THE WINSTON CHURCHILL MEMORIAL TRUST OF AUSTRALIA
Report by: FIONA EWINGTON – 2017 Churchill Fellow
Incorporating Maritime Trade Operations into Military Operational Doctrine – where do niche warfare capabilities belong?
Maritime, Doctrine, Trade, NCAGS, Shipping, Warfare, MTO
The opportunity to work alongside allied colleagues from Maritime Trade Operations and Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping capabilities and those involved in producing and using military doctrine was a privilege and I am indebted to The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for awarding this fellowship. I would like to express my gratitude to the maritime warfare specialists who shared so frankly of their operational experience and interoperability lessons learned. My time with representatives of the NATO Shipping Working Group from 15 NATO member and partner nations was particularly memorable. A great benefit has been renewing these contacts to continue collaboration on policy and operational effects.
I am very grateful for the support of colleagues at Maritime Trade Operations Team One and the encouragement and support of my family for maintaining COMAUSHOMEFRONT duties in my absence. Thank you.
Commander Fiona Ewington is the Chief of Staff, Royal Australian Navy Maritime Trade Operations Team One. Her previous naval career experience includes service as a Maritime Warfare Officer (Navigation).
Contact: Fiona.Ewington [at] defence.gov.au
The views expressed in this report are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Defence Force or Royal Australian Navy.
Any errors or omissions in content throughout are the sole responsibility of the author.
Australia is highly reliant on transnational maritime trade for its economic security and prosperity. In 2016-17 Australia’s seaborne trade was worth $445 billion, approaching 30% of national GDP when capturing associated activity that goes beyond the value of goods. Recent Government department policy papers discuss the trend of deepening and diversifying our geopolitical networks. A key focus of Defence policy is the imperative to protect Sea Lines of Communications given the importance of seaborne trade for economic and strategic security, particularly those in our near region of the Indo-Pacific.
The national maritime strategic context meshes seaborne commerce and naval power. The merchant marine provides the business of the sea; naval vessels provide the security of the sea. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) delivers this through interaction with Australian Defence Force (ADF) assets and foreign militaries to achieve similar goals employing similar capabilities. The interoperability of military relationships focuses on doctrine as much as tactics, techniques and procedures.
Military doctrine is the expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, operations and battles. The RAN uses doctrine that clearly details the strategic and capability picture, however maritime battlespace management and contribution to joint maritime operations is not well articulated. Maritime Trade Operations (MTO), also known as Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) within allied navies, is the interface between the military and commercial maritime industry. MTO is the only capability within the ADF with the commercial maritime expertise necessary to inform military operations on sea lanes crucial to national interests. As a complementary warfare discipline, the lack of maritime operational doctrine within the ADF’s joint framework complicates MTO’s development of tactical guidance on how to engage and use its subject matter expertise.
Research for this study compared current methods of integrating operational maritime doctrine into the United Kingdom (UK), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and United States (US) joint military architecture with present Australian practice. Techniques employed among allied maritime trade organisations to promote capability to the warfare community and military commander were also assessed for adoption within Australian MTO. Report aims propose an approach to address the absence of application level Australian Joint Maritime Warfare Doctrine and identifies options for MTO contributions to warfare capability.
The operational level of warfare provides the bridge between military strategy and tactics and the structural layer in which commanders and their staff plan and conduct campaigns. The UK draws upon NATO joint maritime operational doctrine Allied Joint Maritime Operations and provides further guidance through a series of operational level guides. The UK uses joint doctrine to promote domain effects to other military services, a difference to the Australian definition of joint doctrine as that which involves two or more of the services (Navy, Army, Air Force).
The United States contributes to NATO outputs, but maintains a separate joint doctrine development process. Their principal joint maritime publication Command and Control of Joint Maritime Operations provides principles and guidance to plan, execute and assess joint maritime operations. The US Navy Warfare Library hosts operational doctrine, amplified by supporting national tactical level documents such as that of the US NCAGS capability.
In the Australian context, the Sea Power Centre - Australia sponsors maritime strategic and high-level operational doctrine, while the Australian Maritime Warfare Centre provides expertise to tactical level instructions and generates tactical doctrine. A gap exists in the operational architecture in how the RAN expects to contribute to a joint contingency operation. There is a paucity of maritime domain application level doctrine in the ADF, due in part to reduced resources compared with allied militaries. The NATO approach to influence the joint and maritime space provides a credible outline for future force capability within doctrinal concepts of maritime force projection and supports a shift from tactical to operational maritime doctrine.
Many of the challenges experienced by Australian MTO in promoting the operational effect and value-add to the warfare commander were also experienced to varying degrees by each allied NCAGS capability consulted. A number of methods used by allied forces to provide NCAGS employment guidance include:
a. incorporation into complimentary Allied Joint Doctrinal Publications
b. capturing direction and guidance to tactical teams within a recognised framework
c. use of national tactical doctrine
d. promulgation of experimental tactics within NATO publications
f. Best Practice Libraries
g. educational documents on maritime battlespace management.
Australian MTO can benefit from several of these mechanisms. This includes incorporating maritime trade effects into existing Australian joint doctrine publications of related capabilities via the scheduled review cycle. The existing Australian supplement to NATO doctrine is well regarded by international NCAGS communities but should be hosted within a recognised framework. At the tactics, techniques and procedures level, the detailed information required ensures that contemporary handbooks, standard operating procedures and Best Practice Libraries have their place but should not be confused with doctrine. Educational tools and programs to benefit the wider warfare community should be exploited for influence in battlespace management.
The following recommendations represent an opportunity for the ADF to enhance capacity for coordinated joint maritime warfare planning and execution, and provide a platform for Maritime Trade Operations employment as a niche warfare capability.
1. Joint Doctrine Directorate to develop Application level Joint Maritime Warfare Doctrine within the ADF joint doctrine hierarchy to guide maritime tactical development warfighting initiatives.
