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Peter SwartzWilliam RosenauHannah Kates
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This study describes and analyzes the origins, creation, announcement, and dissemination of the U.S. Navy–Marine Corps–Coast Guard Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready (CS21R), published in March 2015.

It also describes reactions to the document’s publication, and provides a series of conclusions, observations, and recommendations derived from the initial description and analysis. Its emphasis throughout is mostly on the Navy, although the document was a tri-service effort signed by the heads of the three U.S. sea services, with a signed preface by the U.S. Secretary of the Navy.

This paper begins by exploring the underlying rationales for the revision, and particularly, the changes in the international security environment and the post–Iraq War climate of fiscal restraint. It goes on to discuss the terms of reference (TOR) for the revision effort; the roles of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and his staff, and the Naval War College (NWC); multiservice collaboration; and the impact of budget sequestration and the concomitant drafting and publication of the national defense policy and other Navy documents on the process. The paper then considers the evolution of some of the central tenets of the strategy, questions surrounding the multiple audiences for the document, and staff turnover. It also summarizes the most salient issues debated by the drafters of CS21R while crafting the document.

After describing the public rollout of the revised strategy in March 2015, the paper goes on to discuss the revision’s reception in the services, the Washington policy community, and overseas. The paper concludes by drawing together some insights regarding the Navy’s strategy development processes and outcomes; highlighting some “lessons observed” by key participants in the effort; and endorsing the recommendations of some earlier, related studies. Appendices enable the reader to review the key players in this evolution, as well as identify those whom the study authors corresponded with and interviewed.

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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited.


  • Pages: 136
  • Document Number: DRM-2015-U-012011-2Rev
  • Publication Date: 9/18/2017
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