpedoes for overseas operations, while the Army continued to experiment with controlled harbor minefields at home. The innovative Katahdin proved almost useless. 22

Coastal and harbor homeland defense concepts played a respectable role in the debates over American naval policy and strategy that marked the later nineteenth century. 23 These concepts ultimately lost out, however, to arguments for a battle fleet that would train offshore but was intended to deploy forward to meet enemy fleets on the high seas. 24 Meanwhile, Nay officers sat on more joint boards dealing with Army-and some Navy-homeland defense responsibilities, while the Revenue Service continued its normal homeland security operations, complemented by a new Lifesaving Service.

1890s-1918: Naval Districts and Army Mine Planters

During the period of U.S. Navy revival, the Navy's emphasis, as usual, was on forward deployment, this time with a well-funded world-class battle fleet centered on turreted battleships. Torpedo boats for homeland defense gave way to torpedo boat destroyers capable of blue-water operations in support of the battle line. The rising Navy budget could fund many programs, however, and the Navy joined the Army in a series of complementary actions to strengthen its role in homeland defense. Navy officers sat on the usual joint homeland defense boards, state naval militias were formed, a few more monitors were commissioned, Naval Districts for coastal defense were created, and a new harbor and coastal defense weapons-the submarine-was deployed. 25 Coastal defense remained, however, a primarily Army responsibility, with its newly created Coast Artillery Corps strengthening its coastal artillery sites and deploying a new fleet of Army-manned harbor mine planters. 26

During the Spanish-American War, public outcries forced the Navy to retain front-line units offshore for homeland defense until adequate intelligence on the whereabouts of the enemy fleet allowed it to deploy those forces forward to the Caribbean. Thus the Navy reluctantly put a Flying Squadron off Norfolk and a Northern Patrol Force off New York, and melded the state militias and some federal agencies into an Auxiliary Naval Force-all for (in the event unneeded) homeland defense. The Revenue Marine supplied not only craft for homeland defense, but also cutters for forward operations.

After the war, the nation acquired new territories overseas in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The Army saw these territories as colonial appendages of the homeland, requiring strong defenses in their own right. The Navy saw them, however, primarily as advanced bases to support the fleet, whose role was to defend both those territories and the nation back home by surging forward to vanquish any threatening enemy fleet. 27 Meanwhile, the Marines made plans to defend the Navy's advanced bases and seize even more, while the Revenue and Lifesaving Services amalgamated to form the Coast Guard.

In the second decade of the twentieth century, aircraft began to enter the fleet, obviously useful for coastal patrol. It was not long, however, before naval officers started thinking of giving aircraft greater range and sending them to sea in a variety of ways for use in forward operations. Likewise, the Navy's submariners began to discuss and design long-range fleet boats to supersede their harbor and coastal defense vessels.

During World War I, the Navy took over the Coast Guard and mobilized lots of coastal undersea, surface, and air assets to protect East Coast sea-lanes for German submarines, which finally launched an attack on U.S. coastal shipping in 1918. 28 The bulk of its forces, however, operated forward in and around Europe, performed transport and convoy duty all across the Atlantic, or drilled offshore to repel a German battle fleet that never came.

1919-1941: Joint Plans and Harbor Defense

After World War I, the Navy continued to plan for forward battle fleet operations-especially in the far Pacific-and for the integrated development of all its forces to support them. Surface ships, aircraft, submarines, the Marine Corps, and the Navy's fleet and shore organization were all optimized for distant operations.

Meanwhile, the Army continued to modernize its coastal defense at home, and to cope with the implications of its growing aviation element. Army Air Service (later Army Air Corps) officers dreamed of deploying a transoceanic strategic bombing force to pummel the nation's future enemies into submission. Because such a policy was anathema to an all-but-isolationist country, the Army airmen couched their arguments in terms of the need for homeland defense air forces to bomb invading warships far out at sea. This stratagem put them in head-on competition for scarce budget resources with both the Army Coast Artillery and the Navy. 29 The Navy viewed its own forward operations as the nation's "first line of defense" and -not unnaturally-bristled at the idea that it would let enough get by to necessitate a robust "second line."

