All posts by Guest Author

Surface Warfare: Taking the Offensive

The following is a guest article by RADM Thomas S. Rowden, USN.

I am indebted to the leadership of CIMSEC for providing a platform for me and senior members of my team at OPNAV N96 to lay out for readers key parts of our vision for the future direction of Surface Warfare. Captain Jim Kilby started it off with “Surface Warfare: Lynchpin of Naval Integrated Air/Missile Defense”, and Captain Charlie Williams followed up with “Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) – The Heart of Surface Warfare” and “Increasing Lethality in Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)”.   Both of these officers were recently selected for flag rank, and the Surface Force could not be more fortunate. Their years of fleet experience in these mission areas uniquely qualify them to lead our force in the future. Together with our continuing mastery of land attack and maritime security operations, the three operational thrusts they describe a Surface Force that is moving from a primarily defensive posture to one on the offense. This is an exciting development, and I want to spend a few paragraphs reinforcing their messages.

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The single most important warfighting advantage that the U.S. Navy brings to the joint force is the ability to project significant amounts of combat power from the sea, thousands of miles from our own shores on relatively short notice and with few geopolitical restraints. No one else can do this, and for the better part of two decades, our ability to do so was unchallenged. Without this challenge, our mastery of the fundamentals of sea control—searching for and killing submarines, over the horizon engagement of enemy fleets, and long range air and missile defense—diminished, even as the world figured out that the best way to neutralize this power projection advantage was to deny us the very seas in which we operate.

Surface Warfare must “go on the offensive” in order to enable future power projection operations. I call this “offensive sea control” and it takes into consideration that in future conflict, we may have to fight to get forward, fight through our own lines, and then fight to stay forward. Pieces of ocean will come to be seen as strategic, like islands and ports, and we will offensively “seize” these maritime operating areas to enable further offensive operations. Put another way, no one viewed the amphibious landings in the Pacific in WWII as “defensive”; there was broad understanding that their seizure was offensive and tied to further offensive objectives. It is now so with the manner in which we will exercise sea control.

What does this mean to fleet Sailors? It means that we have to hit the books, dust off old TACMEMOS and begin to think deeply again what it means to own the inner screen against submarines, to hunt down and destroy adversary surface vessels over the horizon, and to tightly control the outer air battle. We need to study the threats and devise new tactics designed to counter them. We need to master the technology that is coming to the fleet—Navy Integrated Fire Control (Counter Air), or NIFC-CA; the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR); the SQQ-89 A(V)15 ASW Combat System; the LCS ASW Mission Module; the introduction of the Griffin missile in the PC class; new classes of Standard Missiles; Rail Gun; Directed Energy. We will need to use these systems and then do what Sailors always do—figure out ways to employ them that the designers never considered.

Going on the offensive is a mind-set, a way of thinking about naval warfare. It means thinking a good bit more about how to destroy that than how to defend this. Don’t get me wrong—we will still need to be able to defend high value units, amphibious forces, convoys, and logistics—but we will increasingly defend them by reaching out and destroying threats before those threats are able to target what we are defending.

We are moving to a concept of dispersed lethality in the Surface Force, one that presents an adversary with a considerably more complex operational problem. It will not be sufficient to simply try to neutralize our power projection forces. While these will be vigorously defended, other elements of the surface force will act as hunter/killer groups taking the fight to the enemy through the networked power of surface forces exercising high levels of Operational Security (OPSEC) and wielding both lethal over-the-horizon weapons to destroy adversary capabilities and sophisticated electronic warfare suites to confound adversary targeting. Especially in the Pacific, vast expanses of ocean will separate the carrier air wing from dispersed surface operations, so the paradigm of the past few decades that suggested the carrier would provide strike assets to supplement the Surface Force is no longer valid. We will leverage air wing capability, but we will not be dependent upon it.

Working in tandem with shore-based maritime patrol aircraft and our organic helicopters, we will seek out and destroy adversary submarines before they threaten high value units or fielded forces. Bringing together the networked power of surface IAMD forces and the mighty E-2D, we will dominate the outer air battle, eliminating threats to the force at range. The Surface Force will seize strategic “maritime terrain” to enable synchronized follow-on operations.

