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Chief of Naval Operations Provides New Strategic Approach – Navigation Plan 2021

CNO NAVPLAN 2021 was released by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), ADM GILDAY, on 11 JAN. This Navigation Plan is basically the execution plan of the Advantages at Sea Tri-Service Maritime Strategy released last month.  The Navy examines their current challenges and lays out four focus priorities: readiness, capabilities, capacity and Sailors.  It begins by setting a grim tone: “our collective security – and our way of life – are under threat”.  It calls out China and Russia as “determined rivals” who’s flagrant disregard of international rules of conduct on the open seas indicate they will never become responsible partners.  This plan supports the Naval Service’s mission to  “deploy forward to defend America and our allies and protect freedom of the seas”.

The United States is a Maritime Nation; and our security and prosperity depend on it. The CNO recognizes the importance of emerging technologies to expand the modern fight at sea into all domains – not just Maritime. Integrated All Domain Naval Power is critical to this effort, which means ensuring the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard can operate together as a Maritime Force AND fully participate in the fight with Joint and Coalition partners.  Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) will be force multipliers if done correctly, especially when coupled with the expanding fleet of autonomous systems.

Some of the highlights:

Readiness:  To deliver a more “ready” fleet, the maintenance and refurbishment schedule of critical infrastructures is being prioritized, seeking data-driven, performance-to-plan approaches that can improve readiness.

Capabilities: To deliver a more lethal, better connected fleet, this document sets the middle of this decade as a deadline to deploy a Naval Operational Architecture (NOA) that includes an array of counter-C5ISRT capabilities, weapons of increasing range and speed and a directed energy system capable of defeating anti-ship cruise missiles.  The NOA must get Commander’s Intent to where it needs to be – securely, fast, without disruption or distortion of the message.  And it must do this faster than our rivals can.  This requires a resilient web of persistent sensors, C2 nodes, platforms and weapons. Additionally, the Maritime Force must be resilient enough to do all this – even if their systems or networks are degraded.  No weak links that can compromise the entire NOA!

Directed energy and electronic warfare are highlighted as game-changing capabilities. Navy is currently fielding high power directed energy weapons and they will be expanded and integrated into the battleplans.  Novel Task Force was recently launched to bring warfare centers and laboratories together to solve some of the unique problems that will be uncovered by these new emerging technologies.

CapacityTo deliver a larger, hybrid fleet, the Columbia Class program and the integration of unmanned systems are essential, as well as expanding the undersea advantage. The plan commits to Navy growth, but outlines a hybrid fleet that can operate together, consisting of smaller surface combatants, unmanned or minimally manned platforms and fewer large decks like aircraft carriers.  The DDG Next remains in the vision, bringing more size, weight and power (lethality) to the fleet.

Sailors: To develop a seasoned team of Naval Warriors, the Sailors will need additional training opportunities and resources to develop experience and expertise with the new systems.  Navy is committed to invest in the Ready Relevant Learning (RRL) and live, virtual, constructive (LVC) training already being used to train the operators.

Using Navy’s existing concepts such as Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (LOCE) and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO), the combined fires from Naval forces can be integrated to provide a more lethal response.   This NAVPLAN lists actions that traditionally would have belonged to the Information Warfare Community.  But CNO puts out this tasking as an “all hands” call to action.   Stand by for more details as the Navy releases additional documents outlining  – such as the Unmanned Campaign Plan, which they expect to release next week.

For more see:

The Naval Services new “Advantage at Sea” Strategy

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.