US naval capacity to conduct maritime interdiction or intelligence operations at risk from excessive claims and lawfare
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"The ability to operate freely at sea is among the most important enablers of joint and interagency operations ...."72 Therefore, sustainable access to key regional sea lines of communication directly impacts the efficacy of nearly every maritime mission set in the U.S. arsenal. Especially affected are those missions conducted in the littoral and near shore waters up to 200 nautical miles from shore. This is because the near shore environment represents a primary operating area for critical "sea basing, amphibious, expeditionary and intelligence collection operations."73 Intelligence collection is particularly important given the U.S. national security establishment's continuous need for a broad range of operational indicators. As was seen during the Cold War, the ability to collect intelligence within foreign EEZ's can contribute to a state of "enforced transparency" between potential adversaries, as well as serve a forcing function of encouraging candor and good faith in military and political dealings.74 In addition to intelligence collection, other enduring maritime mission sets-many of a constabulary nature, such as maritime interdiction in support of counter piracy, counter narcotics, and Proliferation Security Initiative-also stand to be adversely impacted to the extent coastal nations engage in EEZ "securitization lawfare.,"75 Also, any limiter on DoD's ability to sustain and refine the aforementioned maritime mission sets ultimately constrains Congress' ability to efficiently allocate national security procurement resources and optimize return on that investment. For example, the U.S. Congress has invested heavily in littoral and near shore naval platforms, authorizing over $12 billion through fiscal year 2011 for construction of next generation littoral combat ships.76 Similarly, it authorized $1.3 billion from fiscal years 2006 through 2010 for DoD training of foreign military and maritime security forces. United States to sustain homeland defense as well as theater security cooperation missions in waters adjacent to partner nations, UNCLOS "securitization" claims will constitute a continuing planning restraint maritime missions in the near shore environment.
The U.S. relies on maritime interdiction operations for homeland security, counter-piracy, and crime control. However, during bi-lateral negotiations, several nations have, in the past, questioned our authority to contest certain of their excessive maritime claims simply because we have yet to ratify the treaty. Becoming a party to the Convention will enhance our ability to conduct such interdiction operations and to refute excessive maritime claims.