Professional Notes

My recommendations are based on the following assumptions:

  • Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) UAVs soon will be capable of operating from cruiser and destroyer flight decks.
  • Commanders increasingly will rely on naval surface fire support as technological improvements—Extended Range Guided Munitions, the Vertical Gun for Advanced Ships, and naval rail gun technology—increase dramatically the range and accuracy of naval gunfire .
  • Carrier battle groups, amphibious ready groups, and ground units will not always be available to provide immediate UAV or visual spotting and battle damage assessment (BDA) to the surface-combatant shooters.

Present technology is not sufficiently advanced to support UAVs on surface combatant flight decks. The Navy and Marine Corps presently operate six and two Pioneer UAV systems respectively. The Navy plans to install Pioneer on six amphibious transports, dock (LPDs)—three on each coast; to date, five systems have been installed. The Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office (DARO), until recently, was charged with spearheading UAV development; today, the services are taking a greater role in such development.

The Pioneer, considered an interim system until the more advanced Outrider Tactical UAV (TUAV) is operational, is scheduled to be phased out by 2003. Its capabilities include: reconnaissance and surveillance, real time pre- and post-fire BDA, spotting and targeting. It has a 100nautical-mile range with a maximum endurance of five hours. Its data link transmits real-time electro-optical and infrared imagery back to a small, portable ground control station. Detachments consist of 27 personnel (3 Officer/23 enlisted/1 civilian), five UAVs (broken down into transportable boxes), and assorted payloads. Only Austin (LPD-4)-class ships are scheduled for Pioneer upgrades including a six-foot antenna dish for the data link. It requires a rocket-assist for takeoff, and must recover into a net; both evolutions use most of the flight deck area. The air vehicle uses aviation gas and is not compatible with heavy Navy fuels such as JP-5.

The follow-on Outrider essentially has the same capabilities and specifications as the Pioneer with only minor improvements in range and endurance Though currently not part of the system, a synthetic-aperture-radar payload is planned. It lacks a rocket-assisted launch capability, which precludes its embarkation on anything other than a big-deck amphibious assault ship (LHA/LHD) or an aircraft carrier.

The Outrider's limitations can be traced to joint requirements and resulting cost increases. Shipboard-imposed limitations, for example, made the system less attractive to the Army, and each service continues to prescribe distinctive capability requirements to such an extent that the final product is so watered down that it meets none of the services requirements completely. The Outrider appears to be an abject example of this larger joint acquisition problem.

Navy operators and researchers question the Outrider's utility for naval applications. They believe that the Navy should wait until suitable VTOL UAV technology is available. The Airborne Reconnaissance Office's fiscal year 1997 UAV report, however, cites Navy spokesmen who " . . agreed that the TUAV [Outrider] is likely to meet their near-term requirements, although an alternative approach may be necessary to meet the Navy's longer-range sea-based on-station requirement." All the while, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council Review Board stated that their highest UAV priority is a tactical UAV.

There seems to be a disconnect here. Fortunately, however, there appears to be a movement afoot, especially within the Surface Warfare (N-86) and Expeditionary Warfare (N-85) communities, to move beyond the Outrider and focus more on what the surface Navy truly needs.

Given that no other service is pushing VTOL technology for UAVs, the Navy has taken the lead. Current notional requirements for platforms include a 110-nautical-mile radius, one hour to station, three hours on station, and a 13,000-foot maximum altitude. The more forward looking Chief of Naval Operations-sponsored Strategic Studies Group goals for a support UAV (SUAV) with VTOL capability are 12 hours on station at 200 nautical miles with a variety of payloads.

During June, two designs completed testing at Yuma, Arizona. (See "The Battle Fleet Must Have Eyes," Proceedings , September 1998, pages 8990.) The trials, potentially a prelude to an ACTD (Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration) were conducted by three different contractors. The Bell Eagle Eye and Bombardier CL-327 Guardian systems were the most successful. While none met the Navy's goals fully, the initial tests were considered successful and fulfilled the contractors' and the Navy's expectations.

