According to Homer, Helen of Troy had “the face that launched a thousand ships” in that legendary war. But in Greek myths it was a little-known god, Hephaestos (pronounced Hee-fes-tes)-the Mount Olympus weapons-smith who inspired the ships’ construction.
Within the Department of the Navy, it is a little-known office-the Navy International Programs Office (NIPO)- that plays the role of Hephaestos in enabling our allies and coalition partners to develop weapons systems and military organizations that are functionally interoperable with U.S. forces. For years it has been charged with development and oversight of foreign military sales, international cooperative agreements, excess defense article transfers (such as decommissioned ships and aircraft), technology transfer and licensing, personnel exchanges, and international military education and training-which are collectively known as naval international programs- for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard team.
NIPO may be particularly little known among submariners, despite the fact that it has been Strategic Systems Programs’ closest neighbor at both Nebraska Avenue and, now, Crystal City. That is because, unlike platforms for other naval communities, we do not build (or provide) whole submarines for partner nations. But we once did. And if Taiwan gets its wish, we might again.
What we do provide, however, are submarine combat systems, fire control suites, sonar sensors, communications antenna, torpedoes, cruise missiles, and other weapons and equipment for foreign submarines, in recent years most notably the UK and Australia. But practically every other Submarine Force has some U.S. originated gear. For example, when accepting the first Type 214 submarines from Howaldtwerke Deutsche Werft (HDW), the Greek Navy insisted on the capability of firing sub-launched Harpoon out of the torpedo tubes; indeed, Harpoon is considered a highly desirable weapon for navies that operate Type 209s/214s.
The purpose of this article is to acquaint the submarine community with NIPO and familiarize you with what we are calling the quiet revolution in naval international programs.
“It’s About Relationships.”
When as CNO, Admiral Mike Mullen launched the concept of a Thousand Ship Navy (TSN), he turned to NIPO-as the Department of the Navy’s Hephaestos- to help implement the material and training aspects of relationship building with long-term allies and non-traditional partners. Since the Title 10 responsibilities of the Navy are train and equip, NIPO focused not on developing its own plan, but on implementing the naval (and C4l and, frequently, territorial air defense) objectives of the Theater Security Cooperation Plans (TSCPs) of the regional Combatant Commanders (COCOMs). This was done by developing a new strategic planning methodology (rather than separate plan) that prioritized the finite resources of the Department of the Navy in terms of COCOM requirements to help equip and train foreign militaries, or to build partner capacity. The method is also focused on expanding the maritime interoperability necessary for maritime cooperation with all nations, which is a major element of the Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower unveiled by new CNO Admiral Gary Roughead.
The key word is partnership. While foreign sales of weapons systems or technical support may benefit U.S. industry, and in some cases provide cost savings or cost avoidance to the Department of the Navy, of even greater importance is the level of increasing interoperability and familiarity such sales or grants bring to combined operations. As Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter stated in his directions to NIPO: “It’s not about selling stuff … it’s about relationships.”
What are Naval International Programs?
Naval international programs provide direct defense support to treaty allies and other partners, usually through material transfer or sale of weapons systems or support services, or the classroom training of foreign personnel. This is most visible in the category of security assistance, such as Department of the Navy (DoN) support and management of foreign acquisition programs, and is not exclusive to foreign navies or marine corps. In fact, air forces of such countries as Switzerland, Finland, and Canada operate U.S. naval aircraft as their main air defense weapons.
For such nations to acquire advanced-technology American weapons systems- systems for which the U.S. Congress and the Secretary of Defense have mandated stringent, elaborate, and lengthy vetting and transfer procedures- requires an organization dedicated to overcoming the statutory, regulatory and logistical hurdles, as welt as to the planning, negotiating, and industrial relations necessary to success. Recent agreements with the United Kingdom and Australia to reduce some of the International Trade in Armaments (IT AR) restrictions are a significant improvement for the two nations with which we have the strongest cooperation in submarine-related programs. However, the overall technology transfer process usually runs for over six months, or even years. Identifying the barriers to the internationalization of DoN acquisition programs is a significant step in the new strategic planning methodology effort to highlight potential roadblocks and thereby streamlining the process.
Over two decades ago, NIPO was organized from a number of related offices scattered throughout DoN to provide unity in a single management structure for:
- Foreign military sales (FMS)
- Foreign military financing (FMF)
- Excess defense article (EDA) transfers
- Cooperative agreements
- Establishing DoN policy concerning the transfer of technology/technology security and participating in the DoD technology transfer process
- License reviews for direct commercial sales (DCS) of naval systems
- Defense personnel exchanges
- Training of foreign military personnel including the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program
- Management of naval Section 1206 programs
Foreign military sales (FMS) are sales of U.S. systems to a foreign government with the acquisition managed by the U.S. government as if it were a U.S. defense acquisition program. Recent FMS cases have included periscopes, submarine antennae, MK48 torpedoes, BYG-1 combat systems, and test gear. Some of the nations involved include: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Singapore and the UK. Foreign military financing (FMF) is the same except that the purchase is financed by U.S. dollars as foreign aid. Generally this is not used to purchase submarine equipment, although a potential exception is Egypt.
