The Navy's Global Concept of Operations meets the new National
Military Strategy's requirements and implements "Sea Power 21" by
more effectively distributing the assets we have. Aegis surface action
groups, for example, can provide independent, immediate crisis response,
preemptive strike, or be a force multiplier when joining expeditionary
The 21st century presents our nation with varied and deadly new threats,
including regional adversaries armed with growing antiaccess capabilities
and international terrorist and criminal organizations. Countering
such enemies requires naval forces that are widely dispersed, fully
netted, and seamlessly integrated with joint forces. Such distributed
sea-based forces must be capable of simultaneously generating combat
power in disparate areas of the globe, thereby strengthening international
security and, in time of crises, seizing and sustaining the initiative.
Such an enhanced capabilities-based force is central to "Sea Power
21," the Navy's vision. It also is key to fulfilling the National
Military Strategy's requirement to concurrently defend the homeland,
deter adversaries in four critical regions, swiftly defeat enemies
in two of the four regions, and win one of the two conflicts decisively.
This strategic prescription is referred to as 1/4/2/1.
CARRIER AIR WING 7 WITH THE JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV-67), HUE CITY (CG-66), VICKSBURG (CG-69), AND THE SULLIVANS (DDG-68)/U.S. NAVY (DOMINICK HAEN)
Currently, our force structure is centered on 12 carrier battle groups
and 12 amphibious ready groups. Yet, only the 12 carrier battle groups
and 7 Tomahawk
missile-equipped surface action groups that rotate through the
Arabian Gulf are equipped to generate long-range striking power—giving
us 19 independent strike groups. While our current amphibious ready
groups are tremendously versatile and operationally valuable, they
lack the long-range striking power and area control capabilities needed
to operate independently against many of the enemies we will face
in the decades ahead. Thus we must add to their capabilities, to produce
expeditionary strike groups equipped to meet the demands of future
Figure 1: Maximizing Combat Flexibility
The U.S. Navy's Global Concept
of Operations (ConOps) is centered on creating additional, innovative
force packages to enhance deterrence and improve our ability to operate
in more areas around the world. This expansion of operational power
is critical because deterring adversaries in four theaters requires
on-scene forces poised to project offensive and defensive power when
required. In addition, swiftly defeating enemies in multiple theaters
requires distributed combat-credible forces that are ready to fight
and win, without gapping our presence elsewhere.
As currently configured, today's fleet is hard-pressed to meet these
requirements, especially when taking into account required maintenance,
crew training, and personnel tempo goals. To increase our operational
agility, Global ConOps envisions a fleet comprised of 12 carrier strike
groups, 12 expeditionary strike groups, 9 strike/missile defense surface
action groups, and 4 converted Ohio
(SSBN-726)-class nuclear-powered submarines equipped to launch
as many as 154 Tomahawk missiles each. This reorganization will produce
37 independent strike groups, providing a continuous combat-intensive
presence over a greater percentage of the globe than is currently
possible. Key elements of this transformation include:
Carrier Strike Groups-Carrier strike groups will remain the
core of our Navy's warfighting strength and the most powerful force
packages in the world. Advanced technologies will sustain this operational
impact, even as carrier groups become lighter. The present carrier
battle group consists of an aircraft carrier, six surface combatants,
two nuclear attack submarines, and one replenishment ship. Tomorrow's
carrier strike group will have fewer surface combatants and submarines,
an acceptable risk when operating against transnational enemies
that pose a limited at-sea threat to our operating forces. Dramatic
increases in carrier air wing striking power offset the transfer
of surface and submarine striking power to expeditionary striking
groups. Thanks to the advent of precision ordnance, today's carrier-based
air wings can hit hundreds of aimpoints per day for extended periods,
generating unprecedented combat power.
