U.S. Reveals Maritime Superiority Plan


[B]U.S. Reveals Maritime Superiority Plan[/B]

By MarEx 2016-01-05

U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson has released A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, a document that addresses how the U.S. Navy will adapt to changes in the security environment and continue to fulfill its mission.

For the first time in 25 years, the United States is facing a return to great power competition, states the report. Russia and China both have advanced their military capabilities to act as global powers. Their goals are backed by a growing arsenal of high-end warfighting capabilities, many of which are focused specifically on U.S. vulnerabilities and are increasingly designed from the ground up to leverage maritime, technological and information systems.

These nations continue to develop and field information-enabled weapons, both kinetic and non-kinetic, with increasing range, precision and destructive capacity, states the report. Both China and Russia are also engaging in coercion and competition below the traditional thresholds of high-end conflict, but nonetheless exploit the weakness of accepted norms in space, cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum. The Russian Navy is operating with a frequency and in areas not seen for almost two decades, and the Chinese PLA(N) is extending its reach around the world.

Russia and China are not the only actors seeking to gain advantages in the emerging security environment in ways that threaten U.S. and global interests. Others are now pursuing advanced technology, including military technologies that were once the exclusive province of great powers – this trend will only continue.

Coupled with a continued dedication to furthering its nuclear weapons and missile programs, North Korea’s provocative actions continue to threaten security in North Asia and beyond.

And while the recent international agreement with Iran is intended to curb its nuclear ambitions, Tehran’s advanced missiles, proxy forces and other conventional capabilities continue to pose threats to which the Navy must remain prepared to respond. Finally, international terrorist groups have proven their resilience and adaptability and now pose a long-term threat to stability and security around the world.

Budget Restraints

“We must do everything we can to seize the potential afforded by this environment,” Richardson wrote. “Our competitors are moving quickly, and our adversaries are bent on leaving us swirling in their wake.” He said the fiscal 2017 budget plan, to be released in February, would include more details about the new approach.

Richardson cited increases in maritime traffic, the rise of the global information system, and the “astonishing” rate of technological development as key factors changing the security environment.

Budget constraints meant the Navy would “not be able to ‘buy’ our way out of the challenges we face.”

Richardson underscored the importance of replacing the Navy’s aging nuclear-armed Ohio-class submarines, the undersea leg of the so-called strategic deterrent triad that includes intercontinental ballistic missiles and long-range bombers.

General Dynamics is developing a replacement for the submarines together with Huntington Ingalls Industries, a project that may cost nearly $100 billion.

Richardson’s plan calls for the Navy to work with the Marine Corps to develop more options to address the threat of long-range precision missiles, advance the use of information warfare, and explore new types of weapons.

Richardson said the Navy would expand the use of simulators, online gaming and other tools to achieve what he called “high-velocity” learning for individuals, teams and organizations to make the service more efficient.

The Navy would also work to streamline its headquarters, improve its personnel system and strengthen leadership training, while increasing information sharing with key allies, adding more combined military operations, and expanding work with commercial industry and other non-traditional partners.

Built-In Flexibility

The term “design” in the report’s title refers to the document’s built-in flexibility, recognizing the rapid rate of change occurring in both technology and the maritime domain.

“This guidance frames the problem and a way forward, while acknowledging that there is inherent and fundamental uncertainty in both the problem definition and the proposed solution,” said Richardson.

“As we move forward, we’ll respect that we won’t get it all right, and so we’ll monitor and assess ourselves and our surroundings as we go. We’ll learn and adapt, always getting better, striving to the limits of performance.”

The CNO’s design reaffirms the Navy’s mission, describes the strategic environment and identifies four lines of effort, each with corresponding objectives to guide the actions of the Navy and its leaders.

The four lines of effort are:

Strengthen Naval Power at and from Sea
Achieve High Velocity Learning at Every Level
Strengthen our Navy Team for the Future
Expand and Strengthen our Network of Partners

The document also details four core attributes that serve as guiding criteria for command decisions in decentralized operations: integrity, accountability, initiative, and toughness.