The real question lies in the Navy's commitment level to UAVs and VTOL systems. The Navy program office believes that a VTOL UAV acquisition program is "viable, provided demonstration systems show a basic maturity level." The Navy, however, must show a full commitment to the VTOL concept before industry will make a full commitment

There simply is not yet enough spillover of commercial technology to provide sufficient incentive for contractors. Without a strong effort by the Navy, VTOL research may well languish—as have conventional programs. The Navy has initiated integration efforts by researching the role of UAVs and UCAVs (Uninhabited Combat Air Vehicles). Such efforts appear to be more focused on UCAVs, however, rather than tactical or support UAVs. This type of ambiguity provides uncertainty for the contractors developing VTOL UAVs.

Within the next few months the Navy will face two critical decisions in the development process of maritime UAVs. The first is a parochial battle between N85 and Air Warfare [N-88] on who will direct the Navy's future UAV programs. N-86 and N-85 appear to have similar interests in UAV technology, namely VTOL and tactical UAVs. N-88 is more concerned with improvements to existing operational UAVs such as Predator and even strategic platform types such as the Air Force's Dark Star and Global Hawk. UCAVs also are also high on N88's wish list. The implications of this budget and acquisition debate for the surface Navy and its surface fire support role are important.

The second decision is the implicit endorsement by the Joint Requirements Board of the Outrider as the military's next-generation tactical UAV and its implications for all Navy communities. Unless the Navy says otherwise, the Outrider will be the only TUAV for years to come, even though it lacks capabilities the Navy requires. The surface Navy's most pressing need is to make them completely compatible with shipboard installation; the two biggest hurdles are space and fuel requirements. The Navy should make its case now that the Outrider is not in its future. Options include:

  • Extend the service life of Pioneer until a VTOL UAV is available while simultaneously integrating advanced forms of naval gunfire procedures with UAVs for spotting and BDA.
  • If forced to discontinue the Pioneer in favor of the Outrider, ensure that the Outrider more closely fills requirements. Put existing UAVs (whether Pioneer or Outrider) on fleet ships.

The true tactical UAV needs of the Navy reside in VTOL, but until technology is available, the Navy should remain committed to the Pioneer and refine tactics, techniques and procedures in its use during gunfire support operations. The Navy must be prepared to continue significant funding in Pioneer spares and readiness improvements. Upon the completion of the Yuma-based and subsequent VTOL technology demonstrations, the Navy should initiate an ACTD for a VTOL UAV to accelerate acquisition.

As VTOL technology becomes available, CruDes units should begin to operate UAVs as organic assets, enabling the lone destroyer with advanced gunfire capabilities to conduct precision fire missions in medium-to-low level engagements where larger formations are neither required—nor available.

Lieutenant McPherson , a Surface Warfare Officer, is studying National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He has served on the USS Oldendorf (DD-972) and on the staff of Mine Countermeasures Squadron One.


Buoys Provide Real-Time Surf Data

By Major C. Reid Nichols, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Commander David W. Tungett, U.S. Navy and Richard A. Allard

U.S. Navy beachmasters are using UL small. lightweight recording buoys to provide timely and accurate information for controlling boat lanes and tracking real-time changes in surf conditions. The buoys, which log pitch, roll, and yaw to determine a wide variety of wave parameters, employ recently developed miniaturized accelerometers and magnetometers to measure wave characteristics that are entered into the Navy Standard Surf Model to calculate automatically surf information and the Modified Surf Index (MSI).

Tests conducted along U.S. East Coast amphibious warfare training areas clearly demonstrate the wave buoys' capabilities. During Joint Task Force Exercise 97-3, for example, wave buoys supported mine clearing operations by landing craft air cushion (LCACs) by providing the data necessary to determine surf conditions. After the breaching operation, the buoys were easily extracted with the beachmaster's lighter, amphibious resupply cargo (LARC-V) craft. To keep pace with this state-of-the-art technology and to ensure the Beachmaster's continued relevance to naval expeditionary warfare, Beachmaster Unit Two has included the present version of the littoral warfare wave buoys in training exercises and soon will deploy routinely with them.