Joint coastal defense planning and exercises were a norm during this period, but inter-service disagreements led the Navy to all but abandon land-based maritime patrol aviation, and reinforce its focus on the distant and open sea. 30 Meanwhile, the Coast Guard took on a major homeland security job-the enforcement of Prohibition against a flood of rumrunners seeking to land their booze clandestinely on America's shores. For this task the Navy temporarily loaned the Coast Guard a flotilla of destroyers.

As another world war became increasingly likely in the late 1930s, the Navy took a more active interest and role in harbor and coastal defense, building and deploying new boom and net tenders, harbor minesweepers, blimps, seaplanes, patrol craft, and even a couple of new coastal submarines. 31 Eventually, the Navy once again acquired land-based long-range maritime patrol aircraft. 32 Destroyer patrols were instituted outside harbor entrances. New Marine Defense Battalions were formed, trained, and developed to defend America's Caribbean and Pacific possessions (and even Iceland). 33

When the Battle Force moved forward to Pearl Harbor in 1940, its defense while in port became a job for the fleet itself as well as for the local Naval District and the Army. The Navy also created new Naval Coastal Frontiers-later Sea Frontiers-to coordinate with similar Army homeland defense commands. 34 And the Navy temporarily took over the Coast Guard yet again from the Treasury Department, in November 1941.

World War II: 1941-1945: Pearl Harbor and Sea Frontiers

World War II started for the U. S. Navy with a massive failure of homeland defense: the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. Immediately, the president directed the unification of the local Army and Navy forces in Hawaii and Panama into joint commands, and numerous deployments within the United States to bolster homeland defense. Even the Marines wound up guarding Southern California for a short while.

The threat to the coasts during at least the early days of World War II was real-second in importance in US history only to the threat during the War of 1812. The Japanese attacked and took several US island possessions in the far and mid-Pacific, despite valiant but under-resourced US Army, Navy, and Marine Corps inshore, air, and ground defense efforts. The Japanese also conducted a few nuisance submarine shore bombardments and air raids on the West Coast. On the East Coast, however, in the spring of 1942, long-range German submarines sank a large amount of American coastal shipping, laid minefields, and landed saboteurs in New York and Florida.

Nevertheless, the US Navy's vision stayed forward, focused first on the need to carry the war across the Pacific to the Japanese and, second to assist in fighting Germans and Italians across the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean. Manning the coast artillery and providing harbor minefield defenses were still primarily Army responsibilities. Harbor security and beach patrol was a duty of the Coast Guard, under the Navy. The Navy did deploy various types of net and boom defenses at its bases, however, and conducted coastal sea and air patrols beyond harbor entrances. Ignoring agreed pre-war joint doctrine, the Navy resisted establishing Joint Coastal Frontiers, although local harbor defense command posts were jointly manned.

The Navy (and its Marine Defense Battalions) initially focused their homeland defense efforts on Pacific island defense, but soon shifted to meet the German coastal submarine menace, working alongside the Army Air Force and the British and Canadian navies and air forces. 35 Fighting off the U-boats was primarily the job of the Sea Frontiers. Eventually, America's Army airmen left the antisubmarine mission to the Navy sailors, who had instituted coastal convoys and deployed increasing numbers of patrol craft and land-based blimps and patrol planes off American coasts and forward. 36 The central US Navy operational approach to combating the U-boats, however, became offensive Atlantic Fleet hunter-killer operations in the mid- and eastern Atlantic, complemented by coastal and trans-Atlantic convoys and by British and American forward air attacks-at-source on the German submarine pens on the European Atlantic coast. 37

1945- 1980: Early Warning Barriers & Vietnam

The end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War saw American Army and Army Air Forces unit stationed forward in Europe and Asia. The US Navy reigned supreme at sea and off the Eurasian littorals. During the Cold War, with the exception of periodic Soviet air threat scares and a brief attempt to secure the coast of South Vietnam, homeland and coastal defense almost completely faded away from the missions of all the US services.

Soon after the war, the Army abolished its Coast Artillery Corps and turned its mine planters over the Navy, which soon discarded them. The Navy turned the Coast Guard back to the Treasury Department again, rolled up its harbor nets, decommissioned its net layers, and used its Naval District and Sea Frontier commands for logistics and administration, not for homeland defense. Maritime patrol aircraft moved to new forward bases in Europe and Asia and in mid-ocean, to track Soviet submarines.

