Click here to download the Surface Force Strategy pamphlet.


We are entering a new age of Seapower.

A quarter-century of global maritime dominance by the U.S. Navy is 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, nonstate militant groups. Our Navy must adjust to the changing security environment. We are driven by the challenges of these state and non-state actors, who may not be as devoted to the rules-based system of international norms that have shaped our world for the last 70 years. History 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 this “Surface Force Strategy.” 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. Sea control is the precondition for everything else we must do as a navy. 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, and 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 peace and war.

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, develop and provide advanced tactical training, and equip our ships with improved offensive weapons, sensors, and hard kill/soft kill capabilities. 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 will dissuade the first act of aggression, and failing that, we will respond to an attack in kind by inflicting damage of such magnitude that it compels an adversary to cease hostilities, and render it incapable of further aggression.


T.S. Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Force
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