Could the Battle of the Philippine Sea in 1944 have been the U.S. Navy Surface Force’s Trafalgar? Is there a Jutland on our horizon?
Obviously, one cannot be sure. But one hears and senses within today’s Surface Force an unmistakable message that we are not going to wait for our Jutland. The concept of Distributed Lethality—impacting as it does every single aspect of Surface Warfare—organization, training, acquisition, operations, tactics, leadership—perturbs the repose of a fleet that has perhaps, in fact, been dozing. It is an organizing principle around which the entire Joint Force might awaken—awaken to the gathering challenges of renewed great power competition, contention, and conflict. And re-awaken to the unique and irreplaceable advantages that geography and modern American Seapower confer upon this country.
There is great energy in our community these days. There is a buzz of enthusiasm, a readiness to think more assertively, and a thirst to consider the profession, the art, and the purpose of Surface Warfare. However, we cannot afford to let up. We must continue to refine the arguments in support of Distributed Lethality, we must honestly assess its benefits and costs, and we must prevail over inferior arguments—however loudly made. We cannot allow the bureaucratic noise of a peacetime Navy to dissuade us from thinking deeply about what a 21st century war at sea would look like, and how we would win it. We cannot become bound up in a pursuit of perfect safety, security, and survivability. We must instead do great harm to our adversary’s sense of these attributes through our own return to the offensive. Most of all, we cannot—as Andrew Gordon so eloquently put it—ever forget two important truths.
The first is that war-fighting commanders may find themselves “bereft of communications faculties upon which they have become reliant in peacetime training.”
The second is that “properly disseminated doctrine offers both the cheapest and the most secure command and control method yet devised by man.”
Read this book, my friends. And let it propel you to continue the good work underway.