Those who may ask how the current fiscal environment impacts this vision, my answer is that it does so substantially. We will be forced to favor capability over capacity. We will favor forward deployed readiness over surge readiness. We will continue to invest in forward-looking capabilities through a strong science and technology/research and development budget, while ensuring we accelerate those promising technologies closest to fielding and most effective in advancing our offensive agenda.

We will posture more of the force forward, and more of it in the Pacific. While the total size of the fleet will likely decline if current conditions continue, more of it will be where it needs to be, it will be more effectively networked over a larger more dispersed area, and it will be equipped with the weapons and sensors necessary to enable this offensive shift.

I am bullish on Surface Warfare, and you ought to be too. I look forward to continuing this dialogue on the Renaissance in Surface Warfare, and I am proud to be part of the greatest Surface Force in the greatest Navy the world has ever known!

Rear Admiral Thomas S. Rowden’s current assignment is on the Chief of Naval Operations Staff as director, Surface Warfare Division.A native of Washington, D.C., and a 1982 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Rear Adm. Rowden has served in a diverse range of sea and shore assignments.

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Print, Plug, and Play Robotics

William Selby is a Marine Officer who previously completed studies at the US Naval Academy and MIT researching robotics. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own.

In September 1999, NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because a contracted engineering team used English units of measurement while NASA’s team used the metric system for a key spacecraft operation.[i] In everyday life we are forced to choose between differing formats with the same function. What was once VHS vs. Betamax became Blu-ray vs. HD DVD. A lack of component standardization can reduce the operational effectiveness of a system as shown by the NASA orbiter. More commonly, the end user may waste resources purchasing multiple components that serve the same purpose, as was the case for DVD players in the late 2000s. These same issues are occurring in the development, procurement, and operation of our unmanned systems. Over the last decade, the US military has amassed large numbers of unmanned systems composed of highly proprietary hardware and software components. However, future unmanned systems designed with interoperable hardware and software and constructed utilizing advanced manufacturing techniques will operate more effectively and efficiently than today’s platforms.

 

Advances in manufacturing techniques as well as efforts to standardize software and hardware development are being pursued in order to diminish the negative effects caused by proprietary components in unmanned systems. These new technologies focus on speed and customization, creating a new and evolving research, development, and production methodology. Modular designs increase the rate of production and upgrades while new manufacturing techniques enable rapid prototyping and fabrication on the front lines. Replacement parts can be stored digitally, produced on demand, and swapped between unmanned systems, reducing the system’s logistical footprint. This organic production capability will enable units to tailor manufacturing needs to match operational requirements. The resulting unmanned systems will operate with interchangeable payloads making them quick to adapt to a dynamic environment while common software will enable easier control of the vehicles and wider data dissemination.

 

Complementary Technologies

 

The concept of interoperable hardware and software is more formally referred to as open architecture (OA). DOD Directive 5000.1, “The Defense Acquisition System,” outlines the DOD’s goal to acquire systems that can be easily swapped between unmanned systems similar to the way different types of USB devices can be swapped out on a personal computer. [ii] This ranges from swapping sensor payloads between platforms to entire unmanned systems between services and countries.[iii] Establishing standards and creating policy for OA are the responsibilities of multiple organizations. For unmanned aerial systems (UASs), the Interoperability Integrated Product Team (I-IPT) drafts UAS System Interoperability Profiles (USIPs). Similarly, the Robotic Systems Joint Program Office (RS JPO) creates Interoperability Profiles (IOPs) to identify and define interoperability standards for unmanned ground systems. Several of the IOP standards have been adopted for unmanned maritime systems by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.[iv]

 

Advances in manufacturing techniques complement and leverage the OA concept. In general, these techniques focus on converting a digital blueprint of a component into its physical form. The advantages of additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, have been recently publicized as well as potential military applications.[v],[vi],[vii],[viii] 3D printing creates the desired object in metal or plastic by converting liquid or powdered raw materials into a thin solid layer, forming a single layer at a time until the piece is completed. Less mature technologies include Printed Circuit Microelectromechanical Systems (PC-MEMS) uses 3D printing to create a flat object of rigid and flexible materials with special joints that are later activated turning the flat object into a three-dimensional object much like a children’s pop up book. [ix],[x] A final technique inspired by origami involves etching crease patterns into flat sheets of metal allowing them to be quickly folded and assembled into complex components. [xi]