During NATO's Exercise Strong Resolve '98, mine and amphibious warfare missions were conducted across a one kilometer stretch of shoreline in the Spanish training area of Sierra De Retin, which is located between Capes Trafalgar and Plata. Two littoral warfare wave buoys were deployed to provide real-time measurement of surf conditions on the assault beach. For this peacekeeping exercise, the wave buoys were deployed and extracted with assistance from HMS Roebuck . The two 18-inch diameter littoral warfare wave buoys were moored quickly in 20 feet of water on the right and left flanks of the landing beach; deploying and retrieving the 63-pound buoys by hand posed no difficulty for the sailors. An operations specialist from Beachmaster Unit Two and a team of research and development scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) operated the coupled wave buoy and surf model system for several weeks in Andalusia, Spain. A computer on board the buoy automatically processed raw data taken hourly to determine wave height, wave period, and wave direction information. An ultrahigh frequency radio link established between a ground station and the buoy transmitted commands to the buoy and downloaded processed buoy information. The command center was located in a vehicle-mounted mobile station parked along the coastal road. It included a small weather-observation station, a radio and omnidirectional antenna, and a laptop computer with modem. Using buoy information along with hydrographic depth profiles, tides, and local wind measurements as inputs, operators ran the Navy standard surf model on the computer to calculate important surf zone parameters. For this particular exercise, the MSI was computed but not used for tactical decisions. Wave buoy data was provided to the ground station only during three to four interrogations per day and therefore was less susceptible to spoofing or jamming. Figure 1 depicts examples of the resulting near real-time meteorological and oceanographic (METOC) buoy and model information.

To demonstrate the ability of maritime forces to collect environmental intelligence and disseminate it rapidly to other forces worldwide, surf observations, wave buoy and model output, and model forecasts were provided to NATO and partner countries via the Worldwide Web from 4 to 18 March 1998. To exploit the buoy's capabilities operationally, METOC personnel working at the Naval European Meteorological and Oceanographic Command in Rota, Spain, and on board the USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) contacted the wave buoy ground station at Zahara de Los Atunes several times each day for immediate coastal zone data. Following the amphibious exercise, the buoys were extracted and returned to the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, having collected and stored approximately 340 wave-data files over the two-week period.

During Strong Resolve '98, the beachmaster participating in the littoral warfare wave buoy demonstration conducted three to four surf observations per day from right and left flanks of the assault beach using the traditional manual method of physically observing 100 wave repetitions. Longshore current speed and direction were estimated from the 60-second drift distance of wood floats thrown into the surf zone. Wind speed and direction on the beach were measured with a hand-held anemometer. Additional observations important for LCAC operations included deviations from astronomical tide predictions, shoreline location, as well as beach and backshore dimensions. Comparative analyses were then conducted among surf observations, littoral warfare wave buoy and Navy standard surf model output, and NRL surf zone forecasts. Key parameters for intercomparison were surf height (distance from trough to crest); period (time between breakers); breaker type (plunging, spilling, or surging); wave direction, long shore current, surf zone width, wind speed, and wind direction. Figure I compares beach master surf observations, littoral warfare wave buoy information, and larger scale-model forecasts from the Naval Research Laboratory over a period of ten days.

Quantitative differences between manual and automated reports on the surf zone were caused by subjective decisions, model sensitivity, and varying input parameters. The beach master's surf observations were labor intensive and depended on his interpretation of wave heights, breaker angle, and width of surf. As gross differences between model output and visual surf observations were identified, manual calculation errors were identified and corrected. Wave height, wave period, surf type, breaker angle, and current direction varied the least. Surf zone width was the parameter having the largest difference. At the ground station, depth profile inputs were adjusted scientifically based on sediment grain size to obtain Navy standard surf model calculations which closely agreed to observations. Ground station inputs included actual beach winds, adjusted water levels, and smoothed depth profiles. Other input to the Navy standard surf model from large scale models did not use real incident wave conditions, actual winds, or "tuned" depth profiles. Consequently, these forecast results deviated the most from beach master surf observations and output from the coupled wave buoy and surf model.

A coupled littoral warfare wave buoy and Navy standard surf model provide a simple and easily deployed system for beach masters to employ. Objective results are derived rapidly from actual wave buoy information measured just outside of the surf zone. Information can be tuned to match actual conditions by slightly adjusting beach face depth profiles, water level, and inputting actual local winds. While beach master observations routinely require 30 minutes (including computations), buoy results are available in minutes from remote locations. Other modeling systems are time consuming and dependent on large-scale wave and wind models, complex wave refraction and diffraction models, and gross beach profiles. This family of modeling systems is run from powerful computers on distant platforms and away from calibration data. Surf information derived from wave buoys increases chances for mission success and safety by providing the beach masters with valid knowledge on parameters associated with landing craft casualties. This technology provides the commander with information that can be used to overcome dynamic shallow-water challenges to maritime and naval expeditionary force power projection.

