Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, outlined his seven “operational imperatives” for the next decade. The Navy League Center for Maritime Strategy outlined them as such:
• Ensuring the readiness of the force. This would include adhering to overhaul schedules, updating ships, training crews and maintaining ample supplies of spare parts, fuel and ammunition.
• Logistics. The stalled Russian invasion of Ukraine highlights the need to ensure that fuel and supplies are delivered in a timely fashion.
• Get the M/Q-25A drone tanker operational before 2025. It would extend the range of carrier-borne aircraft, and serve as a precursor to a potential future unmanned strike aircraft.
• Increased reliance on unmanned systems. Gilday acknowledged that not everyone is convinced that drones can operate well in combat situations. But he pointed out that these assets are presently providing valuable information about currents, temperature and other environmental scenarios. The 5th Fleet has recently completed successful intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in the Persian Gulf, he noted.
• Training to fight. Sailors and Marines need to be ready to operate in large three-carrier battle formations, “at expected levels of organization and chaos.”
• “Stay ahead in the undersea environment.” While the Navy has enjoyed superiority under the sea, Gildea noted that Russia and other adversaries have stolen or duplicated as much U.S. technology as possible. Additionally, the service needs more submarine tenders.
• Take the maritime strategy “off the shelf.” More than 30 years ago, then-CNO Adm. Frank Kelso told Congress that the nation’s maritime needs should be focused on naval policy rather than strategy. While this was true then, Gilday believes the present threat requires a different approach that would “speak in terms of numbers of ships, maps, geographic lines of effort that show what the Navy might do, which allies and partners might join the U.S. war effort, and suggest what goals the U.S. would pursue in a great power war.” An emphasis would be placed on how such wars would end, rather than how to engage in open-ended conflicts such as the recent operations in the Middle East.