China, culture, climate change and Covid-19 remain the primary challenges the sea services face, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said in a strategic-guidance paper he presented to all hands late last month. Of those, he believes, China is cause for the most concern.
“For the first time in at least a generation, we have a strategic competitor who possesses naval capabilities that rival our own, and who seeks to aggressively employ its forces to challenge U.S. principles, partnerships, and prosperity,” Del Toro wrote, adding that Russia and Iran also are using “gray-zone aggression and coercion” to disrupt international order.
To meet the threat posed by China, Del Toro promised that the Navy and Marine Corps would continue to develop operational concepts and capabilities that would both enhance deterrence and expand the ability to fight and prevail if necessary.
Del Toro’s outline contained these priorities:
• Expand forward presence.
• Enhance warfighting readiness.
• Innovate and modernize.
• Combat climate change.
He also addressed several personnel-related issues:
• Elimination of “harmful behaviors,” to include sexual assault and harassment.
• Leveraging naval education as a “critical warfighting enabler.” The Navy’s War College, Postgraduate School, Academy and Community College would “provide world-class curricula, research opportunities, and partnerships, tailored and prioritized to meet our most pressing warfighting requirements.”
• Cultivation of talent and teamwork.
• Taking care of “our people.”
• Building trust and collaboration among the sea services.
• Modernizing business systems to “enhance performance and affordability” – with a focus on data-driven decision making.
• Strengthening alliances and partnerships with the other services and strategic allies.