Major Nichols works on applied meteorological and oceanographic projects with Neptune Sciences, Inc.; he is a reservist with the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing. Commander Tungett , a Surface Warfare Officer, commands Beachmaster Unit Two. Mr. Allard is an oceanographer in the Naval Research Laboratory’s Ocean Dynamics and Predictions Branch.


In the Shadow of Landfall

By Commander John Pollin, U.S. Navy

Two recent battle group-level exercises—one a multinational exercise off Canada's Maritime Provinces, the other a Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) off the North Carolina coast—demonstrated the value of tactical coastal piloting for surface warships.

During the annual Canadian-sponsored MARCOT 1-97, a small multinational task group of Canadian, German, and American opposition-force surface combatants was able to execute a sharp, multi-azimuth attack against a significantly larger task force, neutralizing them in a single stroke. In the North Carolina exercise, a single opposing force destroyer remained unlocated at anchor off the coast despite an intensive 36-hour search. The destroyer then sprinted seaward, intercepted an amphibious ready group preparing to land its embarked Marines, and launched a successful cruise-missile attack on one of the key ships.

What turned out to be the most critical (and the most common) tactical element in both exercises was the opposing force's willingness to operate daringly close to a coastline to hide their position, mask their transit, and enhance their offensive firepower. In MARCOT 1/97, the opposition force's Canadian warships conducted a radar-restricted, night coastal transit, at fairly brisk speed and within one and a half nautical miles of shore. This action completely deceived the friendly forces and was crucial to coordinating a startling multi-azimuth cruise-- missile attack.

Bold navigation and the tactical exploitation of the land-sea interface:

  • Surprised friendly forces.
  • Effectively masked positions of opposing force ships prior to attack
  • Ensured their safety during the coastal anchorage and subsequent transit
  • Denied offensive attacks by friendly forces and prevented friendly force counterattacks.

Particularly during MARCOT 1/97, bold navigation created the conditions necessary for the attack: half the opposing force attacked from landward and half from seaward. This close-in coastal piloting by the Canadians equated to a nautical version of the classic countermarch as practiced by land commanders—and it proved extraordinarily effective.

Surface warriors should pause and consider the last fact. It has become axiomatic in the U.S. surface warfare community to argue that future naval battles will be fought in the littorals, and necessarily in shallow water. We have yet to define, however, just how shallow and how close to shore we are willing to go. Our need for defensive antisubmarine warfare and areas where we can conduct offensive surface warfare safely may reintroduce the traditional art of coastal piloting and navigation as a factor in the surface community's combat power equation.

Surface warriors willing to conduct coastal navigation for tactical purposes must take many factors into account.

German operations in the Norwegian fjords during World War II contributed to Vice Admiral Henry Mustin's plans to conduct U.S. naval operations in the Vestfjord and Andsfjord as part of our 1980s Maritime Policy. The canyon-like sides of the fjords would mask friendly ships from enemy radars and prevent enemy pilots from targeting them effectively, while allowing surface ships freedom to counterattack aircraft entering our missile-engagement zones. Once the fjords were cleared of enemy submarines, the entrances could be sealed with ASW gate-- guards and defensive minefields, creating a safe area in these bounded seas for offensive strike operations.

Exploitation of near-land areas and their above-water geographic features and underwater topographic contours remains as critical today as it was in the Maritime Strategy framework. Surface ships positioned close to shore may be indistinguishable from land on low-frequency, slow rotating, slow data-rate airborne search radars. Alternately, against Doppler-imaging radars like the British Searchwater, the low- or no-Doppler effect of an anchored warship may foil the targeteer's identification capability. Ironically, higher frequency, more automated tracking radars create false targets near land, confusing their operators and building system-degrading, useless background clutter. The combined effects of clutter—caused by false land targets and the numerous targets detectable in the heavy background created by shipping encountered near land—will require search planners to conduct painstakingly slow searches.