 

Lifecycle Impacts

 

Production of future unmanned systems will be altered by these technologies beginning with the initial system requirements.[xii] Standard capability descriptors minimize the need for a single, large business to create and entire unmanned system. This will allow small businesses to focus research and development on a single capability that can be integrated into multiple platforms requiring that capability thereby increasing competition and innovation while reducing initial procurement costs.[xiii],[xiv] These unmanned systems will be easily upgradeable since payloads, sensors, and software are anticipated to evolve much faster than the base platforms.[xv] Open hardware and software ensures that upgrades can be designed knowing the component will function successfully across multiple platforms. Advanced manufacturing techniques will enhance the development of these upgrades by allowing companies to rapidly prototype system components for immediate testing and modification. Companies can digitally simulate their component to verify their design before mass producing a final version with more cost effective traditional manufacturing techniques. The final version can then be digitally distributed enabling the end user to quickly load the most recent version before production.

 

These technologies also have the potential to significantly impact supply chain management and maintenance procedures required for unmanned systems. Since components can be swapped across multiple platforms, it will no longer be necessary to maintain independent stocks of proprietary components unique to each platform. If a component can be created using organic advanced manufacturing techniques, only the digital blueprint and raw materials need to be available. While the strength of components created using additive manufacturing may not be enough for a permanent replacement, temporary spare parts can be created in a remote area without quick access to supplies or depot repair facilities while permanent replacements are delivered. This reduces the logistical footprint and maintenance costs by limiting the number of parts and raw materials required to be physically stored for each system.

 

Most importantly, these technologies will produce unmanned systems with the operational flexibility necessary for the unknown conflicts of the future. Components ranging from power systems to sensor payloads can be quickly and easily swapped between platforms of varying vendors, selected to fit the mission requirements and replaced as the situation develops.[xvi]Standardizing the sensor’s data transmission format and metadata will generate timely and accurate data that is more easily accessed and navigated by all interested parties.[xvii] An early example of these advancements, the Army’s One System Remote Video Terminal, allows the user to receive real time video footage from multiple platform types as well as control the sensor payload.[xviii],[xix] Digital libraries will close the gap between developer and user ensuring the most recent component design is manufactured or the latest software capability is downloaded and transferred across platforms.[xx] Standardized communications protocols between the platform and the controller will enable a single controller to operate different platforms, as recently demonstrated by the Office of Naval Research.[xxi] Further into the future, the operator may be able to control multiple unmanned systems across various domain simultaneously.[xxii],[xxiii] The ability to create heterogeneous “swarms” of unmanned systems with varying sensor suites in different physical operating environments will give the commander the flexibility to quickly configure and re-configure the unmanned system support throughout the duration of the operation.

 

New Technologies Create New Vulnerabilities

 

As these technologies are implemented, it is important to keep in mind their unique limitations and vulnerabilities. The stringent qualification process for military components, especially those with the potential to harm someone, is often described a key limitation to the implementation of modular components.[xxiv] However, without people on board, unmanned systems have lower safety standards making it easier to implement modular components in final designs. Compared to traditional methods, additive manufacturing is slow and produces parts limited in size. The materials have limited strength and can be 50 to 100 times more expensive than materials used in traditional methods.[xxv] While future development will decrease prices and increase material strength, traditional manufacturing techniques will remain more cost effective means of producing high volume items into the near future. Additionally, open designs and digital storage can create vulnerabilities that may be exploited if not properly secured. Militants in Iraq purportedly viewed live video feeds from UASs using cheap commercial software while Chinese cyberspies allegedly gained access to many of the US’s advanced weapons systems designs.[xxvi],[xxvii] Further, digital blueprints of parts have the potential to be modified by nefarious actors to create counterfeit or falsified parts.[xxviii] As the price of manufacturing equipment quickly drops, anyone can create the products when given access to the digital copies.[xxix]

