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PACIFIC OCEAN (July 19, 2016) USS Coronado (LCS 4), an Independence-variant littoral combat ship, launches the first over-the-horizon missile engagement using a Harpoon Block 1C missile. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michaela Garrison/Released)
The U.S. Navy's Surface Force Strategy Return to Sea Control

We are entering a new age of Seapower. A quarter-century of global maritime dominance by the U.S. Navy is now being tested by the return of great power dynamics. The security interests of the United States and those of our allies are increasingly challenged by near-peer competitors, confrontational foreign governments, and well-armed non-state militant groups. Our Navy must adjust to the changing security environment driven by the challenges of these state and non-state actors, who may not feel bound to the rules-based system of international norms that have shaped our world for the last 70 years. The past teaches us the dangers to a maritime nation’s security and prosperity when its navy fails to adapt to the challenges of a changing security environment. From Europe to Asia, history is replete with nations that rose to global power only to cede it back through lack of seapower, either over time or in decisive battle.

As today’s leading naval power, we cannot afford to lose our nation’s seapower edge.  The U.S. Navy is responding to global challenges under the leadership of the Chief of Naval Operations and is guided by the precepts of our Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority. Responding to the call to “strengthen naval power at and from the sea,” the U.S. Naval Surface Force submits the Surface Force Strategy.

The objective of the Surface Force Strategy is to achieve and sustain sea control at the time and place of our choosing in order to: protect the homeland from afar, build and maintain global security, project the national power of the United States, and, if necessary, win decisively.  It is essential to our nation’s security and prosperity that we maintain the ability to maneuver globally on the seas and to prevent others from using the sea against the interests of the United States and our allies. Additionally, sea control is the pre-requisite to achieving the Navy’s other objectives of all domain access, deterrence, power projection and maritime security.

The strategy describes the return to sea control and implementation of Distributed Lethality as an operational and organizational principle for achieving and sustaining sea control at will. Distributed Lethality reinforces fleet initiatives that drive collaboration and integration across warfighting domains. Distributed Lethality requires increasing the offensive and defensive capability of surface forces, which guides deliberate resource investment for modernization and for the future force. Providing more capabilities across surface forces yields more options for Geographic Combatant Commanders.

In order to achieve the desired outcome of this strategy, we must rededicate the force to attain and sustain sea control, retain the best and the brightest, provide advanced tactical training, and equip our ships with improved offensive weapons and hard kill/soft kill options. Pursuing these ends will enhance our capability and capacity to go on the offensive and to defeat multiple attacks.

By providing a more powerful deterrent, we can dissuade the first act of aggression, and failing that, we will respond to an attack to compel the adversary to cease hostilities by rendering it incapable of further aggression.

Surface forces provide our nation with credible combat naval power at and from the sea in order to control the sea at the time and place of our choosing for the Joint Force to project power.  We will do this by providing our warships with the tactics, talent, tools, and training to deceive, target and destroy enemy forces, and by instilling this warfighting ethos in the crews that fight our warships. The strategy serves as our call to action to build, organize, train, and equip surface forces that can fight and win today, tomorrow and beyond. 

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