Prominent features, such as headlands and peninsulas, can create significant radar shadows, permitting surface ships to hide, literally, in the shadow of landfall. Sensor platforms then must be repositioned to detect the actual targets. By tactically exploiting coastal areas, surface ships can make a shambles of even the most logical and deliberate of enemy search plans.

A confused enemy, unable to identify positively a warship in a crowded region will be reluctant to launch an above-water missile attack for fear of hitting the wrong target; moreover, he will want to use his precious weapons only sparingly. An attack, should he decide to launch one, will have to overcome severe constraints imposed by coastal topography that will confuse the missile seekers as they attempt to lock on to a target.

Bottom topography can be crucial here: steep bottom-contour lines permit ships to hug the coastline without fear of grounding. Off the Canadian Maritimes, this distinctive feature allowed the Canadians to operate one-and-one-half nautical miles from land. (Deep approaches also ameliorate the potentially hazardous phenomenon know to mariners as "shallow water effects," which adversely influence maneuvering especially, though not exclusively, at high speeds. But shallow water also offers advantages, especially against a submariner who may be unwilling to trade off underwater stealth and execute a surface attack. Outcroppings, large rocks, wrecks or bars, also offer options for surface tacticians. These common bottom features can be used defensively for hiding, cloaking a counterattack, or blocking a submarine.

We must be ready to turn off our radars and rig deceptive lighting schemes. Battle group exercises in which surface ships exploit near-land areas consistently reveal how difficult warships can be to detect and (even more important) identify when they restrict their radar and sonar emissions. Running silent denies the enemy easy sources of identification and cueing; without cueing, many opponents will founder because they lack the resources to conduct continuous searches.

Transiting speeds of 14 to 18 knots match those typical of background merchantmen and coastal freighters and can deceive an enemy. Slower speeds, with all radars off or turned on only intermittently, match those of commercial fishing boats. The key is to match the speeds and movements of background shipping and to employ sensors that mimic prevailing commercial shipping.

At night in coastal waters, deceptive lighting must be the rule. Surface combatants have a number of rigs available; logic will dictate the choice. Deceptive lighting schemes can be varied depending upon the nature of background ships. Using an embarked helo or battle group aircraft to check the light configuration for is a proved way to refine the rig or detect flaws. Anything we can do to deny information to an enemy attempting to compile an accurate surface picture will slow his tactical decision-making and buy us time.

We have access to many techniques for conducting safe, precise navigation in a restrictive emission scenario. The passive Global Positioning System (GPS) accurately fixes our position without divulging information to the enemy. Bottom contour piloting frequently is overlooked or misapplied. Dutton's Navigation and Piloting , published by the Naval Institute Press, recommends advancing the contour lines drawn at the time of dead reckoning (DR) intervals. Three such lines, advanced accordingly, will yield a fix, from which to continue dead reckoning. This method can be best used in areas with well-defined topographic features.

Careful DR positions, matched with lines of bearing to navigation aids or celestial lines of positions, can produce accurate fixes. Surface warriors often overlook the value of a DR plot in open-ocean navigation. In a coastal environment, when we wish to remain completely passive, the running fix may be valuable to the tactician. The surface ship's navigation detail can be manned for visual piloting, or modified to allow safe, sustained coastal operations. Sonar can be used for antisubmarine warfare, short-range mine detection or navigation. Sextant readings can provide accurate ranges to land. Continuous use of this method can achieve fixes or simply confirm a safe transiting distance. The navigator must be completely familiar with the area. There is no substitute for knowing every detail on the nautical chart when steaming in coastal regions. In areas of the world poorly supported by aids to navigation, the entire navigation team must be familiar with plotted danger arcs and bearings.

Of great value to the mariner and tactician will be the full integration of special operations forces with shipboard navigation. In many areas, aids to navigation are unreliable or nonexistent. Inoperable or unobservable aids are of constant concern to the mariner, more so when near-land navigation is crucial to the tactical scheme of maneuver. Teams may be able to restore degraded aids: jungle overgrowth can be cut away, lights made operable, aids reconstructed. Temporary aids can be emplaced. Secure navigation aids, such as beacon transponders, can be emplaced ashore to respond only to previously arranged radar interrogations. The teams might employ infrared systems to signal the warship, and can survey doubtful areas to ensure a safe transit or anchorage. They can confirm the presence of mines, chart minefields or danger areas, and assist the mariner in clearing transit routes or preparing safe anchorages. They can provide real-time data on enemy weapons positions and surveillance sites, allowing surface ships to avoid threat envelopes. Depending on the level of conflict, teams may be called on to neutralize the sites. Finally, they can monitor tide, current, and surf conditions; topographic navigational features; and weather data. Provided this crucial information, the surface ship will be able to operate safely in unfamiliar waters.

