Notes to the New CNO Week

By Dmitry Filipoff

In late September 2019, CIMSEC featured articles submitted in response to our Call for Articles requesting short submissions where contributors offered their suggestions to the U.S. Navy’s new Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday. From future warfighting considerations to the management of the force, authors provided a variety of hard-hitting insights.

Below are the articles and authors that featured during the topic week. We thank the authors for their excellent contributions. 

Two Unaddressed Problems in the Surface Navy” by Matthew Harper, CDR, USN (ret.) 

“A lot has been written about the troubles of the U.S. Navy’s surface force, but two underlying institutional problems have not been fully addressed. The failure to address these flaws promises that the U.S. Navy’s surface force will continue to risk generating less capable Sailors who are more risk averse and less tactically astute.”

Prepare for Autonomous Undersea Conflict” by David Strachan

“Undersea warfare is entering an era of profound transformation due to the increasing sophistication and proliferation of unmanned systems. But while their roles, missions, and concepts of operation have been thoroughly analyzed, the ultimate deployment of autonomous, expendable vehicles in a shadowy, hostile environment could unfold in ways that have yet to be fully imagined.”

Make Crew Endurance an Operational Warfighting Imperative” by Captain John Cordle, USN (ret.)

“The Navy owes Sailors a culture that maintains its people with the same rigorous mindset and planning as the maintenance of its ships and aircraft. Proper crew rest and sleep hygiene not only improve the daily performance and long-term endurance of our personnel in stressful environments, but best practices will lead to better long-term health outcomes when our Sailors leave the service.”

Reestablish the Strategic Studies Group” by Commander Chris O’Connor, USN, and Lieutenant Commander Ryan Hilger, USN

“The SSG’s original mandate, to develop and propose innovative warfighting concepts against peer competitors (initially the Soviet Union), is quite relevant today. The new CNO should reestablish the SSG along these lines to develop a new generation of strategists and operational concepts for Navy and Marine Corps warfighting.”

Recapitalize Sealift or Forfeit the Next Great Power War” by Stephen M. Carmel

“In the U.S., at least in terms of sealift, incrementalism is our watchword and even then we don’t execute on that minimal vision. The focus is always on doubling down on failed programs and policies that brought about the current state of affairs when bold, innovative thinking that does not repeat the mistakes of the past is required.”

Every Sailor a Cyber Warrior” by Lieutenant Douglas Kettler, USN

“The next level of fleet-wide cyber education should show the Sailor how the domain impacts their lethality and arms them with the education to recognize, respond, and overcome adverse cyber effects. Through the new creed of ‘every Sailor a cyber warrior,’ the CNO will be able to leverage his experience at Tenth Fleet to arm the Navy with the foundational skills necessary to fight and prevail in twenty-first century network-centric warfare.”

Defend and Advance Core Undersea and Network Capabilities” by John T. Kuehn, Ph.D., Commander, USN (ret.)

“The Navy must emphasize fielding proven technology. Do not bank on emergent technology that only currently exists on paper and in formulas, and is not something that can be fully operationalized into the fleet we have by 2030.”

To Win Great Power War, Treat Information As a Strategic Resource” by Lieutenant Commander Robert “Jake” Bebber, USN

“The Navy and Joint Force should be part of a national strategy that harvests information resources and controls critical information industries while denying that leverage to our adversaries. This requires new operational concepts, deeper relations with partners, allies, and industry, and a re-thinking of current personnel recruitment, training and retention.”

Restore Authority and Accountability” by Commander Rob Brodie, USN

“The cause of the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions was the administrative chain of command’s decisions to send untrained officers to the fleet while also replacing intuitive with non-intuitive ship control consoles without training support. But instead, only the operational chain of command was held accountable for the loss of life.”

Tackle Force Dynamism and Administrative Structure For a Stronger Navy” by Petty Officer Second Class Jacob Wiencek, USN

“The CNO should focus on his role of training, developing, and administratively overseeing the U.S Navy, specifically in two key areas that are adversely affecting the fleet: administrative and personnel structure, and force dynamism.”

The Navy Reserve is Broken” by Lieutenant Blake Herzinger, USN

“Navy reservists are ready and eager to serve, but what message do they receive when they arrive on deployment and are told the duties they have arrived to execute are unimportant or nonexistent? Administrative problems have administrative solutions, but without attention from above, they will languish and Sailors will suffer the consequences.”

Junior Personnel: The X-Factor in Great Power Competition” by Lieutenant Adam Johnson, USN, and Lieutenant Junior Grade John Maslin, USN

“Incorporating a non-discriminatory dataset from the junior ranks into senior-level decision-making could be an ‘X-factor’ for several reasons. First, it would provide senior leaders with crowdsourced, deckplate-level data that, in many cases, they are currently not receiving. Harnessing these collective insights from a generation that has grown up in a technology-fueled world that is entirely dissimilar from the early experiences of our senior leaders could pave the way for new strategies for how the Navy conducts business.”

Kill the Darlings and Pet Programs” by Lieutenant Commander Ryan Hilger, USN

“It is time to kill our darlings. We cannot deploy the Navy the nation needs with the many pet programs we have. Underperforming programs must go. Follow Secretary Esper’s lead and hold ‘Night Court’ for the Navy…”

Don’t Forget Seapower’s Dry Foundation” by J. Overton

“Important as that role is, bases’ size, location, and presence means they are continuously carrying out effective naval strategy. Some of that is direct and traditional – overhauling ships, fueling aircraft, training submariners. But much of that is better described as ‘collateral strategy’ – using the means available through local presence to establish global ends. “

Improve Mutual Cooperation with Small and Medium-Sized Navies” by VADM. (Ret) Omar Eduardo Andujar-Zaiter, DRN

“The CNO should include in his working plan a desire to better understand and collaborate with small and medium-sized Navies of nearby democratic countries with the aim of earning bilateral cooperation for USN objectives. For this the CNO may connect through person-to-person visits and calls to the leaders of these navies to earn a better understanding of how other international naval forces operate and contribute to regional security.”

Please Stop Making Sailor-Soldiers” by Lieutenant Zachary George, USN

“It is time again to get the reserves back to sea. The CNO must direct the Chief of the Navy Reserve and the Chief of Naval Personnel to quickly make both the Reserve Surface Force and the greater global force management process a system that mobilizes Sailors into Sailors, and not Sailors into soldiers.”

Dmitry Filipoff is CIMSEC’s Director of Online Content. Contact him at

Featured Image: NORFOLK (Aug. 27, 2019) Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday visits with Sailors aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD-3). (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nick Brown) 

Fostering the Discussion on Securing the Seas.