The document is available here.

toughness? Our “new” allbutton Navy is tough?

the ghost of Bill Halsey is sobbing right now!

I’ll sleep better at night knowing those 100 billion dollar shiny new subs are out there, keeping me safe from the jihadi building bombs in his garage.

Richardson’s plan calls for the Navy to work with the Marine Corps to develop more options to address the threat of long-range precision missiles, advance the use of information warfare, and explore new types of weapons.

I really hope we aren’t as far behind the 8-ball as this makes it sound. LRASMs are pretty much old news at this point, have we seriously not found a good way to counter them?

I heard a report in the last week or so that said as the navy’s rail gun program develops it could eventually replace guided missiles all together. They say the range and impact are roughly equivalent and a solid projectile is certainly cheaper than a computerized missile… I look forward to seeing how this trend develops more than any other naval technology out there today.

[QUOTE=PaddyWest2012;176789]I heard a report in the last week or so that said as the navy’s rail gun program develops it could eventually replace guided missiles all together. They say the range and impact are roughly equivalent and a solid projectile is certainly cheaper than a computerized missile… I look forward to seeing how this trend develops more than any other naval technology out there today.[/QUOTE]

I believe the biggest threat we face today is cyber warfare. Second to that is jihadism. Jihadists and cyber geeks often work hand in hand. How in hell is a rail gun going to stop that? When’s the last time a boomer had to fire a missile in defense of anyone? Ballistic missiles save lives, Said no one, ever.

Eventually, the cyber geeks will stop a ship in its tracks or even run it into a bridge. They have managed to fuck with our land side utility plants. It’s a matter of time.

No one would disagree with you that cyber warfare is a huge problem, but I never said railguns had anything to do with that. I also never said railguns will solve all our security problems. What I said was, I’m looking forward to seeing how that technology pans out more than any other technology in naval development today. There are plenty of other threats we face besides cyber warfare, for those threats I’d like to see what the railgun can do. Someone else who knows more about computers and the internet can worry about the hackers. “That’s just not my bag, baby.” -Austin Powers

now we have this load of claptrap rubbish to try to digest before it passes to that great US Navee credibility septic tank

[B]Distributed Lethality and Concepts of Future War[/B]

By CIMSEC 2016-01-08 17:23:56

Distributed lethality is a concept that was officially launched a year ago by Navy leadership to explore how dispersing forces would enhance warfighting. Traditionally, dispersion has been a cardinal sin in the highly decisive nature of naval warfare, but new threats and capabilities may have changed this principle that has long guided the employment of warships. This analysis aims to show how distributed lethality can offer versatile means for achieving political and military objectives in an era of lean budgets and evolving threats.

Warfighting Characteristics

“More ships with more firepower acting more independently will increase the planning complexity and resourcing of our potential challengers.”-Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, Commander U.S. Naval Surface Forces.

Navy leaders assert that distributed lethality will “add battlespace complexity” and “complicate the calculus” of an adversary. How will dispersed surface action groups (SAG) accomplish this compared to traditional carrier strike groups (CSG), and how will dispersion affect operations in the electromagnetic (EM) domain?

Distributed lethality attacks left on the kill chain, meaning it intends to influence the earlier phases of the process by which targets are located, identified, targeted, engaged, and effects are assessed. Aside from increasing search volume, dispersion challenges intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) through modularity. In a CSG centric navy, the detection of a large surface combatant increases the probability of learning the disposition of other warships, including valuable capital ships, and of knowing the operational unit they are arrayed in. The modularity offered by dispersed SAGs exacerbates the ISR challenge by reducing the certainty of what kinds of forces may be acting in concert with a potential contact, and what their capabilities and missions are. This will complicate prioritization of ISR and firepower, and increase the probability of expending precision guided munitions (PGM) due to forced error.

