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Greenert: Naval Coalitions Can Benefit Maritime Security

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Navy encourages increased collaboration with other navies to secure the high seas, an idea that should be part of a comprehensive discussion within the defense community about how and where the U.S. wants to project naval power in the future, the Chief of Naval Operations said today.

The Navy is the most capable it's ever been, but with growing demands, its nearly 300 ships -- about 100 of which are forward deployed -- cannot be everywhere, Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert told an audience attending a conference on maritime security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here.

"To do more is going to be very difficult so we need to have a conversation," Greenert said. "How much sea power do you want, where does it matter, and how much does it matter around the world?"

An informal collaboration of navies

Greenert said naval leaders who attended last month's International Sea Power Symposium at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, discussed an informal collaboration of navies, an arrangement that would not depend on or be driven by treaties or other formalities that could serve to restrict operations or dissuade capable nations now operating on the high seas from taking part.

"I think in the reality of the world we need to look to the global network of ships around the world," he said, noting that there are already hundreds of warships from other countries patrolling the high seas, capable of keeping shipping lanes safe, or responding to natural disasters and other crises that could be pulled into such an informal coalition.

"They're not all high-end ships," Greenert said, "but they're ships available to do even those low-end missions where we can match up the ships and their capabilities with the mission. All it takes is a willingness to collaborate."

The idea is "in everybody's best interest," the admiral said, and should be part of a conversation involving how the United States wants to best-manage its naval force.

"The global network has to be tapped into and we have to bring as many coalitions to bear as possible," Greenert said.

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