By Rear Adm. Bill Merz, Commander Submarine Group 7, Commander Task Force 54/74 

Greetings from Yokosuka, Japan, the command and control node for Submarine and Theater Undersea Warfare (TUSW) operations in the highly dynamic 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Operation. Like our other TUSW task forces, we leverage our talented and diverse teams to advance our combined warfighting skills that contribute to regional security and stability. While the complexity of forward operations requires continuous and simultaneous execution of multiple lines of operations, as TUSW commanders we principally focus on advancing readiness—the foundation of our warfighting effectiveness. TUSW is a rapidly evolving mission area that requires integration of doctrine, skills, and technologies across multiple platforms, warfighting communities, and partner nations to neutralize both undersea threats (e.g. Theater ASW) and threats from under the sea (e.g. Strike and ASUW). Our principle missions are to attrite the enemy and to provide access for the larger battle force. We are the critical enabler for projecting force from the sea in any contested environment.

In this issue of UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine you will be exposed to the submarine forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, home to over 230 submarines spanning 11 countries, and growing. You will learn from our closest friends across the region, the leaders of the submarine forces of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN), Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), and Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). In their own words, you will learn about their histories, our common values, and their extraordinary spirit as Submariners that transcends all of us. Most importantly, you will feel the significance of our enduring regional alliances and partnerships. I extend my heartfelt thanks to each of them for their contribution to this issue.

You will also read about our supporting surface vessels—submarine tenders, oceanography survey vessels, and ocean surveillance ships equipped with the Surveillance Towed-Array Sensor System (SURTASS). These assets are absolutely critical in all phases of warfare, from preparation of the battlespace and protection of our high-value units to staging and positioning expeditionary logistical support, doing most of their work behind the scenes without fanfare. Simply put, they enable the enablers.

As an emerging major mission area, TUSW is the offensive arm of undersea warfare and is immensely complex. Theater Anti-Submarine Warfare (TASW) is the “majority” mission of the TUSW Commander, and within the last year we have leveraged the talents of allied and U.S. submarines, destroyers, surveillance platforms, and air assets. There is no single proprietary favorite platform; if you’re in the area, you’re on the team and it’s best to be ready to don the TASW jersey on short notice. For example, we have shifted Tactical Control (TACON) of U.S. and allied assets between task forces nearly 50 times in the last several months in support of the TASW commander’s efforts. Far forward, there is the stark reality of the importance of a deliberate approach to warfare, and that approach is team-based. The overarching theme is “warfighting first,” recognizing our role as the first responders to virtually any credible warfighting scenario at sea.

I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to all of our Sailors, both active duty and reserve, civilians, and supporting families across our combined TASW forces, with a special Bravo Zulu for our allies. I’m exceptionally proud of your contributions to our combined warfighting efforts and our resulting ability to promote peace, stability, and security throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific. It has been a distinct privilege and honor to be part of such an effective team, and I look forward to our many future successes.

Play hard!