However, distributed lethality will induce friction on the dispersed force. It is presumed that naval forces will employ emissions control (EMCON) techniques to frustrate the adversary in the EM domain. But EMCON exacerbates the challenges inherent to coordinating a dispersed force. Prior Navy experimentation discovered these challenges. Operations Haystack and Uptide revealed that dispersed operations under EMCON dramatically increase carrier survivability against submarines and land based bombers but at the expense of lengthened decision cycles. Under electromagnetic opposition, the degradation of confidence in the networking of a distributed force is easier because of additional variables to be accounted for and that can be influenced by enemy action. Aggregated forces can also more easily employ alternative means of communication compared to distributed forces.

Lengthened decision cycles for dispersed forces causes handicaps and presents dilemmas. Operations whose success is contingent upon careful coordination are less likely to succeed. The ability to mass capability on short notice amidst determined opposition is impaired. Planners must consider the extent that a SAG may be tied down by enemy action and its own tasking, and the resulting impact on total force flexibility. Operations must have built in flexibility and consider myriad contingencies. Scenarios where SAGs may be called upon to support one another will pose a challenge given how the Navy’s offensive firepower may soon outstick its defensive firepower. These realities will place a premium on inclusive planning and the Navy’s command by negation tradition.

Dispersion will complicate the enemy’s ISR at the expense of reducing one’s own C2 agility. It is important to note that C2 is not just further left in the kill chain than ISR and targeting, but threads the entire process together. These realities may make distributed lethality inflexible under certain circumstances, and result in a higher echelon commander’s intent being articulated in broader terms and with more modest aims. Vice Adm. Ted N. Branch, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance, pointedly reminded that “the assured C2 pillar touches almost everything we do.” The nature of modern conventional warfare has made the EM domain the battleground for superior decision making, and distributed lethality affects the kill chain of all parties.

Distributed Lethality versus Anti-Access/Area Denial

“As they seek greater influence, we confront states that seek to compromise freedom of the seas, where conflict and coercion are increasingly common.“–Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John. M Richardson

The Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environment is the threat environment dominating the thinking of senior Navy leaders. What advantages does distributed lethality offer in meeting the A2/AD challenge?

Combating an A2/AD adversary could involve operations spanning multiple areas including blue water sea control, power projection into the littoral and across land. While the CSG is a formidable asset against the warships of a near peer adversary, a salvo competition between a CSG and A2/AD forces, especially land based forces, would be suicidal. The A2/AD model is attrition based. Its predominant advantage over expeditionary forces is the logistical sustainment of PGM, ensuring victory in a salvo competition if accurate targeting is sustained. By denying commons, A2/AD reduces freedom of maneuver and raises the probability of attrition based operations, forcing expeditionary forces into the A2/AD’s strength.

Distributed lethality counters A2/AD’s attrition model through maneuver warfare’s intent to probe for weakness and influence psychology. Dispersion facilitates multiple points of entry into theater, allowing for more sea control and maneuver. This in turn strains the anti-access mission and forces the adversary into executing area denial simultaneously. Distributed forces can probe more areas of the A2/AD envelope to gain intelligence on the opponent’s ISR capabilities and discover the true extent of their maritime domain awareness (MDA), setting the stage for follow on operations. Complicating ISR and targeting offsets logistical superiority by injecting uncertainty.

Platforms and Capabilities

“The Navy must be able to access any domain – and possess the mix of kinetic and non-kinetic weapons necessary to prevail today and tomorrow.”-Rear Adm. Mathias W. Winter, Chief of Naval Research

Distributed lethality will benefit from the numerous capabilities the Navy is developing to maintain its edge. The concept seeks to employ platforms in different ways, and promote versatility to make the most of limited resources. How could the Navy employ its warships differently and which capabilities should be prioritized?