There was a flurry of Navy interest in mine warfare, harbor defense, submarine nets, and naval control of shipping (NCS) in the early 1950s, coincident with the Korean War and the establishment of NATO's Atlantic Command. Except for NCS, however, this interest began to lapse again in a few years. Convoy, not coastal patrol or harbor defense, was now accepted as the correct defensive counter to enemy submarine antishipping operations in coastal waters.

For a time in the 1950s and '60s, continental air defense against Soviet bombers-largely an Air Force and Army responsibility-expanded, but then contracted again in the face of the new Soviet missile threat and the requirements for US strategic offensive and conventional forces. The takeover of Cuba in the late 1950s by the Soviet allies revived interest in the coastal defense of Florida and the southern United States. The Navy's main contribution to this continental air defense effort was brief but significant. For a decade, the Navy deployed a large fleet of converted destroyer escorts, Liberty ships, and long-range land-based early warning aircraft as radar pickets strung out in "barriers" across the North Atlantic and North Pacific. 38 The Navy helped out in the air defense of Florida as well, and Navy guided-missile cruisers exercised for port air defense when at home. Navy engineers also were in the forefront of designing a new homeland defense element-the fallout shelter. 39 And in the late 1960s, elements in the Navy were intensively studying-and ultimately rejecting (at least at the time)-the concept of a Sea-Based Anti-Ballistic Missile Intercept System (SABMIS). 40

To counter Soviet missile submarines ranged off US coasts, the Navy deployed a variety of systems, including offshore underwater sound systems (SOSUS), maritime patrol aircraft and blimps, and antisubmarine warfare (ASW) carrier task forces. 41 The Navy's most potent ASW weapon, however, proved to be the nuclear-powered attack submarine deployed far forward off Soviet ports and choke points. Along with the Navy's combat-credible forward fleets in the Mediterranean, western Pacific, and-later-the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf, these forces illustrated yet again the Navy's considered preference for forward operations as its principle means of defending its nation at sea.

By the late 1970s, Navy interest in and capabilities for harbor and offshore homeland defense had all but disappeared. Offshore SOSUS was a success and new forward facilities were now coming on line, while the ASW carriers were decommissioned. The barriers too went away. Satellites and SOSUS were expanding the nation's open ocean surveillance capabilities to such an extent that it appeared unlikely that any enemy military force except maybe Soviet SPETZNAZ special forces could now appear undetected on American coast in time of crisis or war. The Sea Frontiers and Naval Districts were disestablished. Navy relationships with the Coast Guard regarding defensive coastal warfare had, however, been temporarily rekindled, but far forward off Vietnam, in operations "Market Time" and "Stable Door," not off America's own coasts. 42 After the war, small patrol craft all but disappeared from the Navy inventory, although some new gunboats did enter the fleet. The tiny and uninfluential naval coastal warfare reserve units kept alive what expertise remained in harbor patrol and defense.

1981- 9/11/01: Maritime Defense Zones, the Drug War & Missile Defense

In the 1980s, the US Navy reacted to Soviet challenges with another growth spurt, not only in ship and aircraft numbers and capabilities, but also in strategy and tactic. The rising tide of the Reagan Administration's defense program and the US Navy Maritime Strategy lifted all boats, including even homeland defense. New systems entered the fleet with homeland defense capabilities or potential. These systems include Aegis cruisers, coastal mine-hunters, a new generation of patrol craft, and new coastal warfare equipment. Civilian fishing boats, Naval Academy yardcraft and the Naval reservists to man them were pressed into service as Craft of Opportunity (COOP) harbor minesweepers. 43 The homeland defense responsibilities of the Coast Guard and the Naval Reserve were formally coalesced into Maritime Defense Zones at home, to plan to defend against Soviet unconventional attacks on US ports in time of war. 44 And a new Naval Liaison Officer (NLO) program was created to help protect key Navy assets at home from sabotage. Still, this was all small beer compared to the simultaneous build-up of a "600-ship Navy" of forward-deploying carrier battle groups, submarines, and amphibious ready groups.

