Surface Warriors and Industry Experts Convene Discuss Warfighting Innovation

SAN DIEGO (NNS) – Subject matter experts from military, industry and civilian organizations affiliated with the surface warfare community gathered to discuss various emergent surface warfare areas at Naval Base Point Loma’s Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center, August 15-17.

Organized by Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP), the “TED” style summit included topics such as upcoming surface attack weaponry, threat assessments, training and developing surface warfare officers (SWOs), leadership and organizational psychology, and innovations in logistics and cyber warfighting. These briefs came from professionals for organizations such as the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, Naval War College , Naval Post-Graduate School , Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Arbinger Institute, and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The summit opened with tone-setting remarks from Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander of CNSP, who explained the necessity of the Surface Force Strategy (SFS) and how it serves as a call to action to build, organize, train, and equip surface forces that can fight and win today, tomorrow, and beyond.

“I’d like to set the tone for the event today and talk about our mindset on sea control, mental toughness and fighting spirit,” Rowden said. “We’ve entered a new age of seapower..”

Tension in the security environment on the seas is rising around the world and being prepared for such a maritime environment is crucial to maintaining our seapower. The guidance to do so is provided for in the SFS. The objective is to achieve and sustain sea control at a chosen time and place to protect the homeland from afar, build and maintain global security, project the national power of the United States, and win decisively through the Surface Force tenants: warfighting readiness; people – trained, competent, and tough.

“We are all warfighters and our mission is to win at sea,” Rowden said. “We must operate as if the shooting began yesterday. But for those of you at sea, I would offer that much of the success you’re going to have, or not have, depends up on your level of engagement and enthusiasm for training.”

Capt. Kurt Sellerberg, the director of the Distributed Lethality Task Force at CNSP briefed attendees on what he refers to as the central nervous system to the SFS - “T4” – which stands for Tactics, Talent, Tools and Training. T4 calls for tactical excellence and rededication within the Surface Force to provide sea control.


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T4 also calls for the effective use and powerful impact of talented and engaged leaders whom remain committed to the importance of developing warfare tactics experts. It provides guidance on what type and how many tools are needed to get the job done: design, procure and build the future Fleet to raise the combat capability of surface ships. The Surface navy must have a zealous approach to training that is realistic and integrated in which environments are created that replicate the challenges of operating and sustaining warships in complex naval engagement scenarios.

“The T4 is all man, train and equip – it falls within or touches every aspect of Surface Forces claimancy,” Sellerberg said. “Most important is to recognize that one ‘T’ can’t be effective without another, when one ‘T’ falls short all the other ‘Ts’ are suboptimized.”

“The composition of the T4 gives us capability and I work hard to make sure they are in balance and optimized for peak performance,” said Sellerberg. “I see the Surface Force Strategy already in action and there is no magic formula here - it's about harnessing the right tactics, talent, training and tools so that we can deceive, target and destroy an adversary. Sea control is the necessary precondition for everything else we do as a Navy.”

Surface Warfare is the integrator in today’s warfighting disciplines from the tactical to the theater level. The focus of such power and presence is placed upon the combat ready warships operating forward; success lies upon surface combatants. But those ships are lifeless metal without the crews of warfighters and their skilled and trusted leaders.

“Everything we do should have a focus on improving capabilities and developing people…Sailors must have a fierce desire to compete,” Rowden explained. “Competition drives the innovation and initiative needed to remain the world's premiere Navy. This is exceedingly important as strong navies grow exponentially and weak navies rapidly fall behind. First place is all that matters - second and beyond are irrelevant. It takes Sailors who are fierce competitors to ensure we remain in first place.”

Rowden explained not only are the warfighters who are responsible for employing the SFS required to have the right tools, be highly skilled, trained and talented, but they must also be tough.

“People – trained, competent, tough,” said Rowden. “So, toughness…what is it? It’s that ability to face our fears and dig deep to harness an unrelenting determination to win. Americans have responded for two centuries with a fighting spirit that is a direct result of our love of liberty and freedom. We are slow to anger, but resolute when pushed.” Surface Warfare Magazine

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