Expeditionary Strike Groups-Today's amphibious
ready groups are composed of 2,300 Marines with associated armor,
artillery, aircraft, and vehicles embarked on amphibious assault
ships, amphibious transport docks, and dock landing ships. The
expeditionary strike group of tomorrow will include these forces
plus an appropriate number of surface combatants and a submarine.
The addition of Ticonderoga
(CG-47)-class guided-missile cruisers and Arleigh
Burke (DDG-51)-class guided-missile destroyers, for example,
will arm expeditionary strike groups with the organic air defense,
undersea warfare, and strike capability required for operating
independently in low-to-medium threat environments, thereby increasing
the fleet's responsiveness and strategic impact.
Surface Action Groups-Sea-based missile defense
will be critical to deterring and winning future conflicts. Global
ConOps addresses this growing mission by envisioning nine surface
action groups. At least two units of each group will be Aegis
ships loaded with missile defense weapons. A third ship, also
preferably an Aegis combatant, will provide additional striking
power and defensive protection to the group. These surface action
groups also may serve as independent crisis-response forces that
emphasize the precision-attack capability of their Tomahawk
Combat Logistics Force-The widely dispersed nature
of future operations and the growing emphasis on sea basing of joint
capabilities will be supported by the newer, more capable combat
logistics force ships to be commissioned over the next decade. These
cargo and ammunition (T-AKE) and fast combat support (T-AOE) ships
will be crewed by Military Sealift Command civilian mariners and
will have upgraded material-handling and transfer systems and multipurpose
convertible cargo holds for dry stores or ammunition. A heavy underway
replenishment system will double both delivery load weight and throughput
rates of transfer and an innovative electric-drive propulsion system
will provide increased electric power for auxiliary power needs.
components of the future fleet will disperse and operate independently
when facing transnational enemies, and they will combine to form
expeditionary strike forces that maximize offensive power and defensive
protection when facing powerful regional actors that manifest serious
antiaccess capabilities. However deployed, our dispersed, netted,
and operationally agile fleet of tomorrow will provide highly responsive
power in support of joint force objectives around the world.
The Power of Ideas
By Vice Admiral Mike Mullen, U.S. Navy
As the officer responsible for resourcing the Navy, I am interested
in more than just the monetary capital required to maintain and
transform our service. Achieving the goals of "Sea Power 21" and
the full potential of the Global Concept of Operations (ConOps)
will require prudent use of the Navy's most precious resource—people.
Not only do our sailors man the ships, they also generate the
ideas that are indispensable to our Navy’s future. Equipment by
itself can only enable transformation. If our people do not have
both the vision to see future possibilities that new technologies
have enabled and the courage to embrace the resulting change,
true transformation will not occur.
U.S. NAVY (CHRIS DESMOND)
History is replete with examples of forces that were inferior
in either size or technical quality to their adversaries carrying
the day. In almost all cases the key ingredients to the winners'
successes were their people's quality and training and their superior
operating concepts using the technology at hand. Sea Warrior is
our path to developing that human capital. Through targeted recruitment,
focused training, and thoughtful assignment of our people, we
will develop the technical expertise to operate future technologies
and the mastery of the operational art to achieve a true transformation.
The Navy's Global ConOps is the brainchild of one relatively junior
staff officer, Commander Steve Richter, who had the vision to
see the possibilities and the courage to translate talk into deeds
despite his critics. Navy leaders must create a vibrant intellectual
environment where new ideas, both technical and operational, are
rewarded. We must create an environment where we can find and
develop the next Wayne Meyer (the father of Aegis), Arleigh Burke,
or Alfred Thayer Mahan. Only then will we reach our full potential.
Future Investments for the Global ConOps
The Navy's Global ConOps is vital to answering the challenge of
1/4/2/1. It is central to achieving the vision of "Sea Power 21"
by providing the framework for future growth. As we populate the
Global ConOps architecture and link it with ForceNet, we must
ensure new ships and systems pass three tests: First, they must
integrate smoothly and effectively with joint force packages.