 

Future technological innovations have the ability to modify traditional supply methodologies allowing the end user to manufacture parts on demand for use in a variety of unmanned systems. Proprietary hardware and software can be minimized, resulting in unmanned systems with smaller logistical footprints condensing vulnerable supply chains while reducing overall system cost. These benefits are tempered by the unique vulnerabilities that arise when standardizing and digitizing unmanned system designs. Despite these potential vulnerabilities, the ability to equip a force with increased capability while reducing costs and logistical requirements is indispensable. While the locations of the next conflicts will remain hard to predict, unmanned systems able to complete a variety of missions in remote areas with limited logistical support will become an operational necessity.

 

[i] Lloyd, Robin, Metric mishap caused loss of NASA orbiter, accessed athttp://www.cnn.com/TECH/space/9909/30/mars.metric.02/index.html?_s=PM:TECH, 30 September 1999.

[ii] U.S. Department of Defense, DOD Directive 5000.1 – The Defense Acquisition System, Washington D.C., 12 May 2003.

[iii] U.S. Department of Defense, Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2013-2038, Washington D.C., 2013.

[iv] U.S. Department of Defense, Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2013-2038, Washington D.C., 2013.

[v] Llenza, Michael, “Print when ready, Gridley,” Armed Forces Journal, May 2013.

[vi] Beckhusen, Robert, Need Ships? Try a 3-D Printed Navy, accessed at http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/04/3d-printed-navy/, 04 May 2013.

[vii] Cheney-Peters, Scott and Matthew Hipple, “Print Me a Cruiser!” USNI Proceedings, vol. 139, April 2013.

[viii] Beckhusen, Robert, In Tomorrow’s Wars, Battles Will Be Fought With a 3-D Printer, accessed at http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/05/military-3d-printers/, 17 May 2013.

[ix] Leung, Isaac, All abuzz over small pop-up machines with Printed Circuit MEMS, accessed at http://www.electronicsnews.com.au/news/all-abuzz-over-small-pop-up-machines-with-printed-, 22 February 2012.

[x] Wood, R.J., “The First Takeoff of a Biologically Inspired At-Scale Robotic Insect,” Robotics, IEEE Transactions on , vol.24, no.2, pp.341,347, April 2008.

[xi] Soltero, D.E.; Julian, B.J.; Onal, C.D.; Rus, D., “A lightweight modular 12-DOF print-and-fold hexapod,” Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2013 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on , vol., no., pp.1465,1471, 3-7 Nov. 2013.

[xii] U.S. Department of Defense, Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2011-2036, Washington D.C., 18 September 2012.

[xiii] Real-Time Innovations, Interoperable Open Architecture, accessed at

http://www.rti.com/industries/open-architecture.html, 2012.

[xiv] U.S. Department of Defense, Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2013-2038, Washington D.C., 2013.

[xv] U.S. Department of Defense, Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2013-2038, Washington D.C., 2013.

[xvi] Real-Time Innovations, Interoperable Open Architecture, accessed at

http://www.rti.com/industries/open-architecture.html, 2012.

[xvii] Crawford, Katherine, ONR Provides Blueprint for Controlling All Military Unmanned Systems, accessed at http://www.onr.navy.mil/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2013/ONR-Provides-Blueprint-for-Controlling-UAVs.aspx, 01 May 2013.

[xviii] Shelton, Marty, Manned Unmanned Systems Integration: Mission accomplished, accessed at http://www.army.mil/article/67838, 24 October 2011.

[xix] AAI Corporation, One System Remote Video Terminal, accessed at https://www.aaicorp.com/sites/default/files/datasheets/OSRVT_07-14-11u.pdf, 14 July 2011.

[xx] Lundquist, Edward, DoD’s Systems Control Services (UAS) developing standards, common control systems for UAVs, accessed at GSNMagazine.com, 06 January 2014.

[xxi] Crawford, Katherine, ONR Provides Blueprint for Controlling All Military Unmanned Systems, accessed at http://www.onr.navy.mil/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2013/ONR-Provides-Blueprint-for-Controlling-UAVs.aspx, 01 May 2013.