Excess defense article (EDA) transfers provide other nations with good condition U.S. equipment that is being retired from inventory. Today this consists of surface ships and aircraft, but prior to the 1990s this also included transfer of much of the remaining inventory of diesel submarines. Treated almost as capital ships, they were operated and maintained by the recipients until parts and expertise were exhausted. As an example, USS REMORA (SS 487)/Hellenic Submarine KATSONIS (S-115) was finally decommissioned by Greece in 1993, giving it reasonable claim to the title of submarine with the longest commissioned service. Whatever these transfers contributed to maritime security, they built relationships with the submarine community of many smaller navies, relationships that may have weakened with HDW ruling the diesel submarine market.
Cooperative agreements are negotiated multi-national acquisition programs for such naval systems as Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). They, like FMS, FMF, and EDA, are guided by a stric Defense Department technology transfer procedure, for which NIPO is the Department of the Navy’s executive agent. If a foreign nation decides to buy a U.S. built or designed weapons system directly from the manufacturer without using the FMS system, NIPO still becomes involved in this direct commercial sale (DCS) by participating in the licensing and approval from DoD, the State Department and Congress. Many submarine parts and components are purchased from U.S. industry via DCS. NIPO also facilitates Navy Department approval of many scientific, acquisition, and training personnel exchanges, including for submarine personnel.
NIPO also plays a significant role in international training, particularly in the State Department-supervised and COCOM-managed International Military Education and Training (!MET) program. U.S. training- including submarine-related training-can also be purchased via the FMS system. This training portfolio is managed by the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity (NETSAFA) in Pensacola, Florida, primarily funded through NIPO.
The latest series of programs managed by NIPO is directed at providing other nations- particularly non-traditional partners- assistance for the global war on terror (GWOT). Known as 1206 programs since they derive from Section l 206 of the FY 2006 Defense Authorization Act, these are COCOM-initiated programs funded from the U.S. Defense Budget to provide such capabilities as maritime domain awareness (coastal radars) to nations such as Sao Tome or Sri Lanka. It is doubtful these funds would be used for submarine programs, but they could be used for purchasing underwater sensors for port security.
Assistance and Security
In what turned out to be inspired genius, NIPO was designed to incorporate those personnel charged with the development and success of naval security assistance programs with those personnel entrusted with the security of U.S. naval technology and technical information, and with restricting (or facilitating, as appropriate) transfer or access to critical technologies that the U.S. may wish to retain for itself. By having the security assistance and the technology transfer personnel working side-by-side, NIPO has developed synergy and unity of effort that has often eluded the overall DoD process, a process both the Secretaries of Defense and State want to improve.
But whether or not NIPO’s organization is a key to success in building international relationships, it is important to recognize its limitations. Naval international programs constitute only a portion of the Department of the Navy’s overall security cooperation efforts, with such security cooperation tools as combined training, port visits, and military- to-military talks remaining in the hands of the COCOMs, or OPNA V or HQMC. This recognition contributed to the decision to build a strategic planning method that tied international programs to the COCOM theater security cooperation plans, along with USN, USMC, and USCG guidance.
Method of the Methodology
The strategic planning method NIPO has adopted is designed to be straightforward and transparent. Primary step is the analysis of all applicable security cooperation guidance from DoD and DoN leadership, with the dominant source being the regional COCOMs’ Theater Security Cooperation Plans (TSCP). Using content analysis techniques, the Theater Cooperation Plans are-on a regional basis- turned into numerical matrices representing countries (potential partners) versus desired naval capabilities (naval warfare areas). Level of priority is indicated on a 5 (highest), 3 (middle), I (low), and 0 (none) scale. The objective is to accurately define the COCOM’s priorities on a country by country and on a warfare area by warfare comparison. This is a capabilities-based analysis derived from COCOM requirements. The resulting matrices are returned to the COCOM (and naval component commander, as appropriate) for approval.
NIPO then looks at current or future naval and joint acquisition programs, as well as anticipated EDA or commercial offerings, in order to determine which program could best fill the COCOM’s particular capability requirement for that country. There may be a number of options, including training programs. For example, if a COCOM wants to help increase a country’s counter-terror capability, it must be determined whether the best approach is with platforms, weapons, C41 or training, as well as what the Navy- Marine Corps- Coast Guard team is positioned to provide. Once the optimal program is identified to support the capability requirements, NIPO works with SYSCOMs, program offices, training communities, and industry(or other providers) to determine the probability of a successful program.