2. Australian MTO to maintain contributions to existing MTO tactical level doctrine and progress incorporation to a recognised framework.
3. Australian MTO to initiate contributions to existing joint doctrine and ensure interoperability of MTO foundation documents with complementary warfare disciplines.
INCORPORATING MARITIME TRADE OPERATIONS TO MILITARY OPERATIONAL DOCTRINE – WHERE DO NICHE WARFARE CAPABILITIES BELONG?
The security of transnational maritime trade is vital noting that over 90 percent of internationally traded goods are transported via maritime shipping, and 70 percent of maritime shipped goods are containerised cargo. Most trade vessels are funnelled through one or more of six strategic chokepoints: the Suez and Panama Canals, Strait of Malacca, Strait of Bab el-Mandeb, Strait of Gibraltar, and the Strait of Hormuz.
During the past 30 years Australia’s economic prosperity and security has been firmly tied to maritime trade with both the developed and rapidly industrialising economies of Asia. Currently 11 of Australia’s top 15 trade partners are Asian nations. Australia is deeply dependent on seaborne trade for its economic security. In 2016-17 Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was approximately $1.7 trillion. In this period Australia’s seaborne trade was worth $445 billion, with exports and imports valued at $252 billion and $193 billion respectively – approaching 30% of national GDP when capturing associated activity that goes beyond the value of goods. While the monetary value of trade is one indicator of economic importance, many seaborne imports are also critical to Australia’s energy and food security. More than 90% of Australia’s liquid fuel products come in the form of seaborne imports.
Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper captures the trend of deepening and diversifying our security ties. Commonality is fundamental to navigating uncertainty, as is the need to ensure rules and rights of small and middle powers are respected. The geopolitical refrain increasingly focuses on the Indian and Pacific Oceans as one strategic system, connected by economic, energy, diplomacy, security and societal ties. This is driven to an extent by China’s expanding interests and presence in the region, and the reliance of many nations on these sea lanes for their energy, prosperity and security.
National Stability and Security. A key focus of Australia’s defence policy is the imperative to protect Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) given the importance of seaborne trade for Australia’s economic and strategic security. The 2016 Defence White Paper outlines Strategic Defence Interests. The first prioritises the security of SLOC to Australia’s north, while protecting SLOC globally is identified as critical to the third interest of a stable Indo-Pacific region and the rules-based global order. Australia sits adjacent to some of the world’s most strategically valuable shipping lanes, and some occasionally disputed maritime zones. From the Malacca, the Sunda and Lombok Straits to the South and East China Seas, many of the most vital areas of globalisation and sources of geopolitical challenge are in our near region. If the 21st century will be the Asian Century, then it will also be the Maritime Century.
As the 2016 Defence White Paper observes, Australia is unlikely to face a large-scale conventional military threat from the sea for some decades. Equally the government understands that in a crowded and contested Indo-Pacific maritime sphere, Australia must present a credible deterrent strategy, and participate in contributing to peace, stability, security, and good order at sea. This means working collaboratively with our allies and partners in the region through a framework for engaging regional civil actors. The current environment demands the use of both soft and hard power through mechanisms that persuade and convince national security stakeholders of the importance and value-add of trade protection practices. It provides a politically astute holistic risk planning and evaluation process.
The Navy. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is undertaking the most ambitious upgrade of our naval fleet in Australia since the Second World War. These capabilities will transform the Australian fleet, recognising the need for a force capable of generating and deploying self-supporting and sustainable maritime and joint task groups. The RAN will deploy task groups equipped for the gamut of operations from high-end war fighting to responsive and agile humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. These platforms will provide Australia with credible deterrents and sea-denial capabilities in our maritime approaches and ensure the integrity of our maritime borders. Their range and endurance enhance our capacity to fight piracy, illegal fishing, smuggling and other maritime crime in Australian waters and beyond.
The immediate past Australian Chief of Navy articulated our national maritime strategic context as the meshing of seaborne commerce and naval power. The merchant marine provides the business of the sea; naval vessels provide the security of the sea. Both military and national security strategic plans detail the Navy’s role in assuring free and open maritime trade, and unfettered access to the global commons. The combination of protecting seaborne trade and managing the unexpected are key strategic underpinnings of Australian naval power. There is a need to ensure the RAN can interact with like-minded militaries at the policy, planning and capability levels to deliver a better result. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is actually very good at this, though it is by no means simple. Interoperability is the ‘capacity to achieve similar goals employing similar capabilities’. Modern military relationships focus as much on policy and doctrine as operational techniques and tactical manoeuvres.
Why Doctrine? Military doctrine is the expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles and engagements. It is a guide to action, rather than hard and fast rules. Maritime doctrinal development frameworks contribute to the joint integration in the maritime (though not necessarily naval) environment. This includes the influence of military, para-military and civil actors. One common approach to a doctrinal architecture is through strategic, operational and tactical levels.
The RAN has a strategic doctrinal document that informs the Navy Capability Development Model: Australian Maritime Doctrine. Australian Maritime Doctrine 2010 (AMD) is the RAN’s capstone work, providing an understanding of the unique nature of the RAN’s contribution to Australia’s national security and how the Navy goes about its business. It is supported by the subordinate document Australian Maritime Operations 2017 (AMO). The two documents are complementary with AMD describing the Navy’s strategic rationale and its philosophical underpinnings and AMO expanding on how the Navy, and its joint and multinational partners organise, prepare for and approach maritime operations. Whilst these documents clearly detail the strategic and capability picture, how the RAN conducts maritime battlespace management or contributes to joint maritime operations is not well articulated. No such doctrinal publication exists at the single service or joint (Navy, Army, Air Force) operational level.