Whereas mariners enjoy the right of innocent passage, aviators enjoy no analogous privilege with respect to another country's airspace. Because aircraft are the most capable scouting platforms, such constraints can frustrate airborne coastal surveillance operations. Airborne scouting would be most difficult during a low intensity conflict, when belligerents would hesitate to violate international law. Clearly, this is what limited airborne scouting of the lone opposing force destroyer during the North Carolina exercise as friendly forces had to contend with near-land Federal Aviation Administration restrictions that limited flight patterns.

Surface warriors typically view diesel submarines in the littorals as difficult opponents; here, the submarine has the clear advantage. But operating extremely close to shore turns the tables on the submarine commander. Buoys and day markers that surface ships rely on present serious hazards to navigation for a submarine unwilling to expose its periscope. Submerged wrecks, which may pose no problem for a surface ship, can block, or "scrape off" a trailing submarine. Forced into a near-land operating area, the submariner will have to resort to using the periscope more often and for and for increasing periods. In the busy near-land area, even a moderately proficient sub crew will be forced to use much of their electronics sensing capability for safety of navigation rather than target identification or fire control. In order to use its various non-acoustic sensors, the submarine will have to operate at shallow depths (in the littorals, there may be no other option). This presents a surface ship, particularly one with LAMPS helicopters embarked or one supported by fixed wing ASW aircraft, rich opportunities for detecting the submarine

The submarine's acoustic sensors, particularly hull-mounted sonars on boats without a passive towed array, will have limited chance of acoustic detection of the surface ship. Busy coastal areas contain too much ambient noise for any but the most sophisticated detection and processing equipment. Denied an acoustic detection advantage, a submarine commander who wishes to attack will be forced to expose masts or scopes. If he is unwilling to take such a risk, he no longer represents a true torpedo threat to the surface ship. Again, the shadow of land will protect the surface ship from undersea threats

Just as the coastal areas helps us defend against submarines, it can take the offense against enemy surface forces. Planners must construct a scheme of maneuver that will introduce doubt into the enemy's search plans and indicate that we will not attack from shoreward. If he does anticipate our positioning, we can remain well-hidden or masked. Tempo then will be critical. Our surface ships must change anchorages, move frequently, and never present an easily identifiable target.

U.S. Navy surface combatants must exploit the range and discriminatory capabilities of air launched cruise missiles such as Penguin. Our LAMPS ms must be configured with missiles such as Hellfire. We should promote cross-decking Army AH64 Apaches to cruisers and destroyers. Notably, ship-launched cruise missiles should be disregarded. Our current tactics for ship-launched cruise missile attacks are rudimentary and outdated. Coastal surface warfare needs tactical doctrine and professional sponsorship from the Surface Warfare Development Group. Operations near land offer great promise if the surface community matches tactics to technological potential.

Obviously there are some very legitimate disadvantages to tactical coastal operations:

  • Commanding officers may not be willing to risk their warship closing the shoreline to transit or gain position for battle.
  • Many of the hazards to navigation that complicate matters for for submarines also pose threats to surface ships.
  • Bridge watch standers must be a solid team. A scant mile or two offshore, there is no room on the bridge for a junior varsity squad
  • To exploit fully aspects of tactical coastal operations almost surely requires a sustained restrictive emission posture.
  • Warships with deep-draft sonar domes may not be able to close the land sufficiently to exploit fully terrain or acoustic masking.
  • Special operations forces may not be available for dedicated support to surface ships.
  • Near-coastal operations may put warships in within range of enemy shore defenses.

