Tag Archives: surface warfare

Re-Post: Surface Warfare: Taking the Offensive

Guest article by VADM Thomas S. Rowden, USN from June, 2014. Re-Posted during the SNA National Symposium this week.

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.

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 geo-political 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!

 

Vice Admiral Thomas S. Rowden’s current assignment is Commander, Naval Surface Forces. A native of Washington, D.C., and a 1982 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, VADM Rowden has served in a diverse range of sea and shore assignments.

The Virtue of Being a Generalist, Part 1: A Day in the Life of Sub Lieutenant Snodgrass

By Jon Paris

The United States Navy’s surface fleet finds itself in dynamic times. The standard length for deployments continues to rise, numerous hulls are on the chopping block, maintenance is battling to keep up with a harried operational tempo, and as ever, its leaders – Surface Warfare Officers, or SWO’s – are struggling to both improve, and in fact define, the community’s identity. Whether it is the uniforms we wear, our training pipelines, or our often-mocked culture, the community seems to lack a firm grasp on who we are, what we stand for, and how we do business. Over a series of three articles, I intend to first analyze a few counterparts – the Royal Navy, U.S. Naval Aviation, and U.S. Navy surface nuclear officers – and then explore some proposals meant to solidify the officers who take the world’s most powerful ships to sea.

Just Another Day at the Office

After working alongside the Royal Navy, most American surface warriors walk away immensely impressed by the impeccable professionalism of their British counterparts. When SWO’s talk about improving their community, the Royal Navy’s practices inevitably come up. “We should do it like the Brits,” is a common theme. Few truly appreciate what that statement means, though. The Surface Warriors of the U.S. and Royal Navies are different: in size, mission sets, tempos, training, and priorities. There is not always a one-for-one correlation between the two. Before analyzing proposals or judging the merits of each side, let us simply gather some information by comparing the lifestyles of Sub Lieutenant Snodgrass, RN, and Ensign Timmy, USN.

The first area of comparison is training and path to qualification. All Royal Navy officer cadets spend between six and eleven months at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), where students receive military indoctrination and learn the ins and outs of the naval profession through a standardized curriculum. Upon graduation from BRNC, the young surface officer proceeds on to a training track for Warfare Officers or Engineers. The prospective engineers endure a rigorous 20-month pipeline of practical and theoretical training.

Our Sub Lieutenant Snodgrass is a Warfare Officer, which is the career track most comparable to an American SWO’s. He and his comrades train for an additional 18-months. First, they attend three months of advanced seamanship theory training, followed by an intense year of practical bridge watch standing under instruction. If they are successful to this point, they stand for a week of individual bridge simulator assessments. Students must achieve passing marks on these assessments to proceed on to a final three months of advanced seamanship and navigation training. Upon graduation, they report aboard their first ship as an Officer-of-the-Watch (OOW) with a well-earned Navigational Watch Certificate. Within a month or so, SLt Snodgrass has earned his Commanding Officer’s Platform Endorsement – akin to a SWO’s Officer-of-the-Deck Underway Letter – and is entrusted with operating the ship unsupervised. While some Warfare Officers attend a 4-month long course and become navigators after gaining at least 4 years experience as an OOW, the next major pipeline for now-LT Snodgrass is the Principal Warfare Officer (PWO) Course and occurs at the nine-year point. Thirteen months long, the PWO Course trains Royal Navy surface officers to be the Commanding Officer’s advisor on either “Above Water” or “Under Water” Warfare, and can see up to 40 percent attrition.

The U.S. Navy SWO training pipeline has seen several iterations over the past 12 years. Before 2003, newly commissioned Surface Warfare Officer Trainees attended the six month-long Division Officer’s Course. SWOSDOC, as the course was called, taught the basics of ship handling, navigation, shipboard maintenance, damage control, leadership, and divisional administration. The objective of the course was to give all ensigns the tools necessary to immediately contribute to their wardrooms and a foundation from which to qualify aboard their ship. This course was disbanded in 2003 and for approximately nine years, new officers reported directly to their ships, took over their divisions, completed computer-based modules, and received on-the-job training as they progressed through their qualifications. The current training model sees new officers attending an 8-week Basic Division Officer Course (BDOC) in their Fleet Concentration Area, where they delve into many of the topics found in the old SWOSDOC program.

