Sidebar: 'Numbers Do Matter'
Looking at the hologram, Vice Admiral Ulysses S. Grant, U.S. Navy, could scarcely believe the pace of the battle unfolding before him. He had begun with overwhelming combat power at his disposal, and despite the violent consequences of the past eight hours of battle—which previously had been gamed and modeled—his task force was well positioned to take the fight to the enemy. He still had 200 miles to go to reach his best position to strike decisively ashore and even longer before the Marines would be maneuvering against the first of their many objectives. The contested littoral, once a narrow band extending tens of miles off the adversary's coastline, now was a battlespace hundreds of miles deep, transformed by an overlapping and sophisticated defense. Transiting this area was perilous but necessary.
Vice Admiral Grant now was ready to begin a video teleconference with his theater commander-in-chief (CinC), to give a personal after-action report and to recommend that the mission proceed as planned. Waiting for the CinC, Grant thought back to his days as a commander on the Chief of Naval Operations' staff in the late 1990s, and to the numerous debates he had participated in on the size and shape of the future force. Everyone had known then that a turning point in naval warfare was coming, and most realized that there was a limited window of opportunity in which to prepare—even if they didn't know precisely when that window would close. He was thankful that the Navy and the nation had seized that fleeting opportunity. The nation's ability to influence world events rested on the decisions they had made back then.