Then the Soviet Union collapsed. The Navy's emphasis remained on forward operations-now against the world's rouge states. Concerns over threats to the American coasts-never high-waned yet again. The COOP program disappeared. The NLOs became NEPLOs (Naval Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers), refocused on homeland security and disaster relief vice homeland defense. 45 And the Maritime Defense Zones, the Navy's coastal warfare units and the Coast Guard's Port Security Units (PSUs) now all re-oriented themselves to…no surprise… deploying forward with the fleet, especially in the Persian Gulf. 46

The little remaining residual maritime homeland security focus shifted to the "Drug War" and attempts to guard America's shores from the surreptitious importation of illegal drugs. Pushed by Congress and directed by the President, Navy surface and air platforms worked with the Coast Guard and a plethora of other services and agencies in joint task forces to help stem the illicit traffic. 47

Some Americans discerned another threat to the homeland as well: land- or sea-based intercontinental ballistic missiles launched by the "rogues" or others. Consequently, there was once again discussion of potential Navy sea-based antimissile missile contributions to national homeland defense, either forward or close to home. 48 Naval theater ballistic missile defenses were planned for and begun.

A corner in US Navy base security was again turned in 2000, in the wake of a terrorist attack on the destroyer Cole in Yemen. Improved security measures started to be put in place for US Navy warships in whatever port they might visit, including bases and ports in the United States.

Then came 9/11.

Some Lessons for Today

From the history we have just traced, several conclusions can be drawn:

· US Navy harbor and offshore deployments for homeland defense come and go.
· When such deployments do occur, they co-exist with the Navy's forward deployments, which are always in place and which receive far more resources and emphasis.
· Navy harbor and offshore homeland defense deployments often receive more emphasis when national and naval defense budgets are high or increasing.
· Harbor and offshore homeland defense operations are by their nature normally very joint, and involve substantial reserve and non-military elements as well.
· Public, press, presidential, and congressional pressures often drive these Navy deployments, in the face of dramatic threats, whether looming or real. The Navy's civilian leadership and senior officers usually oppose them, arguing that forward offensive deployments are a far more effective use of the nation's naval forces in homeland defense.
· Technological improvements often help drive Navy homeland defense systems into better uses forward. As underwater explosives, turreted gun mounts, torpedo boats, submarines, aircraft, inshore undersea warfare equipment, SOSUS, and other systems developed longer range and more robustness, they moved from being harbor and coastal defense systems for forward deployable and deployed systems.
· Once an immediate threat has passed, those Navy organizations created to oversee the service's homeland defense roles often either lapse into administrative or logistics functions-as happened to the Naval Districts and Sea Frontiers-or migrate toward forward deployment roles-as happened to the Maritime Defense Zones and Naval Mobile Inshore Warfare Units in the 1990s.

Which brings us to 9/11, today, and tomorrow as well:

The Navy's focus on the "away game" and its episodic attention to the "home game" should be no surprise. Forward deployment is what the Navy does, and has almost always done, well and effectively for the country. The Navy's strategy slogan of the 1990s, "Forward… From the Start".

Homeland harbor and coastal defense has seldom been a primary mission of the US Navy, and has never been a preferred one. The Navy has consistently argued for the primacy of forward offensive and defensive missions since its very beginnings in the last decade of the eighteenth century, although the nature of those forward missions has varied over time (commerce-raiding, ship-vs.-ship operations, operations other than war blockade, battle fleet engagements, power projection, engagement, naval presence, precision strike, maritime intercept operations, and so forth). Even the Navy's current planned ballistic missile defense efforts focus forward, against missile threats in boost or mid-course phases. (Debate in naval circles on the wisdom of this stance continues, however). 49

The United States has had the wisdom and good fortune to develop strong military seagoing teams over time to play both home and away games. Separated from threats to its interest by wide seas, but vulnerable to penetrations through its lengthy coastlines, the nation has long recognized its requirements for both. Each team has a long tradition of supporting the other, reinforced in recent years by increased interest in and capabilities for jointness, especially on the part of the Navy. The Commandant of the Coast Guard's offer of assistance to the US Navy in Vietnam in the 1960s was reciprocated by the Chief of Naval Operations' offer of help to the Coast Guard in the wake of attacks of 9-11. The US Army also has longstanding homeland security and defense responsibilities, especially regarding consequence management, and a history of even greater involvement. Air Force responsibilities for national air defense are of more recent origin but also of major significance. Navy support for and cooperation with its sister services in these areas has been continuous, meaningful, and increasingly close, if small.