The Challenge. While the most obvious forms of naval power and prowess are encompassed in military hardware and the kinetic effects delivered, other aspects of military capability are equal contributors in the battlespace. As a maritime warfare capability, Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) is the provision of cooperation, guidance, advice, and assistance to merchant shipping in support of the commander’s mission and to enhance the safety and security of merchant ships. NCAGS acts as the interface between the military and commercial maritime industry to promote the safety of seafarers and seaborne trade.
In some allied navies, including Australia, the capability is known as Maritime Trade Operations (MTO). MTO represents maritime civilian-military coordination and engagement. It is used across the full spectrum of maritime military operations, from pre-contingency shaping through to high-end war fighting. The continuity and phasing of modern military operations does not warrant a separation between the more enduring liaison and domain awareness activities and the direct and interactive coordination regimes of MTO. Accordingly, the term MTO is used as a comprehensive and graduated means to achieve all effects ranging from civilian military liaison and engagement to full NCAGS implementation. MTO is the only capability within the ADF that has the commercial maritime expertise necessary to inform relevant military operations on SLOC crucial to national interests. There is a current focus on events in the South China Sea, the volume of Australian trade that transits this area, and the obligation of the ADF to protect Australian seafarers and the nation’s economic prosperity.
Early scoping of this project identified a Joint Doctrine Note (JDN) within the Australian Joint Doctrine Hierarchy as a means of informing and promoting discussion on the MTO capability as guidance for operational level employment. A JDN is not approved doctrine, but provides guidance on a subject for a limited time and is then assessed for incorporation into approved doctrine or archived. Stakeholder discussions highlighted that the absence of doctrine for joint maritime battle conduct left the proposed maritime trade JDN without a superior document in the existing architecture.
At the operational or theatre command level, complementary warfare disciplines are sometimes excluded in the early planning phase thus limiting the full weight of their influence. The challenge is two-fold. Firstly, the lack of maritime operational level doctrine within the ADF’s joint doctrine framework creates a vacuum for many capabilities. Secondly, this resulting absence complicates the development of subordinate tactical guidance on how to engage and use MTO subject matter expertise.
Scope. This report will firstly outline the present Australian doctrine and development framework and compare it with current methods of integrating operational maritime doctrine into the United Kingdom, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and United States joint military architecture. It will also assess techniques employed among allied NCAGS and MTO organisations to promote the enablers of these capabilities to the warfare community and military commander. These methods will be discussed for adoption within Australian MTO.
Methodology. Research was undertaken over a six-week period in May and June 2018. In the interest of interoperability, interviewees were selected from allied nations most commonly conducting exercises and operations with Australia as follows:
a. United Kingdom and United States. Much of Australian doctrine draws from that produced in the United States and United Kingdom; accordingly, staff involved in those countries were consulted on their development approach.
b. NATO member nations. Subject matter experts in NCAGS and MTO capabilities, as members of the NATO Shipping Working Group, provided insight to overcoming niche warfare community challenges in contributing to the planning and execution of military operations.
c. Striking and Support Forces NATO (SFN). As an end user of doctrine and specialised warfare capabilities, SFN, based in Portugal spoke to the practical application of doctrine and the employment of NCAGS.
This report proposes an approach to address the absence of application level Australian Joint Maritime Warfare Doctrine, and identifies options for Maritime Trade Operations contributions to warfare capability.
AUSTRALIAN DOCTRINE DEVELOPMENT AND FRAMEWORK
Doctrine is the ADF’s body of knowledge on the nature, role and conduct of military operations. Joint doctrine therefore guides the ADF’s actions in support of national objectives. Command and management includes doctrine as essential written guidance to enhance military effectiveness. Whilst policy is prescriptive and has legal standing, doctrine does not. Doctrine provides authoritative and proven guidance, which can be adapted to suit each unique situation.
The key objectives of Australian joint doctrine are to:
a. represent what is considered to be the most effective ways to conduct operations and related activities
b. provide authoritative guidance, which requires judgement in application
c. provide the national military position for multinational operations
d. provide the foundation for joint training and joint professional military education
e. enhance joint force effectiveness by providing a common reference point for the single-Services and Defence Groups
f. provide information for other government departments, international partners and non-governmental organisations on how and why the ADF is employed.
Within the Australian context, joint doctrine is organised into the hierarchy of philosophical, application and procedural, which broadly correlate with strategic, operational and tactical levels of command. Sponsorship is centralised with Vice Chief of the Defence Force and developer responsibilities are centralised with Director Joint Doctrine (DJD).
BRITISH MARITIME AND JOINT DOCTRINE
The United Kingdom approach is to use North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) doctrine wherever possible, developing national doctrine only where there is a gap or where the UK is not in agreement with the NATO approach. Three strands of doctrine affect the maritime domain: UK maritime, UK joint and NATO. Doctrine is broadly divided into three overlapping levels: strategic, operational and tactical. Like Australian doctrine the tactical level mostly consists of a collective body of tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) or standard operating procedures (SOPs) and is therefore the most densely populated layer. The UK joint doctrine architecture is also divided into the following domains:
a. Functional, categorised by the NATO Continental Staff System functional areas.
b. Thematic, as specific to a type of operation or campaign. It is not intended to represent a template for a specific operational theatre, but rather provides a guide to dealing with a particular set of conflict themes.
c. Environmental, describes doctrine within the context of the surroundings or conditions within which operations occur. It is specific to the maritime, land, air, space and information (including cyberspace) domains.
Maritime. The operational level of warfare provides the bridge between military strategy and tactics and the structural layer in which commanders and their staff plan and conduct campaigns. At the strategic-operational divide is UK Maritime Power, broadly consistent with Australian Maritime Doctrine as the highest level of maritime specific strategic doctrine. Both documents provide the philosophy and principles underpinning the employment of maritime forces by describing what maritime power does, how it does it, and to what end. The primary difference in the approach taken by both countries is that the UK document sits within the joint architecture to provide the necessary familiarity and broad basis understanding for joint and component commanders, formations and units, allowing them to operate effectively in the maritime domain.