[xxii] DreamHammer goes Ballista for multi-vehicle control software, Unmanned Daily News, 15 August 2013.

[xxiii] SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego, Multi-robot Operator Control Unit (MOCU), accessed at http://www.public.navy.mil/spawar/Pacific/Robotics/Pages/MOCU.aspx.

[xxiv] Freedberg, Sydney J., Navy Warship Is Taking 3D Printer To Sea; Don’t Expect A Revolution, accessed at http://breakingdefense.com, April 2014.

[xxv] McKinsey Global Institute, Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy, accessed at http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/disruptive_technologies, May 2013.

[xxvi] Gorman, Siobhan, Yochi Dreazen, and August Cole, Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones, The Wall Street Journal, 17 December 2009.

[xxvii] Nakashima, Ellen, Confidential report lists U.S. weapons system designs compromised by Chinese cyberspies, The Washington Post, 27 May 2013.

[xxviii] NexTech, Project Summary, NOETICGROUP.COM, April 2012.

[xxix] Llenza, Michael, “Print when ready, Grindley”, Armed Forces Journal, May 2013.

 

 

PTP Response: Levels of Interaction, the Historical Approach and the Public Mind

This post was provided by Dr. John T. Kuehn in response to the series on CIMSEC and The Bridge, Personal Theories of Power. Dr. Kuehn is a member of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College faculty and the author of Agents of Innovation: The General Board and the Design of the Fleet that Defeated the Japanese Navy and A Military History of Japan: From the Age of the Samurai to the 21st Century.

It is just here that the Institute might render important service to the profession by enlightening the public mind of the Navy on this subject, through the medium of essays and frequent discussions. — Admiral Stephen B. Luce, 1888, annual address as President of the U.S. Naval Institute

My personal theory of power, at least for the moment, has two parts. The first part comes from an idea broached by Mark Mandeles known as “levels of analysis.” The second part has to do with my own approach to exercising such power in ethical and, hopefully, altruistic ways in my own life through education, specifically educating minds to include the historical perspective. In other words, the theory followed by its application and execution in my own case.

Levels of Power — An Analysis

First, levels of analysis describe human interactions in terms of relationships. Generally, these levels fall into three groups: the individual, organizational, and institutional. Institutions are near the very top of social hierarchies and, in the words of Douglass North are, “society’s rules of the game.”[i] Translating this to a personal level, each human interaction occurs within these sorts of contexts and, therefore, for each of us, each interaction—as an individual, as a member of an organization or small cohesive team, and as a member of a larger institution—is pregnant with both possibility and limitation, occasionally leading to brilliant success or utter catastrophe. We influence others, wield our power as it were, in these situations and in different ways. Most interactions are at the personal level, but within teams and organizations, we behave a bit differently based, again, on the possibilities and limitations of our personal influence in that particular context. For example, parents exercise individual level power all the time with their children. At the organizational level we often think of our team, unit, or organization associated with employment. As one’s responsibility increases, so does the level of interaction and the ability to exercise personal power at the organizational level. However, for the audience that is probably reading this, we have folks who occasionally (or more often) exercise their power within institutional settings, as leaders of powerful institutions—for example Admiral Jonathan Greenert exercising his influence and authority as the US Navy service chief or David Petraeus when he was director of the CIA.

Education of the Historical Perspective

Back in the turbulent 20th Century an American historian named Thomas Bailey wrote A Diplomatic History of the American People. Bailey argued that the American people, through the power of public opinion, have always (one might say traditionally) exerted a profound influence on the foreign policy of the United States.[ii] This raises the issue of how does one influence the public opinion of the American people? N.A.M. Rodger dealt extensively with how the public mind is influenced by historical narratives and myths. He found that, contrary to perhaps conventional wisdom, Americans do use history to inform their public thinking, but that most of this history is flawed, wrong, or obscures what might have value coming to grips with the human past.[iii] I contend that the historical approach to influencing the public mind is not something that needs doing, rather it is something that needs doing correctly.

For Clausewitz and Mahan theory literally was study.