Nevertheless, as mandated by the Bush administration, as articulated in the Navy's current vision, and as reflected in its historical experience, the US Navy continues to concentrate its efforts on deterring and striking threats to America's homeland forward. 50

It always has. And to good effect. 51

Captain Swartz has been on the research staff of the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) of the CNA Corporation since retiring from the Navy in 1993. A Vietnam War veteran and career US Navy strategic planner, he chaired the panel examining "How Will the Services Fight Better?" at the January 2003 US Naval Institute/AFCEA "West 2003" Symposium. His most recent Proceedings article, "Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write" was the lead article in the October 1998 Special Anniversary Issue. A previous "Naval Review" article, "Navy after next: Past is Prologue," appeared in May 1998. His most recent "Comment and Discussion" letter appeared in November 1995, and addressed the US Navy's long history in conducting operations other than war and the role of Proceedings as the forum for professional naval debate.


1. My definition of the terms "homeland defense" and "homeland security" here are - I hope - self-evident, although more elastic than the tortured and ever-changing draft official definitions that circulate through the Department of Defense. I think I know homeland defense when I see it, and I assume here that Proceedings readers do too. For a discussion of definitional problems, see Commander Lawrence K. Zelvin, US Navy, "Homeland Security Challenges DoD," Proceedings, 128 (November 2002), 66-7.

2. Craig Timber, "National May be Closed 'a Long Time', Bush Aide Says," Washington Post (September 16, 2001), A32.

3. For other Navy medical responses, see Commander Mary W. Chaffee (Nurse Corps), US Navy, et al., "Navy Medicine Steams Ahead on Homeland Security," Navy Medicine, 93 (March- April 2002), 6-8.

4. On the immediate US Navy response to the attacks of 11 September, see Scott C. Truver, "The US Navy in Review," Proceedings/Naval Review 128 (May 2002), 79-82.

5. On the Navy's offer of assistance to the Coast Guard, despite previous understandings that the Coast Guard would instead come under the Navy in time of war, see remarks by Admiral Vern Clark, Chief of Naval Operations, at "Meeting the Homeland Defense Challenge: Maritime and other Critical Dimensions," conference sponsored by the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Cambridge, MA: March 26, 2002.

6. The future status of the PC force is the subject of ongoing debate. For a knowledgeable recent assessment as of the time of this writing, see Malina Brown, "Navy Decides against Decommissioning 13 Cyclone Patrol Craft," Inside the Navy (February 10, 2003).

7. For current US Navy force protection research and development programs for both offshore and forward operations, see "On the Waterfront - and Beyond," Jane's International Defense Review (February 1, 2003), 44+.

8. Also, in early 2003, the Chief of Naval Operations' Strategic Studies Group (SSG) at Newport began to develop a future concept of operations for "sea supremacy in the defense of US shores".

9. While in the early 21st century Navy may have clearly opted for the open sea, the Coast Guard has resisted being confined only to offshore operations. The advisability of forward US Coast Guard operations in support of the Navy has recently been questioned, however, given the new demands of homeland security and homeland defense requirements on limited Coast Guard assets. See, for example, William New et al., "Cebrowski Working on Transforming Defense Operations," National Journal's Congress Daily, January 31, 2003; Stuart Mackiernan, Letter: "The Coast Guard Belongs at Home," Washington Post (February 5, 2003), A22; and Jeremy Torobin, "Gulf Buildup Not Hurting Coast Guard Home Duties, Its Chief Says." Congressional Quarterly (February 12, 2003).

10. This article focuses on US Navy history. For more general overview, see Jim Garamone, "A Short History of Homeland Defense," American Forces Press Service, October 25, 2001. On the Army's record, see Brigadier General John S. Brown, US Army, "Defending the Homeland: An Historical Prospective," Joint Force Quarterly (Summer 2002), 10-16.

