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The Naval Services new “Advantage at Sea” Strategy

Last month, the Secretary of the Navy released an interesting and informative document called “ADVANTAGE at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power”.   This strategy is aligned with the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concepts discussed in separate OODA posts, and it combines the interests and intentions of all three Service Chiefs (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) to work together in an integrated manner to achieve “security and prosperity on the seas”.

Technically, this is an update of the 2015 “Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower”, but a lot has changed since then!  The focus has veered away from asymmetric warfare and now concentrates on China and Russia, and the shifting balance of power.  Additionally, it takes into account the massive improvements in technology that have a direct and aggressive impact on military modernization. It looks at a future where all-domain naval forces must be modernized and fully interoperable with the other Services and with key coalition partners.

This tri-service strategy reinforces the importance of preserving freedom of the seas, which has been a prime mission since the beginning of our Nation. In fact, they already do this work, providing national security from the shore to the high seas, 24/7/365.   But it also acknowledges that rival Nations have modernized their forces to their advantage.  Technological developments threaten to whittle away at our competitive advantages so that we can no longer assume unfettered access to the seas during a conflict.  This strategy calls on our allies and partners to help and dedicates future funding towards key capabilities and expeditionary forces that can counter this threat.

Russia and China are both called out here for their aggressive actions to “undermine the international rules-based order”.  Their “coercive” actions are clearly causing alarm and concern.  Left “unchecked, these trends will leave the Naval Service unprepared to ensure our advantage at sea and protect national interests in the next decade”.  This has a detrimental effect on “like-minded Nations” (our coalition partners), causing much global anxiety and instability.  No more Mr. Nice Guy: the strategy promises to “confront and expose malign behavior” when we see it – positioning our forces to uphold the norms that underpin our shared prosperity and security.

This new maritime strategy will serve as guidance to modernization efforts for Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.  By generating Integrated All-Domain Naval Power, the strategy hopes to produce a more competitive and lethal total force.  Because it is inherently a flexible and mobile force, the Naval service can influence events overseas and contribute to regional stability in ways that are difficult for land forces. Some of the key components of the strategy are: Integrated all-domain power, prevail in day-to-day competition and modernize the future naval force

One can assume a major goal of this document is to drive investment decisions and priorities – especially as budget fights look like they will heat up next year!  First up is developing the warfighters – recruiting, training and equipping a 21st century force.  Secondly, nuclear deterrence must be maintained by delivering the Columbia-class submarines on time.  Sea control and power projection will be achieved by investing in precise, long-range lethal fires that can be replenished at sea (including manned and unmanned).  Power projection and strike will become more capable with the addition of stealth, range and ISR improvements.

Every aspect of maritime superiority is addressed in this document, from piers to logistics to space assets.  The result is a Naval Force that can prevail in day-to-day competition and support the entire joint/coalition force to defend against rival (not “like-minded!) Nations and defend US interests.

Additional Resources:

Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2): Perhaps the most important program in DoD today

The Navy Role in Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2)


Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward (Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired)) has over 30 years of experience helping the Department of Defense (DoD) solve difficult technology requirements. She has a proven track record of building, maintaining, securing and certifying technology solutions for use within DoD. She works with Industry to identify key opportunities and provides strategic guidance and support. She is a strategic analyst and cybersecurity professional who has deep expertise in improving enterprise cybersecurity.