Published at European Geostrategy:
European navies and surface warfareRecently there was a guest article published on CIMSEC – which is worth a read – written by R. Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, United States (US) Navy, who discussed the future of surface warfare from a US perspective. Not only is it thought provoking, it serves to highlight the fact that while the US Navy may not be as strong at surface warfare as it once was, at least it is having the conversation about how to change that – which the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) European nations do not seem to be doing.
We have the centrepiece…but what about the rest of the board?The game of chess is played with both players having sixteen pieces, of which eight on each side are pawns. Pawns are often the most undervalued of all pieces, but as Anatoly Karpov once said ‘pawns not only create the sketch for the whole painting, they are also the soil, the foundation, of any position’. The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers will be the Queens of British strategy for most likely the next four to five decades. However, that strategy may evolve to deal with potential threats/situations which will arise over a far longer period of time. The trouble is that security, much like the game of chess, requires more than just Queens.
Supporting British naval aviationWith the launch of HMS Queen Elizabeth, and the forthcoming launch of her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy will be starting to take on the shape it will be for the next 30-plus years. This means there is a problem, because the Royal Navy is getting just two of these capable, versatile, first rate, short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft carriers. In all likelihood therefore only one ship will be available for operations, even if the money is found to operate both (maintenance requirements will mean one vessel will be in port at any given time). This limitation becomes a strategic problem when coupled with other decisions:
Published at CIMSEC: