13 May 2014

When Names Matter: The Expeditionary Fleet

Breaking Defense has a solid article not just on the Expeditionary Fleet, but on why the name matters.

So here’s their new name: the Expeditionary Fleet. These are ships fully capable of operating in that petri dish mix of missions that constitute the vast majority of what Navy and Marine forces do on a daily basis. This includes missions such as presence and stability operations, humanitarian assistance/disaster response, security assistance and maritime training, counter-piracy, countering transnational crime and search and rescue operations. The Expeditionary Fleet can shoulder the majority of missions that fall into what the military categorizes as Phase 0 (shaping the environment) to Phase 2 (when combat actually begins). This is not a small set of missions.

and some more

The term expeditionary, on the other hand, conveys a firm operational purpose and is more readily understood by those who read it. It connotes being deployed overseas and rapidly conducting operations––ready where and when needed. Both the Navy and Marines have long-cited their expeditionary roots and even the Army is touting its intent to become more expeditionary. Moreover, the term expeditionary is amply cited in the Pentagon’s current collection of strategic documents, which places the term Expeditionary Fleet firmly in the center of today’s strategic dialogue across the joint force. For example, the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) emphasizes that boosting the numbers of forward-deployed naval forces to critical regions is key to both increasing presence and reducing the time required to respond should a crisis erupt. Moreover, the QDR talks about deploying “new combinations of ships, aviation assets and crisis response forces” to provide more options for regional commanders. This new emphasis encapsulates the exact types of innovative capabilities possessed by the Expeditionary Ships fleet.

This innovative impulse to fully explore and exploit the new types of capabilities resident in these ships is also embedded in the Marine Corps Expeditionary Force 21 concept. This 10-year vision, approved by Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps Commandant, details how the Corps will operate in the future and is intended to guide experimentation, force development and inform program decisions. Key to this concept is a focus on the ships and their capabilities that help enable the Marines to deploy overseas and get ashore if required.

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