11. On current efforts to re-create the launch of the Turtle, see Judy Cambell, "Midshipmen, Staff Re-Create Turtle Submersible," NavyNewsstand (February 4, 2003), Story Number NNS030204-08.

12. The most famous homeland defense operation of an American Army-led naval force was that of Brigadier General Benedict Arnold on Lake Champlain in 1776, which so delayed a British invasion that it could be defeated later on the ground at the Battle of Saratoga. See John P. Milsop, "'A Strife of Pygmies': The Battle of Valcour Island," MHQ 14 (Winter 2002), 87-94.

13. Pre-dating both was the establishment of a Lighthouse Service, in 1789: The first US government agency and one that would play a supporting role in homeland defense over the years.

14. At the same time, President Washington also established the forerunner of what would become the US Army Coast Artillery.

15. There is a large literature on President Jefferson and his gunboats, mostly highly critical and mostly written by naval officers and Navy civilian champions (like Jefferson's distant successor as president, Theodore Roosevelt). For recent scholarship, see Spencer Tucker, "The Jeffersonian Gunboats in Service, 1804-1825;" and Gene A. Smith, "A Means to an End: Gunboats and Thomas Jefferson's Theory of Defense," both in The American Neptune, 55 (Spring 1995), 97-110 and 111-121. Note that even Jefferson couldn't avoid conducting forward operations, deploying squadrons to the Mediterranean to punish depredations by the Barbary States on American commerce.

16. This previously forgotten story of American civilian ingenuity in naval homeland defense is in James Tertius DeKay, The Battle of Stonington: Torpedoes, Submarines and Rockets in the War of 1812 (Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990).

17. All told, the pre-1815 coast defense programs authorized by Congress had included two steam batteries, twenty galleys, forty barges, and 273 gunboats. Not all of these were built, however. For useful context, see K. Jack Bauer, "Naval Shipbuilding Programs 1794-1860," Military Affairs, 29 (Spring 1965), 29-40.

18. On the US Army and coast defense, see Robert S. Browning III, Two if by Sea: The Development of American Coastal Defense Policy (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1983); and Emanuel Raymond Lewis, Seacoast Fortifications of the United States: An Introductory History (Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993).

19. On the homeland defense origins of the Home Squadron, see Robert W. Love, Jr., History of the US Navy, 1775-1941 (Harrisburg PA: Stackpole Books, 1992), 174-9.

20. On Welles's neglect of homeland defense, as well as subsequent wartime Navy homeland defense policies, see Adam B. Siegel's seminal The Wartime Diversion of US Navy Forces in Response to Public Demands for Augmented Coastal Defense, PP 472 (Alexandria VA: Center for Naval Analyses, November 1989).

21. On the Confederate Navy's desperate but often imaginative attempts at naval homeland defense, see William N. Still, Jr., ed., The Confederate Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization, 1861-1865 (Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997)

22. On the ram's short operational career, see Stephen P. Bundey, "Unusual Strange Ship Katahdin," Naval History (March/April 1994), 17-21.

23. For a detailed plea for a reborn American navy optimized for offshore homeland defense, see Captain William T. Sampson, US Navy, "Outline of a Scheme for the Naval Defense of the Coast," Proceedings, (Number Two, 1889), 169-232.

24. For the (mercifully, far shorter) winning argument for a forward, blue-water capability see Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, US Navy, "Our Future Navy," Proceedings (Number Four, 1889), 541-552.

25. On the Naval Districts, see Fifty Years of Naval District Development, 1903-1953 (Washington DC: Naval History Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, June 1954).

26. On the Army's homeland defense mine warfare fleet, see Charles Dana Gibson, "The Army's Mineplanter Service," Journal of America's Military Past, 28 (Winter 2002), 52-71.

27. On the differences in Army and Navy views, see Henry G. Gole, The Road to Rainbow: Army Planning for Global War, 1934-1940 (Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press, 2003), 99-103

28. In 1917 Congress tasked the Coast Guard with protecting US ports from sabotage, resulting in creation of the first Coast Guard Captain of the Port positions. See Robert M. Browning, Jr., Captains of the Port, (Washington DC: U.S. Coast Guard Historian Office, 1993).