The Royal Navy approach to operational doctrine draws from the NATO Allied Joint Maritime Operations. This document covers the characteristics of maritime power, command and control, planning and execution of maritime operations, information operations and logistics. It is similar in deliverable to the SPC-A publication Australian Maritime Operations in describing to a broad audience (military, government and the community) the current Navy, its capabilities, limitations and organisation. The UK provides further operational command, warfare and conduct guidance in their ‘Fighting Instructions’. A series of operational level guides, The Fighting Instructions – Conduct of Maritime Operations is a classified document and focuses on the coordination of warfare commands and thematic maritime subjects. The Royal Navy has experienced a renewed emphasis on high-end warfighting, carrier and expeditionary operations in recent times. The antipodean perspective is that the RAN has made significant progress in contemporary amphibious operations and accompanying doctrine with the introduction to service of the Landing Helicopter Dock class of ships.
Joint. As described above, UK joint doctrine is generally divided into functional, thematic and environmental doctrine. NATO Allied Joint Maritime Operations is both an environmental domain and functional doctrine. In drawing from the other areas it distinguishes itself from single service environmental doctrine as it more fully describes doctrine within the context of the surroundings or conditions within which operations occur. Alongside the Fighting Instructions series, it is the primary operational level publication used by the Royal Navy for all national operations.
A contributor to the UK and NATO joint doctrine effort, the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) produces joint concepts and doctrine, underpinned by research and experimentation. This informs decisions in defence strategy, capability development and operations, and to provide the foundation for joint education, both now and in the future. A truly joint establishment, staff are drawn from all British Armed Services and the Civil Service. It liaises routinely with NATO, the European Union, the United Nations and a wide range of nations as well as other government departments and non-governmental organisations.
In the UK, the Royal Navy shifted from a single service to joint approach around 2010, publishing the first edition of British Maritime Doctrine (now UK Maritime Power) in that year. Current thinking sees Single Service Doctrine solely for the use of officers and sailors at sea. Conversely, Joint Doctrine is written for a wider audience to outlay expectations for the maritime component. The UK interpretation of joint doctrine differs from the Australian approach. The Australian definition is that joint doctrine incorporates two or more of the services; the UK uses joint doctrine to promote the domain effects to the other services. The DCDC has also embraced the concept of ‘Fusion Doctrine’ in broadening from a purely military approach to one that reflects a whole of government framework. A remit of the DCDC is to ‘exploit’; a term for selling the end product of doctrine once produced. This remains a challenge against competing resource (and staff) availability. DCDC acknowledges that the RN remains behind the other services in this respect. An important and overriding element is the need to consult during the development process, both to assess the need and appetite of the defence community for a particular product. This removes wasted effort in managing a doctrinal request for a publication that may already exist (but has not been read), or to identify development deficiencies early in the process, particularly a tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) level product that may not appropriately fit within a doctrinal hierarchy.
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION DOCTRINE
The range of Allied functional, thematic and environmental doctrine is vast. These publications cover many subjects and contain very detailed planning guidance to assist the novice user in any given situation. Key operational level Allied Joint Publications (AJPs) often have subordinate Allied Tactical Publications (ATPs) to support them. Allied Joint Maritime Operations (AJP-3.1) outlines the basic principles, doctrine and practices of NATO maritime forces in a joint environment. It influences thinking and provides guidance to joint and maritime staff about the application of maritime power in Allied joint operations, and focuses on the unique characteristics and employment considerations for maritime forces. It also addresses fundamental factors that influence the employment of maritime power and the key aspects of command and control from the command perspective. Although intended primarily for NATO forces, Allied Joint Maritime Operations also applies to operations within the framework of a combined joint task force in a multinational coalition of NATO and non-NATO nations.
NATO Standardization Office (NSO). The NSO in NATO HQ, Brussels, is responsible for the coordination, production, maintenance and distribution of over 1300 Standardization Agreements (STANAGs). These include technical agreements and specifications in addition to Allied Publications. Each STANAG has a designated custodian responsible for production and maintenance of publications on behalf of an allocated Working Group. The Military Committee Maritime Standardization Board directs the conduct of 11 Maritime Working Groups, all of whom are responsible for the production of doctrine. As the dominant national publication custodians, the US and UK between them manage the majority of NATO maritime publications. This includes an array of discrete capabilities including submarines, search and rescue, diving, NCAGS / MTO, communications and mine warfare. Australia sends representatives to some, though not all, of these working groups as staff availability and finances allow. Churchill Fellowship funding enabled Australian MTO participation in the 2018 NATO Shipping Working Group.
NATO Centres of Excellence (COEs). Centres of Excellence are nationally or multinationally funded institutions that train and educate leaders and specialists from NATO member and partner countries. These COEs assist to develop doctrine, identify lessons learned, improve interoperability and capabilities and test and validate concepts through experimentation. They offer recognised expertise and experience of benefit to the Alliance, and support the transformation of NATO, while avoiding the duplication of assets, resources and capabilities already present within the NATO command structure.
Coordinated by Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, Virginia in the United States, COEs are international military organisations. Though not part of the NATO command structure, they form a wider framework supporting NATO command arrangements. Designed to complement the Alliance’s current resources, COEs cover a variety of areas, with each one focusing on a specific field of expertise to enhance NATO capabilities. There are 21 COEs in total with three dedicated maritime COEs in Germany, Belgium and the USA. The NATO Combined Joint Operations from the Sea COE in Norfolk, USA provides a focal point for Joint Maritime Operations to promote maritime concepts and doctrine for NATO, sponsoring nations, allies and other international partners and organisations to optimise efficient delivery of the maritime effect.
UNITED STATES JOINT AND NAVY DOCTRINE
Joint. While a primary contributor to NATO outputs, the US maintains a completely separate joint doctrine development process, however supports both NATO and other multinational joint doctrine development efforts. The US defines joint doctrine as the fundamental principles that guide the employment of US military forces in coordinated actions toward a common objective and may include terms, tactics, techniques, and procedures. Practically this is interpreted at the working level to more closely align with the Australian definition of ‘activities, operations and organisations in which elements of at least two Services participate’. The US also produces multi-service publications usually at the Tactical or TTP level, approved by two or more of the services to perform a common military function consistent with approved joint doctrine. These publications may propose projects to transition to the joint doctrine hierarchy. A number of ‘Interorganizational Documents’ also feed into the doctrine process, including US government strategic plans, international treaty-based documents and US Department of Defense Memorandums of Agreement and Understanding. The process can be described as a holistic approach to doctrine development.
The principal joint maritime publication is Joint Publication (JP) 3-32 Command and Control of Joint Maritime Operations. This outlines the responsibilities of a Joint Force Maritime Component Commander, discusses organisational options and command relationships for various maritime operations and planning considerations for joint maritime operations. The current edition additionally revises composite warfare commander roles.
Navy. US Navy doctrine development is maintained through the Navy Warfare Library and managed by the Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC). The library includes publications from within the Navy doctrine hierarchy and applicable allied, multi-Service and multination publications. Recent modifications place more emphasis on the entire life cycle of a publication versus initial development. US Navy doctrine refers to overarching guidance that allows Naval units to operate effectively as a Navy force. Doctrine refers to both fundamental principles and operational level guidance. Operational level doctrine is distinct from the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) used to guide the specific operation of platforms and systems. US Navy doctrine forms the bridge between the naval component of national military strategy and TTPs. A commander cannot operate solely under the guidance of broad strategy or make appropriate mission decisions if guided only by TTPs. Doctrine guides actions toward well-defined goals and provides the basis for mutual understanding within and among the services and national policymakers. It is interesting to note that US Navy single service doctrine and warfighting publications use the nomenclature of ‘Navy’ instead of ‘Maritime’ as employed by several Commonwealth nations such as the UK and Australia, and indeed NATO itself.
The US Navy suite known as Navy Warfare Publications contain operational doctrine that covers mission areas, enabling functions and the organisation and support of forces for sustained operations. They may contain amplifying documents at the tactical level for the employment of Navy forces. The US tactical level publication NTTP 3-07.12 Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping is the primary doctrinal publication for the US NCAGS capability in conjunction with NATO publication ATP-2.
Discussions with NWDC staff indicate that the single service development process is not as regimented as joint, and therefore results in a greater output of publications. The current command of NWDC has stated a preference for more operational level doctrine in the naval and maritime arena. Difficulties have historically been faced with incorporating maritime into joint publications with the fleet warfighting capability not well articulated on the issue of integrating with a joint force. Complementary or niche capabilities, for example Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief, Information Operations or Maritime Trade Protection are often observed as a ‘pop-up community’ that seek to gain traction at certain points in the planning and execution cycle. These effects suffer from a lack of continuity and integration in part due to workforce constructs such as the employment of large military reserve communities. Attempts to integrate these capabilities in planning and execution need to take place sufficiently early in the process. This can be enabled through attendance at exercise planning conferences and operational planning groups. Their inclusion in all levels of doctrine and tactical procedures was a NWDC suggested remedy to promote continuity aspects.
A primary challenge voiced in all levels of doctrine development is the collaboration, consultation and socialisation aspect. The consensus and viewpoints of subject matter experts, the intended audience and related disciplines is vital, as is gaining support from leadership. If correctly scoped, the process is often as valuable as the doctrine produced to promote a capability or facilitate the desired outcome.
INCORPORATING AUSTRALIAN MARITIME DOCTRINE INTO THE JOINT HIERARCHY
Milan Vego, a contemporary maritime strategist and Professor of Operations at the US Naval War College, has long expressed his views on the naval obsession with tactics both in doctrine and practice. That which passes for naval doctrine is viewed sceptically by professionals, with naval forces neglecting the importance of operational art. The ability to conceptualise future operations through the analysis of doctrinal trends is the key to defining and justifying future capability requirements.
In the Australian context, there is minimal maritime or naval input at the application level of joint doctrine. The Sea Power Centre - Australia (SPC-A) sponsors the capstone publication of Australian Maritime Doctrine (AMD), and the high operational level Australian Maritime Operations (AMO) respectively. The Australian Maritime Warfare Centre maintains and provides subject matter expertise into tactical level publications and instructions, and the generation of tactical doctrine. A gap exists in the operational (or application) architecture in how the RAN expects to contribute to a joint contingency operation. This lack of a broader operational framework greatly complicates writing subordinate tactical publications such as procedural level doctrine on MTO. The RAN logistics community sought to rectify a shortfall in doctrinal guidance particularly in respect to seaworthiness through the publication of Australian Maritime Logistics Doctrine (AMLD). This is coherent with ADF joint logistics doctrine and amplifies the principles in the two superior Navy doctrinal documents of AMD and AMO. AMLD is the capstone document of the N4 section of the Australian Navy Publications (ANP) Library.
Current RAN strategic guidance and warfighting domain objectives (Plan Mercator, Plan Pelorus and the Navy Warfighting Strategy) detail the high-end warfighting focus of the return to task group operations and the future force transition incorporating new capabilities. The section from the Royal Navy’s The Fighting Instructions – Conduct of Maritime Operations on Maritime Task Group composition, considerations and dispositions is particularly instructive in the Australian context noting this shift from single ship to task group employment. Most of Navy’s attention is given to strike warfare, while so called ‘defensive warfare’ areas such as antisubmarine warfare, protection of trade and mine warfare are accorded less priority. History has provided numerous examples of what can happen when the focus is almost exclusively on tactical doctrine and the offensive employment of combat forces. This was highlighted by the fate of the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II; such a preoccupation can result in powerful forces both one-dimensional and brittle. Conversely, the US Navy learned through trial and error in World War II to use its combat forces effectively at the operational level through campaigns in the Pacific and Mediterranean.
The Joint Doctrine Directorate as the manager of the Australian Joint Doctrine Library and hierarchy remains resource constrained to develop new doctrine. Present work program direction focuses on extant doctrinal publications, consolidating where possible to prioritise warfighting application level publications. This is consistent with a trend in allied doctrine development organisations towards reducing the number of doctrinal documents, and to streamline existing publications. United Kingdom developers, who are better resourced with staff numbers than their Australian counterparts, seek to reduce the overlap and wasted effort in maintaining similar information in multiple publications.
Conclusions. The joint doctrine development process is similar across allied militaries, with a somewhat different outcome in the Australian environment. Australia produces more doctrine relating to the tactical level of warfare, which is very process and procedure driven, rather than true application-level doctrine. Australia’s approach differs from many larger allied navies in that what is considered doctrine in the Australian context is very checklist like, procedural and more aligned with TTPs. The NATO construct provides the opportunity to influence and seek guidance in both the joint and maritime space and would be of great value in the Australian situation. Australia’s Joint Operating Concept (AJOC) describes an operating environment requiring new approaches to warfare and commanders capable of visualising the battle space across multiple domains of maritime, land, air, information and human. The Joint Maritime Warfare Development Framework provides a process to synchronise the existing bottom up maritime warfare development that occurs at unit level, and a mechanism to ensure the strategic top down concepts in the AJOC drive joint maritime warfare development. Following the NATO approach will provide a credible outline for present and future force capability within the ADF doctrinal concept of maritime force projection and control, and also supports a shift in maritime doctrine from a tactical to an operational focus. Accordingly, a framework articulating how Australia expects to fight the joint maritime battle is necessary.
THE SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS – ALLIED NAVAL COOPERATION AND GUIDANCE FOR SHIPPING, AND MARITIME TRADE OPERATIONS
The endeavours of smaller warfare communities to promote their value-add to the warfare commander is not unique to Australia. Overcoming road blocks and challenges in being heard amongst the noise of battle are similar for allied capabilities with which Australian MTO collaborates on policy and conducts exercises and operations. A number of methods to gain traction within various command and governance structures are used by Australia and coalition NCAGS forces to provide employment guidance. These encompass both doctrinal and operations publications, which are discussed in the following paragraphs.
Allied Joint Doctrinal Publications. Members of the NATO Shipping Working Group (NSWG) seek to influence the development of NATO’s joint, operational-level Allied Joint Publications (AJPs) through inputs to corresponding Working Groups. The Allied Joint Doctrine Campaign Plan is a five-year rolling plan compiled and managed by Allied Command Transformation by programming the staggered revision of all AJPs over this cycle. From the NCAGS perspective it is fundamental to ensuring the vertical harmonisation of NCAGS doctrine to superior documents, and ensures coherence with emerging and contemporary updates to other maritime and joint capabilities. This also permits synchronisation with doctrine-related activities in respect to joint analysis and lessons learned training and interoperability.
Historically NSWG members have found the incorporation of a brief NCAGS summary to complementary doctrine challenging, however this group monitors the doctrine campaign plan programme of work to ensure incorporation where applicable. This has principally occurred through an inclusion in the recent review of Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) (AJP-3.4.9 now ratification draft AJP-3.19), Maritime Operations (AJP-3.1) and Planning for Operations (AJP-5). Senior members of the NSWG agreed that functional planning guidance for complementary capabilities benefit from NCAGS input and engagement matrices, for both government and non-government bodies. The most benefit was derived from NCAGS input to the primary planning document AJP-5 Planning for Operations, the outcome being a catalyst to initiate maritime environment civil-military planning considerations.
NATO Superior Guidance. The NATO Military Committee (MC) provides guidance to the NATO Shipping Working Group via communique MC 376/3, a superior document to tactical doctrine ATP-2. The Military Committee is responsible for ensuring relevant aspects of NCAGS policy are included in other MC documents, and provides guidance to Strategic Commands for the conduct of NCAGS operations, exercises and training. It doesn’t however promote integration at the operational level which is best managed by the NSWG Chair and NATO Shipping Centre.
ATP-2 NCAGS Doctrine. Within the international NCAGS community, tactical level guidance is provided through publications sponsored by the NATO Standardization Office. NCAGS Doctrine Allied Tactical Publication (ATP-2) is the authoritative document guiding planning and delivery of NCAGS effects.
ATP-2 Evolution. In recent years the custodians of ATP-2 removed a series of annexes, known as the ‘Tool Box’, as it was considered too prescriptive for a doctrinal publication, despite broad acceptance of ATP-2 as a TTP publication delivering a tactical effect. This point has merit, noting the universally accepted definition of doctrine in providing guiding principles adapted to fit the operating environment. However, the removal left a void in required direction and guidance to teams at the tactical level. The NSWG is now considering the best method to rectify this deficiency – either as a tactical level handbook, or in a password protected open-source electronic best practice library website available to members of the international NCAGS community. Initial indications suggest that the NSWG considers this tactical team direction internal guidance, and requires an output that encompasses the following characteristics:
a. a living document that is easily managed and updated
b. within the oversight of the NSWG
c. accessible to a broad range of international members
d. an information repository of best practice which does not require ratification for editorial changes.
For these reasons a subset of ATP-2 is the preferred means to recapture and promulgate this information for ease of management within a recognised framework under NSWG responsibility, but available to a broader military and government readership.
ATP-2 Australian Supplement. The Australian MTO capability has long used the corresponding NATO ATP-2 on NCAGS to guide process and procedures. This document is seen as a single point of reference for the delivery of NCAGS effects. During the edition review that removed the ATP-2 Annexes, Australian MTO saw an opportunity to incorporate this information into Australian foundation documentation. At the time little guidance existed on the RAN MTO response to preparedness directives, or employment considerations within a fleet battle staff. The promulgation of the Australian supplement to NATO ATP-2 described the organisational principles to implement an MTO organisation and execute operations. The toolbox series has served Australian MTO well, as guidance designed for the graduated approach to operations. These tools are not mandatory and can be adapted to the prevailing environment.
Experimental Tactics (EXTACs). Germany’s NCAGS capability adds to the NCAGS community’s body of knowledge through the development of two Experimental Tactics (EXTACs). EXTACs are the tool used by NATO to issue experimental tactical instructions. Their publication provides a quick look method where new naval and maritime (or air) tactics developed by a NATO nation, group of NATO nations or strategic command may be evaluated. EXTACs on Protection of Merchant Shipping (particularly guided transit and escort) and Port Assessment Handbook were promulgated for discussion with the NSWG, and for use during exercises to address deficiencies with the content of ATP-2 NCAGS. Both EXTACs currently reside in a NATO volume, have a limited lifespan and in time will be incorporated into ratified NATO documents, hosted outside the NATO publication structure, or cancelled.
Handbooks. During NSWG deliberations a representative from the NATO CIMIC COE commented that updates to Handbooks or TTP level documents potentially have a greater impact in educating the wider warfare community on capability effects than doctrinal publications. The CIMIC COE had found that CIMIC Handbook updates were a nimble and adaptable method of updating procedures in contrast to the protracted review process in force for AJP level publications. The handbook was more readily in use and consulted than the extant AJP CIMIC doctrine.
Similarly, representatives from the Royal Danish Navy, US Navy NCAGS and Germany Navy NCAGS organisations are drafting an NCAGS Maritime Pattern of Life Handbook to capture lessons from exercise participation. The final deliverable date is not yet known but seeks to support the area commander’s maritime situation awareness and resource deployment towards mission goals. It is designed to integrate with other warfare disciplines to prepare maritime interdiction operations, anti-piracy operations, non-combatant evacuation operations or other military operations.
The Combined Joint Operations from the Sea COE in Norfolk, Virginia, USA looks to enhance interoperability among allied, coalition and NATO Navies, and responding to a 2011 request for support developed a coordination guide. This in turn has transitioned to the 2018 Allied Interoperability Handbook. This document looks to integrate coalition elements with standard US Navy procedures. It incorporates lessons learned and post activity reporting from previous deployments to promote tactical, cultural and procedural interoperability. Whilst not NCAGS specific, it addresses interoperability challenges across warfare disciplines from Task Group and Battle Group level through to augmentation of a Joint or Combined Maritime staff requirement for a Component Commander. Although the handbook is not a doctrinal publication, it assists planners to appreciate a wide spectrum of forces and guides the scheduling and planning processes.
Best Practice Library. The NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) at NATO Maritime Command fosters closer cooperation between NATO and the civil maritime community to promote maritime security. The NSC Branch Head chairs the NATO Shipping Working Group. The centre remains a driving force behind the education, information exchange, guidance and advice on maritime industry and shipping, and coordinating the direction of procedures and doctrine. One line of effort during 2018/19 is the establishment of an electronic Best Practice Library website available to members of the international NCAGS community. It is designed as a repository of TTPs, lessons learned, exercise planning information and templates to deliver tactical effects during exercises and operation. To date both website implementation and contribution from NSWG member nations has not progressed as expected.
US National Doctrine. A number of nations promulgate country specific MTO or NCAGS Doctrine including the US, Poland, Norway and Brazil. The US Naval Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (NTTP) 3-07.12 details the US NCAGS doctrine and provides guidance to US Navy operating forces responsible for the planning and execution of NCAGS. A secondary purpose is to provide background information to the merchant shipping industry regarding the expected interface between the industry and the US military in a contingency or crisis situation. It has a similar remit to both NATO doctrine and the guidance contained in the ATP-2 Australian supplement.
Royal Navy (RN) MTO Concept of Use. As a component of the warfare branch, the RN MTO capability provides specialised information to Defence decision makers on Freedom of Manoeuvre, Freedom of Navigation and trade across the maritime environment. Outputs are directed by a single statement of user need that the ‘RN MTO capability supports military operations, enabling commanders to better understand the maritime domain by contributing to the safety and security of navigation and maritime trade’. The 2017 RN MTO Concept of Use is an endorsed policy document that details the specialisation capability output. It is coherent with national defence doctrine and fleet operational and tactical instructions. The RN MTO does not maintain discrete doctrine but ensures coherence with UK Maritime Power (JDP 0-10) and NATO doctrine, specifically ATP-2 NCAGS. It is also underpinned by the UK National Strategy for Maritime Security.
Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO). STRIKFORNATO based in Portugal provides a 12 nation Maritime Battle Staff (MBS) operational command directly to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. This delivers a rapidly deployable and scalable headquarters capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime expeditionary operations. This occurs through the integration of US naval and amphibious forces and works across all aspects of the warfare continuum. It is the only NATO command capable of leading an expanded maritime task force. While not possessing a specific NCAGS or MTO capability among the permanent staff of 164, crisis manning of up to 403 personnel through augmentees is supported, including NCAGS subject matter experts when the battle staff is activated for exercises and operations. The MBS are an end user of doctrine and operations publications across the warfare spectrum. From a doctrine perspective the MBS use the NATO AJP suite and consults various TTP or tactical doctrinal publications (such as ATP-2 NCAGS) for planning and execution considerations in employing specific capabilities. STRIKFORNATO staff commented that interpretation and ease of application by non-subject matter experts of guidance in TTP / ATP documents was variable. The ATP-2 NCAGS procedures were more challenging than others and would benefit from amplification at the operational planning level, particularly with respect to exclusion zone implementation due to resulting strategic level consequences.
