Ash Carter gazed out at the 20-foot boat on Narragansett Bay, then ducked into a shipping container outfitted with big screens and a rack of computers. Outlining a course track with a few mouseclicks, the defense secretary sent the unmanned surveillance craft on its way, tootling its anti-collision horn to ward off any conventional vessel that might have strayed too close to the Naval Undersea Warfare Center’s pier.
Perhaps a modularized auxiliary cruiser acts as a mother ship for larger unmanned surface vessels operating around the African littorals.
Perhaps the modularized auxiliary cruiser, as part of a port security-themed expedition, trains locals on using such unmanned surveillance craft systems and drops them off on land at various African ports during their cruise in numerous places for added protection if intelligence indicates threats at higher levels.
Remember, many of our military missions in Africa are at a lower end of the conflict spectrum, focusing on training and supporting local forces to resist less-than-conventional threats:
After a series of terrorist attacks on hotels and other tourist sites that raised concerns all across Africa, the United States has increased training exercises with militaries here, focusing on how to defend civilian targets on a continent that has become a significant battleground in the war against militant Islam.
Small American forces, whether on training missions or in direct support of African forces using small units of special forces, Army or Marine units, drone surveillance and fire support, or other fire support, could be force multipliers in helping Africans defend civilian targets and go after the jihadis who would make Africa a battleground.
A modularized auxiliary cruiser could support many of these missions in the absence of a Navy commitment to provide traditional grey hulls to African waters.