29. The literature on Navy-Army Air Corps relations in the interview period is immense. See especially Lieutenant Colonel John F. Shiner, US Air Force, "The Air Corps, the Navy, and Coast Defense, 1919-1941," Military Affairs, 45 (October 1981), 113-120.

30. In 1920, the two services produced the doctrinal publication Joint Army and Navy Action in Coast Defense, superseded in 1927 by Joint Action of the Army and the Navy (itself revised in 1935). These documents, which largely dealt with the inherently joint issue of homeland defense, were the lineal ancestors of today's Joint Pub 0-2, Unified Action Armed Forces (UNAAF).

31. On the net tenders, see A.D. Baker III, "Historic Fleets," Naval History (November/December 1996), 63.

32. On the re-birth of land-based maritime patrol aviation in the US Navy, see Norman Polmar, "The First Land-Based ASW Aircraft," Naval History 14 (June 2000), 10-11.

33. On the Marines and the defense of the homeland's outposts, see Major Charles D. Melson, US Marine Corps (Retired), Condition Red: Marine Defense Battalions in World War II (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1996).

34. On the Sea Frontiers, see Fifty Years of Naval District Development, 25-33; and Captain P.E. Pihl, "Sea Frontier Organization and Problems," (Newport RI: Naval War College Lecture, 5 March 1948), in the Naval War College Archives.

35. On the coastal antisubmarine warfare effort, see Robert W. Love, Jr., "The US Navy and Operation Roll of Drums, 1942," in To Die Gallantly: The Battle of the Atlantic, eds. Timothy J. Runyan and Jan M. Copes (Boulder CO: Westview Press, 1994), 95-120.

36. On the defeat of Germany's last (1945) submarine offensive off the US East Coast, see Philip K. Lundeberg, "Operation Teardrop revisited," in To Die Gallantly, eds. Runyan and Copes, 210-30.

37. The Atlantic Fleet ran US Navy ASW operations in the mid and far Atlantic, while the various Sea Frontiers did the heavy lifting against the submarines off the coast. From 1943 on, all were overseen and vectored by the intelligence fusion efforts of Admiral Ernest King's Tenth Fleet organization in Washington.

38. On the Navy's contribution to early warning and homeland air defense in the 1950s and 1960s, see Captain Joseph F. Bouchard, US Navy, "Guarding the Cold War Ramparts: The US Navy's Role in Continental Air Defense," Naval War College Review 52 (Summer 1999), 111-135. Note that two years after publication of this prize-winning article, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Captain Bouchard would help create the first Joint Harbor Operational Center (JHOC), as Commanding Officer, Naval Station Norfolk.

39. On the importance of the Navy's Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory to the nation's fallout shelter program in the 1950s, see B. Bruce-Briggs, The Shield of Faith: A Chronicle of Strategic Defense from Zeppelins to Star Wars (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988), 118-19 and 168.

40. For use of Proceedings as a forum for professional debate on sea-based missile defense a generation ago, see Mark Bernard Schneider, "SABMIS and the Future of Strategic Warfare," Proceedings (July 1969), 26-34; and "Comment and Discussion," (November 1969), 118-120; and (April 1970), 93-94.

41. On the initial deployment of SOSUS as a homeland defense system, see the now- declassified three-volume study Sea-based Anti-Submarine Warfare 1940-1977 (Alexandria VA: R.F. Cross Associates, Ltd., 1978)

42. Operation "Market Time", which ran from 1965 through 1970, was a major U.S. Navy and US Coast Guard effort to provide maritime homeland defense against enemy infiltration for another country - South Vietnam - using a combination of air and sea barriers. "Operation Stable Door" was a complementary operation to secure South Vietnam's ports. See Thomas J. Cutler, Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam (Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press, 1988); and Edward J. Marolda, "The War in Vietnam's Shallows," Naval History 1 (April 1987), 12-19. For a critical analysis of the operation's effectiveness, see Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr., "Paradox of Power: Infiltration, Coastal Surveillance, and the United States Navy in Vietnam, 1965-68." Journal of Military History 53 (July 1989), 275-89.