In a 2014 CIMSEC article Admiral Tom Rowden, then director of Surface Warfare Directorate OPNAV N96, articulated a concept of dispersed lethality and asserted a distributed force will not be dependent on the air wing. While distributed lethality deemphasizes carrier strike missions, the air wing will be a critical enabler for the distributed force. A distributed air wing can provide rapid response anti-submarine warfare capability and function as communications relays for maintaining a responsive decision cycle while the dispersed force operates under EMCON. The air wing’sscreening and early warning functions will be indispensable for enabling commanders on the scene to exercise initiative and engage on their own terms. The air wing will refocus from the right side to the left on the kill chain.

Much has been made of a recent memo issued by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus on the Navy’s programs. The most significant directives include cutting procurement of the littoral combat ship (LCS) from 52 hulls to 40, and procuring 31 additional F-35C aircraft. It is important to note that distributed lethality was born from a wargame at the Naval War College where a LCS equipped with a long range surface to surface missile “added stress and complexity to the red force commander, who had to spend precious ISR resources trying to find these upgunned ships.” If aircraft and fast frigates / littoral combat ships are mutually exclusive investments in the near term, the Navy should explore whether it needs more shooters in the form of additional warships or air wing enablers performing the aforementioned missions.

A payload that has been wisely distributed across the Navy’s warships is the AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare (EW) system. The Block III increment of the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) will provide common electronic attack capability to surface combatants. Not only does the CSG focus large surface combatants on the defensive application of anti-air warfare (AAW), it does the same for EW. A distributed force equipped with an offensive EW capability could cause great disruption to an adversary’s ISR picture, reinforcing distributed lethality’s intent to attack left on the kill chain. As a part of a proposed acquisition fastlane, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has singled out EW capabilities as “candidates for this kind of rapid acquisition, rapid prototyping” which will benefit distributed lethality enormously.

Distributed lethality aims to add more firepower to the fleet, potentially even equipping logistics vessels with missiles as a part of the maxim “if it floats, it fights” issued by OPNAV N96 chief Rear Adm. Peter Fanta. However, the Navy should reexamine prioritizing anti-surface warfare (ASuW) capability and consider focusing on land attack. While putting modern anti-ship missiles on more surface combatants would reinvigorate the Navy’s ASuW capability, enhanced power projection across land holds greater deterrence value. The Navy’s land attack proficiency is well honed and proven through recent experience. Thankfully the versatility of the tomahawk missile can enhance both mission sets, but presents the technical challenge of installing vertical launch cells on ships that may have little space and weight to spare.

Arguably no set of capabilities stand to enhance distributed lethality more so than Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) and Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA). These capabilities allow one platform’s sensors to provide a targeting solution to another platform’s weapons. This will multiply the lethality of a distributed force across vast areas of influence by allowing for the massing of payloads but not platforms. Distributed forces will be able to mitigate risk by mixing and matching whatever combination of sensors and shooters best fits an engagement while ensuring survivability.

Strategic Merit

“…it’s primarily about changing our ways and means right now and the operational concepts we use to achieve our objectives…” - Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O’Work.

An operational concept’s warfighting advantages are linked to its deterrence value. How does distributed lethality contribute to deterrence, and what options does it provide policymakers confronting crisis?

Distributed lethality enhances deterrence by influencing psychology through more than just kinetic means. It aims to degrade an adversary’s confidence in their weapons rather than through the threat of overwhelming force, a threat that is not as credible against an A2/AD adversary. Dispersion better allows for demonstrations within the EM domain, which may prove a less escalatory form of conveying resolve than deploying a CSG to a hotspot. The enormous creativity allowed by electromagnetic maritime deception allows for a more nuanced and flexible escalatory dynamic. Demonstration options range from temporarily confusing sensors to simulating strikes against strategic forces with impunity as the Navy did in NORPAC 82. Not only does threatening the destruction of networks constitute escalation, it attacks the channels by which deception conveys deterrence. During crisis, distributed lethality’s modularity allows for more options in terms of what and how many assets are committed to posturing, giving policymakers a more flexible means for adjusting the “temperature.” Distributed lethality not only has more to offer for maneuver in the military sense, but also politically.