Minds as different and culturally divergent at Carl von Clausewitz, A.T. Mahan, and Mao Zedong all shared one trait in common when it came to military theory—theory should include study and when it came to war that study should be military history. For Clausewitz and Mahan theory literally was study.[iv] It is all well and good for the military professional to create his or her own theory by doing this (precisely what this series of articles is doing, after all), but how does this translate in power and influence? One means is through education, and not just military professionals or governmental elites, but the public. They get a vote.

For me it involves teaching, engaging if you will, with history as a means to educate the public mind—with individuals, groups, and in larger settings, at all levels. And so I teach primarily military and political history—at Fort Leavenworth, for Norwich University, at University of Kansas, for the Naval War College fleet seminar program, and frankly at any opportunity I get.

A theory is useless unless one employs it in a practical and daily manner.


[i] Friedman, Mandeles, and Hone, American and British Aircraft Carrier Development, 5-6. These authors cite Nobel Laureate Douglass C. North, Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance (New York, 1993.) More recently, Mandeles acknowledges the role of Jean de Bloch’s pioneering analyses in The Future of War: Organizations as Weapons (Washington, DC, 2005) as contributing to his inspiration for the “levels of analysis” approach.

[ii] Thomas Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American People, Tenth Edition (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1980).

[iii] N.A.M. Rodger, “The Perils of History,” Hattendorf Prize Lecture, Naval War College Review (October 2011): 8-15

[iv] Carl von Clausewitz said this literally in Book 2 on military theory of On War, trans. Peter Paret and Michael Howard (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), 141-142; Jon T. Sumida emphasizes this aspect of both Mahan’s and Clausewitz’s theoretical approaches in Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1997) and Decoding Clausewitz (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 2008), especially chapter 1. For Mao see John Shy and Thomas Collier, “Revolutionary War” in Makers of Modern Strategy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986): 815-862.

Increasing Lethality in Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW)

Minor (and Less Minor) Course Corrections

Change in the force structure of any military service is a reality we should all expect and in fact insist upon; one may only hope the factors that drive these changes are planned and controlled, but the threat gets a vote, and the end result is never exactly as desired.  The reality in the Navy’s surface force is that we have delivered an extremely capable fleet of cruisers and destroyers, all of which met the threat for the time in which they were designed, and all of which share one distinct trait today:  they all need to realize an increase in their offensive lethality if we are going to win a SAG vs SAG War At Sea scenario.

In the CRUDES world, our longest range and more capable anti-surface weapon remains the Harpoon missile; aside from a few software upgrades, the surface-launched version is largely the same weapon I saw on my first ship when I reported aboard in 1986.  The five-inch gun battery has more reliable and effective ammunition – and nearly the same range and rate of fire as its predecessor 30 years ago.  The Standard Missile, even with its anti-surface capability, is almost wholly and properly dedicated to the IAMD fight. And in perhaps our most glaring deficiency, we have not yet answered the demand signal from the COCOM in the Pacific, our most challenging maritime environment, to deliver a longer range, surface ship maritime strike weapon.

Today’s threat includes everything from pirates lobbing RPGs to the traditional blue water threat from adversary frigates, cruisers, and destroyers.  During a decade of war in and about the Arabian Gulf we focused on fast attack craft (FAC) and fast inland attack craft (FIAC) swarms designed to limit the freedom of navigation in the littorals; while we have already turned our attention to the competing blue water navies of the world, we must ensure our own ships pack the punch necessary to defeat that modernized adversary in the future.

Returning to our Offensive-minded Roots

The confluence among concluding the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars, rebalancing presence and control in the Asia-Pacific basin, and resizing the defense budget has culminated in a “Blue Water Renaissance” for the Surface Navy.  In many instances, the past is prologue for the challenges facing today’s (and tomorrow’s) fleet. Our leadership properly states in myriad forum, including testimony before congress, that Sea Power – specifically offensive capability and capacity – remains a critical strategic component in fulfilling rebalancing efforts and meeting international requirements.