Potential programs are then ranked by using the security cooperation/COCOM priority multiplied by the probability of success. Then a detailed assessment of the regulatory and political barriers is made. Given finite resources, this decision-aid tool allows NIPO to work in consultation with the COCOMs and Naval and Marine Component Commanders to determine where NIPO should put its effort in developing new security cooperation opportunities. The top level results of this iterative analytical process is briefed or submitted to the COCOMs and the naval leadership on a weekly basis.
Because it is an iterative method, directly adaptable to the changes in COCOM planning, we continue to constantly make improvements to ensure requirements of all elements of the Department of the Navy, and other Defense and State Department organizations are included.
Acquisition Program Values
NIPO is actually in the acquisition, not the policy, chain-of-command. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (International Programs), who is the Director of NIPO, reports to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition), although he also is dual hated to OPNA V and HQMC for policy matters. He also acts as the Coast Guard’s agent for security assistance programs by memorandum of agreement (MOA).
Being in the acquisition chain makes us conscious of our potential contributions to provide economies of scale to ongoing USN, USMC and USCG programs via international sales. Yet, under the principle of it’s about relations/zips, this is not the driving factor of our calculus. This ensures low dollar value programs with nontraditional partners receive the same attention as higher value programs, as based on COCOM requirements.
However, there are times when it is appropriate to try to maximize the opportunity for cost savings or cost avoidance for programs such as F/A-18E/F, AEGIS, Harpoon, and, potentially, Littoral Combat Ship. These benefits can be elusive, however. The savings are largely determined by our contract with the manufacturer, which must be structured to lower costs to the government in the event of international sales. The F/A-18 program has enjoyed valid savings because of exactly this type of contracting, but other programs are not always so structured. If a program can validate the possibility of major savings, that could be an addition planning factor, subordinate to the imperative for relationship-building as per the COCOM plans.
Real World Programs
When other nations utilize U.S. defense systems, it is a profound statement about their security relationships. It recognizes more than the source of reliable, maintainable technology; it identifies a commonality of strategic purpose- a partnership, if you will. This commonality of purpose is at the heart of the 1000 Ship Navy concept. It also is the greatest facilitator of bilateral and multilateral interoperability.
In regions suffering from instability, international programs most likely security assistance under the FMF or 1206 programs or IMET-<:an be considered part of the joint multilateral coalition phase zero campaign. We are attempting to ensure that endangered countries have access to the tools by which they can defend themselves. We are also trying to reach those countries that have only recently recognized the value of security cooperation with the United States what we have been calling non-traditional partners.
This includes nations that have traditionally sought security cooperation elsewhere. Immediately after President Bush's visit to India and his call for a strategic partnership, NIPO was in communications with the Indian Navy and Air Force concerning ways we could cooperate. This was in close coordination with CNO Admiral Mullen, Admiral Fallon as Commander, Pacific Command, and Admiral Roughead as Commander, Pacific Fleet. While there are a number of programs in development, the refurbishment and transfer of the ex-USS Trenton (LPD-14) to the India Navy as INS Jalashwa, now the third largest ship in the Indian Fleet, is the first real building block to an expanding defense relationship.
In Africa, Section 1206 programs like the Gulf of Guinea Regional Maritime Awareness (RMAC) initiative, originated by Admiral Ulrich as Commander, Naval Forces Europe, have created a dialog with nations whose ungoverned water- space might become a transit lane for terrorists. Fulfilling these countries long-standing desire to be able to monitor and control their own waters provides benefit to them and improves the regional security climate.
Interoperability with traditional allies includes the integration of combat systems, achieved through the sales of combat systems such as AEGIS-integrated into Spanish, Japanese and Korean- built hulls. Since the best interoperability occurs when we all use the same systems, this provides the high end/net-centric keel for the 1000 ships vision.
While U.S. submarine technology for partner nations is integrated at the systems level or as components, there is one potential total platform program. When President G. W. Bush offered a package of defensive measures to strengthen Taiwan, his offer included the possibility of diesel submarines. Although a diesel submarine has not been built in the U.S. for over forty years, Taiwan is currently contemplating a two-phase FMS program, in which the first phase would be a feasibility and design study for a new construction submarine. Following this first phase, Taiwan could decide whether it was practicable and affordable to construct a diesel submarine in the United States.
Inspiring a New Process
The term revolution in military affairs (RMA) was first popularized in the 1980s to defense transformation. While the reality of the RMA has been hotly debated, it is certainly fair to describe the ongoing transformation at NIPO as starting a quiet revolution in international programs. This quiet revolution has the potential of leading DoD-wide change if its underlying philosophy of objective, transparent prioritization is adopted by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and the other Military Departments. Of course, we do not presume to dictate the planning methods of our sister Services. But like Hephaestos, we intend to inspire through example.