The United States, an Empire in the Shadows Part III

This is my fortieth weekly Blog regarding the state of leadership in America. Parts I and II described the scope and cost of this new age empire, the reasons it exists, the disadvantages of a land based strategy, and the impact of massive technological advances in weaponry and delivery systems. Part III will present an alternative to our current land based empire. This alternative centers on expanding the capabilities of our Navy and migrating to a water based, power projection policy and concept of operations. The Navy already possesses extensive capabilities on the water, in the air and below the surface with its ships, aircraft, and submarines. Plus, with the Marine Corps, the Navy is also capable of conducting short term shore operations. An Aircraft Carrier Strike Group can be positioned anywhere on the seas to deal with current crises or quickly repositioned to counter a new threat. Former President Bill Clinton stated that “when word of a crises breaks out in Washington, it’s no accident that the first question that comes to everyone’s lips is: where is the nearest carrier?” With nearly fifty percent of the Navy’s ships and submarines nuclear powered, our carrier strike groups can remain at sea for extended periods of time. And with seventy one percent of the earth’s surface covered by ocean water, our Navy would be free to operate and project American power and protect our interests anywhere in the world. Under this scenario, only a few foreign refueling and naval support bases would be required for our ships. We would then be able to radically downsize our land based empire of 860 installations, bases, and sites that is expensive to operate and at the mercy of foreign leaders’ changing politics and policies relating to stationing American troops in their countries. A water based strategy will generate savings as we downsize our bases, but more importantly, it will give the United States a new doctrine and platform that can reduce the negative image of the United States as a super power still occupying foreign countries with approximately 150,000 troops (not counting Afghanistan) on the ground tied geographically to an antiquated Cold War era network of land bases. As Americans, we would not tolerate any foreign power having bases and troops in our country and therefore, we need an open discussion regarding our overseas presence and how we can reduce the cost and improve our image while converting to a new water based, mobile power projection strategy that is not dependent on fixed land bases and provides the US with more freedom to conduct global operations.

Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in numerous leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a human resources director. Mr. Okum has written ”Leadership DNA,” a provocative and useful guide book allowing readers to broaden their understanding about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. This guide book shows you the various aspects of leadership, including examining good leaders’ behavior patterns as well as learning how to achieve your objectives and deal with poor managers that can potentially cripple you and your organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and Leadership DNA, visit

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