Second, the shift to the offensive responds to the development of increasingly capable A2AD weapons and sensors designed specifically to deny U.S. naval forces the freedom of maneuver necessary to project power. Adversaries who counter this advantage diminish the deterrent value of forward-deployed forces and negatively impact the assurances we provide to friends and allies. A shift to the offensive is necessary to “spread the playing field,” providing a more complex targeting problem while creating more favorable conditions to project power where required.
Third, the shift to offense is pivotal for the Surface Navy to reinforce closer integration with the Marine Corps. A more fully integrated Marine Corps – Surface Force combat team will provide persistent presence that can influence and control events at sea and in the littoral, applying the right capability to the right target for the Joint Force Commander. Supported by other elements of the Joint Force, this integrated Navy/Marine Corps striking force will be increasingly called upon to tend to the nation’s security needs around the world.
Finally, the shift to offense makes the most efficient and effective use of significant investments made in Surface Force lethality over the past two decades. These investments in enhanced surface ship lethality create the conditions for a renaissance in Surface Force employment and a return to the core competencies of sea control when applied in bold, new, offensive ways.
Distributed lethality combines more powerful ships with innovative methods of employing them. It capitalizes upon the inherent advantages of surface forces (mobility and persistence) to provide meaningful deterrents to adversary aggression and immediately available war-fighting options should deterrence fail. The more distributed our combat power becomes, the more targets we hold at risk and the higher the costs of defense to the adversary.
This is a relatively simple, yet powerful idea. By applying the principles of distributed lethality, the Surface Force can help sustain and extend America’s competitive advantage in power projection against a growing set of sea-denial capabilities. There are no leaps of technology required, no massive funding increases necessary, and no increase in the number of ships needed to implement it. We simply need to make better use of the ships we have today, and think differently about how we equip and employ them.
What is needed, is will; the fortitude to recognize that we have to change the way we currently do business. We must display the courage necessary to move forward, to question established concepts and methods, to take risks and to learn from our mistakes. A more widely postured and more uniformly lethal Surface Force will play a significant role in maintaining the United States’ position as the dominant naval power, something from which the world has benefitted handsomely for over seven decades.