As the threat environment evolves, reassessing the CSG’s deterrence value should occur in tandem with reevaluating its warfighting applications. Captain Robert C. Rubel (ret.) makes the excellent point that “If a lucrative target loaded with potent geopolitical symbolism is on scene, with more on the way, it could precipitate a dangerous “window-of-opportunity” mindset in the opposing government.” Sending a CSG to a hotspot could “catalyze as deter” and threaten nightmarish devastation or monumental loss of face as carriers are hurriedly withdrawn for the sake of preservation at the outbreak of war. During the initial phases of conflict, failing to deceive ISR through nonkinetic means could quickly escalate into attempting their physical destruction, up to and including strikes on mainland installations, which is more likely if a carrier’s survival is at stake.

Distributing forces will lower a first strike’s potential for success, which is especially important for deterring an adversary employing A2/AD. Jon Solomon points out an adversary’s maritime domain awareness “will never be as accurate and comprehensive at any later point in a conflict as it is during peacetime’s waning moments.” A patrolling, dispersed force would provide a more complex targeting picture, and would reveal more indicators and warning of an impending attack across a larger geographical area. These advantages would be realized by having forward deployed forces already operating in a dispersed manner at Phase 0, or otherwise face the uncomfortable process of transitioning into a dispersed force in the midst of crisis or at the onset of conflict.

Final Thoughts

“It will be orange and it may look kind of oddly put together and won’t have the nice slick red/gray paint and it won’t be totally tested and it might fail, but we’ve got to get it out there and see what we can do with that.”-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert.

There are additional lines of inquiry that must be explored in order to flesh out distributed lethality. For example, what does it entail for amphibious forces? These forces are more likely to face the littoral arena, and their objectives are set upon fixed geography which limits their freedom of maneuver. The history of naval warfare has shown time and time again that key naval engagements precipitated in relation to developments and objectives on land. Scenarios commonly envisioned today such as a Taiwan contingency or a defense of the Strait of Hormuz demand that the Navy examine distributed lethality in a fixed geographical context. The concept will also challenge the ability to wage coalition warfare, as the careful planning and execution demanded by dispersed operations under EMCON will require ample cooperation and true interoperability.

Nonetheless, distributed lethality offers numerous benefits. It will make the most of what the Navy has today, while maximizing the value of investments that will achieve fruition both in the short and long term. It provides means for confronting the A2/AD challenge, and fulfills Air-Sea Battle’s intent to ensure U.S. forces can “assure access, maintain freedom of action, conduct a show of force, or conduct limited strikes.” Ultimately, it provides political and military leadership more flexibility to maneuver within crisis and conflict. The Navy must call upon its rich history of innovation and experimentation to turn distributed lethality into a credible warfighting construct that will deter foes, reassure allies, and make the greatest Navy the world has yet seen greater still.

Distributed lethality? WHAT THE FUCK ever happened to that time honored maxim “Get there firstest with the mostest” and then blast the SHIT OF EM with the BIGGEST FUCKING GUNS!

poor Bill Halsey’s ghost is wailing in agony now!

I feel your pain Admiral…LORD how I feel your pain!


This new approach to naval tactics is an interesting concept. You’re quite right in saying that Halsey would be displeased, but I’m not sure that this idea is completely without merit. I drool at the idea of fleet actions and open field combat as much as the next man but open field combat as more or less become extinct (with a few notable exceptions) is it so unusual to think that fleet actions might be tactically obsolete as well? We must adapt to the way our enemy fights or perish. If the enemy is some naval wing middle-eastern terrorism it won’t manifest itself in a battle line of cruisers and destroyers like the old days. It’ll be small pirate skiffs, gun and drug smugglers, or kamikaze speed boats. For that kind of challenge I think the navy is right in saying that a more dispersed approach is required.

Now, if it’s Russia we’re talking about that’s a different story. I think in that case the old ways are probably better but our fleet is already acquainted with the old tactics. It’s the new tactics for a new enemy that they must learn now.