Armed Forces News

Pacific Ocean, Nov 2014: U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships underway in formation at the conclusion of Keen Sword 15. Keen Sword is a joint-bilateral training exercise involving the U.S. military and the Japan Self-Defense Force to increase combat readiness and interoperability of U.S. forces and the Japan Self-Defense Force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro/Released)

While the Navy is taking numerous steps to adapt to the changing world in which it operates, recapitalization alone will not place the surface fleet in a posture to meet all challenges, some experts say.

“[The Navy] should evolve the operational concepts, tactics, and capabilities of surface combatants to give the United States new operational advantages and reduce the effectiveness of adversary capabilities and concepts,” stated Bryan Clark and Timothy A. Walton, authors of a recent report published by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.


Clark and Walton wrote that the Navy has moved too slowly to counter the increasing threats it faces.

“As a result, today’s surface force lacks the size, resilience, and offensive capacity” necessary to meet requirements of the National Defense Strategy. The fleet’s configuration focuses too much on large and expensive platforms that require large crews.

The writers envision a strategic scenario in which carrier-based aircraft would have to carry smaller payloads in order to reach targets as far as 1,000 nautical miles away. Additionally, submarines – which they call the most “survivable” platforms, are retiring from service more quickly than they can be replaced.

The writers called for a shift to maneuver warfare, which entails the imposition of “multiple mutually insoluble dilemmas on adversaries,” rather than the current “attrition-centric” approach that aims to convince enemies that aggressive acts on their part would inevitably fail. They offered three ideas for redesigning the surface fleet, which would entail increasing:

•      The “complexity” of the way the surface force presents itself to an adversary.
•      The “salvo size” required to deliver a successful immediate attack on an enemy.
•      The offensive capacity of surface forces.

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