Surface warriors must not shy away from tactical piloting. If we are unwilling to practice sustained near-land operations, then we deprive ourselves of valuable tactics. Worse, we may surrender to the enemy the capability to acquire and target our warships with relative ease. Fleet exercises must be planned in coastal areas. "Scripted geometry" on the open ocean, presently favored by planning staffs, removes realism from our exercises and creates a false sense of achievement among commanding officers. Operations in the coastal environment are nerve-wracking and not without risk, but if we believe the strategists of today are prophetic about the naval warfare of tomorrow, then practicing in coastal regions is crucial in developing the surface warriors we will require to tomorrow's wars. The littoral battlefield will not be won simply by increasing the U.S. Navy's grip on technological systems. It may very well be won by the tactician who can best practice the ancient art of navigation in the shadow of landfall.

Commander Pollin , a Surface Warfare Officer, is assigned to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization as Congressional Liaison.


Change the Work-Up Cycle

By Lieutenant Commander Theodore R. Kramer, U.S. Navy

The Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 listed among the varied duties of the Chief of Naval Operations, "training, servicing, mobilizing, demobilizing, administering, and maintaining of the Navy." To help accomplish this monumental task, the Navy in the mid-1980s instituted the Turnaround Training Cycle to ensure units are fully trained and ready to deploy; a command's entire existence revolves around this schedule.

In a Navy with fewer ships to deploy, Sailors are spending more time away from home. Against a backdrop of austere fiscal climates and low retention, the Navy—showing little regard for current events—continues to prepare and train units for deployment as if the Cold War still raged. The time is well past for the Navy to redefine how it will train personnel for deployment and ensure adequate readiness.

Today, a carrier battle group will start its training cycle with a Tailored Ship's Training Assessment (TSTA) II, a two week at sea period with the carrier and air wing operating alone in an effort to develop a close relationship.

The goal is a smoothly operating flight deck and a fully integrated ship and air wing team. Following a month of intensive air wing training at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, and independent ship's steaming including examinations and engineering evaluations, the two come together again for TSTA III/Composite Unit Training Exercise. This grueling six-week evolution completes the integration of the ship and air wing team, It culminates with some rudimentary battle group tactics as the training carrier group staff comes on board for tests and appraisals.

The sea period climaxes with a three-day mini-war, the first time the air wing works with the assigned amphibious ready group by providing close air support, etc. A final graduation exercise, Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX), combines all the assets of the amphibious ready group, the carrier battle group, as well as Army and Air Force units, in a two- to three week exercise. A carrier battle group will spend a total of three to four months away from home as it prepares for its six-month deployment.

Are all these at-sea periods necessary? The answer is probably no. As commitments increase, units often find themselves away from homeport for periods in addition to the ones described. One air wing recently spent almost three months at sea before even starting its work-up cycle. Some Atlantic Fleet escorts log almost as many underway days the six months preceding a deployment as on deployment. Money sometimes is diverted from one fund to another to pay for operations. The funds to pay for the recent Bosnian operations, for example, came from funds originally earmarked for other purposes, according to the General Accounting Office's July 1977 report on the subject; in the Navy's case, operations and maintenance accounts footed the bill. Some spare parts often are not available until the final stages of a work-up cycle; those parts that are available go to the commands that are closest to deploying. In essence, the Navy robs Peter to pay Paul. The results of such schedules and lack of funds and spare parts are obvious: low morale, low personnel retention, and limited funding to operate and train adequately.

As a result, commands often find themselves completing these intensive at sea periods short of parts and personnel. When a unit returns from a deployment, personnel transfer with their billets gapped, the priority fills going to the deploying commands. In addition, some aviation squadrons must transfer aircraft to squadrons preparing for their own deployment, leaving the returning squadron with perhaps two flyable aircraft out of eight or so allotted. Inspections and detachments continue, however, adding to the burden. Replacements often do not arrive until late in the turnaround cycle. As Master Chief Mark Butler wrote in these pages recently (see "The Failure of the Inter-Deployment Training Cycle," Proceedings , September 1998, pages 123125), only a small percentage of personnel get the specified training and acquire the experience needed for deployment. Cruise-experienced personnel, particularly in the wardroom, end up conducting fundamental training for the newer members of the command who lack the at-sea experience they should have gained during the turnaround cycle.