Royal Navy Maritime Battlespace Management Primer. Knowledge deficiencies in complementary warfare disciplines have been overcome through the promulgation of a Maritime Battlespace Management Primer. The difficulties in having new doctrine accepted and published was recognised; however a maritime battlespace management primer was one mechanism that supported warfare community education while bridging knowledge gaps. In the case of NCAGS/MTO the relevant Primer chapter addressed:
a. Freedom of Navigation
b. Doctrine and Capabilities
d. Legal and regulatory framework
e. Maritime stabilisation
This publication remains a working example of a non-doctrinal document that provides an avenue to appraise maritime and joint audiences on the intricacies of maritime battlespace management. It recognises that the parent doctrinal publication in the UK Joint hierarchy on Battlespace Management as higher level doctrine describes seven battlespace dimensions of maritime, land, air, space, information, electromagnetic and time. The Primer is aimed at a broad audience and acknowledges that certain sections may be too detailed for a joint reader or seem oversimplified to a maritime expert.
AUSTRALIAN MARITIME TRADE OPERATIONS AS A FORCE MULTIPLIER
The importance of maintaining both doctrinal and operations publications for contemporary outcomes cannot be overstated. Discussions between international NCAGS and MTO communities on NATO and nationally promulgated doctrine takes place at the tactical level. The difficulties in achieving application or operational level recognition is appreciated by allied colleagues in the same manner as Australia. In order to better promote the capability within operational level doctrine, NSWG members facilitate NCAGS incorporation into complementary warfare capabilities through the NATO Allied Joint Doctrine Campaign Plan revision schedule. Similarly, Australian MTO could investigate the Australian Joint Doctrine Directorate forward work plan to ensure relevant MTO detail is captured in relevant publications during the doctrine update and review process.
NATO ATP-2 NCAGS will remain the authoritative doctrinal document for Australian MTO but requires interpretation in the Australian context. The tools in the ATP-2 Australian Supplement remain very process driven, however capture within a recognised framework the tactical effects delivered by a deployed MTO element. Work is underway to update the ATP-2 Australian Supplement (a defacto national MTO doctrinal document) to ensure it remains contemporary. It is important to note however that Australian MTO tactical doctrine and operating procedures are at least equal to or, in some respects, superior to that of the international capabilities consulted. Identifying a suitable framework for the ATP-2 Australian Supplement is necessary, and in the absence of a maritime doctrinal architecture other options canvassed by MTO staff include the recently expanded Australian Navy Publications (ANP) library.
The ANP seeks to transition a number of navy publications and manuals to a single framework, with a consistent numbering system that identifies the type and content of publications. Thus far the Operations (N3) section remains unpopulated and therefore its potential is yet to be realised. ANP instructions contain guidance in high level approval for Navy Doctrine though implementation details are unknown. Within current availabilities, the ANP is seen as the preferred framework within Navy to consolidate operational publications, particularly those addressing doctrine. The addition of complementary publications to the N3 library should be monitored to assess the effectiveness of this framework for hosting warfare capability planning guidance.
Australian MTO maintains other foundation publications in a handbook directing the employment of deployed elements, and as an addition to Australian Fleet Training Instructions (AFTP 4). AFTP 4 inclusion in recent years provides the authoritative collective training policy guidance for Australian MTO. Handbooks are seen as useful by NATO elements to promote warfare capabilities across the joint and maritime space but require attendant promotion of their value and currency to see use in the desired manner. At the TTP level, the granularity and fidelity of information required ensures that handbooks, operating procedures and Best Practice Libraries have their place, but this should not be confused with doctrine.
The international experience and this research have shown that intended doctrine products developed from tactics may not appropriately fit within a doctrinal architecture. A clear vision of the output and intended audience of a publication requires careful consideration prior to drafting. Doctrine in particular requires wide consultation to ensure it remains coherent with parent doctrine and remains contemporary alongside other capabilities. Whilst doctrine has its place in articulating the outputs of warfare capabilities, it remains but one option. Complementary to doctrine is the maintenance of contemporary operating procedures and other engagement mechanisms.
The content of the Royal Navy Maritime Battlespace Management Primer displays the education benefit for the wider warfare community. Australia does not yet have battlespace management doctrine, but outputs of the RAN Maritime Warfare Program looks to develop effective group warfighting approaches that are founded on TTPs and individual unit procedures. Achievable means of engaging with this program, including the Fleet Warfare Forum, remain tangible outcomes within MTO’s grasp for maintaining currency and traction with the wider maritime warfare community.
Conclusions. A number of conclusions can be drawn from the allied experience promoting NCAGS that can be adapted for Australian MTO. These include:
a. articulating effects through national doctrine of the ATP-2 Australian Supplement to integrate MTO within ADF maritime and joint command structures, and when employed on coalition operations.
b. the benefit derived from hosting national doctrine in a recognised Australian framework.
c. promoting MTO outputs through Australian Joint Doctrine Directorate publications of complementary warfare disciplines.
d. recognising the complementary role of other publications and warfare development programs to support existing doctrine and operational guidance.
The following recommendations represent an opportunity for the ADF to enhance capacity for coordinated joint maritime warfare planning and execution and provide a platform for Maritime Trade Operations employment as a niche warfare capability.
1. Joint Doctrine Directorate to develop Application level Joint Maritime Warfare Doctrine within the ADF joint doctrine hierarchy to guide maritime tactical development warfighting initiatives.
2. Australian MTO to maintain contributions to existing MTO tactical level doctrine and progress incorporation of ATP-2 Australian Supplement to a recognised framework.
3. Australian MTO to initiate contributions to existing joint doctrine and ensure interoperability of MTO foundation documents with complementary warfare disciplines.
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