120718-N-VY256-261To this extent, the Surface Force is positioned to serve as an enabling characteristic in virtually every scenario, yet we must become more lethal and more offensively postured – and deliver increased capacity and capability sooner rather than later.  No ship was ever designed with the thought that it would meet and defeat every threat in every scenario; I would submit that notion would be both fiscally and realistically impossible. There are several areas, however, in which the surface warfare community is engaged to increase its lethality, and to do so without having to rely on the presence of the CVN and its air wing; as clearly capable as the Carrier is, against the prolific threat today and tomorrow, the prudent warrior will plan on having to start and finish a maritime engagement without the CVN.

Increased lethality in our ships brings the idea of “sea control” back into the realm of our surface action groups – allowing flexibility in our operational plans and forcing  potential aggressors to pause, even when the CVN is days away. In light of the defense budget’s multiple competing requirements, programming the future Surface Force to maintain Blue Water primacy and offensive capability remains our most pressing challenge, but it is a challenge we are addressing on multiple fronts. As is fitting for multi-purpose ships like DDGs and CGs, this increased lethality will come in different mission areas and allow for greater capacity across the spectrum of operations.

Near to Far … Advanced Naval Surface Fires

From the perspective of Naval Surface Fires, N96 is currently spearheading a comprehensive re-fresh of major caliber gun requirements, aptly named “Advanced Naval Surface Fires”.  Already begun, this effort will re-evaluate the spectrum of requirements from close-in self-defense to offensive fires.  Advanced Naval Surface Fires will focus on increasing surface Navy offensive and defensive lethal capacity and decreasing cost per kill by broadening traditional gunfire requirements to include emerging technologies ranging from precision munitions to the Electro-Magnetic Railgun and laser weapons.

Over the next five years we will complete the fielding of the automated 25mm Mk38 gun system to all of our combatants and upgrade its EO/IR sensor for better threat identification and recognition.  The CIWS Block 1B upgrade continues apace, and by the end of FY15 every ship is scheduled to have this gun’s expanded defense against asymmetric threats such as small, fast surface craft, slow-flying aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles. In the 5″ gun lane, we are fielding a new “MOF-N” (Multi-Option Fuse, Navy) ammunition that replaces six older ammunition types and has improved performance against shore and sea targets, while continuing to evaluate the performance of MFF (Multi-Function Fuse) versus FAC/FIAC threats.

But those are all already-existing, albeit significant investments – as part of the focus on increasing lethality, N96 is also investing in new industry initiatives to increase the capability of today’s 5″ gun – improving our surface fleet’s ability to provide precision, high rate fires at extended ranges. Increased lethality also extends beyond the CRUDES community – by the end of FY15, we will complete installation of the laser-guided Griffin missiles in the PC class, which recently completed a perfect 4-for-4 demonstration in theater, and we will soon follow with a new missile system in the LCS which will significantly improve our small vessel engagement capability for the fleet.

Although the STANDARD Missile-2 (SM-2) remains our primary anti-air warfare missile system on all US Navy destroyers and cruisers, and is deployed by eight international Navies, the surface community is sustaining our inventory and pacing the threat by exploring cost effective ways to leverage the existing inventory by integrating an active seeker/guidance section into the SM-2.  As we continue to investigate this path, we are encouraged by the notion we could provide the Warfighter with a more robust and cost effective area defense weapon.  An active seeker could enable OTH engagements and improve SM-2 performance against stream raids and in ECM environments, while also enhancing our ASuW surface targeting.

LaWS
LaWS

Longer term investments in directed energy – both in weaponized lasers and the electro-magnetic railgun – are expected to bring an offensive punch to several mission areas while also significantly reducing the cost curve of a surface engagement. Railgun will provide greatly enhanced range and accuracy against anticipated ASuW target sets in the Pacific Rim and Southwest Asia. Industry is already deep into prototype development of shipboard lasers – high energy, solid state weapons that will provide sustained counter UAV, counter boat swarm and greatly enhanced combat ID.  Both of these efforts continue at a pace commensurate with the developing technology; if you’re a SWO finishing your Department Head ride now, you can expect to see them reach culmination and being fielded at sea before your command tour.

Surface Ships and Maritime Strike

Ever since the demise of the Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missile (TASM), Navy has wrestled with the question of whether, and when, such a capability would again be necessary. What circumstances would dictate that our ships need to engage an enemy SAG at ranges greater than our current Harpoon missile?

