Distributed Lethality Summit 2016
Innovative Thinking to Enable Sea Control and Power Projection

The Naval Surface Forces Distributed Lethality (DL) Task Force concluded its inaugural Distributed Lethality Summit May 27 in San Diego.

The summit provided an interactive forum for Surface Warriors to mature the concept of DL, showcasing advancements and innovations in sea control and power projection that the surface community is implement over the coming years.

The summit kicked off on May 23 with more than 150 attendees from around the fleet and included participants from Hawaii, Japan, Mayport, Norfolk, and San Diego. Presentations were given in a “TED Talks” format, where speaker and audience could interact with one another and share ideas and experiences.

The feature presentation on opening day of the summit was a panel discussion on “Tomorrow’s Surface Navy: Sea Control and Power Projection & Distributed Lethality’s Place.”

Moderated by retired Navy Capt. Bill Parker, panel members and naval icons Wayne Hughes, Naval Post- Graduate School, Barney Rubel, Naval War College, and Bryan McGrath, The FerryBridge Group LLC and Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, expressed their opinions and debated the future of the Surface Navy.

"There is something palpable in the air in Surface Warfare,” observed McGrath during the discussion, “a renewed dedication to the profession of arms and to becoming better tacticians.”

“The threat isn't standing still, and it is great to see Junior Officers leaning forward and talking about going on the offensive, imposing sea control, and projecting power in a contested environment," McGrath said.

Day Two’s morning session featured talks on threat trends, wargaming, analytics, operational prototyping and what the Surface community is calling the “Four Ts” -- Tactics, Talent, Training and Tools.

The afternoon session focused on the core operational lines of effort in Distributed Lethality: Deceive, Target, Destroy, Communications and Networks, and Distributed Agile Logistics.

A highlight of these sessions included an update from the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center on the latest in advanced tactics for the Standard Missile VI and Tomahawk-Maritime missile as well as prototype unmanned systems that will begin operating in the fleet next year.

Additional discussions included the ongoing advancements in cyber warfare and cyber hardening, as well as a look at the future of communications and networks.

Following the two-day summit, the event transitioned to a wargame scenario facilitated by the Naval War College. Using the DL operational concept, teams were divided into three maritime action groups; two surface action groups and one up-armored expeditionary strike group.

A challenging operational problem was presented to the teams, requiring them to apply what they had learned of DL over the first two days of the summit.

All three teams showed the conventional deterrent value DL provides as well as the cost imposing nature of the concept. As the three teams changed how they thought about the problem and applied lethal effects of DL in a combined arms environment, it forced their adversary to its change posture and choose not to escalate the conflict.

This inaugural professional warfighting summit reflected the Surface Navy’s renewed emphasis on sea control and the value our forces provide the nation.

"The summit really showed the excitement that the distributed lethality concept has generated within the surface community and we are already thinking about next year’s event,” said Capt. Joe Cahill, then director of the DL Task Force. “This excitement coupled with the investments in offensive weapons that we will be able to deliver from our warships marks a true return to sea control across our force."

While the operational concept of DL was born in the Surface community, it has gained self-sustaining momentum across the force. As the concept continues to mature it will enable forward, visible and ready combined forces to fight and win when needed.

The DL Summit is planned to be a yearly event held in San Diego. Surface Warfare Magazine


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