Upon completion of BDOC, ensigns report to their ships and are assigned a division of anywhere between 10 and 30 Sailors to lead and the associated responsibility of the maintenance of their division’s systems. Concurrent with their division officer duties, they embark on a journey to earn their Surface Warfare Officer designation and pin. This journey, nominally 18-months long, entails qualifying in a series of watch stations – namely, Officer-of-the-Deck In-Port, Small Boat Officer, Combat Information Center Watch Officer, Helm and Aft-Steering Safety Officer, and ultimately, Officer-of-the-Deck Underway – through the completion of Professional Qualification Standards (PQS) books and various oral boards. The milestone pre-requisite to the SWO Pin is the Officer-of-the-Deck Underway letter – similar to the Royal Navy’s Platform Endorsement – and usually comes after about a year aboard the ship and ultimately represents the Captain’s trust in the officer to safely and professionally operate the ship in their stead.

Typically, our Ensign Timmy will accumulate another six months of experience leading his bridge watch team, his division, and learning the catch-all nature of his chosen trade before sitting for his “SWO Board.” The SWO Board is a memorable event and involves the candidate sitting across from what, at the time, seems like a firing squad made up all of the department heads, the executive officer, and the Captain. While there is no formal, written or otherwise, fleet standard (outside of the pre-requisite watch stations) and no tangible result (aside from the pin), the SWO qualification represents a junior officer’s journeyman-level grasp of the surface, naval, and joint profession. Topics covered range far-and-wide: from logistics matters to amphibious landings and missile engagements, to personnel records, geography, ship and aircraft capabilities, emergency procedures, and naval justice fundamentals to meteorology. Now, with a pin and new officer designator, Lieutenant Junior Grade Timmy completes his first tour and attends approximately 1-2 months of job specific training before reporting to his next ship for a two year tour as Navigator, Auxiliaries officer, Main Propulsion Assistant, Fire Control Officer, Training Officer, Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer, or Force Protection Officer.

At the 8-year point, prospective SWO Department Heads attend up to nine weeks of intensive training in combat systems fundamentals, followed by 6-months in the Department Head Course, which includes three months dedicated to maritime warfare, and three months dedicated to administration, maintenance, damage control, and topics unique to the officer’s future billet.

The next point of comparison is more overt and was touched on briefly above. In the Royal Navy, recruits select and compete for a specialization before attending the Royal Navy College. They attend training either for Warfare Officers, Marine Engineers, Weapon Engineers, or Air Engineers. Warfare Officers are first responsible for bridge watch standing and safe navigation, and later in their careers for the tactical employment of the ship’s combat systems. Their engineers are responsible for leading the ship’s technicians and the upkeep of their respective kit – or in U.S. Navy terms, the preventative and corrective maintenance of their assigned shipboard systems. SLt Snodgrass, our Royal Navy Warfare Officer, will start his career with three tours as a bridge watch keeper. Later on, he serves two tours as a Principal Warfare Officer. His engineer counterparts – either marine or weapon – leave their training and serve a tour as a shipboard Deputy Head of Department, where they ultimately sit a professional board qualifying them as capable of leading a department. After engineering focused “shore drafts,” those who qualify return to sea as Heads of Department.

In the U.S. Navy, Surface Warfare Officers do not formally specialize in their billets. The community prides itself in producing Jacks-of-all-Trades. Ensign Timmy starts his career as a SWO by serving two division officer tours. He has little to no say in what his first billet will be – he could just as easily serve as the Electrical Officer as he could the Gunnery or Communications Officer. When proceeding to his next tour, his desires and performance are taken into account along with the ever-present needs of the Navy. En route to his second ship, LTJG Timmy receives his first formalized billet training. His second division officer tour may or may not fall under the same department as his first. After four years ashore, now-LT Timmy serves two 18-month Department Head tours. While his desires are given heavy weight, his assignment will not necessarily be to a department in which he previously served. The career experiences, training, and development of SWO’s is designed to ensure that they are notionally plug-and-play – able to serve in any capacity at a moment’s notice. The U.S. Navy does not have a direct comparison to the Royal Navy’s Marine and Weapons Engineers, though in our system, they would most closely be seen as a mix of our Limited Duty Officers and Department Heads.