General John J. Sheehan, U.S. Marine Corps (retired), former Commander in Chief, U. S. Atlantic Command, proposed eliminating overseas deployments. Keeping units close to home and working them up to maintain maximum readiness would save money and improve morale. The idea appears to have great merit and is certainly worth a closer look. In part, however, overseas deployments permit the United States to remain engaged in world affairs. Sending an aircraft carrier or any of her escorts to a foreign port constitutes a vital part of the nation's diplomatic strategy. In addition, a positive view of the United States often results from such visits. As crises erupt, the timely arrival of a carrier can defuse or influence the situation. The United States generally will not have the time to deploy a battle group to a given hot spot; when the National Command Authorities ask, "Where are the carriers?" the reply "Stateside, Mr. President," may not be the best answer. Obviously, canceling deployments all together is not the answer. The Navy must find other ways to improve the situation.

One might be to reduce the present three- to four-month work-up cycle to one month of intensive training. Combining all three at-sea periods should reduce overall operating costs and increase morale by giving the troops more time at home.

The requirement for the training carrier battle group comes into question. Its original purpose was to train battle groups while working up and to act as NATO's strike force in the North Atlantic. With the Former Soviet Union no longer steaming en masse in the Norwegian Sea, the usefulness of this carrier battle group is questionable. A better idea would be to use assigned battle group staffs to train their ships and air wings. This would allow continuity within the battle group and generate more esprit de corps. As units complete these exercises, they would become the surge battle group ready to deploy to potential trouble spots. They remain in this ready state until it is time for them to deploy. In short, they become the cavalry—ready to answer the call if and when it comes and to bolster our already deployed assets. In the meantime, the aircraft carrier can conduct carrier qualifications periodically to maintain pilot currency.

Money saved could then be used for operating at home. Lack of flight time is a major complaint voiced by pilots leaving the service. Money saved could be funneled into upgrading local training facilities and increasing flight hours, enabling pilots to fly more while based ashore instead of having to wait for an underway period. Such local training should be considered an acceptable alternative; it probably would reduce the exodus currently underway.

Critics of this plan will claim that readiness will fall as more and more units train ashore and not at sea. Operation Desert Storm showed that this is not necessarily the case. Of the six carrier battle groups sent to fight, only one had been through the full set of work ups described earlier. One carrier was deployed forward and considered ready while the others had had limited at-sea periods before deploying for their war cruises. All the battle groups performed exceptionally well during the conflict. In fact, the air wing that suffered the most casualties was the one that had completed the full set of work ups. One example hardly proves the case, but the indications are that the present extensive work-up cycle is overkill.

The flexibility and inherent training of Navy personnel were further demonstrated in the Haitian operation with the deployment of two aircraft carriers with embarked Army units. One ship had only recently left the shipyard and the other was preparing for a Mediterranean deployment, yet both carriers performed magnificently with no prior preparation or training. As the world changes, the Navy may not have the luxury to operate as it trains its forces. New missions and requirements often force naval units to radically adapt without the benefit of previous training opportunities. By retooling the work-up cycles, they now become refreshers instead of exercises in reinventing the wheel.

As the Navy continues to absorb budget cuts, it must reevaluate the way it trains its combat forces. It can no longer afford to spend money on advanced weapons and continue to train and operate as it does. Something has to give.

That something should be the present work-up cycle. Increased flight hours and training at home are the direct result of the money saved by reducing work-up operational tempo. The result may be keeping more and better people in the fleet rather than seeing them depart for the more lucrative civilian world. The Cold War ended with an American victory and with it, the threat of a bluewater, adversarial navy. Deployments now consist of patrolling no-fly zones and conducting maritime intercept operations or rather simplistic, multinational exercises, port visits, and showing the flag—a trend likely to continue.

Do we need to spend three to four months at sea preparing to fly carefully laid tracks over Bosnia or Iraq? The answer is no. Comments from fleet aviators suggest that they are very aware of this fact. By changing the way it prepares battle groups for deployment, the Navy can save money and keep morale high as personnel are not deployed as often. By reducing this self-inflicted operational tempo, the Navy can still maintain the necessary personnel and equipment to ensure it will always be able to fight and win. Otherwise, and despite denials, the Navy will continue to operate more with less and good people will continue to leave.

Lieutenant Commander Kramer , a naval flight officer, is assigned to the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel. He served most recently as the operations officer of Air Antisubmarine Squadron (VS)-34, flying S-3Bs on board the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.



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