Second, they must enhance the strategic impact of the Navy and
Marine Corps team. Last, they must be highly adaptable, because
naval systems last a very long time. For example, 60% of today's
ships still will be on watch around the world 20 years from now.
As new platforms and systems enter the fleet, Global ConOps will
provide the foundation for a sea-based force of unparalleled effectiveness.
Major new components of our Navy will include:
DD(X)-The Navy's new destroyer will provide distributed,
precision offensive and defensive firepower at long range in support
of forces ashore. DD(X) will be a multimission surface combatant
tailored for land attack and maritime dominance, providing forward
presence and deterrence while operating as an integral part of
joint and combined expeditionary forces. It also will be used
as the baseline for spiral development of technology to support
a wide range of future surface ships, including CG(X).
LCS-The littoral combat ship will be optimized
for war fighting in the littoral environment. It will be a theater-based
asset designed to counter enemy access-denial weapons such as
diesel-electric-powered submarines, mines, and fast patrol boats.
LCS will include modular mission payloads that provide operational
flexibility to match the threat. LCS units also will be attached
to carrier and expeditionary strike groups as required, to give
them enhanced protection when operating near shore.
next class of amphibious assault ships will have increased survivability
and amphibious lift capabilities, while providing forward basing
for special operating forces. These ships will be designed to
take full advantage of the impressive capabilities of the short
take-off/vertical landing variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
and tilt-rotor V-22 aircraft. This increase in embarked air power,
when combined with persistent sensing from unmanned aerial vehicles
and long-range striking capabilities provided by missile-equipped
surface and subsurface units, will generate the increased combat
power that lies at the heart of future expeditionary strike groups.
MPF(F)—Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
concepts envision platforms that greatly increase the sea basing
of joint forces. MPF(F) will mitigate antiaccess strategies by
assembling and projecting power from far offshore, reducing our
dependence on vulnerable ports and airfields. At-sea onload and
offload compatibilities with inter- and intratheater assets will
enable MPF(F), as part of maritime prepositioning groups, to more
effectively support forces ashore in joint operations areas, decreasing
deployment and employment time lines while increasing strategic
AFSB-Afloat forward staging bases are being considered
as part of the sea-basing concept to further exploit the flexibility
of support ships for expeditionary purposes. Such platforms could
host highly capable afloat command-and-control centers, special
operations forces, or civil-military disaster relief teams for
example, thereby expanding tactical and operational opportunities.
MPF(F) variant ships may be built with modular adaptability to
be employed in such capacities.
SSGN/SOF-Four nuclear-powered missile-firing submarines
will be converted to carry as many as 154 Tomahawk
missiles each, and to embark special operations forces. These
ships also will be upgraded to possess enhanced command-and-control
connectivity. The unparalleled degree of conventional firepower
and covert strike capacity delivered by these ships will add a
new and exciting dimension to undersea warfare.
Figure 2: Joint Maritime Force Packages to Respond to
a Broad Range of Requirements and Missions
LCS - Littoral Combat Ship
CSG - Carrier Strike Group
ESG - Expeditionary Strike Group
SAG - Surface Action Group
SSGN - Nuclear-powered Cruise Missile Submarine
AFSB - Afloat Forward Staging Base
ESF - Expeditionary Strike Force
MPF(F) - Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
Joint Maritime Force Packages
The wide range of combat capabilities
provided by 37 independent strike groups will add enhanced flexibility
to the fleet, generating force packages that are swiftly tailored
to the task and scaled to meet operational requirements. From deterrence
enhancement to winning in combat, the 21st-century capabilities brought
forward by way of Global ConOps will provide joint force commanders
with maneuver, fire, and sustainment options critical to mission accomplishment—projecting
decisive power . . . from the sea.
Vice Admiral Mullen is Deputy
Chief of Naval Operations for Resources, Requirements, and Assessments.
He coauthored "Sea Shield: Projecting Global Defensive Assurance"
(Proceedings, November 2002).
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