A final point of comparison is the Royal Navy’s focus on watch-standing over billets in their Warfare Officer community. On a typical Type-23 Frigate, their Warfare Officers will fill the roles of the four Officers-of-the-Watch, Navigator, PWO Underwater, PWO Abovewater, Operations Officer, Executive Officer, and Captain. Other billets, including Weapon Engineer Officer, Marine Engineer Officer, and their deputies, are filled by specialized engineering officers.

The primary duty of SLt Snodgrass, as an assigned Officer-of-the-Watch and later a Principal Warfare Officer, is watch keeping. Officers-of-the-Watch are also assigned secondary duties like Classified Books Officer, Intelligence Officer, and XO’s Assistant. They are also responsible for the pastoral care of a group of Sailors. While leadership and special duties are a reality for the Warfare Officer, it is a fact of life that they come second to their job as professional watch standers. This fact was driven home to me by one Royal Naval Officer who said, “an OOW is a prime target for secondary duties… then we encounter an incident, and a casual factor is found to be that the OOW was distracted from their core task of watch-keeping, and an admiral directs a high-pressure blast getting rid of many of them (secondary duties).” Junior PWO serve as their Captain’s advisors on warfare and as the lead watch-stander in their Operations Room. When not standing watch and serving as a warfare advisor, they serve as shipboard staff, execute event planning, and serve in what the U.S. Navy might consider a special projects officer capacity, in addition to the pastoral care of the junior officers in their wardroom.

 

Surface Warfare Officers are detailed, or assigned, to a specific shipboard billet. This billet is not only on their orders, but also serves as their very identity aboard the ship. They are the Gunnery Officer – GUNNO – or the Chief Engineer – CHENG. As a division officer, Ensign Timmy spends his day seeing to his division’s Sailors, equipment, and operations, while also standing roughly ten hours of watch per day, whether that be on the bridge, in Combat, or in the engineering plant. Later on, Lieutenant Timmy leads a department of approximately three divisions. While serving as a Department Head, he qualifies and stands watch as Tactical Action Officer, leading the watch team tasked with employing the ship’s sensors and weapons and serving as the senior watch stander aboard the ship. Watches are not collateral for SWO’s, yet their professional bias is most certainly towards their billet and their people.

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One key difference between the two navies that creates this disparity in bias is their respective approaches to duties covered by officers – specialists or not – vice enlisted Sailors. In the Royal Navy, most of the day-to-day upkeep of a division’s personnel and spaces is delegated to a senior petty officer. The Royal Navy also uses officers in many watch stations, like Quartermaster-of-the-Watch (duties considered a core competency of an RN OOW), Air Intercept Controller (Fighter Director in the RN), and Anti-Air Warfare Coordinator, that the U.S. Navy either mans with senior petty officers and chiefs, or splits between enlisted and commissioned watch standers. As a Royal Navy PWO broke it down for me, “tactical advice on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) is my job as PWO(U), planning ASW matters is my chief’s job, looking after the ASW ratings is my petty officer’s job with direction from the two levels above, and maintenance of the ASW kit is the Deputy Weapon Engineering Officer’s job.” In the U.S. Navy, while surface Sailors are certainly empowered through delegation, a division officer or department head would have their hands in all of those levels in the execution of their assigned billet, while also concurrently standing watch throughout a given day.

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Undoubtedly, each country could take something positive away from the other for their own betterment. Our unique cultures and operational commitments, as well as our relative sizes, certainly drive our respective methods. Now that we have a better understanding of how the Royal Navy does business, we can draw rough comparisons to the American Surface Warfare Officer community and start to imagine elements we might adopt as we endeavor for self-improvement. Before exploring specific proposals, though, my next piece in this series will again seek to inform by comparing the professional standards, training mindset and approach to attrition of the SWO community with that of both Naval Aviation and nuclear trained officers.

Read the next installment here. 

Lieutenant Jon Paris is a U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer. At sea, he has served aboard both a destroyer and cruiser, in both Weapons and Navigation Department. Ashore he has served as a Navigation Instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy and as a Flag Aide. He is a prospective destroyer Operations Officer. His opinions and generalizations are his own and do not reflect official stances or policy of the U.S. Navy.

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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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