Many of you will read this issue just before, during, or immediately after the January 2016 Surface Navy Symposium. A time when we come together as a community to review the recent past and to think together about the future, not to mention renewing ties with shipmates and seeing examples of the truly eye-watering technology our industry partners are developing. To say that I am excited about SNA 2016 is an understatement and I look forward to another great event. Please don’t hesitate to introduce yourself if you catch me between conversations.
However, before SNA comes the holidays, and by the time you read this I will have had the absolute thrill of visiting ships and crews in the 5th and 6th Fleet AORs over Thanksgiving. I wanted to personally tell them know how much I value the sacrifice that they and their families make every day, but especially at this time of year. I’ve made it clear from the day I took command of the Surface Force that I work for the ships, and on these visits I hope to get a better sense of how we are doing where the rubber meets the road. What the Surface Force is doing in the areas of our nation’s vital interests is crucial to protecting and sustaining America’s national security and prosperity, and as the world seems to become more and more unpredictable, the powerful presence of the Surface Navy continues to grow in importance.
More powerful presence sums up what I want you to take away from this edition of the Commander’s Corner. By now most of you have heard of our Distributed Lethality initiative—an approach to organizing, training, equipping and fighting the Surface Force. It stresses an increase in individual unit lethality and innovative force packaging designed to present adversaries with a more complicated combat problem that stretches their ISR networks and dilutes their available weapons stocks. I laid out a vision of Distributed Lethality at SNA 2015, and we’ve been busy throughout the year doing the hard work of creating a compelling narrative, analyzing the benefits, assessing the risks, and reporting our findings to senior decision-makers and warfighting commanders. There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the concept. The presence now of hard, analytical data to support our suppositions of a year ago is having an impact on how the Surface Force will contribute in the future. Our combatant commanders will have greater offensive capability and more options when Distributed Lethality is fully implemented.
As excited as we are about supporting data, we are even more excited about what we have planned for 2016 in terms of exercises, experiments, and employment. And while I won’t steal my own SNA speech thunder by revealing everything here, we’ll be deploying a three ship “Distributed Lethality” Surface Action Group (SAG) this year. It will, among other things, teach us a great deal about things like distributed logistics, communications in a satellite denied environment, electronic maneuver warfare, and local networking.
A final area I am determined to make more progress in is working closely with the Marines in 2016 to optimize Distributed Lethality in expeditionary operations. The capability resident in the combination of force derived of the F-35B operating in tandem with Baseline 9 DDG’s, the coming Flight III DDG, and the DDG 1000—creates a world of new possibilities for the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander. Packaging and employing a lethal brand of naval power extends our reach and forecloses adversary options, on, under, over, and next to the seas.