Not a simple question, but perhaps there is a simple answer: our ships need to be able to engage that enemy SAG at ranges greater than they can engage us. Sea control really isn’t more complicated than that – possessing more lethality than the threat does, and being able to execute that lethality in a given scenario. Refer back to the earlier statement – we will not always operate with the CSG and its striking force in the Air Wing – and we owe it to our nation and our Sailors to be able to win that fight when it presents itself.

The Navy’s roadmap to fielding a surface launched maritime strike weapon (OASuW) includes competing a future solution that would follow the first increment of OASuW, the LRASM missile, which is an aviation-only weapon. In the interim, the surface community has invested significantly in the existing Tomahawk Block IV weapon system, including the All Up Round (AUR), to not only establish a recertification line and enable the weapon’s remaining fifteen-year service life, but also make the AUR relevant into and beyond the coming decade. The capabilities being built into the current Blk IV – including upgraded communications and electronics, with potential future inclusion of an advanced warhead and seeker – will bear some close similarity to those needed for the surface launched OASuW weapon. The Tomahawk missile, amongst others, will be well positioned to compete for that program.

Finally, since possessing this weapon will serve no purpose unless our ships can actually employ it with the confidence we should demand, we cannot forget the kill chain in the course of increasing lethality. Having myriad methods that rely on consistent communications or the presence of the air wing are not sufficient – we must develop an organic kill chain that enables a SAG to find/fix/target the enemy at ranges commensurate with the weapon system being employed. This is not an easy challenge to overcome, and its discussion is best reserved for another forum; suffice to say that solving this challenge is a primary focus in the surface community.

Another Planning Factor – Fiscal Constraints

Amidst all the intent and desire to increase lethality, and thereby enable sea control, we cannot ignore the fiscal reality that our nation and our military face. Sea Control is defined by offensive lethality; so how does a force with a declining resource base continue to meet the demands of forward presence and persistent readiness, and also not only maintain but increase its lethality?

The short answer is by making some difficult choices, and then maintaining the course to see initiatives survive from original design to actual fielding. No branch of our military, including the Navy and its surface community, can make that happen on its own. The first step, however, can be achieved thru the innovative application of developing technology as it enters the acquisition system. Toward that end, we partner with the many military industries to develop new systems, or refine existing ones, to address current and future requirements.

In this era of flat or declining defense budgets, we simply do not live in a fiscally unconstrained environment. New initiatives need to address capability gaps, and they need to be affordable.

Message to Industry: What would be more helpful than a $500M program designed to counter a $50K threat? A program that builds upon already existing technology, doesn’t require hundreds of millions of dollars of R&D, and can be fielded in an affordable and efficient manner.

Conclusion – Remember, Minor Course Corrections

Like most of the fleet, when I reported to the N96 staff I had never served in OPNAV in any capacity, much less in the role of a resource sponsor. I had little to no appreciation for the opportunities that would present to make a difference in the future of our surface navy. While I recognize that gratification in one’s efforts in the world of resourcing is measured in 5-year budget cycles, I am indeed gratified to know that the community’s focus and investment is in the right place. If we manage to make the minor course corrections described herein, instead of shifting our rudder 30 degrees right to left, we will most certainly realize the increased lethality we need in that future SAG vs SAG scenario.

Captain Charlie Williams is the Deputy for Weapons and Sensors, Surface Warfare Directorate (N96). He commanded USS FIREBOLT (PC 10), USS STETHEM (DDG 63) and Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN (CDS-15). As the Commodore in CDS-15, he served as the GEORGE WASHINGTON Strike Group Sea Combat Commander and Strike Force ASW Commander, and subsequently served as the Seventh Fleet Chief of Staff.

For other material by OPNAV 96, Surface Warfare Division, staff:
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) – the Heart of Surface Warfare by CAPT Charlie Williams, USN
Surface Warfare: Lynchpin of Naval Integrated Air/Missile Defense by CAPT Jim Kilby, USN
Operate Forward: LCS Brings It by RADM Thomas Rowden, USN