43. On the COOP program, see Norman Polmar, Ships and Aircraft of the US Fleet, fifteenth ed. (Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993), 215-216

44. On the stand-up of the Maritime Defense Zones and their antecedents, see Vice Admiral John D. Costello, US Coast Guard, and Lieutenant Commander D.N. Wood, US Coast Guard, "Guarding the Coast," Proceedings 111 (August 1985), 66-71.

45. On the change from NLOs to NEPLOs, see "NEPLO: Navy Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers: Helping Americans When They Need It Most!", NRA News, 47 (January 2000), 19-24.

46. On the forward reorientation of US Navy naval coastal warfare in the 1990s, see Lieutenant John Filostrat, US Naval Reserve, and Lieutenant Commander Brian Harrison, U.S. Naval Reserve, "Naval Coastal Warfare: The Future is Now," NRA News (October 1998), 11-16. For its continued focus forward a year and a half after 9/11, see Jack Dorsey, "Units Intends to Make Sure 'Coal Never Happens Again'," Virginian-Pilot (February 12, 2003).

47. On US Navy drug war surveillance and interdiction operations see, for example, Commander Will Dossel, US Navy, "Sunset for the Steeljaws: The History of VAW-122," The Hook 24 (Summer 1996), 31. See also Kimberly L. Thachuk and Captain Sam Tangredi, US Navy, "Transnational Threats and Maritime Responses," in Tangredi, ed., Globalization and Maritime Power (Washington DC: National Defense University Press, 2002), 65-7.

48. For a good discussion of issues related to sea-based missile defense, see Hans Binnendijk and George Stewart, "Naval Contributions to National Missile Defense", In Tangredi, Globalization and Maritime Power, 455-69.

49. Some of this internal Navy debate has been made public. For an outline of recent US Navy policy, plans and operations - and advocacy of a heavy emphasis on forward operations - see Commander Michael Dobbs, US Navy, "Homeland Security…from the Sea," RUSI Journal, 147 (August 2002), 58-64. The President of the Naval War College was reported to have expressed an even more emphatic view: "The American people have not bought the Navy, in my belief, to defend our coasts." See Esther Schrander, "A Changed America: Military Fuses Old, New to Create a Lethal Force," Los Angeles Times (February 10, 2002), 1. See also the reported statement from an internal Navy document that "While (PCs) continue to have a relevent mission, it is a Homeland Defense Mission rather than a core Navy mission," quoted in Malina Brown, "Navy Decides against Decommissioning 13 Cyclone Patrol Craft," Inside the Navy (February 10, 2003). On the other hand, for informed recent calls for increased US Navy participation in US coastal surveillance and reconnaissance, see Captain Roger W. Barnett, US Navy (Retired), "Navy Power for a New American Century," Naval War College Review, 55 (Winter 2002), 49 & 57; and Captain Jeff Kline, US Navy, "We Need High-Speed Vessels Again," Proceedings, 128 (March 2002), 110-11.

50. For the wider US military view of the importance of offensive forward operations for homeland defense, see remarks by Chairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff General Richard Myers, US Air Force, at the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Annual Meeting, in Military Officer, (January 2003): "We've go to take the fight to the enemy". For the primary place that forward operations take in the Navy Department's view of its contributions to homeland defense, see Secretary of the Navy Gordon England, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark, US Navy, and Commandant of the Marine Corps General James L. Jones, Naval Power 21…A Naval Vision, (Washington DC: Office of the Secretary of the Navy, October 2002). See also Admiral Vern Clark, "Sea Power 21," Proceedings 128 (October 2002), 32-41; and Vice Admiral Mike Bucchi, US Navy, and Vice Admiral Mike Mullen, US Navy, "Sea Shield: Projecting Global Defensive Assurance," Proceedings 128 (November 2002), 56-59.

51. The author gratefully acknowledges contributions to this article by Commander Scott Breor, US Navy; Dr. Edward Marolda, Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, US Navy (Retired), Captain Sean O'Brien, US Navy; Captain Patrick Roth, US Navy (Retired); Alexia Suma; and Daniel Swartz.


Published: Tue Sep 12 12:53:34 EDT 2017